University Highlands Elementary School at SFU
9388 Tower Road
Burnaby, BC, V5A 4X6
UniverCity residents are extremely pleased to have a brand new elementary school in the community. The school, which opened in September 2010, provides classes for approximately 180 students from kindergarten to grade seven.
Children in Verdant, Harmony and Serenity have a safe and pleasant commute to school. Located only a short distance from these family-friendly buildings, the walk to school crosses no roads, and follows a lovely forested pathway frequented by children and their families. The lack of traffic and a strong community presence makes many parents comfortable letting children walk to school with their friends.
The welcoming feeling continues once students reach the school. The playground (built in 2011 through fundraising efforts by the active parent and local merchant community) is an inviting space for all ages. The school building itself is unique in British Columbia: built to LEED Gold Standards, it is a model in environmental efficiency and sustainability. Large windows and skylights invite natural light into the classrooms and hallways, and an outdoor amphitheatre encourages classes to learn lessons both outdoors and in.
The school is helmed by Principal Lori Driussi, a noted leader in Literacy and Education, who has strong ties to the SFU Faculty of Education. Principal Driussi is committed to a curriculum that focuses on environmentalism and social responsibility. As she explained to the University Trust recently: “We want to encourage our children to learn in a community of belonging, one that inspires and nurtures global citizenship and focuses strongly on sustainability and community involvement.”
University Highlands believes in “Inquiry-Based Learning”, which means encouraging learning by capitalizing on a student’s natural curiosity about the world around them. Recently, a barred owl was spotted in the woods near the school. Regular lessons were interrupted so students could all go out, class by class, to see the bird for themselves. That afternoon, children’s questions about the owl were researched and answered, and owl artwork proliferated: this sort of spontaneous learning is what UHE is all about.
Parents with children at the school
appreciate the diverse and education-minded student body. Because of its
proximity to SFU, many children have parents working as either students or
faculty at the University, some of whom have traveled from parts of Europe,
Asia, South America and Africa to study here. The result is a community of
students raised to value learning and respect for each other's cultures.
The school has close ties to Burnaby Parks and Recreation, and during non-school hours, the gym and music studio accommodate city-run community programming for local residents.
There is no doubt that University Highlands is fast becoming a pillar of the UniverCity community, and a desirable “destination” school for out of catchment students.