Independent school prioritizes personal connection with remote learning | Squamish Chief

Independent school prioritizes personal connection with remote learning

Like all schools, Coast Mountain Academy (CMA) was forced to pivot quickly to online learning when British Columbia schools were shut down due to COVID-19.

Fortunately, as a small independent school with under 100 students, CMA was able to successfully revise its curriculum to keep students engaged with fun and dynamic learning activities while supporting their mental health.

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“Over March break, we had to change up our whole strategy for the year,” says Tracy Keeling, CMA’s director of admissions and communications.

“It showed us that both our students and teachers are really resilient. We are a nimble and flexible school, and we were able to rise about the challenge of the past few months.”

By the end of the school year, every student at CMA was able to successfully complete the learning for their respective grades.

Located on the Quest University campus, CMA is a university-preparatory school for students in grade 7 through 12. Not only does CMA offer a rigorous academic program, but it also offers a well-rounded fine arts, athletics and outdoor education program as well.

The student-to-teacher ratio is low, with no more than 20 students in a class.

During remote learning, CMA arranged weekly one-on-one meetings with each student to gauge their progress and well-being.

While some CMA courses were able to transition easily to an online learning environment, with teachers holding Google Meet classes three to four times a day, CMA needed to take a more creative approach with some others.

Outdoor and physical education (PE) is a strong component of CMA’s curriculum. To translate those activities to a remote environment, daily PE evolved into a mandatory activity hour each day. Students kept a log of their activity for accountability. For outdoor education, students in middle school were given weekly outdoor assignments such as wildlife photography.

Art was another outlet for students to express themselves creatively during a stressful time.

“What the kids came up with was really extraordinary. It was amazing to see that expression of feeling,” Keeling says.

“We’re really proud of everything we were able to accomplish as a school during this time. I think our response to COVID-19 was a real credit to the spirit of our school and the resilience of our students.”

To learn more about Coast Mountain Academy, visit the school online at

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