The Canadian Friends of the St John's School in Estonia

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Context

Since the fall of communism in 1994 Estonian K-12 education system has diversified and several private schools were open to provide alternative and high-quality education to Estonian children. Among the first private schools established in the late 1990s were for-profit schools and alternative Waldorf schools. During the 2010s there was a second wave of private school foundation, one of them St John’s School (Püha Johannese Kool) (established in 2012) that promotes education that is holistic, inclusive and focused on building solidarity in diversified society. The new challenges of today require new methods of teaching and school culture: forging collaboration not competition, creativity, responsibility and recognizing each child as a unique person.

In just 7 years the St John’s School has managed to grow from 50 to 350 students and from zero investment to an organization with an annual budget of 2 mln euro. The School has a status of non-profit foundation which also runs a preschool, a music school, a foundation for Holistic Education. It publishes books and organizes international conferences and carries social campaigns such as The Day of Unplugging.

St John’s school provides a model of education that is necessary for contemporary society divided by ethnicity, ideologies and social and economic status. The school promotes values of universal human goodness and uniqueness of each human being, helping to bring up in children values of empathy, solidarity and self-reflection. The declared values of the school are supported by practices of teaching (formative assessment, focus on dialogue between different stakeholders in education, collegiality, encouragement of creativity).

The School’s growth is currently impeded by the lack of its own building as it grows out of its rented premises. The short-term aim is to build the modern school building which will be home to 600 students, 100 teachers, which will act as a community building and an event center. In the long run, the school aims at developing its unique pedagogy and organizational culture for replication. It aims to focus on the inclusive education accepting children from the lower income background, for which it seeks to establish a scholarship fund.

Goals 

The project aims at achieving high academic standards through providing appropriate material conditions for study to its students.

  • The primary material goal is a modern school building with appropriate classes equipped with modern school technology.
  • It aims to grow at 600 students across 12 grades and a preschool.
  • It also aims at providing access to the school for bright students from low-income background so that the ratio is increased from 5% to 20%.

Activities

  • Modern building for high performing students

In order to achieve the goal of providing students with appropriate material conditions for study, the school building 2000 square meters is planned to be built during 2020-23, which will be equipped with study rooms, sport facilities, cabinets and laboratories, ceramic and wood workshops.

  • Learning from Design

Design is not only about beauty and function. It has potential for learning. Young Estonian designers will implement the vision of the school as aimed at cultivation of virtues such as empathy, stimulate collaboration and self-reflection. All surfaces in the school will be used for learning through senses: the use of materials, color, texture, symbols and technology will coordinate with the general concept of the school’s philosophy.

  • Space for finding your Element

Learning environment is important for giving each child a chance to develop their unique talents. The subject cabinets will have interactive board, computers, functional multipurpose furniture, containers for recycling. The biology cabinet will have a reptile tank and orangery.

  • Learning from Nature

The school will be equipped with their own greenhouse where children will grow vegetables for consumption. Apiary will teach children about the fascinating life of bees, creatures who have high level of solidarity and communication. The surrounding forest and garden will make children aware of ecological challenges that our society faces.

  • Supporting children from the struggling families (The Scholarship Fund)

Alongside the building project the scholarship fund which will provide access to education to students from low-income backgrounds. One section of these students come either from the families whose home language is not Estonian, and whose children find it difficult to integrate into Estonian-speaking schools. The second includes students from the multiple children families (three and more children), all siblings studying in St John’s school. The third low income group are children of young parents working in creative fields (writers, artists, actors, musicians) and do not have a stable income. The school’s unique character partly derives from attracting students from these creative families who will not be otherwise able to afford private schools. In addition, named stipend funds will be available for purchase of computers and software for deserving students from low-income families. Having currently only 5% of such students the aim is to increase it to 20%.

Key Performance Indicators to be reached (KPIs)

  • St John’s School is one in top twenty high-performing schools in Estonia by 2025.
  • 600 students will study in St John’s School by 2025.
  • The proportion of students from struggling families is no less than 20% by 2025.

KBF CANADA is working with  the  St John’s School on this project. During seven years of operation the St John’s School has grown into a modern, well-organised institution that builds community around its goals through activities directed at students, their parents and a growing network of people who share the school’s values. The outer circle of the school includes a network of partner schools, including private and Christian schools both in Estonia and in other countries (Germany, Italy, USA, Finland). St John’s School currently employs 46 full-time staff and gives education to 350 students. The School organises annual international conferences attended by 150 people in average. The presentations by the speakers from areas of education, psychology and field of culture translated into three languages, recorded and made available through the school’s youtube channel. Some lectures receive 2,500 views. The school publicises its values through the activity of the Foundation of Holistic Education which was established as non-profit in 2018. The foundation helps to promote the mission of the School to wider society. One project of the Foundation is to organise Day of Unplugging that promotes necessity of restrain in the use of digital media and non-digital forms of pastimes and family activities. In addition, the School has its program of publishing, issuing books on values-based education.

 

How to support this project?

By credit card: At the top right of this page, indicate the amount you wish to donate, and make the donation online by credit card. You will receive a receipt for tax purposes by e-mail just a few minutes after making the donation. Simple and fast!

By cheque: Mail the cheque to the KBF Foundation CANADA, mention ‘Project C205 – Canadian Friends of St John’s school in Estonia’ in the ‘For’ section and send it to: KBF Foundation CANADA, 1 Place Ville Marie, Suite 1670, MONTREAL, QC, H3B 2B6 – CANADA.

By Direct Deposit: Send an email to the KBF Foundation CANADA [email protected] or call +1 514.481.2000.

All donations are eligible for a tax receipt in Canada.

The projects are managed with the greatest care and professionalism.