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Who We Are?

  • ELAWS is an alternative secondary school program that blends classroom instruction with valuable work experience
  • The program is designed to address the needs of students and parents who have historically not participated in secondary education
  • Students earn an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) while gaining hands-on experience in workplace settings
Our History

In our community, we have a number of Mennonite groups whose children have traditionally withdrawn from formal schooling on or around their 14th birthday.


A number of years ago, some of the parents became concerned that employment  and apprenticeship opportunities for their children were being compromised, and that a high school diploma is a useful and important goal for them.  But they were concerned that full immersion into the school system was not ideal, both because they wished to maintain their cultural distinctiveness, and because they wished to put a greater emphasis on learning through work.


The ELAWS program (Elmira Life and Work School) is the result of those concerns.  Starting a decade and a half ago with four people around a kitchen table, the program has grown to over a hundred students and graduating classes of over twenty each year.  It emphasizes co-operative education, and allows for a degree of physical separation from the rest of the school. 


ELAWS is an example of the Waterloo Region District School Board responding to the specific needs of local community in the spirit of inclusion.

Our Philosophy
Kissing Bridge 1.jpg

School is no longer a place where you pass the best and flunk the rest.

We want to see success for all students. We like to think of ELAWS as the West Montrose bridge. In the same way there are many ways to cross the river, there are a variety of ways to get a high school diploma.

ELAWS is a sheltered process.

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