Oakville, ON | Grades NS - 8 | Shortlist
We have two boys at Clanmore, both of whom have attended since Toddler. We are truly part of the family at this school and throughout the many years we've seen our boys accomplish so very much. Most notably for us - our lads have retained a powerful sense of curiosity. The school's ability to create and nurture inquiring minds is a standout feature. This comes about as a direct result of the quality and character of the teachers. So often we hear organizations make claims to caring for our children as though they were family. There are few who can genuinely deliver on this promise. It is difficult but from the head of school, Grace Kidney, to the folks in the kitchen, everyone authentically embraces our children with insight, patience, acknowledgement of the individual needs of each of our boys. At Clanmore our kids are learning to be adaptable - things change and so they are shown how to be nimble. They are learning to be resilient - sometimes we have to turn toward adversity to learn and progress. This is encouraged. They are exposed to the requirement to be agile - even at the youngest ages they learn how to confidently pivot. We couldn't be more happy with our Clanmore decision. Since our sons enrolled, we have relocated to new homes three times. That can be a challenge for kids. Throughout all of this though there was the beautiful home they enjoyed at Clanmore and the roots they have established are deep and meaningful.
As with any family, sometimes you have differences. What matters on those occasions is that you have the confidence to engage in active listening and meaningful conversation. It has been our constant experience that the school staff are open and receptive and highly responsive to our concerns. Even though the school population has grown considerably since we first enrolled our boys, they are known to everyone and feel comfortable reaching out to any member of the family. The curriculum evenings and the Parent/Teacher interactions are thorough and as frequent as they need to be to be meaningful.
I once wrote to the head of school asking about how Montessori approached the whole STEAM issue. She sent me a wonderful response that revolved around one of her daily walkabouts through the campus. She adroitly pointed out her observing kids undertaking group work in the hall on math, other kids creating a diorama of space and still others researching some background information for a project on the web and finally kids curled up on a couch reading a book. The Montessori approach to my mind revolves around high touch curiosity and helping your child maintain a sense of wonder about the world while learning the practical tools to progress. The teachers at this school are just downright remarkable. I can't help but come back to the notion of family...my boys learn from so many people at Clanmore and they do it both through formal and informal processes. Perhaps of note too is that they are not confined to a desk all day long which for those of us who came from a different system restricts the ability to absorb and be exposed to valuable lessons.
If you're seeking a school where testing is paramount, where kids come home laden with bulging backpacks filled with homework, and where they get amped up with performance-related stress and anxiety, consider somewhere other than Clanmore. We, sometimes unwittingly, place a lot of demands on our kids to perform and in so doing we can extinguish the genuine love for learning with which we were all born. Again, we believe that sustaining and nurturing curiosity and wonder are key to academic and life success. We believe that Clanmore's approach to teaching adaptability, agility and resilience are the foundations upon which our boys will build a good life. The other aspect of this school is the recognition that experiences outside the wall of the school are critical and exposing our boys to real-world stuff is beyond valuable.
Competition for the sake of competing has little value. Competing with one's self to continuously improve and move forward is of great value. The extracurricular programs at Clanmore encourage collaboration while recognizing that kids like to bask in achievement that is real and relevant. My kids enjoy the sometimes rough and tumble world of soccer on the rolling hill or playing hoops. What they benefit from most is being challenged to better each time they attempt an activity and grow from where they were previously.
This always leads me back to the notion of family. Clanmore has grown consistently since our first boy enrolled about 10 years ago and the family has taken on several new members. What has been constant throughout though is keeping the touchstone of being decent to each other. This school does a magnificent job in creating kids who respect one another (most of the time, they're kids after all!) and who recognize that each one of them will do better if they can find ways to cooperate. The spirit at Clanmore appears almost always happy and even on those occasions when conflicts arise the family gathers about to find restitution. Mutual respect and character are central. And, when you visit, ask specifically about the peace rock and how even toddlers are exposed to restitution.
I can't begin to remember the number of times we've approached Christmas vacation or March break or the end of year when my boys have bemoaned the fact that they will be separated from the Clanmore family for an extended period. When I was a kid I sought out opportunities to avoid the imprisonment of my public school. Believe it or not...our kids look foward to arriving at Clanmore every day - almost! When you're a kid you want to be heard, you want to be seen, you want to be known and appreciated for who you are, you want to have some influence, you want some power over what happens to you and you want to have some choice about where your day will take you and if you're taught how to do all this within the realm of respect for one another you will prosper. That's life at Clanmore.
Our kids have made what may well be lifelong friends. My eldest son has been at Clanmore with his brother from another mother since toddler. And we have made such dear friends while enjoying the Clanmore experience. I have served on the executive of the Parents' Association and frankly I wish more parents became actively involved. That said, although few in number our volunteers add so much to the life of the school it is at time mind boggling. Friends that we've made through Clanmore have supported us through some very challenging times and in particular a few of the teachers and the head have embraced us and our boys with profound kindness and generosity of spirit. The only reason I have given a rating of 10 is because I wish we could get more parents to help out the PA. Oh, one other thing, this community is the least snooty bunch of folks you'll ever meet and that, for me, is a brilliant bonus.
Clanmore is ideally situated in a bucolic setting with Joshua Creek nearby, Lake Ontario a short hike, a big park right across the street, and the most magnificent magnolia tree you will ever see. It is convenient for commuters from east, west and north (we drive in every day from Burlington in about 20 minutes). The kids regularly embark on expeditions through the bush and on almost any day you will see them gamboling about the rolling hills to the east of the campus.