Over the past 20 years, Angela Burgos, head of school at Centennial Academy, has noticed that the requirements needed to graduate with a Secondary V diploma have increased considerably, making it even more difficult for students with learning disabilities to succeed academically.
This change, along with the high demand from French families, has motivated Burgos and her staff to begin offering courses in French beginning in September, 2017.
“We’ve had many French families come to us because they could not find an institution (private or public) that can properly serve their child, so now we’re glad to finally be able to help them,” Burgos says.
Centennial is the only private high school in the province of Quebec that exclusively focuses on helping students with learning disabilities master their challenges and graduate on time. Educators are trained to support kids who are faced with attention deficit disorders, dyslexia, language-based difficulties, high-functioning autism and more.
Burgos says they have created a structure that puts kids through the regular curriculum and will prepare them for college.
“Children with learning challenges don’t work well with adults who are inconsistent, so that’s why at Centennial we are consistent and persistent because our children need routine and predictability,” she explains.
The curriculum is a universal design for learning based on research and the science behind how a child learns and gathers information.
“The teachers deliver clear instructions in a way that meets all the students’ needs, including visuals, breaking down key information, remaining organized, and giving students a way to revisit topics in case they need to repeat it,” Burgos says.
The approach works. Although 90 per cent of the students have significant learning difficulties, the school has maintained a 90 per cent graduation rate. In Quebec, the average graduation rate is just 74 per cent.
As a result of Burgos’ efforts, French-speaking students will now be able to benefit from Centennial’s successful approach — in their own language.
For more information, visit centennial.qc.ca.