Webber Academy: Imbibing Artistry in the World of Education
Webber Academy
Webber Academy

There are a few schools that give personal attention to each child, creating an atmosphere where young people of many faiths and cultures feel equally at home, and provide a high-caliber school whose graduates will have a positive influence in the world.

These qualities reflect one exceptional school, Webber Academy, that focuses on the value-added offerings and teachings to the students. Webber Academy is an accredited, co-educational, nondenominational, and university preparatory school offering instruction from junior kindergarten to grade 12.

Dr. Neil Webber, Founder, President, and Head of School, founded the school in 1996. He has spent most of his career in public service: first as a teacher with the Calgary Public and Catholic School Boards, then as an elected representative and cabinet minister in the Alberta Provincial Government. He was Chairman of Telus Corporation and has served on numerous other corporate and public boards, including the conference board council of education.

Webber Academy is now in its 24th year of operation with a record enrollment of 1004 students for the 2021/2022 Academic year. The school is currently developing the Webber Academy Athletic Park and Indoor Training Facility just a few miles west of the current campus. This facility will provide numerous extra-curricular opportunities for the students and community members.

The Advent of the Webber Academy

Webber Academy was incorporated in 1997 as a non-profit company with a mandate to be a high-quality, nondenominational, co-educational, university preparatory, accredited private school. Subsequently, Revenue Canada recognized Webber Academy as a charitable organization. All revenue generated goes directly back into the school and benefits its students.

“Our school’s mission is to prepare students to thrive in university and beyond. This mission will be accomplished by creating an environment of high expectations of achievement, behavior, and service. Our society needs citizens with strong moral and ethical values who believe in the responsibilities of citizenship and service to others. At Webber Academy, we will actively encourage the growth and development of these traditional values in our students. Participation in, and enjoyment of school life, will prepare our students for responsible involvement in their communities and our society,” says Neil Webber.

School Values

Webber Academy expects students to:

  • Care for themselves.
  • Respect themselves and their peers.
  • Respect their teachers, leaders, and all adults.
  • Honor their parents.
  • Be truthful and honest.
  • Work hard and use their talents and abilities.
  • Speak well of others.
  • Be loyal and trustworthy.
  • Be courteous.
  • Be cooperative and work as a team member.
  • Honor the country’s heritage and place in the world.
  • Be committed to principles.
  • Reach their full potential.

These values are essential to becoming a whole person, developing integrity, and building lasting relationships with others.

The school is in southwest Calgary in a beautiful setting overlooking the foothills and mountains to the west. The facilities consist of a kinder center for four and five-year-old students, the main campus building with two large gymnasiums for Grades 1-12, a modern high school science center and a performing arts center with a 500-seat theatre, a 400-meter running track, soccer field, and cross-country trails through the aspens. In the spring of 2020, Webber Academy purchased 530 acres of land in spring bank, Alberta. It is currently developing an Athletic Park that will feature four baseball fields, a soccer pitch, and a 50,000 square foot indoor training facility.

Faculty of Excellence

Webber Academy has attracted a faculty of experienced teachers who are passionate about educating children. The teachers are professional, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable about the subjects they teach. They care about their students and believe students can shape their worlds.

The dedicated staff strives to hone their skills by sharing ideas and participation in professional development opportunities.

Teachers are full partners with parents in providing the students with classroom instruction, regular homework, and individual attention. At all levels of schooling, the regular curriculum, as prescribed by Alberta Education, is enhanced and enriched to provide the students with additional practice in reinforcing basics and developing new skills. Webber Academy also believes in developing well-rounded students. Therefore, its program emphasizes the core subjects of Mathematics, English, Science, Geography/History, as well as instruction in second languages, the fine and performing arts, athletics, and technology.

A variety of experiences are provided, which enable the child to:

  • Sustain and extend natural curiosity.
  • Develop thinking through a meaningful learning experience.
  • Use language to communicate effectively.
  • Think, learn, and communicate through the arts.
  • Develop a positive and realistic self-concept.
  • Develop cooperative and independent social skills.
  • Become an independent and lifelong learner.

As Webber Academy strives to meet the needs of every child and provide enriched academic and extra-curricular programs, the school is committed to delivering outstanding educators. All children are viewed as remarkable individuals with great potential who must be challenged in a multitude of areas by inspiring teachers that endeavor to promote a love of learning.

Staff members regularly review curriculum and assessment objectives and contribute new ideas incorporated into Webber Academy practices that tie in well with the Alberta Programs of Studies.

The Board of Directors consists of Calgary residents with varied and valuable backgrounds who strongly believe in the mission and vision of Webber Academy, and we are truly grateful for their expertise, service, and loyalty.

An Inspirational Tale

Dr. Neil Webber was born on April 17, 1936, in the rural town of Hanna, Alberta. His parents were Charles Webber, a grain elevator operator and farmer, and Katherine McAuliffe, a rural Alberta school teacher. They worked diligently to ingrain the importance of hard work, honesty, integrity, respect, and compassion into their nine children. Being the eldest of nine children (five boys and four girls), Neil had many responsibilities to the farm and his family.

“During high school, I was not as successful academically as I could have been because of missing school. My father was ill and had been hospitalized a few times, so I stayed home to tend to the cattle and farm,” says Neil.

Upon completion of high school, Neil was faced with a difficult choice. Should he become a farmer and help his dad with the family business, join the ranks of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or pursue post-secondary education.

Dr. Webber explained, “At one point, I applied to both the RCMP and the University of Alberta. I heard back from the University first, so decided to head down that road of opportunity.” At 23 years of age, Neil Webber was offered a position at Queen Elizabeth High School for teaching physics. He loved every moment and quickly developed a passion for pedagogy. This first experience as an educator in 1959 was pivotal in formulating a vision, a dream he had for the future.

Neil expresses, “When I first started teaching, I had a class of about 35 students with a wide range of abilities, and I, like other teachers, taught to maximize the number of students that could understand the concepts. I realized that the students who were finding the subjects easier than others did not get the attention they deserved.”

It was this observation that sparked an idea to create a school for the top quartile of students. If students with average or above-average abilities possessed a strong desire to work hard and were challenged with an enhanced curriculum delivered by passionate, creative, and bright teachers, they would have a better opportunity to excel and attain their true potential.

The Journey towards the Dream

In 1964, Neil Webber moved to the U.S. with his wife and three children to pursue a Master of Arts degree in Mathematics from the University of Montana. The pursuit of excellence in education did not end there; he would later obtain a Bachelor of Education degree and his Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Alberta.

Dr. Webber returned to Calgary to teach at Mount Royal College. During that time, he attended several presentations by Mr. Peter Lougheed and was inspired to run for political office. Although he lost a Calgary Foothills conservative nomination meeting on the fourth ballot in 1973 for an upcoming by-election, Webber ran in the 1975 provincial election, this time with Lougheed’s help, and won a seat in Calgary Bow over an esteemed opponent, Mr. Roy Wilson of the Social Credit Party. Roy Wilson later became a close friend to the Webber family and a generous contributor and long-time Board Member of Webber Academy.

“Roy and I became great friends, and he was one of the first individuals I approached when we started the school,” Dr. Webber recalls.

Dr. Webber was more than a politician; he was a gentleman distinguished by a strong work ethic and desire to serve well. He consistently exceeded high expectations. His opinion was highly sought after and respected. His commitment to meeting the demands of his constituents, combined with a sincere loyalty to party leaders, resulted in appointments to various cabinet posts over fourteen years of public service.

As a member of the Legislative Assembly with the Government of Alberta, Dr. Webber served as Associate Minister of Telephones, Minister of Social Services and Community Health, Minister of Education, and Minister of Energy. Throughout his years in politics, Dr. Webber never strayed far from education. After all, it was in his blood. “At one point, six of my eight siblings were involved in education in one way or another,” he commented.

After fourteen extraordinary years, Dr. Webber departed the world of politics. “I thought I was reaching an age whereby if there was going to be a post-political career, then I should not wait long to pursue other interests. I was in my early 50s. I remember having a discussion with Peter [Lougheed] over lunch, and he said, Be careful. Do not wait too long to embrace another career; I took his advice,” Webber expressed.

Webber was asked by Hon. Don Getty, Premier of Alberta, to accept the position of Chairman of the Crown Corporation, Alberta Government Telephones. Webber did so and led AGT through the process of privatization into the company that is now known as TELUS.

Throughout Webber’s various careers, the one thing that remained constant was his love for learning. In 1994, he semi-retired. Finally able to have some time for himself, Dr. Webber turned to the sport of golf and often completed 36 holes in a day. His thoughts consistently wandered to the dream he had while teaching at Queen Elizabeth High School decades earlier. He thought, maybe this was the time to start a school, and so, the phone calls began. Webber Academy Inc. was created on June 12, 1995. Through shares and debentures from twelve founders, Dr. Webber was able to finance the start-up venture.

The Extraordinary Deeds

As the year progressed, everything fell readily into place, and the Board felt confident the school would open in the Fall of 1997. The school colors (red, white, and navy blue) were prominently revealed in the final designs of the school uniform, and the completed logo featured the Canadian Maple Leaf, the Rocky Mountains, the Alberta Foothills, as well as the school’s motto, On to Excellence. 

Webber Academy provides several unique opportunities for students to enhance their educational experience, including the president’s breakfast club speaker series. The president’s breakfast club was created in 2005, with a mandate to provide Webber Academy students and staff with opportunities to learn from community and business leaders. Over the years, it has welcomed distinguished political leaders, astronauts, rock stars, and alumni members. To date, more than 30 speakers have presented at the campus.

Webber Academy students and staff have the opportunity to give back to the community and charitable organizations throughout the school year. An example of this is the annual terry fox run in support of cancer research.

Since 1998, Webber Academy has participated in the terry fox run fundraiser, an event close to its heart. For the past several years, students enrolled in grade 12 physical education have been organizing most aspects of the run. In September 2019, the school was honored to have Terry Fox’s brother, Darrell Fox, as its guest speaker. It had beautiful weather for its traditional memorial walk, followed by its senior school students and staff taking part in a 3 km run, while the entire elementary school ran the track. A total of $28,359.52 was raised for the Terry Fox foundation.

This significant contribution once again placed Webber Academy among the top fundraising school in Alberta. To date, Webber Academy has raised over $650,000 for the Terry Fox Foundation and cancer research.

The future of Webber Academy looks very promising with the school enrollment currently at total capacity and a strong alumni membership that continues to grow. Many of the graduates of Webber Academy are earning accolades and achievements in their post-secondary pursuits and beyond.

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