The Element High School uses its Lansdowne campus as a hub to access the resources of the city. Being on a major bus artery enables students to move easily about the city. The vibrant Glebe neighbourhood enables us to establish relationships with local businesses. We are conveniently situated between both Ottawa University and Carleton University and often make use of their labs and facilities for field trips and AWOL experiences.

The city is our campus.

Paid underground parking is available in the Lansdowne complex, with entrances to the underground parking off both Bank Street and Queen Elizabeth Drive. Street parking with metered spaces is also available at designated spots in front of some of the restaurants and stores in the Lansdowne complex. We do not validate parking.

There is free 1-hour street parking on Holmwood Avenue, which is directly behind our building. There is also free 3-hour parking on O’Connor Street, just a couple of short blocks away.

The students who are best able to take advantage of all that our programs have to offer are those who are curious, creative and want more out of their school than just curriculum content.

Our faculty advisors work closely with students to coach, mentor, support and encourage them to set and achieve personal excellence.

The tuition fee is all inclusive, covering the cost of both the Odyssey Trip and the hot lunch that students cook three days a week for e1. For grades 9 and 10, tuition fees cover the cost of the Urban Adventure Trip and all other field trips and activities that take place as part of our programming, including AWOL.

For grades 11 and 12, tuition will cover $1,500 of the Winterim. Each student is expected to fundraise a minimum of $500. Parents are required to cover the remaining costs (up to $2,000).

Additional cost may be incurred in some of the extracurricular clubs, for example the Ski Club. Participation in extracurricular activities is optional.

The Element graduate is confident, self-assured and self-aware. He or she is empathetic, compassionate, kind, caring and aware of the needs of others. We challenge our students to think critically and be open to the perspectives of others; as such, a graduate of the Element has a never-ending quest for knowledge and a love of learning.

Our graduates are accomplished, capable, creative, good collaborators and ultimately confident in who they are; they understand themselves well as learners.

The Element is designed to engage young people in their education and encourage the development of the high level academic and life skills necessary for post-secondary education and modern collaborative work environments. In addition to participating in a strong academic program leading to the Ontario Secondary School Diploma, Element students learn to manage their time; research and present their findings orally; graphically and in written form; work independently and creatively; lead as well as collaborate with others; and reflect on themselves as learners and citizens in order to understand what it is they have to offer the world.

The Element offers an Ontario Secondary School Diploma just as any other private high school does. The Element is more than just curriculum content. The content is the tool that we use to help our students understand themselves as learners; it provides experiences that will put youth ‘in their element’, in school and beyond.

What engages us depends on our stage of development; our programs are responsive to these developmental needs. Choice, challenge and varied real world experiences help our students to know themselves, their passions and their interests, as well as what they have to contribute to society.

The Element’s programs and support mechanisms find the intersection of youth’s developmental characteristics and the requirements of the adult world, thus creating the focussed engagement that naturally leads to personal excellence.

Through the individual attention that we are able to provide our students during independent work periods and individual advisor conferences, we strive to help our students understand themselves as learners and develop the strategies that enable them to access the content and develop their skills. The ultimate goal is to help our students understand the learning strategies that work best for them.

Montessori Myths

Montessori schools may be best known for their programs with young children, but Maria Montessori’s underlying educational method describes programs for students through high school.

Since 1976, NAMTA (North American Montessori Teachers’ Association) has provided documentation, leadership, and guidance in consolidating Montessori adolescent education and programs. The work has included baseline research, school consultation, publications, and multiple colloquia that were attended by AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) trainers and practitioners, including Renilde Montessori and Camillo Grazzini.

Our Montessori classrooms find the balance between direct instruction and the freedom that fosters exploration and creativity. Independent work periods are built into each day, and while these periods enable the students to choose the work that they undertake, there are clear expectations for productivity and accountability for their time.

Sample Schedule e2

While it is true that technology looked very different when Maria Montessori developed her curriculum, Montessori believed that education should be an aid to life. Technology is a part of our world today and therefore should not be overlooked in our adolescents’ learning. Technology is a tool that is an aid to life when used properly.

Our approach to technology at The Element is based on the TPAK Model (Mishra and Koehler (2006) and is centred on constructing creative links between what is being learned (content), how it is taught (pedagogy), and the appropriate tools that are used in the classroom (technology).

At The Element, we make conscious decisions about when and where technology is useful and effective and how it is incorporated into our programs. We provide our students with instruction on how to make effective use of technology and the skills involved (critical thinking, validating sources). Technology is not used to the exclusion of handwritten work, books, and primary source materials.

No, we do not have any religious affiliations. We welcome students from all denominations and happily observe all cultural celebrations.

Our Program


Being a small high school enables faculty to have a close relationship with our students. At The Element we are all on a first name basis with our students. The smaller numbers enable us to provide individual support for students and individual guidance. Stronger connections between student and teacher provide the opportunity to get to know our students as people and not just as learners.

Having a smaller peer group can provide its challenges, but also provides an opportunity to work on social skills, such as tolerance and understanding and to develop the ability to work collaboratively with people who are not necessarily your closest friends, as in many workplaces.

The most important goal of assessment is for students to have a clear understanding of their strengths and challenges and an environment that constructively assists them in knowing themselves as a learner. As such, assessment is used for learning and as learning. What this means is that assessment is used as an opportunity for the faculty to communicate feedback to promote improvement, but also as a key opportunity for the student to be coached in the valuable process of independent self-assessment, self-monitoring of progress, and goal setting. Through this process, students become independent and autonomous learners.

Assessment is embedded through each unit and guided by a variety of modes, including: direct instruction, discussion, seminar, individual and group research, oral presentations, problem solving, peer evaluation, as well as formal evaluations and feedback.

Success criteria are described in specific terms at the beginning of an assignment so that students can understand the criteria used to assess their learning and to develop an understanding of what evidence of learning they will need to demonstrate. The success criteria are designed so that students can recognize the purpose of the assigned work. Often the criteria are provided in the form of a rubric. Oral and written feedback is used so that students receive guidance specific to their own strengths and challenges. This one-on-one dialogue and reporting provides assessment that is meaningful and guided by their personal abilities and potential.

Assessments for, of and as learning are provided by the faculty regularly and in a timely fashion to provide students with meaningful feedback that enables them to self-reflect, incorporate suggestions and see a progression in their skills. The student’s advisor serves as a mentor to help him or her make reflections and incorporate strategies from the evaluations received across courses. As adolescents strive to become independent, it is through reflections on the evaluations and feedback they receive that they come to understand themselves as learners and recognize the strategies that help them to access the content more deeply.


The Element program is academically rigorous, involving students in accurate self-assessment, and individualized goal setting that emphasizes challenge, achievement, and accountability. Self-evaluations and self-assessment are the responsibility of the student. Teachers provide ongoing feedback in a variety of different forms as they assess and evaluate the student’s work. These assessments provide the basis for the student’s self-reflections, which serve as important tools to help the students come to know themselves, understand their strengths and develop the strategies to mitigate any challenges.

The faculty evaluates the students’ work in a wide variety of ways, including testing. The Ontario Ministry of Education’s levels of achievement form the basis of student evaluations and feedback from the faculty. Student advisors work closely with the students to help them to set individual goals and personal standards.


Our students are assigned follow-up work from lessons, as well as independent research projects. They are given due dates and expected to meet deadlines. The amount of homework students have is often closely related to how effectively they have used their time at school.

Authentic experiences, actually being on location, participating in real work and interacting with passionate experts are much more immediate, powerful motivators for learning at this age. While not all parts of all courses can support authentic experiences, authenticity is a primary consideration in curriculum development in our programs. The location of our campus at Lansdowne becomes a hub of learning, and the city is integrated into the delivery of the curriculum.

Field trips and guest speakers are an integral part of our programming.

For our e2 students, AWOL (Authentic World of Learning) on Wednesday afternoons includes activities such as community service work; visits to museums, galleries, or historic sites; taking part in Take Our Kids to Work Day; field work; and visits to post-secondary institutions.

The goal of our physical education program is to expose our students to a variety of activities that enable them to lead a healthy and active lifestyle.

Our location enables us to make use of a variety of community resources. In our immediate vicinity, we have two fields that enable us to offer multiple field sports (ultimate frisbee, flag football, soccer etc.). We also have access to two basketball courts, a refrigerated rink and the Rideau Canal. In addition, we have relationships with a local gym for personal fitness and training, a dance studio, the YMCA and the facilities at Carleton University.

We often have guest coaches who come and conduct clinics for our students.

We encourage students to try the different types of physical activity that are available to them.

We form school teams based on student interests.

Yes. Extracurricular activities are offered and based on student interest. In addition to faculty run clubs, we have a relationship with GNAG (Glebe Neighbourhood Activities Group), which provides their instructors to lead a variety of clubs for our students. This term we are offereing a downhill ski club, art club, vocal music lessons, a gaming club and a Canal skating club.

Extracurricular activities sometimes become curricular during our AWOL excursions.

Yes, we are inspected by the Ontario Ministry of Education, which authorizes us to offer Ontario secondary school credits leading to the Ontario Secondary School Diploma.

While the Ontario curriculum provides the backdrop for our lesson planning, it does not drive our lesson planning. We lesson plan around topics and current events that are interesting and engaging to our students and check off curriculum expectations, thereby ensuring that over the course of the year all the curriculum content is delivered, as is required, to ensure credit integrity but that our content remains engaging, relevant and interdisciplinary.

At The Element, some of our courses are semestered and others run as full year courses. Many of the core courses lend themselves better to the frequent and ongoing lesson format that a full-year course provides (Math, English etc.). Other courses, such as many of the electives, lend themselves better to a more concentrated study that enables our students to undertake more focussed and in-depth work.

Semestering some electives also enables us to make use of professionals who work in specific fields and who are thereby able to provide our students with a deeper and more applied exploration of the content.