Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)
by Paul Romani (M.Ed.)
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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) at Pear Tree School

by Paul Romani (M.Ed.)
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How does Pear Tree School support DEI as a school culture and on a daily basis?

Pear Tree School is a progressive, co-ed, secular, and combined grades school with a culturally and socio-economically diverse school community. We view this diversity as a strength.

Everything about our school embodies the progressive DEI values that we collectively represent.

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Our Team

People make or break a school; as such, facilitating Pear Tree School’s DEI values is our exceptional team that not only includes our masters-qualified leaders and classroom teachers, but also our P.E. teacher, in-house chef, classroom assistants, and administrators.

As parents have noted, every member of the Pear Tree team makes a daily impact on their child.

The Pear Tree Method

Through Pear Tree School’s theme-based learning approach and combined grades classes, our talented team of educators creates hands-on, open-ended learning activities designed to appropriately challenge a broad spectrum of learners and that incorporate several learning styles simultaneously. Learning is differentiated not just in terms of lesson content, but also the process of learning, as well as the final projects students produce collaboratively and the forms of assessment that we use. The learning activities are also designed to provoke different ways of thinking and a growth mindset, and to challenge students to consider different perspectives, albeit with a critical lens. This includes breaking down gender and cultural stereotypes.

Multicultural Representation – Beyond the BC Curriculum

We follow the BC curriculum, but are not limited to it; the themes and learning that we do reflect the diverse histories and culture within our school and beyond, e.g. the history of the Chinese in Canada – not just what is prescribed in the B.C. curriculum.

Going beyond the BC curriculum to learn about the history of other cultures in Vancouver

Student Voice

Students also have a voice in the school, such as with certain aspects of assessment and class rules. Likewise, beyond the foundational learning that all students are expected to acquire, students have freedom to explore certain topics that interest them the most.

Putting The Local First

Pear Tree School is intentionally an urban school that is tied to the local community. Despite being a private school, we are very grounded and non-elitist. We use local sports facilities, the local library, local parks, and connect with local business owners for relevant field trips. We can be found on a daily basis walking around the neighborhood for our activities, using public transit to get to slightly more distant locations, and so on. Likewise, our learning is tied first and foremost to the local community: its qualities and its challenges, and problem solving solutions to these challenges. This includes Vancouver’s homelessness, its poverty / financial insecurity, drugs, environmental concerns, and (other) social inequalities.

Non-elitist school
You’ll see Pear Tree students in our local neighborhood and using public transit

Diverse P.E. Program

In our daily P.E. Program, we offer an extremely diverse range of sports and recreational activities that both boys and girls participate in together, including dance, yoga, martial arts, soccer, parkour, climbing, ice skating, and gymnastics. We do not indulge gender stereotypes about what activities are for ‘boys’ or ‘girls’. Everyone is expected to try everything.

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At Pear Tree School girls and boys do all of the same activities

Inclusive Healthy Hot Lunch Program

For our incredible Healthy Hot Lunch Program, our in-house chef develops a monthly menu that is culturally diverse and inclusive in nature. All students eat essentially the same meals, with minor modifications made for dietary restrictions. This ensures that all students feel connected to each other through the meals they eat together.

Pear Tree’s in-house chef and inclusive healthy hot lunch program

You don’t solve issues through a one-day event like Pink Shirt Day or by dealing with them through workshops.

In order to bring about the values that Pear Tree School espouses, our values are embedded into every aspect of our daily activities and curriculum.

In part, our theme-based learning approach makes this really easy for us to do, because our themes are meaningful to the students, have strong ethical and personal relevance, and are authentically connected to the real world. Likewise, through project-based learning, students are constantly challenged to face DEI-related issues, both within and outside of the school. As such, we live and breathe our DEI values on a daily basis.

What are some key indicators of positive Diversity, Equity & Inclusion health at Pear Tree School?

Clearly, as a school with a whole-child approach, Pear Tree School is looking for progress in a complete range of areas, including its students’ academic, socio-emotional, and physical development. To monitor and reflect upon this progress requires displaying student’s work on the walls, and the use of student ePortfolios, individualised goal setting, and the varied assessment approaches that Pear Tree School uses.

Pear Tree School also monitors its students’ sense of belonging and happiness to be at school. For example, when we hear parents comment about their child being disappointed that they can’t go to school because of a Stat Holiday, it is a strong indication that we’re doing something right!

Added to this is the kind feedback, word of mouth recommendations, and Google reviews we receive from parents and former students.

What are challenges to DEI does Pear Tree’s academic approach create?

Pear Tree School delivers a progressive, complete, and advanced method of education. Our unique, theme-based learning approach requires students to develop strong literacy, numeracy, critical thinking, public speaking, communication, technology, and collaborative skills. It requires them to be able to learn to apply their knowledge and skills to complex, real-life situations. It requires the ability for abstract thought. Along with this is the need for a growth mindset and a willingness to take risks.

Despite the truly personalised learning that Pear Tree School offers, the complex range of skills and goals we seek to achieve isn’t something that all students will find easy to achieve, especially if they have cognitive challenges or join us at a point in their educational journey where they have become resistant to meeting these far broader challenges and expectations, i.e. they have become disillusioned or have lost any belief in themselves.

Pear Tree School works closely with families, including through its ePortfolio and goal setting systems, to make progress in all areas of their child’s development. At the same time, if their child has some learning exceptionalities, we encourage them to get a psycho educational assessment done so that we have a better understanding of their learning profile and therefore, work with the parents and specialists to best support the needs of their child.