My husband and I have been warmly welcomed by the parents at Braemar House School. I was very involved at our last school and wanted to participate as a volunteer at Braemar as well. I have always been welcome by staff and students alike when I am at the school. I was a volunteer driver for the volleyball team to take them to another school for the team's first volleyball game - i really enjoyed meeting more parents at the event - everyone is very welcoming. Our executive director is extremely accepting of new parents and really does a great job of connecting us with other parents and making sure we feel we belong. I have joined the parent committee and am enjoying volunteering with the school.
BHS parents come from varied academic, social and cultural backgrounds. The common thread that links them is the commitment to providing their children with a superior, enriched education in a warm, supportive environment. This provides a strong bond between families and it can be felt throughout the hallways of the school. Parents are encouraged to be involved with school life if they wish and there are many ways to get involved! Parents can be guest readers, guest cooks, speakers or even assist with the First Lego League team. Parents can coach sports or help serve amazing Thanksgiving lunch! They can make costumes for the school play or help at the multicultural day. Opportunities are endless. Each family that we have at BHS brings their unique history, culture and passion to the school and helps enrich the experience of many others.
One of the thing Braemar does well is incorporate parents into the school - the school understands that it benefits from the energy and enthusiasm of parents and, as such, looks for parent involvement. The school is open to parents in the broadest sense - they are welcome to be in the school (unlike some public schools where parents are not invited inside), but also invited to participate in a variety of activities and groups - from social organization to fundraising to school governance. This is unique - many private schools close administrative and governance opportunities from parents - at Braemar parents are highly involved. If anything, Braemar may provide too many opportunities for parents, who sometimes have strong and divergent views about how the school should run. However, the administrators have done excellent work in helping shape a unified vision for the school and inviting parents to be part of this larger goal.
The parent community at Braemar House School is phenomenal. There are no shortages of volunteers for events throughout the year. Their focus is on the students, the children, and whatever is needed comes through for them. I've had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know a number of parents through parent committees and school events. Each one has been genuinely kind, friendly and a joy to be around. The Board of Directors has constantly been filled with dedicated parents, and guided by some amazing parent chairs who make decisions in the best interests of ALL the children at Braemar House School, not just their own children. It is very easy to get involved and engaged at Braemar House School, as the invitations and call outs are frequent and clear, while the staff has an open door policy that truly allows parents to come into the school at all hours of the day.
Our experience with the parent community at Braemar was a positive one. I was very involved in many volunteer activities at Braemar. Parents are welcomed and encouraged to be involved in various aspects of the school. From volunteering with pizza days, school events, sporting events, driving for class activities or getting involved through the school's Board of Directors and their committees, there are a number of ways you could be involved. In my experience, parents can choose to be as involved or uninvolved as they like and there is no expectation. I cannot see any other ways that Braemar could provide more opportunities for parental involvement in the life of the school as they already offer an abundance of opportunities.
There are a number of events that are organized by the school that encourage parents to get to know each other (such as a winter dinner/dance), that encourage students to see the strong connection between home and school (such as the first week of school BBQ), that encourage students to bond with each other outside of school hours (such as the autumn bowling night). As parents who were new to the school, we have felt comfortable and welcomed at all of the events that we have attended. Beyond these events, parents regularly socialize before school in the parking lot, and after school as their children play on the playground; this is a testament to the strong sense of community that Braemar has managed to create. Parents are also encouraged to participate in a number of different school committees and to provide constructive input whenever it is appropriate.
When we first joined Braemar House School we did not know many of the families. As we were able to meet new families we immediately felt a connection, and our kids felt the same about the students in their classes. Typically there are several social events held through the year that allow families to meet each other. The welcome back BBQ in the fall is always a favourite if my boys haven't seen some of their friends all summer. There is also a Bowling and Spaghetti dinner event for families, and a parents only fundraiser dinner that has a different theme each year. Parents are welcome to be on several committees or act as advisors for the leadership team. I feel that the school provides many opportunities for any families who want to become involved in school life.
The BHS community is caring and welcoming. Right from the start there is a family BBQ where parents and students, and other family members, have the opportunity to catch up or get to know one another. Grandparents are welcome, and known! Coming in with one child partially through elementary could have been awkward or uncomfortable but the teachers, parents, and board make you feel like part of the family right away. I believe that the parents are given an appropriate role to play, that of supporting role. The opportunities are there to support the school, the classes, and other aspects if you are interested but the leadership and the teachers are the ones that should be in the starring role and allowing too much parental input could damage that balance. Personally, I feel that the balance is right and I can be involved as much, or little as I like depending on what else is going on in my life.