Learning Services at HCOS

Background & Purpose

The Learning Services (LS) Team offers additional support to exceptional students. These students may be challenged by concerns with Speech, Giftedness, Reading, Dyslexia, Written Output, Attention, Behaviour, Anxiety, or Sensory Distractions.

The LS Team's aim is to help every student reach their God-given potential, recognizing that exceptional students often do so in unique ways while walking a different path than most. These students may need extra support to shape their world to meet their needs and highlight their strengths.

LS K - 9 Support

The LS Team's approach is to:

  • Support HCOS teachers by assessing & identifying student needs & helping find ways to deal with root causes while minimizing areas of challenge through the use of adaptations.
  • Suggest ways to shape a learning environment & "outside of the box" approach by giving suggestions, insights and advice about resources & strategies.
  • Support the HCOS Teacher in their creation of an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) when one is beneficial.
  • Facilitate access to and funding of testing or resources.
  • Educate and empower the wider school community about exceptionalities through blogs, emails, lectures.

LS Grad (10-12) Support

The LS Grad Team's approach is to:

  • Support Grad Program course teachers as they make adaptations to their courses to best accommodate specific learning needs.
  • Support students:
    • to develop organizational skills through the Student Support Centre.
    • through a referral system recommending:
      • additional support through Individualized LS Grad courses.
      • additional Literacy Foundations and Skype tutoring support as able.


Your Learning Services student may be eligible for an official designation with the Ministry of Education. Read on to see who qualifies and how it would benefit your child.

It is a letter code that lets the Ministry of Education (MoE) know what kind of special needs are in our student body. They use these codes to determine the financial grant that they send to HCOS in order for us to run a Special Education program. Some designations help qualify for the grant, others do not, but overall, it helps the MoE understand our population. When a child is identified as desiring and being potentially eligible for a designation by parents and teachers, we put the student's documentation through our internal process to see if they qualify for a Learning Services designation.

P = Gifted
A student is considered gifted when she/he possesses demonstrated or potential abilities that give evidence of exceptionally high capability with respect to intellect, creativity, or the skills associated with specific disciplines. Students who are gifted often demonstrate outstanding abilities in more than one area. They may demonstrate extraordinary intensity of focus in their particular areas of talent or interest. However, they may also have accompanying disabilities and should not be expected to have strengths in all areas of intellectual functioning.
Q = Learning Disability
A student’s intellectual functioning shows that they are capable but actual output is showing the opposite. Their IQ, or other such testing, results in average to above average results but their academic testing shows that they are not reaching this potential because something is hindering progress. Example, age 12: IQ shows should be able to work at a grade 7 level, but actually working at grade 3 level.
K = Mild Intellectual Disability
Their IQ shows their intellectual functioning is low or low average and their output matches. Example, age 12: IQ shows should be working at a grade 3 level and yes, they are working at grade 3 level.
R = Moderate Behaviour and/or Mental Illness
A student must be diagnosed by psychologist/pediatrician/psychiatrist with a mild to moderate mental illness, OR we have assessments/documentation/observations of behaviour that is above the norm but not severe enough to require external supports such as the police, Ministry of Child and Family Development (MCFD), etc.

If you want more information around each designation, you can find the information here.

  • A = Physically Dependant – Multiple Needs
  • B = Deafblind
  • C = Moderate to Profound Intellectual Disability
  • D = Physical Disability/Chronic Health
  • E = Visual Impairment
  • F = Deaf or Hard of Hearing
  • G = Autism
  • H = Severe Behaviour Support/Mental Illness

Students eligible for these designations should contact Calvin Johnston (SE Director) for more information. cjohnston@onlineschool.ca.

If you want more information around each designation, you can find the information here.

  • The restriction on your curriculum budget is removed to allow for the full amount to go towards your child’s needs that are associated with their Individual Education Plan (IEP).
  • Provincial Resource supports are available for students that have certain designations
  • Sometimes having a KPQR Learning Service designation first can help get a A-H Special Education designation in the future if issues become more intense.
  • Accurately reporting the school’s learning stats may eventually bring more government financial support into the school, which would benefit your child and other children in need of support.
  • Maintaining a designation in grad will help continue supports into post secondary options

No, this is an annual process as needs change all the time.

Just the child’s name and the code associated with their need. They use the student name to audit how well we are serving our students. The MoE does not have a copy of any of the child’s documentation – all documentation is secure in our files.

Please email Lorinda Bedard (lbedard@onlineschool.ca) in the LS office and ask her to send you a parent permission form to sign, and then email it back. Once she has your signed form in hand, Lorinda will alert the LS consultant and teacher that a designation request has been made and they will walk through the process with you.

Special Programs

SE and Learning Services are happy to be able to provide a number of special programs.

Susan Barton Curriculum

Excellent for students with Dyslexia or other reading concerns, this step-by-step Orton-Gillingham-based program has helped many children achieve reading success. For more information on this resource see susanbarton.com.

Fast ForWord

This online program of game-like activities works to change brain patterns and improve memory, attention, and processing skills. HCOS has 3 FFW coaches who are dedicated to seeing student stay on track and succeed. Typically students gaining 1 - 2 grade levels in 2 - 3 months. Please contact FFW Administrator Kristi Rigg (krigg@onlineschool.ca) for more details or visit scilearn.com.

Resource Library

The SE/LS Department maintains a comprehensive resource library. LS Consultants and HCOS teachers may recommend an item and loan it to families to either address a short-term need or to see if the resource is one the family may wish to purchase. Items include such things as Audiblox, WordQ, Taming the Worry Dragons, as well as reference books.

The LS Team

  • Carmen Timmermans, Director of Learning Services

Interior and North

  • Michelle Nimchuk, Learning Services Regional Administrator
  • Destiny Ward, Learning Services Consultant
  • Elaine Rodwell, Learning Services Consultant

Lower Mainland

  • Denise McLaughlin, Learning Services Regional Administrator
  • Marcia Mishchenko, Learning Services Consultant

Vancouver Island

  • Alison Ellis, Learning Services Regional Administrator
  • Nicole Terpstra, Learning Services Consultant
  • Nola Morgan, Learning Services Consultant


  • Allison Miles, LS Grad Advisor


  • Lorinda Bedard, LS Administrative Support
  • Carrie Bastian, Online Assessments Coordinator

Additional Information

LS also maintains a number of online resources - please join the conversation and get regular updates on resources and ideas pertaining to exceptional learners.