A completely enriching experience for my child. The environment and atmosphere was the prefect size and place to truly focus on his individual needs. The emphasis on outdoor education was integral in providing a peaceful and fun space. Our son certainly enjoyed his time there. One of his favourite things was some of the collages that the students made during their social studies class on environmental impacts. It was an example of the kind of fun, challenging and unique services that the school can offer kids at certain levels and degrees of difficulty. There were almost no issues during our time there, with all the other students being respectful and kind. They are given lots of personal space and individual time to sort out any problems.
Parental involvement was welcomed and encouraged, which is always nice. The staff is very hands-on and attentive to particular needs, and the principal was very accessible and accommodating. There is constant email contact that helps to keep parents and nannies in on the loop and any schedule changes that can come up throughout the week, for example. It is very easy to organize after school meetings to discuss anything that you may want. I found personally that all the staff were very kind and knowledgable.
Again, due to the smaller class sizes, the teaching was very hands-on. A lot of individual interaction helped to foster more of a dialogue between students and teachers. There is a main staff of teachers that deal with one grade each. On top of that, the staff includes a French teacher and a music teacher that will come in a few times a week. They have simple and effective grading system that is easy to understand and gives constructive feedback. At parent and teacher interviews they give a run-down on what needs to be improved on and what they may be focusing on specially with your child. The benefit of the single teacher is that they get to know your kid very well and can help them on particular subjects.
The school has an obvious focus on outdoor education, with a lot of nature based lessons infused with other subjects. However, I found the math program especially to be quite strong and even advanced in some areas, which is always a positive. The school's curriculum serves in many ways to transition nicely into private high-schools. Many of the alumni it seems go on into the private system, however our child had no issue transferring to a public middle school afterwards. The class sizes may take a bit of getting used to, however that is to be expected in almost any transition between private and public schools. His reading was actually slightly above the current level that the public system was at, so that was very easy on him.
Some of the extracurricular activities include a drama production, soccer games and a fun little music program. The arts are certainly well represented. Some of the students are on the spectrum and having some slight cases of ADHD, so we saw the outdoors aspect to be extremely beneficial. The breaks allow the kids to explore and play around the Brick Works area.
The student body is small and intimate, with about 15 students in each grade class. It fosters lots of close friendships and connections, and also keeps things manageable and controlled by the staff. My child made a few really good friends that we are still in touch with. All the students get to know each other very well through the different activities and projects that the students worked on over the year. The staff is very on top of ensuring that everyone is included in events like the music lessons and presentation assignments. Any problems between students were handled swiftly by the principal.
My child enjoyed the school immensely. The school does well to integrate learning with fun topics and settings. He had long days filled with physical activity too, which really helped us out as it gave him a positive outlet for energy. The only problem is that during the winter they are restricted as to how long they can stay outside for activities. They do provide lots of fun, Canadian outdoor winter activities like skating every Friday at the rink on the other side of the Brick Works. There is plenty of parking and the area is usually not very busy on weekdays, so it is really great for the kids. There is also a shuttle that connects to the subway line that we would use on somedays.
It is next to impossible not to get to know most people in the community. All the other families were extremely nice and welcoming. There were lots of events, including a Mother's Day Tea at the local cafe, where the students performed for the parents in a kind of fun little recital. There is no real parent council or anything because the communication between the management is very open and transparent. They are very open to new ideas by the parents and even began providing catered lunches at the request of some of the people in the community. The teachers we dealt with were very friendly and personable, and were very open with us. Overall, an extremely welcoming and involving school that is open and reliable.
The location is one of the best things about the school. It is secluded from the busy city and the kids are able to explore a literal natural oasis in their backyard. There were also plenty of field-trips to places like the Science Centre. It has one location right within Rosedale, and one that you can walk to through Chorley Park, or drive and take transit to off of the Bayview extension (the main location).