Board members, teachers and administrators from Brookes Education Group were in Colwood this week to present their plans for Brookes Westshore, a private and International Baccalaurate (IB) Grade 6 to 12 school that’s set to open next fall.
Jerry Salvador, who co-founded the organization in 2008, spoke about his reasoning for opening the organization’s first school in Shawnigan Lake.
Salvador is a former teacher at Pearson College in Metchosin, which also administers the IB program, meaning his daughters were able to attend, a rarity for the primarily international school. When his friends would ask him about getting their children into the school, he had to tell them that it was nearly impossible.
“(Opening Brookes) was sort of a civic or communal responsibility. I was so fortunate that my two daughters were able to go to Pearson,” he said.
The other reason was personal, as Salvador wanted to give his grandchildren an opportunity to enter the IB program as well.
The Brookes group strives for a 50/50 split when it comes to international versus local students, giving Greater Victoria kids a chance to study alongside students from all over the world. Their Shawnigan Lake school hosts students from nearly 20 different countries.
Andrea Spinner, head of the Shawnigan Lake campus, spoke about the IB program and its focus on education through an international lens, as well as how the school’s educators try to make learning fun for students.
“One of the biggest issues that exists with education right now is the fact that students … often times become disengaged with the educational experience that they’re having,” she said.
The build out for the Sooke Road school is expected to take 15 months, and Brookes officials are expecting to break ground on the three-building complex this month.
The Sooke Road site was touted for its proximity to the Galloping Goose Regional Trail, Royal Roads University and West Shore Parks and Recreation.
“We bought this site because of its connectivity to nature,” said chief financial officer Jeff Townsend.
“I refer to it as an oasis in an urban centre. When you stand on Sooke Road it’s quite busy, so our entrance around the corner allowed us to experience (an oasis), everytime you enter into the school.”
The 70,000 square foot complex will include a gym and a dorm to house 150 international students and 16 academic teaching spaces designed for a maximum of 20 students.
Internationally Brookes also has schools in Cambridge and Seoul.