What comes to mind first when we think of the traditional school environment? Desks, lockers, and crowded hallways are all the common answers. Some of us think of homework, books, and tests. But the ideal school lies deeper than that; it’s a combination of the classes taught, the school’s rules, and of course, the students and staff.
Throughout the day at Snow Pond Arts Academy in Sidney, students can be heard playing ukulele, piano, guitar, violin, and many other instruments. Other students work on their dance routines or scenes from theatre class.
Though I came to Snow Pond Arts Academy to pursue acting, I’ve had the opportunity to take dance classes and learn how to play piano, both of which I enjoy and would never have done if I hadn’t come to a performing arts school. Acting has always been something I’ve loved, and having the opportunity to do it every day at school has helped me grow in my ability. Going to a performing arts school has helped me enjoy school rather than tolerate it.
Students who are unable to take arts classes might never realize that they are gifted. Imagine how different the world would be if people like Mozart and Picasso never had the opportunity to learn music and painting. What if a student who has the potential to be the next Beethoven is never given the opportunity to discover his or her interest in the arts?
For many of us, the traditional school doesn’t feel like a place where we’re trusted and given the opportunity to make our own mistakes. Some schools have strict rules regarding where students have to be, when assignments are due, and what grades they should receive. Rather than teaching students that skipping class means detention, I believe that students would benefit more if they were allowed to face the real world consequences of their actions with the low grades that are a result of missing important lessons.
In the ideal learning environment, teachers wouldn’t be required to check up on students with bad grades. Instead, students should learn to ask for help on their own. Many people who graduate high school struggle in college because they’re used to being told what they should be doing, rather than discovering it for themselves. Since leaving a traditional public school, I’ve become a more independent learner, and I enjoy a sense of trust at Snow Pond.
Along with that trust, respectful and supportive teachers provide the best resource for students and they make a big difference in a school’s environment. Though I don’t believe that teachers should be responsible for constantly checking up on students, a good teacher can make all the difference. Most students enjoy school more if they feel that they can ask their teachers for help. That ability to ask for help when needed is crucial both in school and in life afterwards.
Good teachers are easier for students to approach, giving them a better chance of getting help. I’ve definitely been lucky to have good teachers, and I’ve noticed that my grades are usually higher if the teacher is supportive. To me, the best teachers are the ones who genuinely care about their students.
The ideal learning environment gives students more than an education. Students should be able to learn new things in the arts, gain important real-life skills, and be taught by people that they trust. If students are given a good environment to learn in, they will be more successful in the future.
Alexa Gallant is a student at Snow Pond Arts Academy in Sidney.
Ukelele music performed by Snow Pond students Audrey Weston and Michael Fortin