Welcome to your new classroom
in Calgary, Cochrane, or Okotoks

Learn about the world in the wild

LYNX offers students in Kindergarten through Grade 9 an exciting alternative to conventional classroom or online learning. We call it Nature Inspired Learning. Introduced in the fall of 2020, the LYNX program was designed to combine teacher-directed online instruction in the core subjects of Math and English Language Arts following the Alberta Program of Studies with experiential learning in all other subjects. Every weekday morning, LYNX students in Grades 1 through 9 attend classes online, either at home or in a supervised school setting, participating in engaging lessons and discussions with their class teachers and a group of other students throughout Alberta with a maximum of 18 students per class. Home educators also have the option of a shared responsibility program with the parent providing instruction during the mornings.

LYNX students then assemble for the afternoon in their classroom without walls in Calgary, Cochrane, Springbank, or Okotoks  and explore subjects – including Science, Social Studies, Art, and Physical Education – through a naturalistic inquiry and project based mode of learning.

LYNX ECS offers pre-K and Kindergarten students a slightly different experience. Our full day ECS students stay close to the school site but still spend much of their afternoons in the outdoors. The program can be either half or full day and transportation is available.

Instead of studying ecology through a book, LYNX students learn by walking through a subalpine forest. Rather than discussing water quality, they take samples in different locations along a flowing river. They do not just learn about the political process through a textbook but instead get involved by engaging with members of their local government. They meet and interact with local artisans to discover how tradition, knowledge, and skilled hands transform raw materials into treasured products. Rather than being taught life and social skills, they instead develop and practice these skills with both their peers and members of the broader community.

Our LYNX students gain a deep appreciation and understanding of their environment and their place within in it. The lynx is known for its remarkable eyesight, giving it the ability to see what other animals cannot. LYNX students are able to move beyond the textbook and physical classroom to visualize, experience, appreciate, and understand their place within the world. LYNX prepares students to be the leaders of tomorrow.

Now accepting student applications for the 2024-2025 school year. Click on the link above to apply or contact us today for further information.

Would your child benefit from LYNX? If you reside in Calgary, Cochrane or Okotoks, you owe it to yourself and your child to consider applying. Registration for students in ECS through Grade 9 is now open!

The global COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted how families view educational delivery.  Our hybrid model – online for the core academic courses and outdoors with a small cohort of students under the guidance of experienced outdoor education teacher – provides an ideal educational environment for LYNX students. They attend virtual classes at home for the core subjects and then gather primarily outdoors for the remainder of the school day.

LYNX is not for every student. But for those that seek to be engaged and active, preparing to be the leaders of the future, it is the ideal educational placement for the 2024-2025 school year.

Learning through mixed inquiry and projects

Meet Your Outdoors Team

Jason Ash
Teacher
Mr. Ash joined Third Academy in the fall of 2019 as the Physical Literacy Lead, as well as an online teacher through ursa. He taught the core subjects as well as junior and senior high Physical Education. In September of 2021, Mr. Ash became the outdoor education teacher for the Cochrane Lynx programme.

Mr. Ash was born and raised in Calgary, and attended the University of Calgary where he graduated in 1997 with his Bachelor of Education degree. He has been teaching for 25 years and has worked mainly in the private system, but has also worked in both public and charter school settings as well. Mr. Ash’s background has been primarily middle school, but has taught every grade and subject at some point throughout his career. He has been recognized for coaching awards, as well as, nominated through APEGA for teaching excellence in science.
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Victoria Ashton
Instructional Assistant
While Victoria is born and raised in Calgary, she lived in Santiago, Chile for 10 years. It was there that she completed her postsecondary education, studying Archaeology, Anthropology, and earning a degree in Environment. Upon returning home to Calgary, she worked in Health, Safety, and Environment for several years until she had children. Victoria homeschooled her two children for part of their education during which they spent most of their time learning outdoors. Upon enrolling her daughter in LYNX in 2021, she volunteered much of her time at the school and was soon was hired as an instructional assistant in 2023. In her spare time, she is venturing to different parks and trails with her family and 2 dogs, reading and taking classes related to nature and sacred sites around the world.
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Lisa Dahlseide
Instructional Assistant
Lisa Dahlseide is a conservation biologist, and Nature Inspired Teacher for LYNX based in Treaty 7 land, Calgary. She joined the team at Third Schools in 2021. Her passion is environmental education and she strives to inspire a deeper connection between people and nature. Lisa graduated from the University of Alberta with a degree in Conservation Biology focusing her studies on wildlife biology. She started teaching environmental education in Calgary’s Weaselhead in 2003. Lisa loves to snowboard, camp and paddle board. She started homeschooling her own kids in 2020 and is thrilled to have her own children in the LYNX program and ursa online
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Madison Fai
Teacher
Born and raised in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Madison set off to the “bright lights and big city” of Edmonton. There, at the University of Alberta, she received her Bachelor of Arts in Literature and Bachelor of Education. She then moved to Calgary and began teaching at both public and independent schools. It was there that Madison discovered Third Schools and, as she puts it, “found paradise”. As a LYNX teacher, Madison is able to pursue two of her passions – great books and nature - with students in their “classroom” in the great out-of-doors. Madison recently completed her Masters in Counselling Psychology. In her spare time, Madison can be found in the mountains skiing and with her dog, Lucy, hiking, camping, and exploring.
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Courtney Hinks
Instructional Assistant
Courtney joined Third Schools in 2023 spending her mornings as an Administrative Assistant in our Central Administrative Pool (CAP) and afternoons as an Instructional Assistant for LYNX in Cochrane. Working with the CAP team, she especially enjoys providing administrative support for our home-based ursa families. But what makes the day extra special for Courtney is the opportunity to go outdoors after lunch to work with the LYNX students. This experiential, nature inspired program aligns perfectly with her own philosophy on children education. Seeing the successes and growth of the children she works with makes Courtney smile daily. Born and raised in Calgary, Courtney now resides with her family in Cochrane. She has a passion for working with animals and children. She is the mother of two teenage children whom she homeschooled in parent directed programs all the way to late junior high and high school. She is a certified master electrician and completed her apprenticeship and additional training through SAIT. Recently, Courtney completed her BA in psychology at Athabasca University. Additionally, she completed brain story certification in 2020 through the Alberta Family Wellness Initiative and Nonviolent Crisis Intervention Training through the Crisis Prevention Institute. Courtney has many interests, including working with neurodiversity, animals, and her trade. In previous years, Courtney has worked in Cochrane as a specialized aide for children and teenagers and as an educational assistant in a preschool setting with It Takes a Village Educational Society. She continues to pursue her interests in working with animals at the Cochrane and Area Humane Society and volunteering with the Cochrane Ecological Institute.
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Afisha Jiwani
ECS Teacher
I graduated from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, many decades ago, with a Bachelor of Education and a major in teaching reading.

I have passion for books and very much like to impart that to my students and create the same passion for them.

I have been teaching at Third Schools for 6 years in Elementary special needs, which I thoroughly enjoyed. But I must say that teaching the young ones is such a pleasure as every experience is a ‘Wow’ for them.

I am married with two children who are young adults. When I am planning for my classroom, I like to travel all over the world. In my spare time I love to decorate houses.
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Thomas McKillop
Instructional Assistant
Thomas is an Instructional Assistant in the Third Academy J2 classroom mornings and afternoons he works outdoors with our Cochrane LYNX students in their “classroom”. He brings to Third Schools a profound passion for adventure, experiential learning, and the outdoors. With academy qualifications including the completion of a Social Work degree based on adventure therapy from Thompson Road University and a Business degree focusing on outdoor pursuits from Algonquin College, Thomas has both the passion and educational background to assist our certified teachers at Third Academy and LYNX.
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Mila Reyes
Instructional Assistant
Mila was born in Venezuela’s capital city, Caracas. She was fortunate to attend bilingual schools as a child and teenager both in Venezuela and in the United States and it was that experience that bloomed into a great appreciation of different languages and cultures. Currently, Mila is fluent in Spanish, English, Portuguese, and Italian. As an undergraduate student, Mila majored in business and applied the knowledge and skills she gained while completing her degree working as the CEO of a Venezuelan crop-spraying company. Mila has also travelled extensively and lived abroad in the United States, Italy, and Australia before immigrating to Canada with her husband in 2000. In Canada, Mila welcomed her daughter to her family. She returned to postsecondary studies and completed her Teacher’s Assistant diploma. In addition, Mila has completed numerous course programs including Language Interpreter, Indigenous Canada, Managing ADHD, Autism, Learning Disabilities, and Concussions in Schools at the University of Calgary. Mila joined the Calgary Catholic School District in 2010 to work as an Instructional Assistant in elementary and junior high classrooms. There she served as an educator, interpreter, ELL assistant, and Braille assistant. She was thrilled when she was extended the opportunity to join Third Schools in 2018 as an Instructional Assistant. Mila has worked in various elementary and high school classrooms at Third Academy and now enjoys working with LYNX students in nature's classroom.
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Joe Smith
Principal
An experienced teacher of 28 years, Joe has taught children in the public system, in a high academic private school, and then with Third Schools he taught special needs, home education, and now LYNX nature inspired programming. Joe has experience with leadership, as he spent 18 years as a Principal, or Associate Principal.

Throughout each teaching experience Joe used his athletic background to coach most sports and to help children experience outdoor education. Joe believes that outdoor experiences can have a positive impact on every child. Joe is currently leading the LYNX program and is very excited about the opportunity to make education outdoors, a choice for many families. In his free time, Joe enjoys travelling, camping, hiking, and spending time with his children and grandchildren.
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Meet Your Team Outdoors

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