Schools That Inspire: Not All Come in Big Packages

Darren SpyksmaSchools That Inspire, The CACE RoundtableLeave a Comment

The King's School students playing in a pile of leaves.

Not all schools that inspire come in big packages. The King’s School in Langley, British Columbia is on a journey, helping students deeply understand their role in God’s Story through place-based learning.

Several years ago, with support from a team of the Society of Christian Schools in British Columbia, The King’s School staff committed to place-based education to deepen the implementation of the provincial curriculum. This journey brought The King’s School into a deeper understanding of place and a more effective expression of what it means to be fully human: students and staff as agents of renewal and reconciliation in a world impacted by climate change.     

Place as context for learning

The King’s School is on the traditional territory of the Kwantlen and Katzie First Nation. To visit The King’s School is to drive out of the suburban jungle of the BC’s Lower Mainland up a long driveway to nearly 25 acres nestled amongst properties and dairy farms. This preschool to grade 12 school with over 250 students shares the property with a church.

Long-standing, soon-to-be retired head of school Tim Ireland is excited about the opportunities a smaller school provides families. With the support of a strong administrative team, the school has journeyed into an acknowledgement and celebration of place as a key driver for learning: “We didn’t know what we were starting when decided to focus on leveraging our property for learning, we knew it was one of our key assets, we just had not taken advantage before.

The King’s School is on the edge of an agricultural area, quickly being swallowed up by suburbia. It has a strong relationship with the local dairy farm and is committed to using their placement in agricultural land as a lever to create opportunities for Christian Deeper Learning. Through support from the church, government grants, and local donors, The King’s School has created land-based and agriculturally focused project-based learning opportunities for each of their classes.

“ALL THINGS were created through him and for him. And he is before ALL THINGS, and in him, ALL THINGS hold together.”

Colossians 1:16-17

Scripture as foundation for learning

To visit The King’s School is to see a school committed to the word of God and the power of committing scripture to memory as children journey through life. As such, it is not unusual to see students popping in to share memorized Scripture with Tim. This foundation then becomes the biblical imperative to live faithfully in the world.

Staff are invited to help students start their learning from the property and expand from there. The team sees the property they are on as a gift from God, a conduit for meaningful, restorative learning. This perspective shows up in many ways, including an invitation to feed the chickens and check on the greenhouse as part of a school visit.  

Each classroom uses the property and the local community connections in different ways. Whether it is an outdoor early learning area near the forest’s edge, a focus on improving the riparian area near the pond, or raised garden beds that provide food for the community, The King’s School students are not only able to enjoy the fruits of their labour (literally), but are also able to share their abundance with their community.

The King's School students help harvest vegetables.

In recent years, greenhouses, chickens, and gardens at the school have expanded to respond to another pressing need in British Columbia: the plight of the honeybee. Honeybee populations in British Columbia are in decline. As students became aware of this situation in their area, with the support and direction of their teacher, Kelly Newton, students used their research and design skills to create a plan to adapt the school property to promote the proliferation of bees.

Over the years, this work has included propagating, growing, planting, selling, and sharing flowers as well as expanding an orchard that not only supports the bee population, but also feeds the community. This past year, the community celebrated this benchmark, when students harvested enough honey to share with each community member and even sold some at a charity auction.

Students at The King’s School have the opportunity to deepen their sense of place through their learning. In this small community, students know God’s Story and are meaningfully known by the adults on campus. More importantly, students at The King’s School see Christianity and learning as part of an active responsibility to love God and His creation. The habits formed through years of a deep commitment to Scripture within the context of place are undoubtedly supporting the development of creation-care-oriented, active Christians, ones who give those around them a glimpse into God’s intention for faithful learning communities in 2024.


  • Darren Spyksma

    Supporting educators in creating learning that is engaging, empowering and fosters faith formation is Darren’s driving motivation. In his leadership roles, he seeks to challenge educators to explore ideas that bring schools closer to best practice within a framework that is distinctly Christian. Darren is committed to promoting learning that is built on meaningful relationships, is demanding and rigorous, and is engaging and relevant for the learner. He works with schools to intentionally develop learning experiences that are transformational and built on students participating as faithful followers of Christ. Previous to joining the staff at SCSBC as a Director of Learning, Darren worked at four schools in various positions including administration. In two of those schools, he built middle schools programs that are responsive to the developmental needs of adolescents. Education ∙ Bachelor of Education, Trinity Western University ∙ Masters of Education in Teacher Leadership, Dordt University

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