Gonzaga Middle School of Winnipeg empowers underserved children from low-income neighbourhood families developing to their full potential, breaking the cycle of poverty and becoming leaders for service of others through an enhanced Jesuit-inspired middle school education and graduate support program.
As an independent, Jesuit NativityMiguel model middle school, GMS works with underserved students whose potential for success is compromised by social and economic factors affecting them and their families. GMS lowers barriers to educational advancement and success by incorporating best practices and lessons learned from Nativity schools and the broader NativityMiguel Coalition of schools across North America. GMS is an intentionally small co-educational grades 6-8 middle school in which each grade is comprised of 15-20 motivated students from low-income families who choose to enrol their child in a unique school program as an alternative to their local public school. The school also provides a nutrition program (breakfast, lunch and two snacks), transportation to and from school, technology and other supports while collaboratively engaging parents, community groups and various partners in its students’ education. GMS opened with its first grade 6 class in the fall of 2016.
GMS joins a community of over 60 Nativity model schools in North America, all of which offer an intensive academic curriculum within an extended-day and extended-year academic schedule. Most importantly, all GMS students benefit from a small-school setting where they are known and loved.
We believe all of our students can learn, and we expect all of our students to learn. In keeping with the long history of Jesuit education, GMS incorporates student-centred Ignatian pedagogy. Teachers accompany learners engaging them to reflect on their experience, beliefs, and values in ways that respect the multicultural and multi-faith background of learners. At the same time, GMS invites students to understand that they are called to serve others with the gifts the Creator has given them. We expect our students to learn to think critically, and to write and speak well for the common good.
GMS delivers the Manitoba Education government approved English program curriculum enhanced by extended school time, small classroom size, transitional supports, significant communication and information technology programming and supports. The program is enriched with cultural, recreational and summer programming. In recognition of our particular context and time in history, GMS integrates existing Manitoba provincial curricula and specific content recommended by bodies like the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. This process is ongoing through community consultation and the involvement of stakeholders in the development and refinement of the school’s curricular and educational goals.
GMS is committed to educating and caring for the whole person (in the Jesuit tradition of cura personalis) incorporating concern for the spiritual, academic, social, psychological and physical development of our students into our programs. GMS strives to educate well-rounded 'men and women for others' as they prepare for high school and ultimately university or other post-secondary study. In addition to high expectations in academic courses, health and physical education, students are encouraged to experience and appreciate art, music, public speaking, go on enrichment field trips, participate in service activities and an inclusive variety of prayer forms and spirituality from Catholic, Christian, Indigenous and other faith and spirituality traditions, engage in co-curricular activities and daily recreation or enrichment activities.
The standard school day at GMS starts at 8:00AM and runs until 4:45 PM, allowing critical additional hours for students needing extra help academically and to allow for enrichment activities, while also providing a safe space free from many of the distractions at-risk middle school students face in their communities.
All students attend a three-week summer program (two weeks for incoming Grade 6 students) designed to maintain academic progress while reducing “summer loss”. It also helps to establish or maintain connection and relationships with students, staff and families through the summer break. The required summer program also focuses on physical activity, specialized field trips and enrichment activities typical in summer camps.
Students receive ongoing support after graduating from Gonzaga Middle School through their high school years and as they progress on to university or other post-secondary studies. Graduate Support Program staff assist students and their families in applying for the high school, independent or public best suited to their educational aspirations and advocate for them with receiving high school staff. Lead by the Graduate Support Director, Graduate Support Staff aid GMS alumni in successfully navigating high school, preparing them for high school graduation and post-secondary education. GMS shares this cornerstone commitment beyond graduation from middle school with all Nativity model schools. It is essential to our mission to help uplift communities and break the cycle of poverty for our students.
GMS collaboratively engages board and committee members, administrators, teachers, support staff, families, mentors, donors, volunteers, community groups and various partners in our students’ education. It formally partners or associates with the Canadian Jesuits, St. Paul’s High School, St. Mary’s Academy, the Jesuit Support Network, and the NativityMiguel Coalition, the Manitoba Federation of Independent Schools and the Archdiocese of Winnipeg Catholic Schools. It engages parents and invites families and the local community to join in school life.
To help refine and continuously improve teaching and learning, school practices and policies, and engage students in their own learning, GMS persistently assesses, analyzes, and uses student data. GMS seeks to support and measure engaged students for sustainable readiness for the next grade, for high school, post-secondary study, career and life through setting goals or measuring outcomes such as: