My daughter is very bright, engaged and articulate, but she's also very reserved and shy. She was in one of the better public schools until Grade 3, by which time it was very apparent that she'd given up participating and was falling further and further behind academically and feeling quite lost socially. The Linden School puts an emphasis on community, and the day before the school year starts, new students are welcomed at an informal breakfast in the gym and they're toured around the building with their peers. My daughter made a friend who she kept all year. The teachers are allowed the time to interact with the girls individually due to the small class sizes, and they were able to attune their teaching to my daughter's needs. Everything they did seemed to be based in the real world making it more accessible and memorable for the girls. Projects were spun through the subjects, such as doing a wildlife survey which was charted for math, became a social science topic about wildlife in the city, which was in turn an English project to write up their reports, and then finally an art project as they made a brochure. She loved her teacher and has fun every day. They spend a day raking leaves for a shelter in the neighbourhood, they have a "week without walls" where they spend each day in a different environment. Each child belongs in a "family" within the schools, giving them a multi-grade team. She is in her second year at Linden, and continues to adore it there. Her confidence and abilities have improved by leaps and bounds!
My daughter came to Linden from an overcrowded Toronto Catholic District School Board classroom where, as a strong student, she was never expected to challenge herself, and as a beginnger athlete, she was never invited to join a team. We'd originally been looking for options for grades 7-12, and had gotten a head start by visiting the Our Kids Expo and by taking a few tours of the schools which piqued her interest there. After an engaging evening tour and info session, which included Linden faculty, staff, and a well-spoken high school student who described her experince of learning to "challenge herself and take more risks," she decided she wanted to take the plunge a year early and applied for grade six. And, I'm so glad she did. The Linden experience, in both elementary, middle grades, and now high school, has been one of a kind. The small classes enable teachers to tailor their lessons to student strengths and allow students to identify and hone their passions. Students call their teachers and staff by their first names. And, they are welcome to ask difficult questions not only of their peers but also of their mentors. A selective overall enrollement of about 120 students in the school allows for a lot of interaction between grade levels. My daughter seems to know the name, face, and interests of every Linden girl. Since the girls have "families" from across the school, she has chances to interact with the early learners, elementary students, and university-bound students at weekly all-school events, as well as during Linden's fall "Week Without Walls" and spring "Spirit Week." You see the comraderie in full effect at both the annual Linden Science and Technology Fair and the Social Justice Data Fair, where the girls present their projects to their peers and welcome feedback from one another. My daughter has certainly felt empowered to excel in english, science, history, and math at Linden. And, the strings program, challenging art classes, and the new CERES lab balance out the core academics with ways of thinking "outside of the box." Our biggest Linden "surprise" has been the amazing sports program. My daughter actually loves gym! She's learned to play all sorts of sports she'd never dreamed she'd get to try. And the no-cuts policy on the teams, matched with the small class size, leads the girls to encourage each other to sign up and to take as many risks on the playing field as they do in coding class.