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International programming at CFIS

Over the past several weeks, I have sought input from faculty, staff and CFIS parents on the subject of CFIS’s international programming. As a result of these discussions, I have compiled feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of our current programming in this area, and the opportunities and threats we may face as we move ahead to continue to build this important component of our program.

My overarching aim with this undertaking is to ensure that in all CFIS divisions, there exists both a depth of meaning and an authenticity with regard to this aspect of our learning environment. 

Those of you with children in the Elementary Division are likely very familiar with CFIS’s robust participation in activities associated with UNESCO, as a member of the Associated Schools Project Network. UNESCO was introduced to CFIS in 2010, to foster an international perspective with all faculty and students. Seven years later, it is an integral component of a CFIS education. 

The four pillars of UNESCO serve as a framework for all aspects of the Elementary program, and UNESCO values are intentionally infused across the curriculum, thus enriching student learning and allowing them to make cross-curricular connections. UNESCO inspires students to take action via age-appropriate student-led charitable initiatives and advocacy campaigns. A UNESCO option course is also available for students in CFIS’s junior high, along with Model UN in Grade 9. 

CFIS applied to become a Round Square member school in the spring of 2017. I was very pleased to learn that our school was subsequently granted full member status with this organization nearly a year ahead of schedule. As a Round Square school, CFIS joins over 180 schools world-wide that focus on fostering the Round Square IDEALS, of Internationalism, Democracy, Environmentalism, Adventure, Leadership and Service. Students in Grades 9 and up will specifically benefit from this membership. As an established global network, Round Square schools enrich students’ lives through student exchanges. Regional (North and South America) and international conferences provide students and faculty with an opportunity to discuss topics related to the Round Square IDEALS in a highly engaging and regionally relevant format. 

The concept of Round Square was conceived in the mid-1960s, based on the educational ideology of Kurt Hahn, whose philosophy was that students learn best by experiencing opportunities for personal leadership and seeing the results of their own actions. 

Round Square affiliation can impact students directly, and will enrich student learning. Member schools gain access to resources and an online platform. Extensive opportunities exist for collaboration between schools, including student and faculty exchanges, curriculum development, faculty development, sharing of best practices, programs for alumni, and service projects. CFIS’s administrators and faculty are keenly looking forward to working with and learning from their Round Square member school counterparts.

Our community will begin to host Round Square exchange students in the new year. Families interested in hosting are encouraged to contact our Round Square coordinator, Mme Chantalle Bourque, at   

CFIS is on target to begin offering International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme courses to Grade 11 students in September 2019. Just as with Round Square and UNESCO, so much of CFIS’s enriched curriculum related to global learning and critical thinking is in alignment with the IB Diploma Programme. Two areas of study that are especially compelling for CFIS are IB’s focus on the approach to teaching, and the approach to learning. IB students are required to show their learning in ways that ensure they have truly engaged in the knowledge, and understand the content of what they’re learning. The learning environment at CFIS already closely aligns with key aspects of the IB Diploma Programme. Obtaining certification in this regard will allow CFIS students the opportunity to add this universally recognized designation to their Grade 12 diplomas. (All CFIS graduates will continue to also receive the Alberta high school diploma.)

As a long-term educator who has taught and administered all three IB programmes (Primary Years, Middle Years, and Diploma), I am very familiar with and passionate about the IB methodology, pedagogy, and student assessment. For me, the “magic” of IB is in how the students show their learning. Given our school’s already robust academic programs, which focus on inquiry and critical-thinking skills, and the school-wide focus on globally-minded values and an international mindset, I am confident that CFIS students will be highly successful in the IB Diploma Programme. 

Mme Margaret Dorrance
Head of School


UNESCO’s four pillars of learning are fundamental principles
for reshaping education:

Learning to know: to provide the cognitive tools required to better comprehend the world and its complexities, and to provide an appropriate and adequate foundation for future learning.

Learning to do: to provide the skills that would enable individuals to effectively participate in the global economy and society.

Learning to be: to provide self analytical and social skills to enable individuals to develop to their fullest potential psycho-socially, affectively as well as physically, for an all-round ‘complete’ person.

Learning to live together: to expose individuals to the values implicit within human rights, democratic principles, intercultural understanding and respect and peace at all levels of society and human relationships to enable individuals and societies to live in peace and harmony.