The School of the Greats is based on the principle of mentoring and combines college and university students with students in grades 1 to 6 of elementary school from disadvantaged backgrounds. The emphasis is on educational success. The program is a win-win: it supports both the educational success of elementary students, their college and university mentors!
The objectives of the School of the Greats are twofold. On the one hand, the program supports the educational success of vulnerable primary school students from underprivileged backgrounds in order to prevent high school dropouts. On the other hand, the School of the Greats supports the educational success of college students who become
The objectives of the School of the Greats are twofold. On the one hand, the program supports the educational success of vulnerable primary school students from underprivileged backgrounds in order to prevent high school dropouts. On the other hand, the School of the Greats supports the educational success of college students who become involved in the program as mentors, particularly that students at risk of academic difficulties.
In 2014, one in four children in Montréal-Nord did not obtain their high school diploma. In order to help alleviate the problem and support educational success, Professor Alisha Wissanji founded the School of the Greats in 2015 at Cégep Marie-Victorin. Today, the program has been implemented in several cities in Quebec.
Provide equal opportunity and provide individuals from underprivileged backgrounds real access to educational success, leveraging the expertise, infrastructure, and social commitment of the college network.
The School of the Greats is the result of a collaboration between elementary schools, the neighborhood Cégep, and the school board. Elementary students come to CEGEP on Saturday mornings where they are accompanied by volunteer college students to do their homework and participate in French and math lessons. In addition, they carry out scientific experiments and are introduced to computer programming in college laboratories. School transportation and lunches are offered to participants. The School of the Greats is a turnkey program where the local traditions and the realities of each environment are respected and celebrated.
The participating elementary schools are amongst the 10% to 30% most disadvantaged schools in Quebec, according to the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEES). In order to be eligible, a student must have an overall average between 50% and 70% and be selected by his/her teacher.
Mentors are volunteer college students who come from all academic backgrounds. They benefit from training to support them in their academic mentoring activities and are coached on a weekly basis. Following their participation, they can obtain student engagement recognition from the MEES.
The School of the Greats is a program that supports educational success for all.
Primary school students who participate in the School of the Greats have risk factors for dropping out of secondary school. College is an inspiring learning environment that allows students to plan for post-secondary studies and realize that they too are capable of accessing college. In addition, college mentors are positive role models for these students.
By developing participants' social skills, creating caring relationships, communicating high expectations to participants, and maximizing opportunities for meaningful participation, the program supports educational success and develops academic resilience.
Every year, we rigorously measure the effects of our program on the educational success of both elementary and college participants. This is done in collaboration with researchers from the University of Montreal and the University of Quebec at Montreal in compliance with the ethical rules governing research.
The School of the Greats supports the educational success of elementary school students by promoting effort, overcoming difficulties, learning through play, exploration and discovery, and social and personal responsibility.
The School of the Greats supports the educational success of college mentors by providing a context that fosters involvement, support for autonomy, the development of a sense of competence, and a sense of belonging and commitment.
Our partnerships with colleges and elementary schools allow us to intelligently use the existing resources in the area. The operating costs of the École des Grands program are therefore very low and are fully covered by the elementary schools and the colleges, which helps to ensure the sustainability of the program.