May. 01, 2023
Providing Compassionate Education
At William Roper Hull School, students of all abilities and backgrounds come together to learn in a supportive environment. It’s a place where positive energy radiates from every classroom and hallway.
Located in the southwest community of Woodlands, the school serves students with complex needs in Grades 1 to 12. One of the unique features of William Roper Hull School is its partnership with Hull Services, a non-profit organization that has been providing mental health and behavioural support to kids in Calgary since 1962.
Together, the two organizations provide the needed resources and services for students to succeed in their education.
“Our goal is always to have students return to their community school,” said Michael McMahon, Principal, William Roper Hull School. “We want to do as much as possible to prepare them to go back to a community school."
“Our teachers are intentional in the way they approach learning with this goal in mind. We have a lot of supports to help students.”
The robust supports have resulted in success. In the 2021-22 school year, two in five students transitioned to a satellite classroom or their community school. But beyond the numbers, are the heart-warming stories of student success.
There’s the story about the student who hit his stride with hands-on learning and is now in a cabinet-making apprentice program at SAIT. There’s another story about a student who transitioned to a community school and thrived in her studies and on the badminton team.
Then, there’s the stories of the families served. The mother of a musically inclined student told the school about how engaged her son was in his learning.
“You can just tell when he comes home how happy he is, and he talks to us all the time about the things that he’s doing at school.”
Roughly half of the students live at Hull in what experts describe as “therapeutic campus-based care.” The sprawling campus has a greenhouse, shop, and skate park for the students.
The other half of the students are bused in daily and retain a connection with their home schools across the city. The school also has satellite programs set up at Acadia School, Sherwood School and Lord Beaverbrook High School.
The transition process from William Roper Hull School to a satellite or community school can be challenging for students, and the school staff provide extensive support to help students make the transition smoother. Teachers and support staff also work closely with community schools to ensure that students have the resources they need to succeed.
The partnership between the Calgary Board of Education and Hull Services is vital to the success of the William Roper Hull School. The organizations team up to provide a wide range of services and supports to students who are facing challenges in their daily lives.
“We work hard to make sure the relationship is nurtured and taken care of,” said Denise Manderson, Senior Director of Safe Directions, Training and Educational Services with Hull Services. “As a partner, we’re in front of kids for six-and-a-half hours a day. That is an amazing opportunity.”
Manderson started at Hull as a child and youth care counselor in 1994. She talks in great detail about the introduction of more trauma-informed practices, which make a huge difference in the lives of students.
William Roper Hull School has always been a valuable part of the Calgary education system, according to Trustee Nancy Close. Close joined her fellow Board of Trustee members and senior CBE staff on a tour of the campus this spring.
“Our Board of Trustees is proud to support William Roper Hull School, a place where students can learn in a safe, inclusive and supportive environment,” said Close, who represents Wards 11 and 13. “We’ve seen firsthand how staff at the school work tirelessly to ensure that each student receives the individual care and attention they need to reach their full potential.
“This school is truly a gem in our community, and I believe that its presence enriches the lives of everyone who has the opportunity to be a part of it.”