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Table of Contents

  • Welcome to the SDLC summer newsletter
  • A letter from Kathleen Forsythe, our Principal
  • I can see a change in myself - a learner's story
  • Virtual Open House - Multiple Dates
  • Beyond Belief - a parent's story
  • Congratulations SDLC Graduates for 2016!
  • Blossoming Together - a learning consultant's story


Enrolment for the 2016/17 learning year opened May 1 to all BC K-12 learners and families. Click here to learn more, or apply to enrol.

SelfDesign Learning Community will be hosting multiple virtual open house dates to answer questions. See dates and register for an upcoming event here.

Upcoming Dates

  • Gr K-9 Virtual Open House - May 25, May 30
  • Gr 7-9 Virtual Open House (Gateways) - May 19 @ 6pm
  • Gr 10-12 Virtual Open House - May 19, May 26, June 1
  • Provincial Exams (Gr 10-12) - June 22-29
  • Enrolment Deadline for Full LRS Funding (Gr K-9) - September 8

Welcome to our summer newsletter.

"Life. Studies. Determination." is a peer support group for youth in the SelfDesign Learning Community. They meet each week to support each other through their studies and through life. On behalf of the SelfDesign Learning Community, they would like to welcome you to our summer newsletter.

The youth in this group have each experienced their own transformations through SelfDesign. Nick has discovered his ability to lead, Donny transformed from a student faced with a lack of support at his previous school to a supported learner who even enjoys math, and Jack has discovered his passion for studying politics.

In this newsletter, you'll read about more of the transformations our learners, families, and educators have experienced. You'll hear from CoDesign learner Josephine, who found herself in the reflections she did for her courses. You'll read the story of Rhys, a SupportEd (special education) learner who overcame all odds to graduate, told through the eyes of his mother Victoria. You'll get a glimpse of the shared transformation that takes place between learner, parent, and educator through the eyes of anonymous SelfDesign learning consultant 'S.A.' These stories, along with our announcements and featured events, will give you an understanding of what SelfDesign is creating in the lives of learners across BC.

With spring behind us and summer approaching, the time has come to invite you to join the SelfDesign Learning Community. Enrolment is now open for all learners, including families new to SelfDesign for the 2016/2017 learning year. You'll find information on enrolment here. We would love to have you!

Thank you for reading, for supporting us, and for being a part of our community. To stay up to date on the latest news and events, stories, and more from SelfDesign, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter using the links below. Happy Summer!

Want to be featured in our next newsletter? Email your creative welcome message as a video, photo, illustration, or animation to If your submission is chosen, it will be seen by thousands in the SelfDesign Learning Community and beyond!

A message from Kathleen Forsythe, our Principal.

In preparing this introduction to SelfDesign’s summer newsletter on the theme of transformation, I thought about the fact that this may be my last summer newsletter as I will be retiring from SelfDesign later this year.  As I look back at the 14 years I have been involved with the program, I am most proud of all the learners and families with whom I have had the joy and pleasure of interacting in my role as educator.

There are SelfDesign learners with whom I have travelled on their learning journey for 13 of those 14 years!  I wish I could have met all of you, and as enrolment opened on May 1, we are already preparing to welcome many more.

I am also happy that over these years I have been able to be part of leading a program where our commitment to learners and families has always taken precedence.  Indeed one of the main foundations of our program , observing for learning,  is fundamentally about the relationships between learners, families, and learning, facilitated by our educators.

I recently found some files from September, 2003 that articulate what we set out to do. I am heartened to share these with you as a foundation for development, the basis of our Education Plan for 2016-17.

“Observing for learning is about paying attention to what was significant for you each week in your learning.  As we grow and look back on our lives, we become the history of the significant things we remember.  Think back till you were little.  What stands out in your memory?  What stories would tell to explain who you are and where you come from?”

“In Africa, there is a saying, "It takes a village to raise a child".  Inherent in this proverb is the description of the environment, necessary to unfold our natural way of learning - the interactions in the intimate, tender and consensual domain of the family, the interaction of the self and others in the consensual domains of community.  We are forming our village of conversations to support children and their families to nurture natural learning and to conserve the disposition for wonder within a space of love.

The natural way of learning is so natural within us that it is usually not recognized as a particular aspect of being human.  The natural way of learning has to do with recognizing what intrigues us, delighting in patterns, conserving our excitement in learning,  wondering about each other and savouring surprise!”

I share these ideas as they have stood the test of time - because they are fundamentally about our natural way of learning.

Your principal,
Kathleen Forsythe

I can see a change in myself.

The story of one SelfDesign learner finding the answers, and finding herself

Seventeen year old Josephine started her formal education as a registered homeschooler. While her mother had been looking at alternative education since Josephine was just a toddler, it wasn't until grade 5 that Josephine made the switch from homeschooling to learning at home and in her community with SelfDesign. With weekly reports and fun field trips, Josephine was able to maintain a very organic, self-directed learning environment - with the added support her family needed from SelfDesign and their learning consultant (a BC certified educator).

Once Josephine entered grade 9, her SelfDesign learning consultant introduced her to SelfDesign's high school options. She started with just a few courses with the goal of earning her high school diploma. In February of this year, she learned about SelfDesign’s popular program for high school learners, CoDesign, and was encouraged to make the switch. She joined a small pod of just 3 learners (vs the typical 8-10) supported by a high school mentor and is enjoying the energy of interacting with other learners.

Josephine has also made several new friends in the past year through her participation in SelfDesign’s annual, in-person gatherings, known as camps. "None of us live close together but we Skype. I might have been missing out on the social part of traditional high school, but since I attended the SelfDesign camps I've learned that there are so many other people like me. It's such an amazing experience to meet other people who school exactly the way I do."

This year's biggest change, however, has been in how Josephine sees herself. "Moving on from a little girl whose mom was teaching her to someone who was learning independently with her peers and mentors . . . I've definitely learned who I am, and what my purpose in life could possibly be through SelfDesign."

When asked what the biggest change has been since enrolling in SelfDesign CoDesign, Josephine shares:

"Since the beginning of the year, I have begun to see the pattern that SelfDesign is all about reflection, and expressing how we feel before and after an activity/assignment. When I was younger, I thought it wasn't necessary, but as I have progressed in my learning path, I have discovered that it's valuable and important, and required to have a healthy balanced life of learning. When I was 13-14 I felt confused about who I was, and wanted to be as a person. I was lacking confidence, but I feel like in this last year, I am discovering who I am, and I am gaining more and more confidence."

SelfDesign Open Houses – Multiple Dates Open to All BC Learners and Families

Have you or someone you know been considering joining the SelfDesign Learning Community? Do you have questions about what SelfDesign offers, or where to start? Join any of these FREE open houses to learn more about everything from K-12!

Our K-9 ambassadors will be available May 25 and 30 to help elementary and middle school aged learners and families discover how a SelfDesign learning consultant can offer a supportive space in which conversations for learning can unfold.

In grades 7, 8 and 9, youth begin learning with greater independence, intention, future ambition, and community interaction. As they transition to their high school years, youth in SelfDesign can consider themselves ‘Gateways’ and participate in activities tailored to serve their unique needs. Gateways ambassadors will be available May 19 to answer questions and offer information.

Grades 10-12 have the option of joining a full time cohort program, working with a guiding mentor, or choosing an individually-selected suite of self-paced courses along a supported path to a BC Dogwood diploma. Ambassadors from SelfDesign 10-12 will be available May 19, May 26, and June 1 to answer questions for learners and families interested in completing their K-12 learning journey with SelfDesign Learning Community.

To see all available dates and register, please go here

Can’t make it to a virtual info session? Contact us anytime to discuss your interests.

Do you have a friend who is considering joining the SelfDesign Learning Community? Invite them to an open house! Share the registration link on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

Beyond belief.

How one parent, in the face of opposition, discovered a new way of learning - and found her son along the way.

When 17 year old Rhys started kindergarten in a local public school, his family had high hopes and wanted nothing more than a positive experience. Unfortunately for Rhys and his mother Victoria, that wasn’t the case.

“Things started going downhill in kindergarten, and never seemed to get better. He struggled socially a lot, and his autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, and anxiety were triggered in almost every environment,” Victoria shares.

Rather than being offered support, he was suspended multiple times for his behaviours and eventually expelled in grade 8. At the time, his family felt his only option was a special public school program for “disenfranchised youth” who were at risk for dropping out.

Victoria adds, “even there Rhys became a target for exclusion and violence, ending in a broken nose. By the end of grade 9, we were being told by the school specialists and administrators that we should ‘take graduation off the table’ as Rhys would likely not ever be able to.”

As a parent, Victoria knew better. She knew that Rhys wanted to graduate, and that he could if he was given the right environment. That is when she found SelfDesign Learning Community.

“SelfDesign said YES over and over again, where previously we had always been told NO,” Victoria says. “Because of the free and calm way we were able to approach Rhys’ education, we were able to finally see the genuine person, the young man we always knew Rhys could be. Not just a series of difficult behaviours, but a smart, kind, and hilarious young man.”

Victoria is happy to report that Rhys will be graduating this year, on time, from SelfDesign. When asked about her experience with SelfDesign, she says:

“Rhys started SelfDesign at the beginning of grade 10, caught up, and ended up with some accomplishments that he can be very proud of. I now have my sweet boy back because of SelfDesign, and my sweet boy is now a high school graduate with a Dogwood diploma.”

All of us at SelfDesign wish you hearty congratulations, Rhys!

Congratulations to the Graduating Learners of SelfDesign for 2016!

Blossoming Together

A story of shared transformation from SelfDesign learning consultant "S.A."
As an educator, S.A. struggled to find a fit for her teaching style and education philosophy in other school environments. She left her position as a public school teacher to raise her children years ago, helping them to learn at home and in their community.

Upon enrolling her children in SelfDesign in 2011, she instantly found a place that felt like home. S.A. spent some time supporting her children as SelfDesign learners, and made the decision to become a learning consultant in 2014.

"I was seeking an alternative way to use my education degree, that was in alignment with my views on learning," she says - but her journey didn't end there.

"SelfDesign has actually been the catalyst for independence in my life.  I stayed in a codependent relationship for 11 years, because leaving the relationship would mean working full time outside of the home and putting my children in school. SelfDesign has allowed me to change my situation.   It has given me the opportunity to stay at home while still earning a living.  It has shown me the reason for my education degree, which I have at times questioned and most importantly, it has allowed me to support my girls to carry on directing their own learning."

This transformation has not come easy for S.A., but she hasn't been alone. Her own transformation helped inform her work with other SelfDesign learners and families this year:

"Over the course of this learning year, through the weekly exchange of learning observations and reflections, I have witnessed a blossoming as each week as we co-celebrate the progress made, the wounds healed and the confidence gained.  I feel so blessed that I get to be a part of this transformation in the lives of the learners and families I guide."

When asked what the future holds, S.A. makes it clear that she will continue her work as a learning consultant for a long time. "I think one day, I'd like to travel the world while engaging my SelfDesign work." It would seem that she shares more than just a view on education with her families, but future aspirations, too.

Please share this newsletter with your friends and family and help us share SelfDesign with the world!


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