Our School

Halifax Independent School is a diverse community of enthusiastic educators, students, and their families. We are a private day school for students in pre-school through grade 9. In 2022, we’ll celebrate 50 years of learning and loving it – achieving academic excellence at every level of education in a co-operative and respectful environment.
In addition to the warmth and depth of our programme in class, children broaden their horizons with specialist instruction in French, Music and Swimming. We dedicate ourselves to offering children a joyful and meaningful educational experience.
This is a big decision.
Whether you are thinking about Primary school enrolment for your child this coming fall or considering a transfer for an older student, we want you to have all the information you need to make a great choice. 
We'd be pleased to meet you and to help you discover our love of learning. Please call or email admissions@halifaxindependentschool.ns.ca  to get started.

At Halifax Independent, education is focused on the whole child: intellectual, emotional, physical and social. We understand that a happy child learns best and that each child learns and develops in many different ways. Our small, multi-age classes allow teachers to challenge and support each child in ways that recognize the uniqueness of individuals while emphasizing co-operation and respect for others. Learning and loving it happens hand-in-hand with a sense of discovery and enjoyment. 

Our curriculum is thorough in all areas, solid and time-tested, allowing each child to fulfil the desire to know, see and do more – and to consistently reach their potential along the way. The theme-based learning that we pioneered forty years ago, and which is now a major international approach in education, is the core of our academic programmes. It emphasizes active, experiential learning as a means to ingrain the basics and explore the world.

We know that an integrated approach and a love of learning are the best ways to address the needs of the whole child. A Halifax Independent School foundation bears fruit as our students become confident, socially adept and motivated learners – a gift that lasts a lifetime.

Theme learning is the in-depth study of various topics, under the umbrella of a larger “theme topic” and in which all the traditional core subjects are integrated. The themes are of broad interest, appropriate for any age group and are chosen to reflect a balance of science and social studies sub-topics. Language arts and math skills are built into all topics as students report and explore. 

Using the theme approach, children see no barriers to their learning or interests; one interest and one subject discipline can naturally flow into the next. Each theme study involves an extensive investigation of concrete situations and materials, including use of community resources. An essential goal of our theme studies is to foster an appreciation of the community and environment in which the children live.

In working through theme, the children learn how to question, analyze, classify and communicate their discoveries. The sense of ownership and pride that naturally flows from these learning experiences benefits our students for life.

To discover more about the Theme Learning education model we pioneered 40 years ago as the Dalhousie University School read Learning and Loving It: Theme Studies in the ClassroomRuth Gamberg (Author), Meredith Hutchings (Author), Winniefred Kwak (Author), Judy Altheim (Author) published by Heinemann Educational Books Inc., 70 Court Street, Portsmouth, NH 03801 ($17.50). ISBN-10: 0-435-08454-2 ISBN-13: 978-0435084547

Halifax Independent School embraces equity and diversity, and is committed to fostering a respectful and inclusive space for adults and children in our school community. We encourage candidates from under-represented communities to consider employment opportunities at our school. 

In 2022, we will celebrate our 50th anniversary, half a century of learning and loving it!


We offer post-dismissal childcare for children from Primary to Grade 6. At this time, all participants are pre-registered, full-time (i.e., Monday to Friday) participants.

Primary to Grade 6 students can also pre-register for full-day recreational camps on Professional Development Days and Parent-Teacher Conference Days, when regular classes are interrupted. 

From the close of our academic programming mid-June, and for much of July, students from Primary to Grade 6 can register for themed, week-long recreational day camps. 

The aim of all of our childcare programmes is to provide an environment consistent with the goals of the school. The focus is on developing social skills, independence, cooperation and respect for oneself and others. The programmes are recreation-based and often involve the adventure of an off-site activity. Childcare staff are selected for their training, skills, experience and love of children. Parental input and participation is encouraged.

We welcome international students and find that the highly collaborative learning environment, small class sizes and warm school community greatly enhances their English language development and cultural experience. EAL is provided based on the student’s needs and international students are often able to secure a home-stay placement within the school community.

Parents of prospective students considering application from abroad are encouraged to explore eligibility criteria for student visas by visiting Study in Canada as an International Student .

Our Resource specialist assesses the needs of each student at the beginning of each school year and arranges for resource sessions, as needed. This work happens in small groups or individual resource meetings, and can address a specific need in the short term, and provide ongoing support or curriculum extensions. Great care is taken to provide continuity from year to year, and the high level of coordination within the teaching staff allows for synchronization of resource activities with classroom work and smooth transitions. Our thoughtful approach to academic instruction within the classroom emboldens children to meet with areas of struggle unselfconsciously and to embrace extra challenge with enthusiasm. This fosters an invaluable confidence and internal motivation that accompanies our alumni into high school and beyond.

School Administration
Headteacher - Heather Johnson

Department Head for Lower Elementary: Jill Morgan
Department Head for Upper Elementary: Christy Elliott
Department Head for Middle School (Grades 7-9): Meghan Nixon

Our Staff: 

Adam Johnson

Adam Johnson
Music Teacher, Upper Elementary and Middle School
BA Piano Performance with Honours (Bishop’s University, Sherbrooke, QC), Master of Music, Choral Conducting (University of Miami, Florida);  BMusEd (Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, NL)

In 2016, Adam was alerted to an opening at Halifax Independent School by one of his professors from Memorial University, and he jumped at the opportunity. 

Adam’s high school music teachers created a classroom atmosphere which encouraged he and his classmates to grow. These exemplars inspired him to pursue teaching, and they inform his teaching practice, even today. Adam’s educational philosophy flows from his conviction that music-making is transformative and communicative for people of all abilities, at every age. Adam enjoys the way children think and appreciates their surprising and humorous insights.

Adam quickly recognized the quality of the attention given to Halifax Independent students. The small class-sizes and student-centred approach allow him to feel confident that students’ needs can be met. Adam is energized and uplifted by bringing people together in song, and outside of music-making at Halifax Independent, Adam loves directing choral groups of all sorts.

Carol Anne May

Carol Anne May
Lead Teacher, Pre-Primary Co-Director
Early Childhood Education Diploma  (Holland College, Charlottetown, PE) Classification: ECE2

After 18 years as a resource teacher in Bridgewater, Carol Anne took a leap, landed at HIS, and couldn’t be happier. Born in Montreal and raised in PEI, this Early Childhood Education graduate has worked with children throughout her career. From a very young age, she knew that this was her life’s work and passion.  Her work with children of all ages has shaped her personal teaching philosophy. She has become convinced that the building blocks of educational success are strong, positive social interaction where children learn how to play, interact, and gain confidence in themselves. The Halifax Independent School’s focus on the whole child— intellectual, emotional, physical and social — is a wonderful fit.


Christy Elliott

Christy Elliott
Elementary Teacher and Department Head for Upper Elementary
BScK (Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS), MSc (Oregon State University), BEd (Mount St. Vincent University, Halifax, NS)

HIS is such a second home to Christy that she has been known to pull out her house key to get in the front door of the school! Originally from Dartmouth, Christy also spent some time in Connecticut, working at a therapeutic boarding school for children with special needs. It was there that she realized that teaching was her calling and, since 2008, has been teaching elementary school at HIS. Christy also heads up the school’s running clubs and in her free time, volunteers with the Girl Guides of Canada.

Heather Donovan

Heather Donovan
Middle School Teacher
BSc (Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS), BEd (Memorial University, St. John's, NL), MEd (University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB)

Originally from Halifax, “Heather D” joined our school in 2017. Since 2011, her teaching experience has included service in remote areas of Canada, distance-learning with a dispersed student group, and instruction across most subject areas. She loves to learn and finds both the process and the possibilities thrilling. A deeply satisfying experience as a part-time EAL instructor during Heather’s university years pointed Heather toward a teaching career. She values her involvement in a community of learners and teaching remains her favourite way to contribute to the well-being of others.

Heather was very grateful for the warm welcome that she received when she first joined the staff, and appreciates the collaborative approach and the sense of community within the classes.

Heather recharges by hiking with her dog. She loves exploring new paths - and soaking up the beauty found in natural landscapes.

Heather Johnson

Heather Johnson
BA (Mount Allison University, Sackville, NB), Certificate in Environmental Education (Algonquin College, Ottawa, ON), BEd (Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, NS), MEd (Acadia University, Wolfville, NS)

One of Heather's first days at HIS was substitute teaching on "9-11". In the days following, she witnessed how thoughtfully teachers responded to students—some with parents working in New York—and how naturally and intuitively the members of the school community interacted with one another. It is this community's respect for the broader world (including the environment) that Heather most enjoys. The learning garnered from the natural world and animals has prompted Heather to share her farm with the children of HIS. There, students experience the space and beauty of the Valley, where Heather raises sheep and grows vegetables.

For Heather, who also directs the senior students in their theatrical productions, some of her best moments come when HIS Alumni drop by for a hug, share their continued achievements, and let her know how fondly they remember their time at the school.


Jill Morgan

Holly MacFarlane
Pre-Primary Assistant Teacher
ECE 1 Curriculum (St. Joseph’s College of Early Childhood Education, Halifax, NS)

Holly is a life-long learner who finds ways to learn and grow in every circumstance.  Prior to joining the H.I.S. pre-primary class in 2018, Holly was a stay-at-home parent who operated her own family home day care and after school care service.  Our search for an addition to our pre-primary staff fit perfectly with the timing of Holly’s youngest child’s entry into formal schooling. Holly was eager to continue working with children. She appreciates the honest emotions and the pure joy that children express, and she loves witnessing their readiness to accept one another and their eagerness to learn. 

Holly loves creative, hands-on activities including painting (walls or canvasses), gardening, baking, and building. She embraces opportunities to know things, grow things, and try things. Holly prizes kindness and values the welcoming atmosphere of the school, the openness of the staff, and the feeling of community.


Jill Morgan

Jill Morgan
Elementary Teacher and Department Head for Lower Elementary
BAA, Child and Youth Studies (Mount St. Vincent University, Halifax, NS), BEd (University of Calgary, Calgary, AB)

From the minute Jill began part-time work at HIS back in 2004, she knew it was the school for her. Both her own personal learning philosophy and her teacher-training in inquiry-based learning, at the University of Calgary, made the school a logical choice. As someone who has always adored children, Jill considers her job a privilege. Some of the highlights include hearing their full-belly laughter, sharing their eagerness to learn, and reflecting on the many inspiring (and funny) moments that happen each and every day. Jill creates a respectful and caring environment where children are nurtured to become who they fully are and where they feel safe sharing ideas and expressing themselves.

Joseph Creelman <no photo available>
Middle School Teacher
BA English/History (Mount Allison University, Sackville, N.B.), BEd (Acadia University, Wolfville, NS),  MEd, Curriculum (University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, N.B.)


Laura Mikkelsen

Laura Mikkelsen
Elementary Teacher
BA (University of King’s College, Halifax, NS), BEd (Mount St. Vincent University, Halifax, NS)

Laura’s favourite moment at HIS happened on a field trip to the new Halifax Farmers’ Market. After time spent talking with farmers and tasting delicious food, the class of 6 and 7-year-olds happened upon an accordion player and began dancing their hearts out.  It’s this sense of joy that Laura finds most inspiring in children. This native Nova Scotian brings diverse experiences to the school including time as a deckhand on the Schooner Bluenose II, many art and design courses, ukulele playing, and Flamenco dancing! When she teaches, Laura encourages laughter, kindness and the children’s natural inquisitiveness. Her goal is to foster a caring community and to contribute to a lifelong love of learning within her students.


Lee-Anne Benoit

Lee-Anne Benoit
Elementary Teacher
BA, BEd (Mount St. Vincent University, Halifax, NS)

Watching her students write their first sentences without assistance is akin to watching them take their first step, for Lee-Anne. Helping students achieve this kind of success, within the creative and dynamic environment of HIS, fuels her love of teaching. Many early experiences led Lee-Anne to this career, including a three-year stint as an ESL teacher overseas, a position as a recreation program leader for the YMCA, and time helping struggling readers. as an instructor with SpellRead. She loves the way that HIS helps students to develop confidence and to realize their potential, all the while being mindful of their differences and personal strengths. She is happy to develop new and exciting experiences that enable her students to construct their own knowledge of the world around them.


Leigh-Ann Fulmore

Leigh-Ann Fulmore
Middle School Teacher 
BSc (University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB), BEd (Mount St. Vincent University, Halifax, NS), MEd (Acadia University, Wolfville, NS)

Leigh-Ann first experienced the school during her final teaching practicum, and joined the Halifax Independent School staff in 2006, as a new BEd. graduate. Leigh-Ann has grown along with HIS and credits the school’s collaborative and progressive environment with nurturing some of her greatest strengths. Leigh-Ann embraces interdisciplinary connections, demonstrating genuine enthusiasm and interest as a way of encouraging student engagement.

Leigh-Ann has served as a member of the Nova Scotia Institute of Science and values opportunities for Halifax Independent students to meet role models, exemplars, and mentors within the science community. She finds great satisfaction in seeing a good plan come to life. Outside of school, Leigh-Ann takes every opportunity to spend time in nature and enjoys sharing this deep appreciation for the natural world with her two children.


Liam Knox

Liam Knox
Elementary Teacher
BA, BEd (Saint Thomas University, Fredericton, NB)

Inspired by the kindness and steadfastness of his Grade Three teacher who faithfully delivered assignments and get-well cards to Liam’s house during an illness that kept him from school for half of the school year, Liam decided he wanted to be that kind of teacher.  After training in New Brunswick, he taught Kindergarten for two years before coming to HIS in 2011, where he was touched to receive such a warm welcome from teachers and parents alike. Liam is constantly astonished and rewarded by watching children push themselves to their limits in order to accomplish goals. He welcomes these wonderful moments — and experiences them regularly, teaching and learning at HIS.


Lori MacDonald

Lori MacDonald
Elementary Teacher
BA, BEd (Acadia University, Wolfville, NS)

Lori has had many memorable moments as a teacher! Her teaching experience has been rich, from climbing mountains and sitting in a bear cave to travelling by dog sled and sleeping in an igloo, made by her students.  After years spent in Canada’s North and in British Columbia, Lori returned to her roots in Nova Scotia and discovered HIS. Lori’s own thoughts about education and development are closely aligned with the school’s philosophy of creating an environment where children can thrive emotionally, intellectually, physically, and socially. In fact, she was so taken by HIS’s secure, caring, and academically stimulating atmosphere that she immediately brought her own son to the school. Lori is a Nova Scotia Designer Craft Council member and also nurtures her creative side outside the classroom by working as a wood artisan.


May ArmstrongMay Armstrong
Accounts Manager
BFA (Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax, NS), Certificate in Accounting (Mount St. Vincent University, Halifax, NS)

Born and raised in Cape Dorset, Nunavut, May’s interest in accountancy grew as she was exposed to the field through summer jobs. May discovered that she truly enjoyed that aspect of her work and set out to achieve formal certification. She first encountered HIS as a parent and appreciated the rich experience that the school was offering to her two sons. May is a perfect fit for the front desk of HIS, with her warm smile, calm demeanour, and love of children. She very much enjoys the strong sense of community, the fact that the school draws so many wonderful people (both staff and parents) together, and the opportunity to contribute to an organization she values.


Meghan Nixon

Meghan Nixon
Middle School Teacher and Department Head for Middle School
BA (St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, NS), Graduate Diploma in Education (Monash University, Melbourne, AU)

Meghan grew up in Nova Scotia, and found her way to Halifax Independent after having studied and taught in Nova Scotia and abroad. Meghan’s desire to work with children developed in her teens, teaching swimming and later, as a volunteer tutor with St. Francis Xavier University’s “X-Project”. Her BA at STFX was followed by career experience in an Early Childhood Education setting and she soon discerned that she wanted to be an elementary teacher. She completed her Graduate Diploma in Education in Melbourne, Australia, and spent the early part of her teaching career there, leading Grades 2, 4, 5 and 6 classes. Meghan has been teaching locally since coming home in 2013. Outside of her profession, Meghan thoroughly enjoys time with her family and she and her husband find deep satisfaction in raising their two young daughters.
Meghan relishes the experience of watching children recognize their individual strengths and strive toward achieving their potential in any area of school life.  Dedicated to discerning her students’ learning styles and current capabilities, Meghan sets high expectations for her students, informed by her own growing understanding of what each child brings to their own learning experiences.  Meghan gladly accepted the invitation to join the teaching staff in the autumn of 2016. At Halifax Independent, Meghan sees evidence of a true partnership between parents, students and teachers, sustaining a rich and supportive learning environment.


Nelle Callanan

Nelle Callanan 
Music Teacher
BMus, BMusEd (Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, NL)

Nelle comes to teaching and to music naturally. Her mother, Maggie Duinker. has been the music teacher at HIS for the last 14 years. Nelle ably filled her mom’s shoes during a one-year absence and and on Maggie’s return, the school had grown such that we needed two Music teachers.  When she was a first year teacher, Nelle experienced a warm and supportive welcome, and she feels honoured to be a permanent part of the HIS staff team. She participates in all areas of school life and enjoys collaborating with Maggie and the classroom teachers.  Nelle most enjoys children’s enthusiasm and passion for music, their fearless sense of wonder in the world, and their ability to overcome challenges in many different and amazing ways. When not at school, Nelle sings in various choirs and plays her ukulele.

Sandra Seth Sandra Seth
Elementary Teacher
BA (St. Mary’s University, Halifax, NS), BEd (University of Calgary, Calgary, AB)

Sandy flew all the way from Calgary for her HIS interview and promptly fell in love with the school. Luckily for all, she was offered a teaching position! Sandy brings her love of children’s energy, honesty, imaginations, and creativity to her work and is grateful for the value HIS places on collaboration, supported by a strong sense of community. She loves that teachers, students, and parents all work together to make the education of the students engaging and meaningful. Working with children on a daily basis continually reminds her of what is important in life: friendships, family, learning about ourselves, and learning about the world around us. On Thursday nights, you’ll find Sandy spending time with her own family - bowling, with two generations!


Sara HildebrandSara Hildebrand
Visual Arts Teacher
BFA, MEd (Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, WA)

Originally from Washington State, Sara joined the HIS staff in September 2017.

At university, on the path toward majoring in Art, Sara volunteered with middle school children and discovered a passion for working with youth. Becoming an Art teacher allowed her to combine both pursuits in one vocation. Sara values the pure and fresh approach that children bring to art-making. Early art experiences expose students to materials, processes, and background information that are new to them. The children’s excitement and creativity is evident in their artwork.

Sara’s teaching philosophy is student-centred, and she takes time to develop a solid relationship with each student. She has found that this investment of time and effort creates a learning environment in which students work hard and in which she feels well-equipped to meet the needs of individual students. From her earliest days at H.I.S., Sara has been impressed by the supportive community that students, parents, and teachers provide for one another.  

Sara finds a deep joy in her family life. She loves playing with her two boys and her husband at the beach, in the snow, or even just at home.


Tania DesRoches

Tania DesRoches
Elementary French Teacher
BA Hons (University of King’s College, Halifax, NS), BEd (St. Mary’s University, Halifax, NS)

Tania comes by her profession naturally, as most of her family members are teachers! She has taught French in both Halifax and Fredericton, and English in Lithuania. Since 2004, she has been enjoying the sense of community and collaboration at HIS and is grateful for the way her own teaching philosophy melds with the school’s. Tania loves the opportunities for creativity that permeate the classrooms of HIS. She feels most rewarded when she witnesses students pushing themselves to express thoughts in French, even when they are not confident. In her own life, she continually sets new goals and reaches for more growth, recently adding a half-marathon to her list of accomplishments, which also include playing the French Horn, portraiture, and stained glass work.

Tina Moulton
Tina Moulton 
Resource Teacher
BA (Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, NL), Bachelor of Liberal Studies-Elementary Instruction Honors (University of Maine at Presque Isle, Maine USA ), MEd (Mount St. Vincent University, Halifax, NS)

As a child growing up in Newfoundland, it was not unusual for Tina to come home and find other children, students of her parents, hanging out at her house. For her mother, a Grade Three teacher, and her father, a guidance counsellor, teaching was definitely not a 9-5 job. It was no surprise to anyone when Tina decided to become a teacher, specializing in the area of Resource. Her first stint as a Resource teacher, in 2007, convinced her that helping and supporting children in literacy was her passion. At HIS, she loves that students are encouraged to learn at their own pace and in the ways that best fit them. And she deeply values the commitment of fellow teachers and HIS parents who continually give, helping the school thrive.

Valerie Walker
Valerie Walker
Administrative Assistant
BA (Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS), Technical Writing Certificate (Dalhousie University  College of Continuing Education, Halifax, NS)

For many, Valerie is the “face” of HIS, working at the front desk, and, daily welcoming adults and children to the school with her warm smile and big heart. She home-schooled her three boys before enrolling her eldest child at HIS and quickly fell in love with the school. A job opened up at just the right time and soon, all three boys were enrolled. Each one flourished at Halifax Independent and the last graduated in 2011. She loves witnessing a child tackle a personal challenge and feels joyful along with them when they celebrate a triumph. Valerie has two second “homes”: her All Nations Church family and Halifax Independent School, both treasured sources of care and encouragement. In her free time, Valerie enjoys cycling, writing, making music, and spending time with family and friends.

Whitney Hunston
Whitney Hunston
Elementary Teacher
BA (Cape Breton University, Sydney, NS), BEd (University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PE), MEd (Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, NS)

Whitney discovered Halifax Independent School through a friend and knew immediately that it would be a good fit for her. 

Whitney loves active, engaged learning, whether as a teacher or a student! Whitney learned how joyful learning should feel in Grade 4, through an extracurricular Science Club that was the highlight of her week. Whether as a professional or a volunteer, Whitney loves working with children.

Her master’s degree was centred on literacy education, and in recent years, she has been certified to provide SpellRead literacy resource. 

Whitney has lived in Sydney, Cape Breton and in both Dawson City and Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. Whitney is an active-living and outdoor enthusiast and takes every opportunity to enjoy team sports, hiking, and skiing. Whitney appreciates the close community of teachers, students and parents at Halifax Independent School and loves working in such a positive, respectful atmosphere.

Designed by a local architectural firm, Lydon Lynch, Halifax Independent School is a welcoming, bright, two-story structure set on almost two acres of landscaped grounds featuring two playgrounds, a playing field, and picnic area. It sits comfortably in Halifax's residential west end, and is easily accessible from all areas of HRM.

The building is a teaching model of environmental efficiency, and fulfils the goal of "educating our children through example, by taking responsibility for the environment we share". It is heated with geothermal heat pumps eliminating the need for fossil fuels, and is "super insulated." Large, energy-efficient windows capture an abundance of natural light, contributing passive solar energy.

As well as ten classrooms and six co-operative workrooms, the special features of this 16,300 square foot building established a double height music room, a library, a lunchroom and kitchen. Every room is fully wired for technology, and the common areas are decorated with student artwork.

In the summer of 2014, with the expansion of our Middle School, a beautiful new stand-alone classroom was added to the campus. 

In February 2018, we completed an expansion that doubled the footprint of the existing structure.

The expansion features 
•   two second-floor classrooms.
•   a second-floor art studio space to house our core visual arts programme
•   an outdoor, rooftop learning space and garden

In addition, the following spaces are first-floor rooms with accessible washrooms, intended to enhance the availability of evening and weekend rental spaces in HRM.*

•    a Multi-purpose Room (72' x 25') with a kitchenette
•    the Cameron Gymnasium (a 94' x 63' Pulastic surface with hoops and an adjacent changeroom)

* As of September 7, 2021, the Cameron Gymnasium reopened to external, off-hours rentals. The Multi-Purpose Room remains unavailable. 

Halifax Independent School is part of an exciting community, locally and beyond. The school values interactions within the community and encourages involvement in a wide range of social, cultural, professional, and ecological activities. Halifax Independent students interact with students from local schools through clubs and other projects.

Being a member of the Atlantic Conference of Independent Schools (ACIS) enables our students to take part in cultural, recreational and sporting events. ACIS also offers our staff professional development opportunities.

Participation in the Duke of Edinburgh programme allows our Middle School students to volunteer in the community in an area of particular interest. HIS is a member of Peaceful Schools International and has supported our students in their participation in Me to We. The students' involvement in a We Act group has led them to support  the Solterre Library Build in Ghana,  and to contribute to Feed Nova Scotia through the We Scare Hunger campaign.

Opportunities to help close to home often develop naturally, because of community connections. Our students have brought song to a local seniors' residence and a nearby community centre, and participated in  Clean Nova Scotia's Great Nova Scotia "Pick-Me-Up" , among other things. Throughout the school's history, students have researched local environmental issues and contributed to local discussions around habitat protection and stewardship of natural resources. 

Halifax Independent also encourages children at all grade levels to feel part of the wider global community. Activities such as penpal programmes, supporting community development projects in other areas of the world, hosting exchange students or sponsoring an endangered mammal all help bring the world into our classrooms. A portion of all money raised by the children, for example, through bake sales is designated for a charity to be determined by them.

Halifax Independent School has enjoyed productive relationships with universities in the region. Originally Dalhousie University's  laboratory school, we were an important part of its teacher education programme for many years offering a rich learning environment for elementary students and a more intensive practicum experience than could be found in a conventional practicum teaching block. After Dalhousie moved away from teacher education, our school formed a relationship with Mount Saint Vincent University, and there have been few years in which there was not at least one student teacher in our classrooms.

Our school has also been involved in numerous research projects with regional universities and we are proud of our record as a partner in research and to be a member of the International Association of Laboratory Schools. Our students benefit from the extra learning opportunities involved, as well as from the expertise of university personnel.

The close-knit nature of Halifax Independent School means that we keep in touch with our former students long after they have left the school. We are very proud of our graduates; the first class to graduate from grade six graduated from high school in 2004. Of the seven students, 6 graduated with honours or with distinction. All continued on to enrol in university programmes, several with scholarships.

An Alumni Association has held several reunions over the years and was instrumental in fundraising for the new school building. Newsletters keep members up-to-date with the activities of the school and with news of one another.

If you are an alumnus who would like to receive our newsletter, or would like to share news about yourself, please email us at: admin@halifaxindependentschool.ns.ca

We love to hear from our former students and their families! They enjoy a standing invitation to our “End of Year Celebration Picnic”, held each year, in June. We lean on recent graduates to visit our Grade 9 class and give them a firsthand reflection on life as a new high school student. We gladly share news of our former students via the school newsletter and have had the pleasure of receiving them back into our immediate school community as B.Ed practicum students, as after school staff, as guest speakers and parents!

In 2012, Halifax Independent School celebrated 40 years of excellence in education - 40 years of fostering a lifelong love of learning!

HIS started in the early 70s as a tiny laboratory school housed in Dalhousie University's Department of Education. Called the Dalhousie Experimental School, many future teachers received part of their training there. During the 1980s the school was expanded, the word "Experimental" was dropped, and the theme approach to teaching was developed. The school's team of teachers pioneered their own version of theme studies and established four of the five themes we still use today. Many of the activities fundamental to our life today originated then: Mini-Society, the Plays, Fair, and the whole school Meeting. The book "Learning and Loving It: Theme Studies in the Classroom" was written by these same teachers, (Gamberg et al.), and it is widely read in the education field. The school was also designated a Centre for Excellence by the National Council of Teachers of English (USA).

By 1990, there were about 35 students from Youngs (Primary) to Olds (grade 4). It was still operating under Dalhousie's School of Education with one full-time teacher and two part-time teachers. When Dalhousie closed its School of Education as part of the Nova Scotia government’s “rationalization” plan to restructure the province’s universities, teachers and parents began to look for ways to preserve the school and its unique philosophy.

The school was incorporated as a cooperative in 1992 (Dalhousie Co-operative School) and soon moved to rented accommodation on South Street where it expanded to include a Littles class (pre-primary) and an Elders class (grades 5 and 6). During the next decade, it grew to over 100 students, prompting plans for a Middle School. As the school continued to expand, a portable classroom was added, the name was changed again, and staff and parents came together, to plan a permanent home. After several years of intense fundraising and planning, Halifax Independent School obtained land on Connaught Avenue for its present purpose-built structure. Since its September 2004 opening, the school has reached its planned enrolment of 150 students and proudly graduated its first Grade 9 class in June 2006.

Halifax Independent School is enriched by volunteers, both members of the community and parents. From parents who invite classes into their labs or studios, and members of the Board of Directors, to helpers with pizza lunches on Fridays, parents are a valuable resource for the school. We actively encourage them to share their skills and expertise with the students.

Those interested in a career in education hone skills and gain valuable experience through volunteer work at the school. In addition there are opportunities for paid employment in our lunch monitor and after school programmes.

If you are interested in pursuing a volunteer opportunity at the school please email us at: admin@halifaxindependentschool.ns.ca

We can't be a community without you!

Halifax Independent School is a registered charitable society in which parents and staff govern the school. Almost from its inception, the school has operated on a cooperative model with the gifts and skills of parents influencing every aspect of school life. Our Board is composed of elected parents and staff members who meet approximately monthly to oversee the direction of the school. Parents and staff, all of whom are members of the Society, gather together for three general meetings during each school year. These meetings provide an opportunity for parents to be well-informed and to have a voice in important discussions. Policies and practices are set and modified as needed with the input of the membership.

Committees deal with many different aspects of school life and consist of parents and teachers working together. An active Landscape Committee has designed and planted gardens and trees to beautify the expansive grounds. Other committees such as Family Support, Finance, Policy, Governance, Facilities, Public Relations, Information Technology and Library provide volunteer opportunities for parents. All committees report to the Board of Directors. With such a varied selection of committees, every interested parent can find a way and a place to contribute to the life of the school.