A new elementary school in the Kitchener's Doon South area has its eyes set on the future, gearing itself towards embracing 21st century learners.

Groh Public School (GPS) is one of three new public schools under the Waterloo Region District School Board to open its doors this September.

But GPS has taken a step outside the traditional school setting by taking a more creative and open approach to student learning and achievement.

"Our tag line is, 'Learning to learn,'" principal Helmut Tinnes said while giving CBC News a tour of the school.

"We are going to promote and embrace failure. It's OK to fail, but we want to learn from our mistakes. From mistakes comes growth, comes progress."

Helmut Tinnes

Helmut Tinnes is the principal of Groh Public School, a new elementary school in Kitchener that is geared towards 21st century learners. (Carmen Ponciano/ CBC)

Creating their own learning environment

GPS is steering away from the status quo by giving students the opportunity to create their own learning environment based on the way they learn.

Classrooms are called workshops or labs, Tinnes said. A typical room doesn't have student or teacher's desks, but rather puzzle tables that can come together or break away. Students can work on the floor or work standing up on a "barista desk" if they choose.

"We know that students have different learning styles and abilities," said Tinnes.

Students will also have the chance to build or create projects in the maker space areas throughout the school like woodworking in the science lab, crafts in the art room or programming in the library, also known as the learning commons.

Teachers will also focus on enhancing global competency skills in their students. That includes skills like collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creating good character and citizenship.

'The power of yet'

Walking down the hallways of GPS, you will also spot quotes on the school's walls. One that speaks to what GPS hopes resonates with their students is, "The power of yet."  

"When a student comes to me or their teacher and says, 'I can't do this,' we say to them, 'I can't do this yet,'" said Tinnes.

"When we teach them at a younger age, it builds their confidence, builds their self-esteem and they'll be able to manage different aspects not only in school, but hopefully in life it self."