GCCS is owned by the John Calvin Christian School Society, which elects a Board of Directors each year.
GCSS runs something like a co-op or credit union. The parents are "clients" who can become members of the organization that owns the school. At the Spring General Meeting, the members elect a Board of Directors. The Board hires qualified professionals to run the day-to-day operations. The Board meets monthly, appoints committees, and works to ensure that the school is being run according to its policies.
Parents who are members are involved in school operations through committees which oversee finances, program, human resources, promotion, facilities, fundraising, etc. Other daily volunteering opportunities do not require a parent to be a member. This can include volunteering in the classroom, on playground supervision, driving on class trips, etc. as schedules permit. We expect parents who are in regular contact with students to obtain criminal reference checks.
GCCS is an independent school. Our families attend over 30 different churches in Guelph and the surrounding area. Several churches include our school as a "home mission" item in their budgets, for which we are very grateful. But our Board is member-selected, not appointed by any of the churches with which we have contact.
We are a Christian school, and all students take part in a number of religious activities. These include, but are not limited to:
- classroom prayers that are spoken aloud by the teacher and/or the students
- regular lessons, projects and tests aimed at developing and assessing both Old and New Testament knowledge
- frequent whole-school chapels which involve singing songs of Christian worship, prayers, and listening to speakers give lessons about Christian living
- memory work of Bible passages that are assigned and tested weekly
- integration of Christian philosophy into the entire curriculum
Some elements of the Christian worldview mesh easily with the secular outlook found in public schools, such as the importance of respecting others and taking personal responsibility. Some elements, however, may run counter to prevailing secular assumptions. To the extent these issues arise in the context of the school's curriculum, it is important to understand that we affirm Christian, rather than secular, viewpoints.
There is more that unites Christians than divides them. Our teachers do not make prescriptive statements on topics such as distinct forms of sacraments, e.g., baptism, or communion, or eschatology.
Because we emphasize character-building, Christian values and mutual respect in all aspects of our program, we have found that punitive disciplinary measures are required very rarely. We place considerable importance on building a warm, caring community through restorative practices. Parents who visit the school can see for themselves the positive atmosphere at GCCS.
If discipline problems arise, we have three key words in our policy: respect, restitution and reconciliation. Misbehaviours are categorized as either minor or major. A minor misbehaviour will be documented in the office, the student will have to meet with anyone who was affected by his/her actions and restore that relationship (this may involve a consequence like a recess time-out), and parents will be informed. Any damage will be repaid or restored. If there are no further problems in the next 10 weeks, the documentation is destroyed. Our goal is to have healthy citizens.
A major misbehaviour such as assault would result in automatic suspension. The student would have to meet with those affected by his/her actions before being re-admitted to restore a damaged relationship. The steps would progress to longer suspensions, and then expulsion would be considered.
If you have concerns about particular situations or needs, please contact the principal to discuss.
A Human Resource sub-committee, appointed by the Board of Directors, interviews candidates and makes recommendations to the Board which offers the contracts. We advertise for teachers online through Christian Education websites and through social media. All our teachers share a personal faith in Jesus Christ, and hold either an Ontario Teaching Certificate or a Bachelor of Christian Education. Teachers also have their Christian School Teacher Certificate or are working towards completing it.
The Program Committee, alongside the Vice Principal and Principal, selects the curriculum. Much of our curriculum is written by professional educators at the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools, Canada's largest producer of Christian school curriculum. We also draw from secular publishers for some subjects, including Math and French.
Our school exists because we believe that parents are the primary educators of children and have a God-given responsibility to educate according to God's standards. Therefore we have implemented a program based on our priorities and worldview, rather than simply adopting the priorities of government officials and secular authorities.
Our school's educational philosophy is that true learning starts with the acknowledgement that God exists, and that His word defines true knowledge. We study to uncover and apply the wonders of His creation as a way of serving Him, and our fellow creatures. We recognize the importance of intellectual growth, skills formation and character development as integral to the growth of children. Our program covers all the basic academic elements of public schools, such as reading, writing, mathematics, science, social studies and physical education, and we have enriched it with Christian material to ensure that our children receive a truly Christian education.
While we operate independently of government, we do consider government initiatives and adapt innovations that are compatible with our philosophy. We monitor the quality of our program through the use of standardized tests like Gates-McGinitie, and the Canadian Test of Basic Skills. These tests show that our program is well ahead of national averages. We also get positive feedback from the high schools that our graduates attend.
Parents are involved on the Board and on committees which oversee finances, program, human resources, promotion, facilities, fundraising, etc. Parents also volunteer in the classroom, on playground supervision, driving on class trips, etc. as their schedules permit. We expect parents who are in regular contact with students to obtain criminal reference checks. The Board also requires each family to contribute 30 hours of volunteer service time each year.
If parents have an issue with a situation at school, they are encouraged to discuss it with their child's teacher, or the principal, or the relevant committee. The teachers follow Board policies and cannot deviate from them in response to a parent's request.
A parent committee has arranged for busing in combination with Woodland Christian High School. The committee tries to arrange a route that is convenient to all the participating families. There is an additional fee for busing. Please contact the school if you require more information about bus routes or would like to indicate an interest in using bus transportation.
Our school has a dress code that can be summarized as "neat and modest," but does not have a uniform except for gym class, band and choir.
Gym, music and art are part of our regular program. At the Grade 7 and 8 levels, music involves band instruction. Extra-curricular activities vary from year to year, but typically involve Junior and Senior Choirs, and Concert Band. We also have had Drama Club, and Battle of the Books Club. Our sports teams compete in tournaments with other Christian schools in cross-country running, soccer, volleyball, hockey, basketball, baseball and track and field. Class trips take place at all levels. Younger grades go to popular attractions like the African Lion Safari and the Metro Zoo. Upper grades do a cycling trip in the Niagara Falls region, a class trip to Ottawa and other challenging outings.