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Our Take

Our Kids School Reviews



Private school reviews

We offer Our Take on private schools from across Canada, reviewing their curricula, programs, facilities and overall reputation. Below, you'll find a wide range of private education options, including boarding schools, Montessori, special needs schools and all other types of schools from across Canada. These reviews are intended as another important guide to help you learn the best options for your child.

School Name

  • The Abelard School   (Toronto, Ontario)

    Historically, a liberal arts curriculum comprised a course of study required by citizens in order to take an active part in civic life. It included not just what a person would need to know, but how they would need to be, including an understanding that the cultivation of intellect is a worthy goal unto itself. The Abelard School was created to reflect those kinds of goals. In 1997, a group of seasoned teachers founded the school in order to deliver the basics of a secondary education—the knowledge and the skills required to move on to university life—as well as to impart a love of learning and to encourage creative engagement across the academic spectrum. Those ideals, and indeed those teachers, remain today. The school is small—there is a total enrolment of just 50—and whatever it may lack in terms of a breadth of programming it gains in depth and individual attention.  

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  • Academy for Gifted Children - P.A.C.E   (Richmond Hill, Ontario)

    The PACE program was developed with gifted students in mind, based in an understanding of what they share—overall ability—as well as what they don't, such as specific talents, interests, and curiosities. The term of art is differentiated programming, though it's a term that can easily lend itself to misunderstanding. It doesn't mean that different students proceed through the curricula at different rates or are each given separate tasks based on their individual abilities. Rather, within a differentiated program all students proceed at the same pace through the material, while instructors provide multiple entry points that address the needs of individual students within the class. The ideal student is one who has been identified as gifted, and who requires challenge in order to succeed in academic work.  

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  • Appleby College   (Oakville, Ontario)


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    While boarding isn't as much of a focus as it once was—the day students now outnumber the boarders, as they have done for some time—Appleby's stance is nevertheless predicated on the benefits that boarding can afford: independence, self-discipline, and responsibility. The school prides itself on a reputation for academic innovation, one that it has rightly earned. The program is designed to prepare students for the world that they will move into after graduation, and indeed it is a leader in that regard. Diversity is seen as a core strength, and the school has instituted a range of programs intended maintain a diverse academic, cultural, and economic student population. The ideal student is one who is forthright, active, confident, and self-directed.  

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  • Arrowsmith School   (Toronto, Ontario)

    The Arrowsmith School was founded in 1980 by Barbara Arrowsmith-Young to provide support for struggling learners. The school has been an object of interest ever since, due to the concept that Arrowsmith-Young built her program around. "If we look at a lot of special education programs, the majority assume the learner is fixed," she said. "What my program is saying is that we can change the learner so they can learn." While there are many things that set the school apart, that sense of what is possible, is prime among them. The Arrowsmith School works closely with students to develop their strengths, address weaknesses, and to build academic, social, and vocational competence. That the method works may be evidence of neuroplasticity, and science may yet underscore that. In the meantime, daring to dream, as well as creating a supportive, caring, understanding environment, can itself provide what many students need in order to succeed. It certainly couldn't hurt.  

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  • Arrowsmith School Peterborough   (Peterborough, Ontario)

    The Arrowsmith School was founded in 1980 by Barbara Arrowsmith-Young to provide support for struggling learners. The school has been an object of interest ever since, due to the concept that Arrowsmith-Young built her program around. "If we look at a lot of special education programs, the majority assume the learner is fixed," she said. "What my program is saying is that we can change the learner so they can learn." While there are many things that set the school apart, that sense of what is possible, is prime among them. The Arrowsmith School works closely with students to develop their strengths, address weaknesses, and to build academic, social, and vocational competence. That the method works may be evidence of neuroplasticity, and science may yet underscore that. In the meantime, daring to dream, as well as creating a supportive, caring, understanding environment, can itself provide what many students need in order to succeed. It certainly couldn't hurt.  

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  • Bayview Glen - Whole Child. Whole Life. Whole World.   (Toronto, Ontario)

    It's a big world out there, with lots of big ideas in it, and Bayview Glen prides itself on offering students an introduction to all its breadth and complexity. The school is part of the Round Square network of schools, which reflects that ambition; the program includes cross-curricular links to concepts of community, self-reliance, and entrepreneurialism. For some students, it can be a lot, perhaps especially for those within the younger grades—the school admits students from preschool through to grade 12. A broad range of curricular and extracurricular activities back up the school's promise to deliver the world: Mandarin classes, a model United Nations program, as well as a range of arts and athletics. While learner support is provided, the ideal student is one who is able to thrive in an intellectually diverse, academically challenging environment.  

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  • The Bishop Strachan School   (Toronto, Ontario)

    Bishop Strachan has a long and impressive history of excellence, and has consistently provided leadership in education and beyond. The ideal BSS student is one who has demonstrated an ability to direct their learning, and who will make demands of faculty even before the faculty makes demands of them. While there is a strong arts program, the school emphasizes STEM—science, technology, engineering and math—in part because women remain underrepresented in those professions. It's true that not all students will go on to a career in science or leadership, though the school environment at Bishop Strachan reflects the skills and the personality of the kind of girl who will. For students who tend to hang back a bit—or who don't thrive on the kind of competition that a brisk academic culture can engender—the BSS environment can risk feeling overwhelming.  

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  • Bishop's College School   (Sherbrooke, Quebec)

    Bishop's was founded in 1836, becoming co-ed in 1972 through an amalgamation with King's Hall Compton. That long history is apparent in the traditions that remain at the school, including Chapel every morning (now non-denominational) the social organization of the school into houses, and a thriving cadet corps. More prosaically, the names of the 128 alumni who gave their lives in the WWI, WWII, and the Korean War are read out each Remembrance Day during a school-wide assembly. Throughout its life, Bishop's remained a redoubt, grounded in a set of clear values and traditions, while the tides of North American history rose and fell all around it, something that continues today. We live in noisy world, and the ideal student is one who can benefit from a bit of conceptual and geographic distance from it. It's not about isolation, but about having the freedom and the opportunity to direct attention rather than being lead by distraction. The school has been a member of Round Square since 1986, something which provides a foundation for the diversity of the student population, one that includes students from a dozen countries despite an annual enrollment of just 220 students.  

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  • Blyth Academy Barrie   (Barrie, Ontario)

    Blyth Academy is impressive, so much so that it can be a bit difficult to get your head around. Whereas some schools are just that, schools, Blyth represents a range of programs at a range of locations. It was founded by Sam Blyth in 1977, and quickly established itself as a leader in global education with the creation of a Canadian high school in France, as well as an accredited program at Oxford University. Those global education programs provided a unique addition to the Canadian educational landscape.

    With the creation of the first brick-and-mortar school here at home in 2002, Blyth applied the same concept to domestic education. In the intervening decades, the program has grown exponentially, now including 11 campuses which, together, represent the largest single private school student population in Canada. Still, the program continued to grow, today including a campus in Washington DC. A majority host summer programs, night and weekend classes, intended to provide challenge or support for students of the school, or those interested only in specific courses. And on it goes … there are further international programs, year-long study abroad program under the Blyth Global High School banner, as well as online/distance course offerings. There are even March break courses, both here and abroad.

    Again, it's a lot, with a range of programs to support a wide range of students and academic goals. Again, for anyone who thinks of school in a traditional way—a building with classes—Blyth can be a lot to get your head around. Given the historical strength of the programs, however, it's very much worth the effort.

     

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  • Blyth Academy Burlington   (Burlington, Ontario)

    Blyth Academy is impressive, so much so that it can be a bit difficult to get your head around. Whereas some schools are just that, schools, Blyth represents a range of programs at a range of locations. It was founded by Sam Blyth in 1977, and quickly established itself as a leader in global education with the creation of a Canadian high school in France, as well as an accredited program at Oxford University. Those global education programs provided a unique addition to the Canadian educational landscape.

    With the creation of the first brick-and-mortar school here at home in 2002, Blyth applied the same concept to domestic education. In the intervening decades, the program has grown exponentially, now including 11 campuses which, together, represent the largest single private school student population in Canada. Still, the program continued to grow, today including a campus in Washington DC. A majority host summer programs, night and weekend classes, intended to provide challenge or support for students of the school, or those interested only in specific courses. And on it goes … there are further international programs, year-long study abroad program under the Blyth Global High School banner, as well as online/distance course offerings. There are even March break courses, both here and abroad.

    Again, it's a lot, with a range of programs to support a wide range of students and academic goals. Again, for anyone who thinks of school in a traditional way—a building with classes—Blyth can be a lot to get your head around. Given the historical strength of the programs, however, it's very much worth the effort.

     

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  • Blyth Academy Downsview Park   (North York, Ontario)

    Blyth Academy is impressive, so much so that it can be a bit difficult to get your head around. Whereas some schools are just that, schools, Blyth represents a range of programs at a range of locations. It was founded by Sam Blyth in 1977, and quickly established itself as a leader in global education with the creation of a Canadian high school in France, as well as an accredited program at Oxford University. Those global education programs provided a unique addition to the Canadian educational landscape.

    With the creation of the first brick-and-mortar school here at home in 2002, Blyth applied the same concept to domestic education. In the intervening decades, the program has grown exponentially, now including 11 campuses which, together, represent the largest single private school student population in Canada. Still, the program continued to grow, today including a campus in Washington DC. A majority host summer programs, night and weekend classes, intended to provide challenge or support for students of the school, or those interested only in specific courses. And on it goes … there are further international programs, year-long study abroad program under the Blyth Global High School banner, as well as online/distance course offerings. There are even March break courses, both here and abroad.

    Again, it's a lot, with a range of programs to support a wide range of students and academic goals. Again, for anyone who thinks of school in a traditional way—a building with classes—Blyth can be a lot to get your head around. Given the historical strength of the programs, however, it's very much worth the effort.

     

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  • Blyth Academy Lawrence Park   (Toronto, Ontario)

    Blyth Academy is impressive, so much so that it can be a bit difficult to get your head around. Whereas some schools are just that, schools, Blyth represents a range of programs at a range of locations. It was founded by Sam Blyth in 1977, and quickly established itself as a leader in global education with the creation of a Canadian high school in France, as well as an accredited program at Oxford University. Those global education programs provided a unique addition to the Canadian educational landscape.

    With the creation of the first brick-and-mortar school here at home in 2002, Blyth applied the same concept to domestic education. In the intervening decades, the program has grown exponentially, now including 11 campuses which, together, represent the largest single private school student population in Canada. Still, the program continued to grow, today including a campus in Washington DC. A majority host summer programs, night and weekend classes, intended to provide challenge or support for students of the school, or those interested only in specific courses. And on it goes … there are further international programs, year-long study abroad program under the Blyth Global High School banner, as well as online/distance course offerings. There are even March break courses, both here and abroad.

    Again, it's a lot, with a range of programs to support a wide range of students and academic goals. Again, for anyone who thinks of school in a traditional way—a building with classes—Blyth can be a lot to get your head around. Given the historical strength of the programs, however, it's very much worth the effort.

     

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  • Blyth Academy London   (London, Ontario)

    Blyth Academy is impressive, so much so that it can be a bit difficult to get your head around. Whereas some schools are just that, schools, Blyth represents a range of programs at a range of locations. It was founded by Sam Blyth in 1977, and quickly established itself as a leader in global education with the creation of a Canadian high school in France, as well as an accredited program at Oxford University. Those global education programs provided a unique addition to the Canadian educational landscape.

    With the creation of the first brick-and-mortar school here at home in 2002, Blyth applied the same concept to domestic education. In the intervening decades, the program has grown exponentially, now including 11 campuses which, together, represent the largest single private school student population in Canada. Still, the program continued to grow, today including a campus in Washington DC. A majority host summer programs, night and weekend classes, intended to provide challenge or support for students of the school, or those interested only in specific courses. And on it goes … there are further international programs, year-long study abroad program under the Blyth Global High School banner, as well as online/distance course offerings. There are even March break courses, both here and abroad.

    Again, it's a lot, with a range of programs to support a wide range of students and academic goals. Again, for anyone who thinks of school in a traditional way—a building with classes—Blyth can be a lot to get your head around. Given the historical strength of the programs, however, it's very much worth the effort.

     

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  • Blyth Academy Mississauga   (Mississauga, Ontario)

    Blyth Academy is impressive, so much so that it can be a bit difficult to get your head around. Whereas some schools are just that, schools, Blyth represents a range of programs at a range of locations. It was founded by Sam Blyth in 1977, and quickly established itself as a leader in global education with the creation of a Canadian high school in France, as well as an accredited program at Oxford University. Those global education programs provided a unique addition to the Canadian educational landscape.

    With the creation of the first brick-and-mortar school here at home in 2002, Blyth applied the same concept to domestic education. In the intervening decades, the program has grown exponentially, now including 11 campuses which, together, represent the largest single private school student population in Canada. Still, the program continued to grow, today including a campus in Washington DC. A majority host summer programs, night and weekend classes, intended to provide challenge or support for students of the school, or those interested only in specific courses. And on it goes … there are further international programs, year-long study abroad program under the Blyth Global High School banner, as well as online/distance course offerings. There are even March break courses, both here and abroad.

    Again, it's a lot, with a range of programs to support a wide range of students and academic goals. Again, for anyone who thinks of school in a traditional way—a building with classes—Blyth can be a lot to get your head around. Given the historical strength of the programs, however, it's very much worth the effort.

     

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  • Blyth Academy Online School   (Toronto, Ontario)

    Blyth Academy is impressive, so much so that it can be a bit difficult to get your head around. Whereas some schools are just that, schools, Blyth represents a range of programs at a range of locations. It was founded by Sam Blyth in 1977, and quickly established itself as a leader in global education with the creation of a Canadian high school in France, as well as an accredited program at Oxford University. Those global education programs provided a unique addition to the Canadian educational landscape.

    With the creation of the first brick-and-mortar school here at home in 2002, Blyth applied the same concept to domestic education. In the intervening decades, the program has grown exponentially, now including 11 campuses which, together, represent the largest single private school student population in Canada. Still, the program continued to grow, today including a campus in Washington DC. A majority host summer programs, night and weekend classes, intended to provide challenge or support for students of the school, or those interested only in specific courses. And on it goes … there are further international programs, year-long study abroad program under the Blyth Global High School banner, as well as online/distance course offerings. There are even March break courses, both here and abroad.

    Again, it's a lot, with a range of programs to support a wide range of students and academic goals. Again, for anyone who thinks of school in a traditional way—a building with classes—Blyth can be a lot to get your head around. Given the historical strength of the programs, however, it's very much worth the effort.

     

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  • Blyth Academy Ottawa   (Ottawa, Ontario)

    Blyth Academy is impressive, so much so that it can be a bit difficult to get your head around. Whereas some schools are just that, schools, Blyth represents a range of programs at a range of locations. It was founded by Sam Blyth in 1977, and quickly established itself as a leader in global education with the creation of a Canadian high school in France, as well as an accredited program at Oxford University. Those global education programs provided a unique addition to the Canadian educational landscape.

    With the creation of the first brick-and-mortar school here at home in 2002, Blyth applied the same concept to domestic education. In the intervening decades, the program has grown exponentially, now including 11 campuses which, together, represent the largest single private school student population in Canada. Still, the program continued to grow, today including a campus in Washington DC. A majority host summer programs, night and weekend classes, intended to provide challenge or support for students of the school, or those interested only in specific courses. And on it goes … there are further international programs, year-long study abroad program under the Blyth Global High School banner, as well as online/distance course offerings. There are even March break courses, both here and abroad.

    Again, it's a lot, with a range of programs to support a wide range of students and academic goals. Again, for anyone who thinks of school in a traditional way—a building with classes—Blyth can be a lot to get your head around. Given the historical strength of the programs, however, it's very much worth the effort.

     

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  • Blyth Academy Thornhill   (Thornhill, Ontario)

    Blyth Academy is impressive, so much so that it can be a bit difficult to get your head around. Whereas some schools are just that, schools, Blyth represents a range of programs at a range of locations. It was founded by Sam Blyth in 1977, and quickly established itself as a leader in global education with the creation of a Canadian high school in France, as well as an accredited program at Oxford University. Those global education programs provided a unique addition to the Canadian educational landscape.

    With the creation of the first brick-and-mortar school here at home in 2002, Blyth applied the same concept to domestic education. In the intervening decades, the program has grown exponentially, now including 11 campuses which, together, represent the largest single private school student population in Canada. Still, the program continued to grow, today including a campus in Washington DC. A majority host summer programs, night and weekend classes, intended to provide challenge or support for students of the school, or those interested only in specific courses. And on it goes … there are further international programs, year-long study abroad program under the Blyth Global High School banner, as well as online/distance course offerings. There are even March break courses, both here and abroad.

    Again, it's a lot, with a range of programs to support a wide range of students and academic goals. Again, for anyone who thinks of school in a traditional way—a building with classes—Blyth can be a lot to get your head around. Given the historical strength of the programs, however, it's very much worth the effort.

     

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  • Blyth Academy Waterloo   (Kitchener, Ontario)

    Blyth Academy is impressive, so much so that it can be a bit difficult to get your head around. Whereas some schools are just that, schools, Blyth represents a range of programs at a range of locations. It was founded by Sam Blyth in 1977, and quickly established itself as a leader in global education with the creation of a Canadian high school in France, as well as an accredited program at Oxford University. Those global education programs provided a unique addition to the Canadian educational landscape.

    With the creation of the first brick-and-mortar school here at home in 2002, Blyth applied the same concept to domestic education. In the intervening decades, the program has grown exponentially, now including 11 campuses which, together, represent the largest single private school student population in Canada. Still, the program continued to grow, today including a campus in Washington DC. A majority host summer programs, night and weekend classes, intended to provide challenge or support for students of the school, or those interested only in specific courses. And on it goes … there are further international programs, year-long study abroad program under the Blyth Global High School banner, as well as online/distance course offerings. There are even March break courses, both here and abroad.

    Again, it's a lot, with a range of programs to support a wide range of students and academic goals. Again, for anyone who thinks of school in a traditional way—a building with classes—Blyth can be a lot to get your head around. Given the historical strength of the programs, however, it's very much worth the effort.

     

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  • Blyth Academy Whitby   (Whitby, Ontario)

    Blyth Academy is impressive, so much so that it can be a bit difficult to get your head around. Whereas some schools are just that, schools, Blyth represents a range of programs at a range of locations. It was founded by Sam Blyth in 1977, and quickly established itself as a leader in global education with the creation of a Canadian high school in France, as well as an accredited program at Oxford University. Those global education programs provided a unique addition to the Canadian educational landscape.

    With the creation of the first brick-and-mortar school here at home in 2002, Blyth applied the same concept to domestic education. In the intervening decades, the program has grown exponentially, now including 11 campuses which, together, represent the largest single private school student population in Canada. Still, the program continued to grow, today including a campus in Washington DC. A majority host summer programs, night and weekend classes, intended to provide challenge or support for students of the school, or those interested only in specific courses. And on it goes … there are further international programs, year-long study abroad program under the Blyth Global High School banner, as well as online/distance course offerings. There are even March break courses, both here and abroad.

    Again, it's a lot, with a range of programs to support a wide range of students and academic goals. Again, for anyone who thinks of school in a traditional way—a building with classes—Blyth can be a lot to get your head around. Given the historical strength of the programs, however, it's very much worth the effort.

     

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  • Blyth Academy Yorkville   (Toronto, Ontario)

    Blyth Academy is impressive, so much so that it can be a bit difficult to get your head around. Whereas some schools are just that, schools, Blyth represents a range of programs at a range of locations. It was founded by Sam Blyth in 1977, and quickly established itself as a leader in global education with the creation of a Canadian high school in France, as well as an accredited program at Oxford University. Those global education programs provided a unique addition to the Canadian educational landscape.

    With the creation of the first brick-and-mortar school here at home in 2002, Blyth applied the same concept to domestic education. In the intervening decades, the program has grown exponentially, now including 11 campuses which, together, represent the largest single private school student population in Canada. Still, the program continued to grow, today including a campus in Washington DC. A majority host summer programs, night and weekend classes, intended to provide challenge or support for students of the school, or those interested only in specific courses. And on it goes … there are further international programs, year-long study abroad program under the Blyth Global High School banner, as well as online/distance course offerings. There are even March break courses, both here and abroad.

    Again, it's a lot, with a range of programs to support a wide range of students and academic goals. Again, for anyone who thinks of school in a traditional way—a building with classes—Blyth can be a lot to get your head around. Given the historical strength of the programs, however, it's very much worth the effort.

     

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  • Bond Academy   (Toronto, Ontario)

    Begun in 1978, Bond has grown to include a wealth of programs, including those beyond the prospectus of the academy. Because of the association with them, the Academy is proximate to a full range of physical resources and a rich athletics program. Boarding supports international students, including a language centre offering ESL classes and tutorial in addition to core curriculum, as well as provisions for foreign credit equivalency. With AP courses and independent study options, the ideal student is one who is preparing for university enrollment.  

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  • Branksome Hall   (Toronto, Ontario)

    Clans and tartans, prefects and polo shirts—the initial gestalt is very traditional. Some of the buildings on campus are heritage buildings, which adds to the luster, though they pre-date the founding of the school. Still, the spirit of the school is strikingly modern. The IB program starts early, as does the view to globalism. Branksome has a sister campus in South Korea, offering a hint of the dedication to an international gaze. Lists of notable alumni don't always reflect the work of the school—princes, for example, appear on those lists no matter what they achieve at school or afterward—though Branksome might prove the exception, in part because of the consistency of the achievement it demonstrates. Arts, letters, philanthropy, and leadership are all well represented in the list of notable alumni, just as they are within the school itself. Branksome Hall sets its sights very high, to be sure, and the ideal student is one who shares the core vision and is able to function in a very diverse, challenging, expansive environment.  

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  • Brentwood College School   (Mill Bay, British Columbia)

    Brentwood was the first all-boys' boarding school in Canada to begin admitting girls, something that remains emblematic of the school's forward-looking approach. In the 1990s, it became one of the first schools in the country to make a substantial commitment to sustainable energy, building a performing arts centre that includes a geothermal loop for heating and cooling. The new dining hall and service centre, completed in 2010, continues that commitment, also providing an example to the student population. Arts and athletics are emphasized—the school is distinguished by a rowing program that has produced a long list of olympians—though academics remain the central focus of the Brentwood program. The ideal student is one with sights firmly set on university and is inclined to leadership roles in student life and beyond.  

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  • Centennial Academy   (Montreal, Quebec)

    While there is no formal link, Centennial is very much in the tradition of the Gow School in New York State. Founded in the 1920s, Gow pioneered a concept that, thankfully, is more common today than it was all those years ago: that not all learners are created equally, and that intelligence and an ability to succeed in school are two very different things. That understanding alone accounts for much of the value that Centennial can offer. The typical student arrives after struggling within a traditional academic setting. Most often, that struggle is a result of linguistic disruption—dyslexia, dysgraphia—or executive functioning issues, as common in children with ADHD or autism spectrum disorders. For them, the approach taken at the school can feel like a breath of fresh air. Instruction is empathetic, using strategies appropriate to the students' unique needs. An environment in which students find themselves as part of a majority, rather than an academic or social minority, can also create unique opportunities for the development of a positive self concept than might previously been available to them.  

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  • Central Montessori Schools - Sheppard Campus   (North York, Ontario)

    Since it was founded in 1995, CMS has grown to include five locations in the GTA. The program is founded on the core ideals that Maria Montessori promoted in her work, those of respect, community, purposeful engagement, and self-directed learning. That said, Montessori didn't create her program as a museum piece, but rather as a starting point, and that's a spirit that CMS upholds as well. Dr. Montessori, as has been said, "adjusted and adapted her educational system to better serve children's needs, and well-functioning Montessori classrooms typically share many features reflecting those adjustments." One of which was, of course, is a willingness to adjust and adapt. As such, the CMS program includes, as at the Maplehurst location, a computer lab, a library, and a music room. In all, the focus is very clearly on the child, and supporting child development, which is just as it should be.  

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  • Central Montessori Schools - York Mills   (Toronto, Ontario)

    Since it was founded in 1995, CMS has grown to include five locations in the GTA. The program is founded on the core ideals that Maria Montessori promoted in her work, those of respect, community, purposeful engagement, and self-directed learning. That said, Montessori didn't create her program as a museum piece, but rather as a starting point, and that's a spirit that CMS upholds as well. Dr. Montessori, as has been said, "adjusted and adapted her educational system to better serve children's needs, and well-functioning Montessori classrooms typically share many features reflecting those adjustments." One of which was, of course, is a willingness to adjust and adapt. As such, the CMS program includes, as at the Maplehurst location, a computer lab, a library, and a music room. In all, the focus is very clearly on the child, and supporting child development, which is just as it should be.  

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  • Chisholm Academy   (Oakville, Ontario)

    Chisholm was created to address the needs of the kinds of learners who are prone to falling through the cracks of a traditional education. Special needs is the term we might use, though the definition used at Chisholm admits a broader understanding than we typically grant, including students from across the entire academic spectrum. What they share is a need for a more structured academic experience. The school is headed by Dr. Howard Bernstein and Dr. Shirley Bryntwick, both clinical psychologists. The ideal student is one who requires more than they are able to get from a traditional academic setting, and who benefits from a very structured, personal, planned approach to their education. A robust interface between parents and the school is encouraged, and close communication is ongoing throughout the academic year.  

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  • College Prep International   (Montreal, Quebec)

    With more than 25 languages spoken within a student body of just 120, the school certainly comes by its name honestly. The primary language of instruction is English, though many students arrive for whom English is a second language; a majority are international students, though certainly that's not a requirement. The ideal student is one destined for post-secondary education, who will thrive in a linguistically and culturally diverse environment, and who can perceive the unique opportunities and perspective that such an environment can provide.  

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  • Columbia International College   (Hamilton, Ontario)

    While some schools pride themselves on being small, Columbia finds its strength in being large—with a student population in excess of 1800, it is easily the largest boarding school in Canada. What Columbia might lack in intimacy it gains in the ability to provide a wealth of supports and programs that smaller schools simply can't. The school maintains extensive liaison offices, a dedicated guidance staff, and even its own medical clinic. The faculty, through size and experience, is remarkably adept at providing a quality, well-rounded education with an eye to success in postsecondary education. The school provides ESL to students who need it, and liaises directly with universities in Canada and beyond in order to facilitate the transition to postsecondary education. In all, the school excels at doing what it was created to do: to support the university-bound international learner who is living away from home within a culture, and at times a language, that is unfamiliar.  

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  • Crescent School   (Toronto, Ontario)

    Crescent describes itself as a school for boys by intention, though in saying that they perhaps unwittingly raise the question of why we need boys' schools at all. As with other boys' schools, Crescent struggles to express why it remains relevant in a world that is very different from the one in which it was founded more than a century ago. The reality is that there are some very concrete benefits to attending a boys' school, chief among them being the provision of opportunities for boys to resist the stereotypes that they would encounter in co-ed schools. Such as not being mocked for participating in choir. No, boys' schools aren't a panacea, but they do offer opportunity for a greater engagement with the full range of academic pursuit, something that Crescent demonstrates through an equal attention to both athletics and arts. The ideal student is one who is academically curious, has broad potential, and could benefit from increased opportunity to express both curiosity and potential.  

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  • Crestwood Preparatory College   (Toronto, Ontario)

    There is a rich program of extra-curriculars, though the focus is on academics, including the development of sound study and test-taking skills. The Maximizing Academic Performance Program (MAPP) begins in the lower school, and augments a traditional approach to education, one that is didactic and where assessment is objective. The ideal students are those who have their sights set clearly on success within a university career, are motivated toward that goal, and are seeking to augment or improve their academic prospects.  

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  • Crestwood School   (Toronto, Ontario)

    The school was founded in 1980 with an eye to providing a strong, focused academic program for the lower grades. In the intervening decades it has very much kept with the times, including an early adoption of e-learning tools and texts, at times in partnership with national publishers. Student success is gauged through mastery of the course material, and the ideal student is one who is able to thrive within a supportive yet academically challenging environment. In 2001 the program was extended into the upper grades with the creation of the Crestwood Preparatory College.  

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  • Dalton School   (Toronto, Ontario)

    Dalton is a dual-language school, so it doesn't use the language immersion model that most Canadians are familiar with. Dual immersion programs admit children for whom either instructional language is the language spoken at home, and Dalton has both Spanish and Mandarin programs, with parents enrolling their children in one or the other. They then learn in a school environment that uses both instructional languages--either Mandarin/English or Spanish/English equally. There isn't as much direct language instruction as many might expect, though, given the age of the children, the results can nevertheless be remarkable. Indeed, visiting the school can be, and often is, a striking experience. Most Canadians, truly, have never experienced an academic environment quite like it, with very young children functioning easily, casually in two languages. The school is still quite young, though it's already demonstrating the value of the program. Dalton has a very close, community feel, and parents are welcome to be involved in the life of the school.  

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  • De La Salle College   (Toronto, Ontario)

    De La Salle College is a Lasallian school, part of an association of schools in more than 80 countries worldwide. The schools are affiliated with a Roman Catholic teaching order founded by Saint Jean-Baptist de La Salle in France in 1679. Canonized in 1900, La Salle was later proclaimed by the Vatican as the patron saint of teachers. So, in all, the College has quite a pedigree. It is committed to a Catholic Education, and religious observance is a daily component of student life. The academic program is rigorous, and augmented by an equally rigorous dedication to the development of ethical leadership, self-confidence, and social responsibility. The ideal student is one intending to advance to university.  

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  • The Dragon Academy   (Toronto, Ontario)

    The Dragon Academy was founded in 2000 to appeal to a very specific kind of learner, one who is intellectually omnivorous, creative, and academically gifted. The school began with just 12 students in its first year, and it remains very close-knit and intimate. Instruction is discussion-based, hands-on, and it makes the most of the wealth of learning resources that are nearby, including the A.G.O., the Gardiner Museum of Ceramics, and the ROM. It has a lot to offer, though, again, for a very specific kind of learner. The right student will find the Dragon Academy to be a home, arriving within a community that contrasts with their prior school experience in some very significant ways. The focus is on engagement and curiosity. While the program is progressive, at least from a modern perspective, it's also in some ways exceedingly traditional, with a focus on the classics and Socratic investigation. The Dragon Academy is truly a school like none other. It's not every student's cup of tea, though of course no school ever is. For the students who attend, the program can be transformational and supportive in all the right ways.  

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  • The Element High School   (Ottawa, Ontario)

    The Element is that rare bird of secondary education: a Montessori high school. The Element grew out of a primary program at OMS Montessori, building into the intermediate grades and, ultimately, through the high school grades. In 2012, The Element became distinct unto its own, offering a consistent program from grades 7 to 12. Then, in 2015, it moved into its own space, becoming physically distinct as well. Nevertheless, the foundational principle remains across all grades, providing learning that is self-referential and student directed. The ideal student is one who thrives within a very hands-on environment, who is guided by their curiosity, and is able to make the most a greater range of academic independence.  

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  • Fern Hill School - Burlington   (Burlington, Ontario)

    Each year Fern Hill mounts a theatrical presentation that includes all the students from grade 4 up. No, it's not a theatre school, but the strength of the production, and the enthusiasm with which it's mounted, is as good an introduction to the school as any. At the intermission, the school shows a slideshow that can make adults yearn to be kids again. Academics are important, just as they should be at any school, but culture is important too, including a desire to capitalize on the individual strengths of the staff. Cross-curricular links are a focus of the field studies program, which also takes advantage of the location of the campus within the Ontario Greenbelt. Field studies are used as an entrée to the development of confidence, skill development, and team building. The ideal student is one who can benefit from a bit more support, a bit more encouragement than they might find elsewhere in order to reach their full potential.  

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  • Fieldstone School   (Toronto, Ontario)

    While the school doesn't provide any on-site boarding, the aim is nevertheless to provide the kind of inclusive, supportive, 360-degree experience that we associate with boarding. Class sizes are kept small, and the relationships between instructors, administrators, and students is close. The feel is nurturing, yet the academic gaze is wide. The intention is to educate students to positions of informed leadership, both locally and globally. A rich language program is a hint of that, including a one-on-one reciprocal English-Chinese mentorship pairing native speakers of both languages. The ideal student is one with sights firmly set on university.  

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  • Forest Hill Montessori School   (Toronto, Ontario)

    One of the Montessori ideals is to provide a stimulating learning environment, though it's the learning tasks and the mentorship that are meant to be stimulating, not the washrooms. The school environment, on the whole, should be comforting, familiar, friendly, and supportive environment, and Forest Hill Montessori, frankly, provides a study in all of those things. The continuity of the school is also impressive. Isabelle Kunicki-Carter and Sandra Bosnar-Dale founded the school in 1996, and they've provided consistent leadership ever since.  

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  • German International School Toronto   (Toronto, Ontario)

    If the German embassy operated a school, it would look pretty much exactly like The German International School Toronto. The school bases instruction on the curriculum developed in Thüringen, a state at the geographic and cultural heart of Germany. It's also inspected regularly by officials from that region who come in order to ensure that GIST meets the standards set out within the curriculum, something it does for all of the 140 German schools around the globe. They were formed to offer education to German expats, though their popularity grew in response to local demand. The schools offered a quality, a unique pedagogical approach, and a sense of globalism that was hard to find in other institutions. The school provides dual-immersion, admitting students for whom either of the instructional languages are mother tongues. The ideal student is one who is intellectually curious, keen to learn languages, and who is excited by the prospect of learning and living within a rich, diverse, and uniquely authentic cultural environment.  

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  • The Giles School   (Toronto, Ontario)

    The Giles School provides an enriched language immersion program from preschool through the middle grades. The French program starts in preschool, and a Mandarin program begins in grade 1 with a period a day spent in an immersive Mandarin environment. It's perhaps safe to say, in terms of language learning—both in terms of when immersion is introduced, as well as providing multilingual immersion—the program is the only one of its kind in Canada. Classes are small, and academics are rigorous, covering the entire core curriculum and then some. The ideal student is one who can benefit from enrichment and who will thrive within a play-based, curiosity-driven environment.  

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  • Glenburnie School   (Oakville, Ontario)

    If you didn't know otherwise, you'd perhaps be given to thinking that Glenburnie is a prep school, operating at the high school level with an eye to preparing students for success at university. There is a dedication to 21st century skills, fostering leadership and independence, and developing communication and analytical skills. There is overt attention to preparing students for the challenges that they will face in a changing world. All of which can jar a bit given that those goals are applied to an early-education, junior, and intermediate program, one that enrolls students from pre-kindergarten to grade 8. Still, there is a method here, one that Linda Sweet established when she founded the school in 1985. She felt that education was lagging behind, addressing the needs of the industrial age rather than the nascent digital one. In creating Glenburnie, Sweet became one of the first school administrators in the region to actively adjust instruction away from a model that was designed, implicitly, to serve a predominantly vocational workplace. Despite the kinds of pedagogical language used to describe the school, Glenburnie creates space for kids to be kids, applying the core academic concepts in an age-appropriate way. The ideal student is one that is functioning above their peers, and who is able to make the most of an enriched, creative, and at times intense educational environment.  

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  • The Gow School   (South Wales, New York)

    The Gow School was founded in the 1920s, though from the outset has based instruction in a very modern understanding, namely that not all learners are created equally, and that intelligence and an ability to succeed in school are two very different things. It's an idea that remains as fresh today, unfortunately, as it was when Peter Gow Jr. founded the school all those years ago. He believed that small class sizes and an open mind, when it comes to instruction, can make all the difference, especially for those who are at risk of falling through the cracks of a traditional approach to academics. The students at the top of his mind were those with some form of linguistic disruption—students with dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyspraxia or issues with central auditory processing. Gow believed that success for these students was a function of teaching, and for decades the school has been proving his point. All students—typically they are kids who have been struggling in a traditional setting—are aiming for college and university, and the school has a history of delivering them there. The program has changed over the years, though the spirit of investigation, of finding better ways to support learners, remains.  

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  • Havergal College   (Toronto, Ontario)

    Founded in 1894, Havergal is one of the oldest girls' schools in Canada, and it shares a tradition with those of its vintage. The school was formed with a strong tie to a religious community though, even then, was looking beyond tradition, charting new territory, as it were, for girls to occupy. As such, the school was disruptive, educating girls to take new, more robust roles within society. Famously the first principal, Mary Ellen Knox, asked her students "What are you going to do?" She meant it very much in the way we'd think of that question today: you've got an opportunity to do something, to play a role, what is it going to be? Knox was emblematic of the kinds of women who were leading schools at the time. In turn, they played a larger role in the development of education in Canada than their male counterparts did. All of this is important in that it really does underwrite the goals of the school today: to challenge girls, and to be socially disruptive in the best sense of that term. It's easy for us to look back and see that girls' schools were necessary all those years ago. What Havergal continues to demonstrate—as other schools that operate with the same goals and intentions—is that they remain necessary today.  

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  • Hawthorn School for Girls   (Toronto, Ontario)

    It's the only all-girls' Catholic private school in Toronto, if not the entire country. As such, Hawthorn provides a unique and very specific program, one that focusses on the needs of girls while providing instruction through a Catholic lens. It was founded relatively recently—it celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2014—through the instigation of a group of parents who wanted the kind of academic specificity that the school continues to promote today. And, truly, there's no other school like it: girls are challenged to pursue passions in the full range of academic pursuit, STEM primary among them. Character, too, is a primary focus, including an expression of self. The ideal student is one who thrives within a supportive yet academically challenging environment.  

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  • Hillfield Strathallan College   (Hamilton, Ontario)

    The school began its life in 1901 as the Highfield School for Boys, though it has grown, amalgamated, moved, and changed its name a few times since then. All of that is reflected in the physical plan of the school, one that bears no outward signs of the school's age. Certainly, the development path from 1901 has been anything but linear, including associations and amalgamations between Highfield, Hillcrest, and Strathallan schools and colleges, their names combining to form the one under which it is known today. So, too, to some extent are the programs that the school presents. Montessori is offered at the preschool and kindergarten programs, though the method isn't reflected beyond that, something that is perhaps emblematic of the programming overall. The feel is that of a mosaic of academic traditions rather than an expression of a single, consistent tradition. A robust philanthropy program has resulted in a strong infrastructure. A strategic plan initiative begun in 2013 will culminate in 2020. While the program remains strong, the plan provides a timely opportunity to bring clarity and direction to the continued development of the school and the programs offered there.  

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  • Holy Trinity School   (Richmond Hill, Ontario)

    The school was founded in a church basement in 1981 which, together with its name, suggests a religious focus. And, yes, there is one, though not perhaps in the way that we might initially assume. The school seeks to promote values over belief, building from the concepts—respect for self and others, strength of character, encouragement, and insight—that are expressed by the Anglican tradition. Chapel is an important part of student life, though used as a spring-board to a development of those values rather than a strict religious observance. It's perhaps a fine line, though one that the school navigates well, as reflected in a culturally and religiously diverse student body. It's a point of pride—as indeed it should be—that the current campus was officially opened in 1985 by two important cultural leaders, one secular and the other religious: the Honourable Lincoln Alexander, and L. S. Garnsworthy, then Archbishop of Toronto. (Alexander was the first black member of parliament and first black federal cabinet minister, throughout his long career providing profound political and cultural leadership. Garnsworthy championed the ordination of women within the Anglican church, gay clergy, inclusion of the LGBT community in all aspects of church life, and insisted in 1987, despite challenges, that the church provide pastoral care to those suffering with AIDS.) That both men were chosen to open the campus is telling of the intentions for the school at the time of its creation, as well as those that continue to inform the life of the school today. The ideal student is one who will thrive within an academically challenging environment, as well as one that is intellectually, culturally, and philosophically diverse.  

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  • Hudson College   (Toronto, Ontario)


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    There are many reasons parents choose to enroll their children at a private school, from family tradition to elite sports. Parents who choose Hudson College, however, are less interested in the extremes at the edges of the private education market, and more interested in the foundational elements of a strong academic program and a positive learning experience: consistent social support, a sense of community, the agility to address student interests, and a consistent approach to curricular development. Jeff Bavington founded the school "to be a place where students with all different interests can come and feel part of a larger community, feel at home, and where students themselves can help create" the school environment. And it is.  

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  • The Junior Academy   (Toronto, Ontario)

    Dianne Johnson founded the Junior Academy in 1988 in the belief that small is better, and indeed the school has remained small, with an annual enrolment of just 100 students. Johnson still leads the school, lending a continuity to the program and keeping the focus clearly on the quality of the students' learning experience, and maintaining, above all, an atmosphere of care and support. While not all students arrive from the immediate area, the school prizes it's position within the community, and encourages active parental involvement within the life of the school.  

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  • Kendellhurst Academy   (Mississauga, Ontario)

    Private schools, of course, intend to offer an alternative, and Kendellhurst is a great example of that. The program is founded in an approach to ECE that borrows the best from Montessori and other alternative approaches, yet does it in a very tailored, intentional way in order to best address the needs of the students that attend. It's less about doctrine than meeting the specific needs of student population. There are three locations, though all feel a piece of the communities that they sit within, something that the Streetsville location is a particularly good example of. The educational context is local, small, and integrated with the needs of the families that enroll here. The feel is homey, comfortable, and supportive, and camp sessions allow families to extend that experience into the summer months, providing an opportunity for continuity between school terms. Organic meals and after school programs are included with tuition, something that can provide a welcome support to the daily management of family life.  

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  • King's-Edgehill School   (Windsor, Nova Scotia)

    King's-Edgehill School is the oldest independent school in Canada, and was founded as King's Collegiate by United Empire Loyalists in 1788. It was given royal assent by King George III the following year, the first instance that honour was bestowed outside Britain. The initial goal of the school was to prevent young men from traveling abroad to receive an education, men that would be needed to stay to administer and defend the colonies. While the school remained small, its alumni took prominent roles in military, legal, religious, and political life (including two fathers of Confederation).  

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  • Kingsway College School   (Etobicoke, Ontario)

    Neil deGrasse Tyson has said, "imagine how different the world would be, if, in fact, that were 'reading, writing, arithmetic, empathy.'" Kingsway College School poses the same question, and has worked to augment a strong academic program with a cross-curricular attention to values. It can risk sounding a bit grand, as when Derek Logan, the head of school, notes that a goal is to teach students to "lead with vision and humility." These are little kids, after all, given that the program ends at Grade 8. Nonetheless, the attention to values, and providing opportunities for social development, in addition to a sense of mastery with core skills, is a strength of the school. The ideal student is one who is able to thrive in an active, academically challenging environment.  

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  • Kuper Academy   (Kirkland, Quebec)

    Kuper was founded in 1986 as a means of providing an intensive, imaginative program for the early grades. The school has grown since then to include the upper grades, and housed within modern facilities, with physical expansion completed in 2008. The attention to an intensive curriculum remains, one that seeks to straddle the goals of a traditional liberal arts education with a range of 21st century literacies. While not expressly intended as a gifted program, the ideal student is one who is able to thrive within a traditional, challenging, yet diverse learning environment inclusive of a relatively large student body.  

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  • La Citadelle International Academy of Arts and Science   (Toronto, Ontario)

    Left with nothing but the name, you'd probably think that Citadelle is a very traditional, buttoned-down prep school. Yet the reality of the school, in any ways, defies that conception. It was established in 2000 with just 5 students and operating out of a church basement. The program has grown since then, though the school remains small, with an annual enrolment of just 200 students spanning prep-k to Grade 12. The approach is progressive, and while achievement is one of the six core values, so are compassion and harmony. There is a high level of individual support—a function of a low teacher/student ratio—yet the ideal student is one that is operating ahead of her peers, able to thrive within a challenging, varied, and multilingual teaching environment.  

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  • Lakefield College School   (Lakefield, Ontario)

    The first thing that people typically know about Lakefield is that Prince Andrew and the King of Spain both studied here. And, truth be known, they did. That said, the reality of the school isn't perhaps of the sort that that we might feel would attract a royal gaze. Lakefield is set in a rural setting, and while academics are strong, there is also a focus on physical activity and outdoor education as a vehicle for the development of interpersonal and leadership skills. As a result, students are more likely to be found on the ropes course or at the hockey rink than in quiet contemplation at tea time. Academics are rigorous, though lifestyle is, too, often creating a heightened level of engagement. Alumni, including the royals, conspicuously retain a very personal connection to the ongoing life of the school.  

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  • The Linden School   (Toronto, Ontario)

    All schools, to some extent, defy the various stereotypes that the general population might have about private education. Still, the Linden School is a particularly stark example of that. Founded by Diane Goudie and Eleanor Moore in 1993, the school was intended as a needed and necessary alternative to what was happening in public schools, as well as other private institutions. Goudie had butt heads with other educators by demanding that education be based in a sense of equity, especially as girls and women are concerned. The Linden School is the result, and today it does exactly what Goudie and Moore hoped it would: provide an example of a school for girls that will make a difference in the students' lives and, in turn, encourage them to make a positive difference in the lives of others. The goal, as Moore said at an address at York University, is to educate each student to "to speak with courage … [to] be credible, find a community, listen for all voices, change structures, be a leader and above all make a difference." Since they founded the school, Goudie and Moore have lead by example, earning honorary doctorate of law degrees from York University in recognition of their leadership in the field of education. On receiving the doctorate, Goudie addressed the convocation saying "Ask yourselves the tough questions: What do you want to achieve beyond your paycheque? What are you prepared to risk in order to make a difference in your communities or in the global community?" Those are, of course, very tough questions, and the Linden School is structured around them. For the wrong student, it could be overwhelming. For the right student, it can provide a very strong foundation for a lifetime of engagement, leadership, and success.  

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  • Lycée Français de Toronto   (Toronto, Ontario)

    Not all immersion programs are created equally, and Lycée Francais is an example of that. The school was founded in 1995, with support from the French consulate, to offer a French education to the children of French nationals living in Toronto (a portion of the faculty, then as now, are themselves French nationals). The program is based on the curriculum used in France, as developed by the French Ministry of Education. That said, the most substantive difference is that the program is dual, admitting students with either English or French as a first language, with French as the primary language of instruction from pre-school on up. Immersion often gets lumped in with gifted programs, though it's not at all just for high flyers. That said, the LFT program is challenging and very much intended, especially in the upper grades, for students preparing to enroll at university.  

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  • Lynn-Rose Heights Private School   (Mississauga, Ontario)

    The school doesn't promote itself as one operating necessarily with the gifted student in mind, though parents need to be aware that the program is nevertheless challenging and accelerated, especially at the junior and intermediate levels. The math and literacy programs have students working a grade ahead of their peers in the public system, with further acceleration offered to students able to function at that level. That's great, of course, for students who are able to manage the workload, giving them a head start when they enter high school. They also will be well-placed to take advantage of the full range of programming offered in addition to core instruction. For others, and despite the small class sizes and focus on individualized learning, the environment has the potential to become alienating. The ideal student is one who is able to thrive within a challenging, intellectually diverse instructional environment.  

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  • The Mabin School   (Toronto, Ontario)

    When Geraldine Mabin founded the Mabin School in 1980 it was considered strikingly experimental. Children were taught in open environments, followed their curiosity, and learned more through guided experience than direct instruction. A teacher at the school once commented that "Our pattern is to have no pattern." Today, despite the changing educational landscape in Canada during the intervening decades, the school remains at the vanguard of alternative education. While Mabin left the school in the 1998, it still reflects the ideals on which it was based, and she remains involved with the school today. "Time in the classroom for actual learning as opposed to teaching is shrinking," Mabin said in 2011. "There's a very high expectation on academics and testing. A lot of time is spent on drumming in lessons and worrying about kids who haven't made it. Children should be given time to learn things, to not be pushed." The instruction is strong, and supported through extensive cross-curricular programming. Parental involvement in the life of the school is encouraged. The ideal student is one who will thrive within a rich, vibrant, and varied learning environment.  

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  • Meadowridge School   (Maple Ridge, British Columbia)

    Meadowridge is a school that intends to inspire and teach through direct, personal involvement. They don't just teach art, for example, they immerse students within it, including an on-site collection of works from an a-list of Canadian artists, including Tom Thomson, Kenojuak Ashevak, and Lawren Harris. The campus includes a forest, so the links between art and the environment are profound. Likewise, gardens and greenhouses provide an entrée to ecology and biology, and a design lab provides an entrée into technology and an engineering. Those, and other examples, provide a unique balance between traditional learning and experiential learning. The buildings, the 27-acre campus, the proximity to Vancouver as well as a range of natural environments—all of it would rightly be the envy of any school. The ideal student is one who is curious, and able to make use of the range of programs and opportunities the school provides.  

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  • Mentor College   (Mississauga, Ontario)

    Mentor College and the TEAM schools are closely associated, something that brings unique strengths to all. They are overseen by a single administrative body, and they share some facilities, services, and extracurricular programs. The benefits are in a shared infrastructure and organizational efficiency. The facilities are modern and robust, as are student services and transportation. There is a robust, rich program of extra-curricular activity, something that, again, is a benefit of not only the school's size, but also the intra-school associations and programs. That said, the division of the campuses gives each—high school, intermediate, and primary—its own sense of propriety and identity. It's a unique model, one that gains both the benefits of a large student population, as well as those of smaller communities of students. In numbers, this is one of the largest schools in Canada, though the lived experience of the families that attend doesn't bear that out. Frequent and casual communication between parents and teachers, as well, underscores a personal, student and family-centered approach.  

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  • Metropolitan Preparatory Academy   (Toronto, Ontario)

    Metro Prep, in once sense at least, is very much what you might think a preparatory academy is for: the program is intended to prepare students for post-secondary education, particularly university. From there, however, all bets are off, and the school adopts none of the clichés or the stances that are hallmarks of the traditional, stereotypical prep school. The students don't wear uniforms, for one, the intention being to encourage individuality rather than conformity. Likewise, while the school intends student success, it's not defined in test scores, but by a creative engagement with the curricular content, and the world. Confidence over bravado; critical thinking over rote learning—in so many ways, this isn't your grandfathers' prep school. The ideal student is one who can thrive in a very active, engaging student environment, and intending to continue their studies at university.  

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  • Miss Edgar's & Miss Cramp's School   (Westmount, Quebec)

    The names are authentic—Maud Edgar and Mary Cramp founded the school in 1909—though any whiff of association to Dickens' novels ends there. Maud was the daughter of Matilda Ridout Edgar, a prominent patriot, historian, and feminist in the very earliest days of Canadian suffragism. Her ideals and her indomitable spirit rubbed off on her daughter and, in turn, were reflected in the school. The curriculum then, as now, was very much rooted in the liberal arts with an eye to leadership and philanthropy. On the school's site is a video that includes a clip where Michelle Obama notes that "the world is big. And it's full of challenges. And we need strong, smart, confident young women to stand up and take the reins." The ideal student is one who shares that vision, and who has the interest and the drive to play an active role in a changing world.  

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  • Northmount School   (Toronto, Ontario)

    Headmaster emeritus Glenn Domina quotes Theodore Roosevelt's "Citizen in a Republic" speech—" The credit belongs to those who are actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and blood"—to underscore his guarantee that at Northmount "your son will not get his sister's education." No, that's not the cornerstone of the school, but Domina's statements highlight the values that inform the life of the school, values that are also very firmly centred in the Catholic traditions on which the school's program is based. The school is very strong, both socially and academically, and including a rich extracurricular program, particularly when viewed in light of the school's size.. That said, faith is central to the approach. The ideal student is one who shares the values that the school promotes and is personally inspired by them.  

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  • Pickering College   (Newmarket, Ontario)

    Pickering College was founded as the West Lake Seminary by Quakers in 1842 and, as you might expect, has had a long and interesting history since. Canada became a dominion, the school amalgamated, some buildings burned down, others were built up. It began as a girls' school in 1841, though the school dates its establishment from the the following year, one that saw the opening of the boys' residence and the start of co-ed instruction. That alone was unique at the time, and provided an expression of the Quaker ideal that both sexes should be educated equally. It was also the first school in North America to offer a course in typewriting. Times of course have changed, though certainly many of the values that the school upholds today reflect those with which it was founded, including a desire to embrace new ideas and to support a diversity of interest. The ideal student is one who will thrive in a supportive yet challenging academic environment.  

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  • Robert Land Academy   (Wellandport, Ontario)

    Some students thrive in environments where they have lots of latitude to be independent and self-motivating. Others thrive in the opposite: an environment that is it structured and ordered, with very clear limits and recognizable boundaries. Robert Land, truly, is for them. The daily routine is regimented, and discipline is enforced. The results, often, are astonishing. This is a school that prides itself on its ability to turn lives around, and that pride is well placed. Robert Land isn't for every student, but, of course, no school is. For students who require structure in order to succeed, the school can make a remarkable difference in a very short period of time.  

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  • The Rosedale Day School   (Toronto, Ontario)

    Located in the heart of downtown Toronto, Rosedale is proximate to a wealth of physical resources that wouldn't be available to schools of a similar size located elsewhere. The student body is small, with just 120 students, though the school partners with the University of Toronto, the AGO, and the ROM, all of which are located within a short distance of the school. The school very happily makes use of all of those resources, including the athletic facilities at U of T. The school adopts a range of progressive practices, including a promotion of cross-curricular instruction and cooperative learning. In all, it's a very nice mix, combining the intimacy of a small student body with a lot of resources and facilities close to hand. While perhaps not a gifted school, per se, the ideal learner is one who can benefit from an enriched curriculum.  

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  • Rothesay Netherwood School   (Rothesay, New Brunswick)

    The school dates to 1874 when the brilliantly named Ezekiel Stone Wiggins founded Thompson's School, a coed day school. It teetered a bit in the early years, with changes in ownership, and direction, though in time found ultimately found both its academic and financial footings. A long-standing association with Netherwood, a school for girls founded in 1894, resulted in an amalgamation between the two in 1984. The school remains true to a tradition of academic excellence, and the campus is rich with reminders of its long history. The school has also has benefited from robust development, the product of a number of capital campaigns over recent decades. Between the long tradition and extensive recent development, there's frankly a lot here to love. Notably among the school's alumni is John Peters Humphrey, primary author of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  

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  • Royal Cachet Montessori School   (Markham, Ontario)

    Montessori can mean different things to different people, and programs and facilities can vary between schools. That said, if you knew very little about what Montessori is, Royal Cachet may well reflect the image that you would have in your mind. The school operates out of a dedicated building, purpose built to house the Royal Cachet program. That's a plus. Within it the administration seeks to provide a setting and a model of instruction that remains very close to the intentions and techniques outlined by Maria Montessori. This is very much the school for those looking for a very traditional, dedicated, consistent application of the Montessori method. The ideal student is one who thrives in a play-based, constructivist learning environment.  

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  • Selwyn House School   (Westmount, Quebec)

    Many schools have changed considerably over their lives, and of course that's particularly true of the older schools. It was begun in 1908 by Captain Algernon Lucas, a graduate of Selwyn College at the University of Cambridge. He was just 29 at that time, and he arrived in Canada in the same year that he graduated from Cambridge. He was, frankly, looking for a job. In Montreal, he found one, namely teaching seven boys. To say that the school has come a long way since it was founded is as much an understatement as you could ever hope to find. A visitor to Selwyn House today is impressed in all sorts of ways, and rightly so. The school is home to an exceptional academic program, and despite having begun its life in Lucas' apartment, is now housed in the kind of buildings that Lucas could only have dreamed of. The school participates in the full range of traditions, and has in turn gained notice well beyond the city of Montreal. (It even plays a role in two classics of Canadian literature, Mordecai Richler's Jacob Two Two Meets the Hooded Fang and Barney's Version.) The alumni of Selwyn House include, literally, titans of industry, including the Bronfmans and the Molsons, lawyers, entrepreneurs, and the philosopher Charles Taylor, among many other notable Canadians, past and present.  

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  • Shoore Centre for Learning   (Toronto, Ontario)

    The Shoore Centre was founded in order to provide academic support to students with a range of learning challenges. Class sizes are small, as is the school itself. What the setting lacks in social outlets and extra-curricular activities it gains in a personal, dedicated attention to the specific needs of the students. While there have been innovations undertaken to enhance opportunities for social development, the core program accentuates literacy, numeracy, and life skills. The ideal student is one who is struggling academically and socially, and who could better reach his or her potential without the distractions and the demands of a traditional high-school environment.  

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  • St. Andrew's College   (Aurora, Ontario)

    While there are a few schools that retain their cadet corps, St. Andrew's is the one that has retained it entirely intact, with military ranks, pipes and drums, kilts and sporrans all firmly still in place. The ironies abound of course, given that the traditions remain so staunchly Anglo-Saxon despite a student population that is strikingly international. To be fair, the program offered here has long been distinguished by a high rate of success, with the list of notable alumni providing an abbreviated who's who of Canadian arts, letters, politics, and entrepreneurship. That said, a school's success can be a double-edged sword, at times conferring privilege and honour by association rather than accomplishment. The ideal student is one who is prone to make the most of what the school can offer.  

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  • St. Clement's School   (Toronto, Ontario)

    Located in the heart of midtown Toronto, St. Clement's School offers a well-rounded, balanced, and supportive learning environment founded on academic excellence. Mentorship is prized, and the school is committed to delivering on a mission to develop exceptional women who are compassionate, curious thinkers and open to new experiences. Girls are guided on their own paths of discovery with the support of a strong school community. That approach is coupled with a progressive 21st century curriculum and lessons reinforced by lived experience. An inclusive, energetic dynamic is the product of a mixture of small classes sizes and interconnected grade levels.  

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  • St. George's School of Montreal   (Montreal, Quebec)

    St. George's was founded in 1930 by a group of parents who wanted something different for their children, namely an education that was less based in rote learning and more based in experience and respect for the individual learners. Then, as now, the students didn't wear uniforms, and lessons were learned experientially, through hands-on lived experience. Students take part in projects and programs with students throughout the school, not only their immediate age mates. Students are encouraged to follow the paths of their curiosity, and then given the latitude and the resources in order to do so. That said, there is a structure, too, and the academic program has, throughout the life of the school, proved itself through real, observable results. Alumni include those who went on to success in the business world, such as Dov Charney, the founder of American Apparel, as well as writers and musicians ranging from Corey Hart to Nikki Yanofsky.  

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  • St. John's-Kilmarnock School   (Waterloo Region (Breslau), Ontario)

    SJK presents as a very traditional school, an impression granted by the name, the uniforms, the size of the campus. In fact, the school is both younger and more progressive than it might initially seem. Founded in 1972, it has taken all of the more modern educational concepts to heart: small class sizes, student-directed instruction, before- and after-school care from JK to Grade 6, an extensive busing program. The cafeteria menu is built is even built around locally sourced, non-GMO food. Academically, the program is intended to challenge learners who need to be challenged, and including IB programs from JK through Grade 12. The intention is to address the whole child, providing strong academic and social support. The ideal student is one operating at the top of their peer group, and who can benefit from a vibrant, diverse educational and social environment. The school has grown over the years, and is also in the midst of a 5-year development plan, to complete in 2020. While the physical plan is still quite new—it was completed in 1990—the current development is around community and instruction (rather than buildings and infrastructure) including an ongoing dedication to experiential learning, values-based instruction, and 20th century literacies.  

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  • St. Margaret's School   (Victoria, British Columbia)

    St. Margaret's isn't for the faint of heart. The focus of the school is on traditional academics paired with outdoor adventure in order to encourage teamwork, confidence, and grit. The ideal student is a girl who is self-motivated, active, and who has already developed a clear set of goals. Athletics and wellness, service, connection to nature, the arts, public speaking and self-directed study are intended to build character and strength. It's a great mix for girls who thrive on independence and challenge, including the kind of competitiveness that can, at times, be a product of it.  

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  • St. Michael's College School   (Toronto, Ontario)

    It's one of the oldest schools in Canada, and is steeped in legend, having descended directly from a secret school founded in the mountains of central France during the French Revolution. Today, it's the only independent Catholic boys' school in Ontario, and one of only a few in Canada. A dedication to teaching the core curriculum though a Catholic lens remains, as does a commitment to strong academics across the board. An extensive program of modernization completed in 2002 brought the school firmly into the 21st century. That said, the school is best known in the popular imagination because of it's storied athletic program. The school has produced more than 180 professional hockey players, a raft of hall-of-famers among them. The school is large, and the academic program is rigorous. The ideal student is self-directed, able to thrive in a demanding, rigorous, and at times competitive environment.  

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  • St. Michaels University School   (Victoria, British Columbia)

    Not to be confused with St. Michael's College School in Toronto, this St. Michael's is non-denominational, co-ed, offers a full K to 12 program, and, located in Victoria, is also physically remote from its namesake. The atmosphere is supportive and progressive, beginning with a Reggio Emilia preschool program that sets a tone of curiosity and collaboration that is carried through the upper grades. Students are encouraged to engage with the entire spectrum of curricular and extra-curricular programs. The motto of one of the two founding schools is retained today: "nothing is great unless it is good." That's telling. Care and support are considered to be as important as challenge and excellence.  

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  • St. Mildred's-Lightbourn School   (Oakville, Ontario)

    The school has a long history, having been founded in Toronto 1891. After a move to Oakville, it later paired with a school guided by Ruth Lightbourn, a renowned teacher who founded a school almost by default—she began as a tutor for the children of John Guest, then headmaster of Appleby College, and her success was of the kind we associate with Nanny McPhee. She became the go-to tutor, and in time founded her own school. That and St. Mildred's formally joined in 1969, combining the traditions and the drive of both under one umbrella. More than anything, the intention is to provide girls with the skills, experience, and esteem that will carry over into academic and professional success. Ample opportunities are provided for students to discover their passions, wherever they may lie, as well as the encouragement to grow within those areas of interest.  

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  • The Sterling Hall School   (Toronto, Ontario)

    Boys' schools often state that they know boys, or are boy-friendly, though too often those statements aren't qualified. Sterling, thankfully, defines what they mean: energy, curiosity, and exploration. Certainly, boys from K to 8 typically have those in abundance, and the program at Sterling is intended to focus things a bit, channeling those natural attributes toward higher order growth and understanding. Confidence, resilience, motivation, goals—we think that boys naturally have these, but they don't. That Sterling places those kinds of values out front is telling of the overall instructional approach. The ideal student is one who can thrive in a structured, challenging, collaborative, and close-knit learning environment. Parent involvement in the life the of the school is both welcome and encouraged.  

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  • Sunnybrook School   (Toronto, Ontario)

    Sunnybrook School was founded in 1952, becoming one of the very first preschools in Canada. It was exotic for the time, both for being a nursery school, as well as being founded by an Austrian educator, Irmingard Hoff. From opening day the school was at the leading edge of education at the time, and it has worked to remain there ever since. Sunnybrook was the first school in the country to adopt the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme. It's since dedicated itself to development of 21st century literacies, an international curriculum, and the adoption of Singapore Math. Which sounds like a lot, and it is. The ideal student is one who is operating at the top of her peer group, and who is able to make the most of the range of programming on offer.  

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  • TEAM School   (Mississauga, Ontario)

    Mentor College and the TEAM schools (Tutorial and Educational Assistance in Mississauga) are closely associated. They are overseen by a single administrative body, and they share some facilities, services, and extracurricular programs. The most obvious difference between them is focus: where Mentor College provides a program for students proceeding within the academic stream, and the TEAM providing a program for those proceeding within the applied stream. That said, it's the other differences—including style of instruction, class size, and individual attention—that ultimately distinguish the schools. Many students arrive at TEAM after struggling to meet their true academic potential within a more traditional academic setting. The ideal student is one who will benefit from the added support and attention, with particular attention to numeracy, literacy, and the development of sound learning skills. Due in part to the association with Mentor College and TSS, the facilities are modern and robust, as are student services and transportation.  

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  • TFS - Canada's International School   (Toronto, Ontario)

    The school celebrated it's 50th anniversary in 2012, marking the end of an astonishing period of growth and development. The school really did start in a basement, moving from there into a range of branches throughout Toronto, in time consolidating onto the two campuses that the school occupies today. Schools don't grow that much, or that quickly, if they aren't servicing a specific need, and certainly that's true of TFS. The acronym stands for Toronto French School, which is the name that the school was founded with, though in time it was offering a lot more than the name suggested. Language remains an important part of the curriculum, though the culture of the school reaches beyond language. The environment is rich, varied, and supportive. The student body is culturally and academically diverse, all of which is encouraged through a robust bursary program.  

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  • TMS School   (Richmond Hill, Ontario)

    TMS was founded in 1961 Helma Trass, who learned the instructional approach from Maria Montessori herself. Trass was at the leading edge of Montessori education in Canada, and the school is, today, home to one of the longest running programs of its kind in the country. The elementary program that she began remains vital today, and it retains her dedication to the core ideals of the Montessori method. With the addition of middle and high-school programs, the school grew to become one of the largest Montessori programs in North America. The rebranding, from the initial Toronto Montessori Schools, to the acronym TMS, was adopted along with the growth of the school into the upper Grades. While the program is continuous, it is divided between two campuses, with preschool through Grade 6 taught at the Bayview campus, and Grades 7 through 12 at the Elgin Mills campus, which was opened in 2009. That campus is also home to the IB program, one that further extends an already impressive breadth of instruction.  

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  • Toronto Prep School   (Toronto, Ontario)

    As the name suggests, Toronto Prep School is very much a preparatory academy intending to prepare students for university. The ideal student is one who arrives at the school with a clear sense of where they are going and is able to effectively manage their time and their schedule. The environment is rigorous, and the school operates very much with the demands of a teen lifestyle in mind. Classes start late in order to align with teens sleep patterns; a partnership with GoodLife Fitness, located within the same building as the school, provides an opportunity to maintain physical fitness. Those kinds of things are beneficial to students who are prone to making the most of them.  

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  • Trafalgar Castle School   (Whitby, Ontario)

    Boarding school can risk seeming anachronistic, a perception that Trafalgar perhaps suffers more than most. It really is a castle, and the interiors are as striking as the exterior: turrets, arches, wood and stone, there's even a (seeming, at least) suit of armor outside the head of school's office. Continuing the theme, the school team is the Dragons, the campus shop is the Dungeon, and Latin is a required course. The school is also genuinely old, having been founded in 1874, though the building pre-dates the school. Yet, as ever, appearances can be deceiving, or at least can risk being made too much of. Trafalgar administration has, throughout its long history, consistently revised the curriculum and programs with an intention of providing, in a very literal, sense, the best the world has to offer. That includes the adoption of the Singapore math and science curricula; Mandarin instruction; the "i-Think" integrated problem solving initiative developed the Rotman School of Business; and writing instruction based on the program developed at the University of Chicago. Which, perhaps, means that you shouldn't necessarily judge a school by its façade (though the Latin requirement, for many, remains a hard sell). Trafalgar offers an up-to-date, creative, and intentional program for girls preparing for university.  

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  • Trinity College School   (Port Hope, Ontario)

    Trinity is one of the oldest boarding schools in Canada and, having been founded two years prior to confederation, is indeed older than the country itself. While it looks entirely different than it did when it was founded—there are no original buildings, nor does it sit at the same site as it did in 1865—the core values remain: quality academics with an eye to educating students into positions of social, professional, and political leadership. The ideal student is one who responds well to challenge.  

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  • University of Toronto Schools   (Toronto, Ontario)

    UTS began its life in 1910 as a laboratory school within the University of Toronto department of education. Then, as now, it shared a building with that faculty. When it was founded the intention was that there would ultimately be more than one school, including a girls' school, as the initial enrollment was just boys. Despite the name which still uses the plural "schools" there has only ever been one. It's remarkable for all kinds of reasons, including an alumni that includes 2 Nobel Laureates, twenty Rhodes Scholars, eleven Olympians, and three ambassadors. In the century since it was founded, UTS weathered some interesting times, including student protests in the 1960s. At one point a student presented the headmaster with a blank sheet of paper saying "this is a list of our demands." It might sound a bit silly now, but the school was at the centre of the debates that would, in time, bring some important advances to public schooling in Canada, including the abolition of matriculation exams and a 4-year secondary school program (rather than 5). Those changes, and many others, are symbolic of the school's excellence, and it remains one of the foremost schools in the country. While not a gifted school, at least in name, the ideal student is one who thrives within a challenging, brisk academic environment. Candidates are required to pass an entrance exam in order to be admitted.  

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  • Upper Canada College   (Toronto, Ontario)

    UCC is one of the oldest and most storied schools in Canada. Its alumni include a who's who of Canadian political, business, and cultural life. Its history is, in many ways, the history of independent schooling itself; to attend is to become a part of a Canadian cultural tradition, one that retains a prominent place in Canadian education. The school leads in the provision of financial assistance, with a robust program of scholarships and bursaries intended to attract the brightest students in Canada and from around the world.  

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  • Villa Maria   (Montreal, Quebec)

    Villa Maria is both one of the oldest and largest private schools in Canada, with a current enrollment just shy of 1400 students. Founded in 1854, the school has a long history, remaining a focal point of Anglophone society well into the 20th century, hosting an impressive roster of dignitaries, including King Edward VII, King George V, and Queen Mary. Academically, the school has continually adapted to the changing times, adopting programs and practices to meet the needs of the student population. One of the most notable came in September of 2016 when boys were admitted for the first time in the school's 161-year history. Today, the program is at the leading edge of academic innovation, including an active use of technology in the classroom and a dedication to global awareness. Both Francophone and Anglophone students are enrolled, and the school is divided into to teaching sectors, one French and one English (though competency in both languages is posited as a goal for all students). The ideal student is one who with thrive in a rich, busy, academically challenging environment.  

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  • Waldorf Academy   (Toronto, Ontario)

    We often consider the ideal student for a certain educational setting, though with Waldorf schools, it's important to also consider the ideal parent. Instruction is play-based, student directed; benchmarks are less important than engagement. Multiple intelligences, multiple-sensory learning, cross-curricular instruction, visual learning--it's perhaps the epitome of what we think of as alternative education: constructivist rather than didactic. Waldorf Academy is one of the first of its kind in Canada, and was created when a group of parents decided to come together to create the kind of school that they wanted for their children. It's grown since then, and the organization and infrastructure has been formalized as well, including the creation of a purpose-built learning environment. Nevertheless, the core concept remains. The successful student is one who thrives in a play-based setting. The ideal parent is one who sees the value in a constructivist approach, narrative-based assessment (letter grades are given only in grades 7 and 8) and who supports the maintenance of a media-free learning environment.  

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  • WillowWood School   (Toronto, Ontario)

    Wildwood was founded in 2002 in order to serve primary and middle-grade learners who require more support than they would find within a traditional classroom. The environment—both physically and pedagogically—was designed to address the needs of students with Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder, dyslexia, and autism Spectrum Disorder. In some senses, that describes quite a range of students and abilities, including those who may function both above and below their peers. While the classroom setting and extra-curricular activities provide opportunities for social development, the pace of instruction is individualized. The intention is to prepare students for high school, developing a personalized suite of strategies and skills necessary for them to make the most of academic life once they leave Wildwood after grade 8.  

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  • The York School   (Toronto, Ontario)

    The York School was founded in 1965 as a pre-school and it has continued to grow since then, all the while reflecting the changing cultural and academic ideals of the age. The 60s saw a rise in hands-on, inquiry-based preschool instruction, as well as a greater attention to the realities of life and community than Dick and Jane could provide. For York, that approach to pre-school instruction was a starting point. With the creation of the lower school in 1978 and the upper school in 1998, York provided an ongoing education based on the initial analogue. The school is found in the heart of Toronto, and like the surrounding city, prizes diversity and an international perspective, something that arises naturally from a diverse student population. The school is housed in adapted office buildings in the heart of the city, providing a focal point for the very urban, integrated culture of the school. The ideal student is one who can make the most of a challenging, diverse, and vibrant learning environment.  

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