Why Choose CMA
Three simple words, but is there a simple answer? Not quite, but let us begin with a few highlights:
- Small class sizes
- Daily physical activity
- Outdoor education (LEAD) for all students
- Engaging and dynamic teachers
- One-on-one personal & post-secondary counselling
Experiential and place-based learning are core components of our school design and instructional philosophy. We like to describe this philosophy as ‘bringing learning to life’ by creating meaningful experiences for our students which enhance traditional theoretical learning. In practice, this looks like a hike to Wedgemont Glacier to take snowpack measurements for comparison to historical data studied in class. It also looks like riding rollercoasters to measure velocity and gravity, and it looks like a local entrepreneur visiting class to discuss their path to opening a new business in Squamish.
All CMA graduates receive the BC Ministry of Education Dogwood Diploma but their path to this end includes dynamic indoor and outdoor classroom experiences that connect concepts to application in the real world and support their holistic development as students and life-long learners.
In keeping with this holistic and practical approach to education, courses at CMA are integrated when it makes sense and is beneficial to the students. Traditionally, courses are taught in silos; students study math for an hour, then study science for an hour, then english, followed by history and so on. At CMA we offer courses like engineering and humanities which foster well-rounded learning, greater context between disciplines, and applicable skill sets for our modern world.
Our graduates will require skill sets for jobs that have yet to be created. 10 years ago many of today’s most sought after careers did not yet exist. At CMA we believe that adaptibility, creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking are top amongst the transferable skills required for well-being and success in post-secondary and beyond. With that in mind, we endeavor to nurture the following qualities in our students:
- A knowledge-seeking disposition
- Desire to explore ideas of personal interest
- Critical thinking skills
- Resilience / strong work ethic
- Motivation to seek out answers or people/resources that can contribute to personal knowledge
- Empathetic relationship and communication skills (collaboration mindset)
- Desire to challenge current perspectives and expand physical and cognitive capabilities
- Affirmative attitudes and challenge/opportunity mindset
- Acceptance of a diversity of perspectives
Our very highest ambition is to create experiences that nurture students’ sense of wonder and promote the pursuit of life-long learning. If we can inspire our students to become curious and resilient knowledge-seekers then we believe we have met the objectives of our professional callings as educators and contributed to a fulfilling life for our students.
Still not sure if you should choose CMA?
Here are a few of our unique programs that set us apart from other educational options in the Sea to Sky.
Enriched Experiential Education (E3)
The Enriched Experiential Education (E3) program is a core component of Coast Mountain Academy’s school design. It is the implementation of our instructional philosophy to create meaningful experiences that ‘bring learning to life’ and enhance traditional theoretical learning.
In practice, E3 is an instructional program which can take the form of a workshop, field trip, service project, guest speaker or professor. Outdoor education, otherwise know as LEAD here at CMA is a key component of our E3 program. Nestled between the ocean and mountains in Sea to Sky country, there is truly no better place for our educators to teach outdoor experiential learning, instill within our students a love for the natural world, and encourage stewardship of the environment.
The E3 program is carefully constructed along thematic lines by CMA faculty each term to enhance concurrent course learning while encouraging personal growth, leadership development, and confidence. E3 is historically one of our students’ favourite parts of their CMA experience as it is an opportunity for engaging and authentic learning in and outside of the classroom.
Leadership Expeditions for Academic Discovery
One of the founding principles of Coast Mountain Academy was to incorporate school-wide, mandatory outdoor education into our curriculums and innovative style of learning. This takes the form of our LEAD program, which stands for ‘Leadership Expeditions for Academic Discovery’. Situated in the beautiful community of Squamish and nestled between the ocean and mountains, there is truly no better place for our educators to teach outdoor experiential learning.
The objectives of our LEAD program are to instill within our students a love for the natural world, encourage personal growth, development, and confidence, and encourage stewardship of the environment. We feel strongly that the benefits derived from learning within nature and in group settings cannot be taught in classrooms – rather – it is an innate process of interaction, experience, and exploration over the years.
Our outdoor education program is an entirely accredited part of our curriculum, and incorporates subjects covered in other classes into a pragmatic, experiential learning environment immersed in the natural world. While on trips students have the opportunity to choose a project of their choice that relates to subject matter from other courses. For instance, on a backpacking trip to Wedgemount Lake, students were given the choice of investigating the glacier through the perspectives of the sciences or the arts.
Students begin our LEAD program in Grade 7, continuing and growing through their outdoor pursuits until they graduate from CMA. There are overnight trips held each term, with the cumulative trip for all students held in June. Grades 7 to 10 begin with out-trips led throughout British Columbia, grade 11 students venture further afield in Canada, and our Grade 12’s travel internationally.
Coast Mountain Academy’s CSI (Competency-based Science Investigations) program augments traditional science learning with opportunities to investigate the natural world in an immersion environment. What sets CSI programming apart from traditional science labs is its cross-disciplinary nature and the amount of time given to a particular investigation. Three investigations fill the first term providing opportunities for experimental design, data collection, analysis, and evaluation all of which are required curricular competencies of science in disciplines like anatomy & physiology, chemistry, environmental science, and physics, among others.
We believe CSI is not only innovative but also efficient, as all senior students will learn the essential skills of science common to all disciplines in Term 1. After term 1, students will disperse into their grade-specific science courses like chemistry, physics for the remainder of the year. At the very end of the school year, students will synthesize both the skills that they have gleaned from CSI and the content learned in their subjects to create a personalized, independent investigation.
Inspired by our belief that education is best done when following ones innate curiosity, we ask our students: ‘what are you interested in, and what would like to learn?’ In doing so, we encourage students to take agency of their learning by pursuing an interest and inquiry of their choosing.
Our INQubator course asks students from grades 7 through 11 to design their own inquiry based upon a question or series of questions relating to the topic of their choice. Throughout the inquiry process, each student is paired with a teacher whose areas of expertise most closely align with the students chosen project. Teachers will help guide the students through the inquiry process, assisting them with research, scheduling deadlines, acquiring content, and acting as consultants to encourage and assist with the students’ investigation process. The final element of the inquiry is a student presentation that details the question, process and learning.
At CMA, we recognize the importance of a dynamic fine arts program. As we continue to grow and evolve CMA has been able to round out our rigorous academic program with a developing fine arts program. Our teachers support the artistic interests of our students in a number of ways including both required and elective courses like music and art, while also providing support to those students who choose an INQubator, or passion project in the ‘arts’.
Talented artist and teacher, Ms. Marni Harris leads our students through weekly ‘adventures in art’, otherwise known as art class, as they collectively explore their creativity in a safe and supportive environment. In keeping with our focus on experiential learning much of our art program is delivered in partnership with guest artists like sculptors, muralists, fibre artists, and photographers.
We also recognize the top quality nature of existing arts programs within our community. In partnership with Squamish Academy of Music, we offer high-quality music classes and music ensemble to our students. Our music ensemble students have performed together on a number of occasions including holiday concerts at the Sea to Sky Gondola, as well as at CMA graduation ceremonies and talent shows. For more on the Squamish Academy of Music please visit them online at squamishacademyofmusic.com.
High Performance Program
Students involved in high-level competitive sport or performing arts can find it difficult to balance academics and rigorous training schedules. Current CMA students whose educational success is threatened because they need to miss school on a regular basis, or for long periods of time due to training schedules are encouraged to apply to the CMA High Performance Program.
If accepted to the program, students and parents will work with their teachers to map out a plan to demonstrate student learning while away from school. We expect that students in the CMA High Performance Program will be leaders and role models for the other students demonstrating exceptional behaviour and work habits in the classroom and in the sporting arena or the performance stage.
Currently, we have a number of students and parents taking advantage of the High Performance Program at CMA. Currently, we have students who, ski, horseback ride, swim, sail, gymnastic, dance and act. It has been a pleasure to watch these students excel outside of school.
Daily Physical Education
Since our school’s inception daily physical education, for all students, first thing in the morning has started our collective day at Coast Mountain Academy. Simply stated, there is far too much scientific evidence documenting how teenage minds are more successful academically after exercise not to incorporate this into our schedule. Specifically, the teenage mind is more engaged in logic and problem-solving activities after exercise, which is why students typically move from PHE in block 1 to a math or science course in block 2. This start to the day is representative of our commitment to our students: their academic success, and ensuring they are healthy, active, focused members of our school community.
Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award
Coast Mountain Academy is a proud advocate and facilitator of the internationally-recognized Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award program.
The award provides an excellent opportunity for our students to further develop their passion, place, and purpose in today’s world.
At CMA, we encourage our students to earn this award and support them through this rewarding journey of self-discovery, responsibility, perseverance, and commitment. The award focuses on 4 main areas of achievement: service, developing a skill, physical recreation, and completing an adventurous journey – which all just happens to be in line with Coast Mountain Academy’s core values and programming. All aspects of the adventurous journey component are achieved as part of our outdoor education (LEAD) program at CMA. Other areas of achievement like service can be completed in part on campus through our various community service initiatives and peer tutoring.
Students are challenged to explore new passions and gain recognition for activities that they love to do. Through this process of personal and social development, students learn to challenge themselves and discover hidden capabilities and talents. In addition, the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award looks great on post-secondary applications, scholarship applications and resumes.
For more information about the award or to enroll, please visit the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award website https://www.dukeofed.org/