Our daughter has been at EPIC for 2 years now. EPIC offers a very safe, caring, and nurturing environment. It combines creative and active play with tons of learning--our daughter at 4.5 years spends almost all her downtime at home either working on art, reading her books, or trying to spell and play letter games. She is always happy to arrive at the school every day. Our daughter is shy and a bit introverted but she has lots of friends at EPIC now, and is always excited about the activities and rhythm of the school (which are always well thought out and constructive). I drop my daughter off every day in the knowledge that she will be safe, loved, challenged and cared for. She loves the art that they create, the short and long term projects the teachers guide them through, and playing with her friends at the school.
Carolyne (the school director) is a parent's dream. She's wonderful and caring with the children; analytical, responsive and "switched-on" with the parents. She is highly responsive to any parent enquiries, provides a weekly newsletter with great detail, greets the children personally at their drop off on most days (they're greeted every day by a staff member), and is 110% committed to the school. The school keeps a close watch on the kids and defuses any discipline issues very well--they are extremely focused on creating a safe and collaborative experience for the kids.
All of the teachers our daughter has or has had at EPIC have been terrific. They've inspired her in her artwork, her reading and writing, and her singing and playing. The teachers are of an extremely high caliber. They are all highly qualified in their fields. There are regular parent-teacher interviews that get quite in depth; we also speak regularly with our daughter's teachers. We feel that they really "get" our daughter and are committed to bringing out the best in her while offering a caring and nurturing environment. The teachers are very passionate about the students and about the school. They seem to mesh very well socially and there's a positive energy they bring while working together and with the kids. They offer great support to our daughter.
The school focuses on art, reading and writing, body motion (gym and yoga classes, group stretching and dancing, etc.). Our daughter is always inspired by her academic work and continues to work on her academics (on her own volition) once at home. For instance she will often carry around a box of letters or words like they're a stuffie and play with them during her downtime. There are a lot of group projects, set up on daily, weekly, or even longer cycle: for instance the kids did a project housing and caring for salmon eggs in the winter and then releasing them in a stream in the sprint (with help from an outside fisheries expert), at the conclusion of which they saw a play about salmon....there is a lot of cohesive thought applied to the program by the school and its staff.
Our daughter attends EPIC full time, from 8:50-3pm, so we don't feel the need for a lot of extra-curiculars. The school does however regularly go on field trips to the local kids book store, apple picking, etc. Parents also are invited in to participate in family assembly days, to read to the class, and on other special occassions, which the kids seem to really enjoy. Given that the kids are quite young I'm not sure if competition is appropriate at this age, but the kids are rewarded for good behaviour at assembly and otherwise.
The student body is small and intimate. Classes are about 15 kids and two teachers each. My daughter has made a lot of close friends in her 2 years at EPIC and is always excited to see her school friends. Each class seems to get along very harmoniously, and the classes mingle regularly at group times such as recess, outdoor play, assembly, etc. The kids can act out and have boisterous "free" play at certain points (outdoors, assembly, etc.) but the teachers keep things on point and always channel them in constructive ways or bring their energy back down to reasonable levels so that they can do the exercises or activities. Generally the kids seem to have a lot of fun while also learning and getting along together. They are also taught and quickly take to being polite and caring to each other.
Our daughter loves to attend EPIC and doesn't push back or have meltdowns up to or during drop off at the school. At the school she always seems calm and constructive. I feel we have good visibility on what EPIC school life is like because the school produces a weekly newsletter with photos of the activities, which in turn allows us to connect with our daughter about what she's been doing at the school. Because the activities are so varied and well thought out, there's always something new that our daughter is working on or involved with. I'd characterize EPIC school life as rich and varied, academically and arts-oriented, as well as caring and nurturing. I actually can't think of anything the school could improve on this front.
EPIC is located in the heart of the Yonge and Eglinton area on a quiet street at the back of a lovely church. It has its own well appointed playground and the church sits on a large public park that has low traffic. EPIC deserves its own dedicated building but the facility functions well, is well lit and nicely adorned with children's art and decorations.
EPIC builds a strong school community in a number of ways. It all starts with the kids, who feel safe, nurtured and challenged, and so are happy to be there and develop bonds with their co-students and the teachers. But EPIC also outreaches to the families a lot, with family day assembly (where everyone is invited--including grandparents, grads, etc.--and the kids sing the anthem, their school song (which is very cute), some yoga, dancing and stretching, and birthdays are noted and the "star of the week" is awarded. There's also a volunteer "class parent", there's an active board composed of past and present parents, and there are a number of social events during the year. Parents are very welcome participants and the group of parents I've gotten to know all seem to get along very well and are a nice community of their own.