What I really like about my kid’s school

Published
02/24/2016 by

Mandatory activities

Debbie Mckenzie, mother of five
• school her kids attend/attended: Rothesay Netherwood School, Rothesay, New Brunswick (co-ed, grades six through 12)

“Having five, you know they are hard-wired. Some are interested in the arts, some in the academics. Some, sports. The students have to touch on all aspects. They could say ‘no’ to you, but at school they have to try. They tried soccer, basketball, volleyball. At RNS, you don’t have to try out (for the team); you will make it. My girls were not exposed to those sports, and they ended up doing well. Had they gone to public school, they wouldn’t have made the team. So they grew their skills to the point where they could compete with other kids.”

 

Good friends • no strikes

Libbie Matthews, mother of two
• school her kids attended: Crescent School, Toronto, Ontario (boys only, grades three through 12)

“Over my dead body. It’s for rich people and for snobs,” said Libbie when her husband said he wanted to send their sons to private school. “That was my opinion. The silver spoon bit.” She finally agreed, and they started private school in grade seven and six, respectively. “It was just a very good all-around experience. The smaller class sizes, the expectations. It’s a very caring environment. We liked his friends, and they’ve maintained those friendships right on through. And of course, no strikes. I have to admit it was a wonderful decision that I would not have made (on my own).”

 

Teachers • technology

Karen Anthony, mother of two
• school daughter attended: Masters Academy & College, Calgary, Alberta (co-ed, grades K through 12)

“Teachers are really engaged. When you go to events, teachers are there. They’re all in, and they’re there for that atmosphere, and it was valued. They also teach them application of skills, not just transfer of knowledge. Technology is the other thing that comes to mind. Masters had, I think, one computer for every one point two five students back then, and I bet you it’s more now.”

 

‘Whole child’ philosophy • outdoor education

Sandy Carrington, mother of four
• school kids attend/attended: Greenwood College, Toronto (co-ed, grades seven through 12)

One child has graduated, daughter and youngest son currently attend; another child graduated from a different private school “It’s a comfort zone. I think a lot of kids find it very nurturing, very structured. My husband never went to private, so it took a lot of convincing for him to say yes. Seeing them flourish and really blossom, he realized it. Super experiences. The overall well-being of the child, that’s what they strive for. A good balance. Education, respectful human beings, community involvement. They’re big on community service, they’re big on outdoor education. They have a very nurturing program for those that need that extra help. It’s about being a family, being a part of something. The teachers are very adaptable. They use the smart boards and everything is primarily online.”

 

Building solid study skills • great trips

Margaret Alexander, mother of three
• school eldest son attended: Mentor College, Mississauga, Ontario (grades JK through 12); Stefan attended for grades seven and eight (Alexander now lives in Ottawa)

Margaret and her husband, Jim, considered private school when they realized Stefan, although in the gifted program at public school, wasn’t getting a good grasp on some basic facts. “We did become concerned about where this gifted program was leading, and how it was going to prepare him for high school. (Mentor) did give that more structured learning. The principals were able to create a teaching environment where they had more leeway to do what they thought was best. They did a lot of review, practice, and prep for their next classes. That developed work and study habits for Stefan that have stood him in very good stead ever since. They had really good class ratios. They did a trip each year, really well-organized, week-long trips. In grade seven they went to Boston, grade eight they went to Chicago. They were always going places.”

 

Leadership • positivity

Cathy Ann Whalen, mother of three
• school kids attended: Appleby College, Oakville, Ontario (day and boarding, grades seven through 12)

“Our daughter ended up being the head girl. She was a seventies student, and she just rose up in the eighties and nineties. There’s a real positive attitude about doing well, everybody wants to do good at school. Every report card was reeking with positiveness. They were always building everybody up all the time. In grade nine, she went over and did community service in Kenya. She’s gone to Haiti, she went to Nepal. She’d have no qualms about doing, running anything. And this was a girl that, you know, used to say ‘please don’t let me go on’ when she was on the volleyball team in grade five. They really push them to, you know, to show them that they’re very capable.”

 

Smaller schools • customization

Karen Dumaresque, mother of two
• school kids attend: Immaculate Heart of Mary, Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador (grades one through 10)

Karen and her husband moved their eldest son to the school when he became overwhelmed by the size of the public school in their new city and its classes, compared with his former school in Labrador City. Younger son, Ty, also attends. “I think it was 30 per class. It was just like madness for him.” While the school didn’t offer French Immersion, which Cole was used to, they customized a program for him. “The first year, they actually had him in half French, half English. But they did it only for Cole. They kind of adjust a class for individual kids. They love it so much. It seems like they’re doing stuff that’s way more advanced than what I did when I was in school. I feel like they’re kind of more protective there. It’s a smaller school.”

 

A ‘big family’ feeling • bussing

Kelley Black, mother of two
• school kids attend: Hillfield Strathallan College, Hamilton, Ontario (grades JK through 12)

“The lunch program is Harry Potter-style. They sit at tables. The headmaster and leadership are on an elevated place, and then these long tables, a huge lunch hall. They are served family-style. For the little ones, the teachers are at the table, as well as older students, to be that leadership at the table. They set the table, then have the kids get their food on their plates. This instills in them community, what it’s like to be part of a bigger family. The school is constantly doing that. We love the bussing program. Their transportation is customized, pick-up and drop-off. When my daughter started, she was only three. My daughter’s been there the longest. She’s had three bus drivers, they are all awesome. They get to know your child.”