Ideal Mini School

Ideal Mini School is a public secondary mini school in Vancouver, British Columbia. It is a complete grade 8–12 high school program. It is generally accepted as the "steward school" of Sir Winston Churchill Secondary, although was run independently under the leadership of head teacher Jim King, who retired and was replaced by Ernie Pao in September 2014. The current head teacher is Sandra Hatzisavva.[1]

Ideal Mini School
Ideal Mini School 1.jpg
855 West 59th Avenue

, ,
Coordinates49°13′02″N 123°07′32″W / 49.217334°N 123.125518°W / 49.217334; -123.125518Coordinates: 49°13′02″N 123°07′32″W / 49.217334°N 123.125518°W / 49.217334; -123.125518
School typeSecondary school (mini school)
School boardSchool District 39 Vancouver
Head TeacherSandra Hatzisavva
Enrollment129 (2010)


An English and cognitive skills test is taken by prospective students as part of the application process. Community service, marks, and extra-curriculars are also considered for entrance. Interviews with the students narrow down applicants further.


Other than for its size, Ideal differs from Churchill Secondary because of its enriched approach to learning. It offers an intimate and creative environment, and utilizes an informal, unique teaching style where the teachers are addressed by their first names and trust is highly regarded. Integration among grades, expression and leadership are extremely common and promoted with "school meetings". There are six classrooms in the school, which is currently attended by approximately 125 students from Grade 8 to 12.

Students at Ideal may join sports teams at Churchill Secondary, as well as clubs, and elective classes in Grade 11 and 12.

Since 2008, Ideal has been holding an annual science fair. As of late 2009, Ideal features an advanced Moodle course management system that provides students access to online learning discussions and resources.[citation needed]


Ideal School was established in 1972 by teacher Garry Nixon, who was teaching at St. George's School at the time. It was intended to be an independent, alternative high school. The Province reported that "[t]o be admitted, boys and girls must convince Nixon they sincerely want to learn and are willing to work harder than would be required in other schools", and that it would cost $60 a month in fees.[2] Nixon published a job posting in The Vancouver Sun, promising prospective teachers "freedom, fascination and abject poverty".[3] Six teachers comprised the original staff, chosen from a pool of over 60 applicants, and with much lower salaries than what could be expected at a public school.[2] Ideal School was originally housed in the Vancouver Fancy Sausage Factory, on 16th Avenue and Heather Street. The blood gutters had to be cleaned out before the staff and students could move in.[4] Faced with financial difficulties, in 1974 the school approached the Vancouver School Board for economic support.[5]

Sir William Dawson School circa 1920
1974 newspaper ad

Once absorbed by the Vancouver School Board, the tuition was removed and teacher salaries were increased.[6] It was temporarily relocated to Sir William Dawson School on Helmcken Street[7] (which closed in 1972, and was used by Ideal and City School, another alternative program, from 1974 to 1977[8]). It was placed under the administration of King George Secondary School, and prospered for two years with help from the school board, which advertised for it to maintain enrolment, reportedly spending approximately $1,700 between 1974 and 1977.[7] In November 1975, a research report released by a member of the Board of School Trustees reported around 100 students and five teachers. It claimed that the students benefited from their experience at Ideal due to freedom to participate in school decisions, dedicated teachers, and low student–teacher ratio, while criticizing the building and the lack of facilities and equipment.[9]

Lord Byng Secondary School

On April 21, 1976, the school board stated that Ideal was to be moved to Lord Byng Secondary School. A parent–student committee was formed to discuss the situation, which presented arguments against the move to the school board, claiming that its independence was necessary to maintain students' individuality and creativity. The committee succeeded in convincing the board to withdraw its decision. On October 4, 1976, a board official stated that the move to Lord Byng was being reconsidered, but the committee succeeded once more in convincing the board against the relocation. However, on December 6, 1976, the board announced their irreversible decision to perform the move before February 1, 1977,[10][11] as the Dawson School building was considered to be expensive to maintain.[7] Ideal School was to occupy three classrooms at Byng, and students were told that they could either accept the move or be dispersed among Vancouver high schools.[12] On January 4, 1977, Ideal students protested in front of the Vancouver School Board.[13]

It was agreed that the school board would assess Ideal's situation at Lord Byng for six months, and if the accommodation was deemed inadequate, it would be relocated again.[14] Lord Byng and Ideal did not co-exist well, and parents and students wrote complaint letters to the media.[4][15]

Relocation to the former site of L'École Bilingue Elementary in Shannon Park was considered, but residents of the area disapproved of the presence of a secondary school.[16] Eventually, Ideal was relocated to 855 West 59th Avenue.[17]

In 1995, Ideal Mini School came in first in British Columbia provincial exam results for English 12 and second (the first being University Hill Secondary School) in English Literature 12.[18]

Vancouver School Board budget cuts in 2010 threatened mini schools, including Ideal,[19] resulting in student protests.[20]

Notable alumniEdit


  1. ^ "Our Staff". Ideal Mini. 2022.
  2. ^ a b Mullen, Dan (21 June 1972). "This school looks for bored students". The Province. p. 10.
  3. ^ "Teachers flock to school that offers life of poverty". The Vancouver Sun. 14 June 1972.
  4. ^ a b Sarti, Robert (7 June 1982). "Birth of an Ideal". The Vancouver Sun. p. B1.
  5. ^ Krangle, Karenn (17 May 1977). "Quiet Granville school no Ideal solution". The Vancouver Sun. p. 17.
  6. ^ Krangle, Karenn (17 December 1976). "Parents, students protest moving of Ideal School". The Vancouver Sun. p. 20.
  7. ^ a b c Andrew, Margaret (18 January 1977). "Why Ideal School was moved". The Vancouver Sun. p. 5.
  8. ^ Hamilton, Val. "Brief History of Schools in Vancouver" (PDF). Retrieved 28 April 2011.
  9. ^ Middleton, M.A. "An Evaluation of Ideal School, 1974–75" (PDF). Education Resources Information Center. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
  10. ^ Stephenson, Sue (15 December 1976). "Parent feels betrayed by school relocation". The Vancouver Sun. p. 5.
  11. ^ Students of the Ideal School (15 December 1976). "Ideal School students 'unjustly treated'". The Vancouver Sun. p. 5.
  12. ^ "Trustee tells off parents". The Province. 17 December 1976. p. 45.
  13. ^ "Students mount final protest over new home". The Vancouver Sun. 4 January 1977. p. 2.
  14. ^ "Ideal school move to Byng changed to six-month test". The Vancouver Sun. 8 January 1977. p. 12.
  15. ^ Krangle, Karenn (3 June 1977). "Alternative schools have identity crisis". The Vancouver Sun. p. 17.
  16. ^ "70 oppose Ideal School". The Province. 17 May 1977. p. 26.
  17. ^ "Ideal Mini School". Vancouver School Board. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  18. ^ "Exam results school by school". The Province. 13 February 1996. p. B8.
  19. ^ O'Connor, Naoibh (23 April 2010). "Mini school students denounce budget cuts". Chilliwack Times. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
  20. ^ Elias, Ryan (7 May 2010). "Protesting education cuts". Vancouver Observer. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
  21. ^ Dadoun, Nou. "Michael Blake: interview by Nou". Vancouver Jazz. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  22. ^ "Joshua Jackson: Full Stats". Retrieved 21 July 2012.

External linksEdit