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The Abelard School

557 Church Street, 4th Fl., Toronto, Ontario, M4Y 2E2

Liberal Arts
Grades (Gender):
Gr. 9 to Gr. 12 (Coed)
$20,000 to 22,000/year
Main Language:
Avg. Class Size:
Day: 50 (Gr. 9 - 12)

School Address
557 Church Street, 4th Fl., Toronto, Ontario, M4Y 2E2

About this school:


The Abelard School offers an enriched, intellectually engaging curriculum for students in grades 7 through 12. Our liberal arts education encourages excellence, from the maths and sciences to the social sciences and humanities. Socratic instruction and our integrated curriculum foster critical thinking and problem solving skills in a friendly, inclusive school environment where students encourage one another to learn and our highly qualified teachers prepare them to achieve remarkable success in university. — Visit school website



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Our Take: The Abelard School

our takeHistorically, 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.

Upcoming Events Next event: June 20, 2018

upcoming events
  • June 20, 2018Graduation and Awards Ceremony
    The Arts and Letters Club, 14 Elm St., Toronto, Ontario
    Join us Wednesday, June 20 from 06:00 pm - 09:00 pm

    The Grande Finale to the school year: the Graduation and Awards Ceremony at the historic Arts and Letters Club, 

Principal's Message


Ms. Michelle Lefolii, Principal

The Abelard School is a place where ideas and people matter, where debate is encouraged, and where creativity and innovation come to life. It is a place where learning progresses logically through an integrated curriculum, and students talk about Plato, Woolf, and quantum theory in the hallways as well as in the classroom. Abelard is a school for the student who wants to be inspired but also challenged to work and think beyond the norm. It is a school for scholars.

The Abelard School has been preparing students to enter university since 1997. The focus of our  programme (grades 7-12) is to ensure that our students graduate as astute critical thinkers, ready to enter and succeed in the university program of their choice. Our senior courses are designed as preparation for the Advanced Placement examinations, on which our students have consistently achieved top scores.
Along with encouraging high academic achievement, Abelard strives to ensure that our students do not limit their future choices by specializing in one particular discipline; our individualized course selection process ensures that students profit from the breadth of courses in our liberal arts curriculum throughout all four years of high school. As a small school, we are able to integrate our courses with one another to allow for greater interdisciplinary learning, and provide our students with increased student-teacher interaction to better help them realize their goals. With our prime location in downtown Toronto, we take full advantage of the many learning opportunities that can be had outside of the classroom in art galleries, museums, the theatre, the opera, and the like.

We invite you to learn more about the Abelard School through our website and in person. We look forward to meeting you!


Curriculum Liberal Arts

Primary Curriculum: Liberal Arts

What Abelard School says: The Abelard school is an ideal academic environment for students who are motivated, and who are looking to be challenged and inspired. Not all of our students have been identified as gifted, but all of them are bright and eager to learn.

  • Approach:
    Focus Special needs
    Academic Gifted

  • Pedagogies and subject courses:

  • Mathematics Traditional Math

      Traditional Math typically teaches a method or algorithm FIRST, and THEN teaches the applications for the method. Traditional algorithms are emphasized and practiced regularly: repetition and drills are frequently used to ensure foundational mastery in the underlying mathematical procedures. The traditional approach to math views math education as akin to building a logical edifice: each brick depends on the support of the previously laid ones, which represent mastery over a particular procedure or method. Traditional Math begins by giving students a tool, and then challenges students to practice using that tool an applied way, with progressively challenging problems. In this sense Traditional Math aims to establish procedural understanding before conceptual and applied understanding.
      Learn about the different mathematics approaches  

    • What Abelard School says: The math program at the Abelard School has been designed to show continuity between all of the branches of math as well as how it integrates with other disciplines. It is our own construction and melds aspects of algebra, geometry, and logic. A solid and sophisticated understanding of mathematics is key to the construction of an agile mind. Our ultimate goal is to have all of our students working at a functional University level math, regardless of the discipline they choose to pursue after high school. Our students regularly compete in national and international mathematics competitions, and have won many awards over the years.

    • Textbooks and supplementary materials: This information is not currently available.

    • Calculator policy: This information is not currently available.

    Science Equal Balance

      Science programs that balance expository and inquiry learning equally will likely have an equal blend of tests and experiments; direct, textbook-based instruction and student-centred projects.
      Learn about the different science approaches  

    • Teaching approach: The science program at the Abelard School strongly emphasises the connections between science and the other disciplines in our curriculum. Our unique Foundation Sciences course is mandatory for all of our grade 9 students. Our students then move directly into the specialized grade 11 courses in biology, physics and chemistry in their second year of high school. This is extremely helpful for students who intend to study science at university, as it allows them room in their four years of high school to take every grade 11 and 12 science course offered. Our school laboratory is well-equipped to offer our students the possibility to perform experiments and dissections at every grade level. Trips to the labs at the nearby University of Toronto complement the science programme.

    • Topics covered in curriculum:

      Subject = offered
    • Treatment of evolution:

      Evolution as consensus theory
      Evolution as one of many equally viable theories
      Evolution is not taught

    Literature Traditional

      In traditional literature programs students focus on decoding the mechanics of texts: plot, characterization, and themes. These texts tend to include a balance of contemporary and “classic” literature. When studying a past work, students investigate its historical context -- but only insofar as this adds understanding to the work itself. Past works are therefore studied “on their own terms”, and not merely as historical artifacts to be deconstructed: traditional literature programs are firmly rooted in the humanities, and carry the belief that great literature can reveal fundamental and universal truths about the human condition. These programs emphasize class discussions and critical essay writing, and aim to develop in students critical thinking, communication skills, and a cultivated taste and ethos.
      Learn about the different literature approaches  

    • What Abelard School says: The English program at Abelard pairs intensive study of the Western literary canon with the practice of expository, analytical, narrative and creative writing. By the time they have reached Grade 12, our students are writing university-level essays, and have developed both the analytical and technical skills they will require to succeed in any post-secondary discipline. Works studied in Grade 12 include: King Lear, The Tempest, Moby Dick, To the Lighthouse, The Waste Land, Waiting for Godot, Lolita, Blood Meridian, Ulysses. In addition to literary analysis, our students engage in their own creative work, composing short stories, plays and even novels. Each year they write and produce a school literary journal reflecting the best student writing of the year. A student-organized school newspaper appears monthly.

    Humanities and Social Sciences Perennialism

      Perennialism in the humanities and social sciences emphasizes the idea of education being a kind of “conversation” between generations, and so frequently turns to “Great Works” and “Big Ideas” for teaching-content. Perennialist programs approach past works on their own terms; as if they might actually help students understand “today” better. Past works are not viewed as mere historical artifacts, but as gateways to a deeper understanding of the human condition. History (and, by extension, the humanities in general) therefore plays a large role in perennialist curriculums, though social sciences like economics, psychology, and sociology can still be taught. There is a strong Liberal Arts bent to perennialist programs. The key goals are to develop critical thinking, a strong foundation of core knowledge (or “cultural literacy”), and persuasion skills through informed debate and extensive practice in essay writing.
      Learn about the different humanities and social sciences approaches  

    • What Abelard School says: The Social Science and Humanities program at Abelard encompasses the following courses: Philosophy, World History, American History, World Religions, Canadian History, Canadian Geography, Canadian and World Politics, Psychology and Economics. The goal is one that is shared by all the disciplines at Abelard: an integrated approach that provides students with a comprehensive overview of world culture and history. This means that information and ideas will overlap from one course to another. For example, our course in Philosophy provides, among other units, a chronological perspective on the development of ethics. This understanding of ethics contributes to discussions about the Enlightenment that emerge in World History. Our Politics course looks at contemporary conflicts around the world and provides students with a basis upon which to make informed assessments of international relations in the 21st century. This contemporary focus on world events and issues is the culmination of our Humanities program.

    Foreign Languages Equal Balance

      These programs feature an equal blend of the audio-lingual and communicative styles of language instruction.
      Learn about the different foreign languages approaches  

    • What Abelard School says: The study of foreign languages gives students a deeper understanding of other cultures and assists them in becoming global citizens. Abelard's French and Modern Languages program aims to graduate students with a fluent or near-fluent mastery of one or more modern languages. Depending on student interest, these languages may include Spanish, Russian, Mandarin and Italian. French is always offered, and is a mandatory component of our curriculum in Grades 9 and 10. The program guides students towards the ability to read, write, and converse with ease. Starting in Grade 10, the reading of literature and articles drawn from current publications is introduced. By Grade 12 students can freely communicate with native speakers and discuss essentially any topic, from current affairs to complex philosophical issues. Latin and Greek language and literature are fundamental to Western civilization. At Abelard, all students are required to study Latin for at least one year.

    • Studying a foreign language is required until:   12
    • Languages Offered: • Chinese-Mandarin • French • Greek • Italian • Latin • Russian • Spanish

    Fine Arts Equal Balance

      These programs have an equal emphasis on receptive and creative learning.
      Learn about the different fine arts approaches  

    • Program offers:

      Subject = offered
      Graphic Design
      Visual Arts
    • Visual studio philosophy:

    • What Abelard School says: The Arts form the foundation of civilized society, and the Arts program at Abelard is integrated into every aspect of our curriculum, as well as being represented by dedicated Visual Arts, Graphic Design, Drama and Music courses. Students study the history and techniques of each discipline, and produce their own creative work. A full-length school play is performed each year at one of the University of Toronto Theatres, the school hosts a revolving exhibition of student paintings, and the Graphic Design Class designs and produces the school Literary Journal and Yearbook.

    Computers and Technology Light integration

      Computers are used in the classroom from time to time, but integrating technology into everything students do is not a dominant focus. Digital literacy is understood to be a legitimate skill in the 21st century, but not one that should distract from teaching the subject at hand, or more fundamental skills and literacies. The idea is today’s students, being “digital natives”, are likely exposed to computers and new media enough outside the classroom: the role of the school, rather, should be to develop competencies that may otherwise get missed.
      Learn about the different computers and technology approaches  

    • What Abelard School says: Abelard students who are interested in developing their computer literacy and programming skills are given the option of dedicated computer science courses. Computer science students also learn to create games and the basics of web design.

    • Program covers:

      Subject = offered
      Computer science
      Web design

    Physical Education
    • What Abelard School says: We encourage our students to be physically active and healthy. We are not an athletically competitive school, but a number of our students are competitive athletes who train privately outside of our school.

    Sex and Health Education Ontario curriculum
    Topics covered in sex and health education: This information is not currently available.

    What Abelard School says: This information is not currently available.

    Mostly value-neutral

    By and large, we teach sex education free of any particular moral or ethical standpoint. We try not to impose any particular values or value systems (such as social, political, or ideological values) on our students when teaching sex and related issues.

    Fairly value-based

    Sex education is sometimes taught from a particular moral or ethical standpoint. Sometimes particular values or value systems (such as social, political, or ideological values) are invoked when teaching sex and related issues.


    This includes a range of positions. A traditional approach might, for example, go as far as emphasizing the nuclear family and complete abstinence from sex before marriage. Alternatively, this approach might simply involve placing less emphasis on sex outside of the context of marriage and more emphasis on abstinence. Or finally, it might just involve focusing less on sex outside of the context of marriage.


    This might mean more emphasis is placed on the importance of such things as social equality, diversity, and choice in sex education.

    What Abelard School says: The Abelard School sex-education curriculum follows the Ontario Ministry of Education curriculum guidelines.

    Curriculum Pace Accelerated

    • Standard-enriched
    • Accelerated
    • Student-paced

    The main curriculum accelerates beyond the pace of the provincial one; ALL students do the work of OLDER public-school peers in tangible and measurable ways. This accelerated pace is maintained by the teachers and school, (through textbook selection, topic selection, grading, assignment standards and expectations, etc).

    Flexible pacing:

    Flexible pacing style = offered
    Subject-streaming (tracking)
    Multi-age classrooms as standard
    Ability-grouping (in-class) as common
    Frequent use of cyber-learning (at-their-own-pace)
    Regular guided independent study opportunities
    Differentiated assessment

    What Abelard School says about flexible pacing: Some students take classes at a number of grade levels, some work on individual projects reflecting their interests. Mentorships at U of T augment our curriculum.

    Academic Culture Rigorous

    • Rigorous
    • Supportive

    A school with a “rigorous” academic culture places a high value on academic performance, and expects their students to do the same. This does not mean the school is uncaring, unsupportive, or non-responsive -- far from it. A school can have a rigorous academic culture and still provide excellent individual support. It does mean, however, the school places a particular emphasis on performance -- seeking the best students and challenging them to the fullest extent -- relative to a normal baseline. High expectations and standards – and a challenging yet rewarding curriculum – are the common themes here. Keep in mind this classification is more relevant for the older grades: few Kindergarten classrooms, for example, would be called “rigorous”.

    What Abelard School says: At Abelard our students discover their strengths and learn how to apply them. They acquire knowledge, master skills and meet academic challenges. Homework is structured around a variety of assignments and projects, to allow them the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding and their critical thought, and to help them to develop a systematic approach to their studies.Our students are also challenged to expand the boundaries of their own creativity, to set high standards for themselves and to think of education as a lifelong journey and the key to leading a rewarding and enriched life.

    Developmental Priorities Intellectual, Balanced

    Primary Developmental Priority: Intellectual
    Academically strong, creative, and critical thinkers, capable of exercising rationality, apprehending truth, and making aesthetic distinctions.

    Secondary Developmental Priority: Balanced
    Equal attention is paid to a balance of priorities: intellectual, emotional, social, and physical.

    What Abelard School says: Only students who demonstrate intellectual strength and a high degree of motivation are accepted into our programme. Our goal is to present bright and motivated students the opportunity to explore the history of human accomplishment, to inspire them to grow intellectually and to expand their cultural and social awareness while developing their critical thinking skills and preparing them to shape the world of the future.

    Special Needs Support No support

    No support

    Abelard School offers no/limited support for students with learning difficulties or special needs.

    • Academic Support:
      Support Type = offered
      Learning strategy and study counselling; habit formation
      Extra support and minor accommodations for children experiencing subclinical difficulties
    • Mild but clinically diagnosed ADHD
      Support Type = offered
      Extra support
    • What Abelard School says: Our school is not designed to provide formal remediation for students with learning disabilities, but we are able to accommodate some types of disabilities, depending on the particular constellation.

    • Support for moderate-to-severe special needs:
      Special needs
      ADHD (moderate to severe)
      Learning disabilities
      Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability)
      Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)
      Language Processing Disorder
      Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD)
      Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit
      Asperger's Syndrome
      Down syndrome
      Intellectual disability
      Williams syndrome
      Behavioral and Emotional
      Troubled behaviour / troubled teens
      Clinical Depression
      Clinical anxiety
      Suicidal thoughts
      Drug and alcohol abuse
      Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
      Multiple sclerosis
      Cerebral palsy
      Muscular dystrophy
      Spina Bifida
      Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder)
      Cystic Fibrosis
      Multiple physical
    • Forms of support delivery:
      Support Type = offered
      A regular class with indirect support
      A regular class with resource assistance
      A regular class with withdrawal assistance
      A special education class with partial integration
      A full-time special education class
    • Additional Support:
      Support Type = offered
      Social skills programs
      Occupational therapy
      Speech-language therapy

    Gifted Learner Support Dedicated gifted school

    Curriculum delivery: Acceleration and enrichment (There is an equal emphasis on acceleration and enrichment.)

    In-class adaptations:
    Practice = offered
    Custom subject enrichment (special arrangement)
    Custom curriculum compacting (special arrangement)
    Guided independent study (custom gifted arrangement)
    Cyber-learning opportunities (custom gifted arrangement)
    Formalized peer coaching opportunities (specifically for gifted learners to coach others)
    Custom subject acceleration (special arrangement)
    Career exploration (custom gifted arrangement)
    Project-based learning (custom gifted arrangement)
    Mentorships (custom gifted arrangement)

    What Abelard School says: Every course offered at Abelard is advanced. Although we do not offer AP courses, our school is a registered AP testing site, and many of our senior students take the AP exams.Our school facilitates student mentorships with university professors, hosts guest lecturers, visits university labs and libraries, and participates in university seminars. Over the years a number of our exceptionally gifted students have been granted permission to audit courses at U of T.

    Gifted education: If you want to learn more about gifted education, check out our comprehensive guide. It’s the first of its kind: it covers different kinds of gifted schools and programs, and a whole host of issues parents face in finding the right option for their gifted child.

    Homework Policy

    In grade 12, The Abelard School students perform an average of >2 hours of homework per night.

    Nightly Homework
    Abelard School 90 mins90 mins120 mins160 mins160 mins160 mins
    Site Average53 mins57 mins69 mins80 mins95 mins108 mins

    Report Card Policy

    How assessments are delivered across the grades:

    Lettered or numbered grades7 to 12
    Prose (narrative)-based feedback7 to 12
    Parent-teacher meetings7 to 12

    Class Sizes Not available

    This information is not currently available.


    What Abelard School says:
    • The Abelard School participates in the Model United Nations in New York city.
    • Our senior French students travel to France to visit the cultural icons they have studied in class.

    • Sports OfferedCompetitiveRecreational
      Ice Hockey
      Track & Field
    • Clubs Offered
      Art Club
      Audiovisual Club
      Chess Club
      Community Service
      Dance Club
      Debate Club
      Drama Club
      Foreign Language Club
      Math Club
      Online Magazine
      Poetry/Literature club
      School newspaper
      Science Club
      Student Council

    Tuition & Financial Aid



    Need-based financial aid

    Grade range that need-based aid is offered: 9 to 12
    Percentage of grade-eligible students receiving financial aid20%
    Average aid package size$10,000
    Percentage of total enrollment on financial aid20%
    Total aid available$100,000

    Application Deadline:
    Rolling deadline

    More information:

    Application Details:

    This school works with Apple Financial Inc. for processing financial applications

    Merit based Scholarships

    This information is not currently available.


    Total enrollment 50
    Average enrollment per grade8
    Average class size12
    Gender (grades)Gr. 9 to Gr. 12 (Coed)
    Boarding offeredNo

    Student distribution:

    Day Enrollment8810131314



    Admissions Assessments:

    Assessment = requiredGrades
    Interview7 - 12
    SSAT (out of province)
    Entrance Exam(s)7 - 12
    Entrance Essay7 - 12
    Application Fee 

    Application Deadlines:

    Day students:

    What Abelard School says:

    Applications will be evaluated according to four criteria: interview, test score, report card, and entrance essay (written at the school). Applicants are additionally invited to submit a piece of work of which they are proud and that demonstrates their potential; if they choose to include this, it will be taken into consideration along with the rest of their application.

    All applicants must submit the following:

    • Standardized test scores  -- applicants may write the Abelard test, or they may submit SSAT
      test results written at a standardized test location within the same year
    • A copy of their most recent school report card
    • An entrance essay (must be written at the Abelard School)
    • OPTIONAL: A piece of work that reflects the applicant's interests or talents
      (examples may include artwork, music recordings, creative writing, and so on)


    Acceptance Rate:


    Type of student The Abelard School is looking for: Students who are successful at Abelard are motivated, curious, bright and eager to learn. They are comfortable in an intellectual atmosphere and look upon learning as a lifelong venture. They are caring and compassionate and wish to apply what they learn to help others and to advance society.

    Student Entry Points

    Student Type789101112
    Day Acceptance
    (Acceptance rate)
    8 - 12 (50%)8 - 12 (50%)10 - 15 (50%)1 - 3 (50%)1 - 3 (50%)1 - 3 (50%)

    University Placement

    Services = offered
    Career planning
    Mentorship Program
    University counseling
    Key Numbers
    Average graduating class size14
    *Canadian "Big 6" placements10
    **Ivy+ placements15

    *Number of students in 2015 who attended one of McGill, U of T, UBC, Queen's University, University of Alberta, or Dalhousie University.

    **Number of students since 2005 that attended one of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Stanford, University of Chicago, Oxford or Cambridge (UK)

    Schools our students are admitted to (last 4 years): Cambridge, Columbia, NYU, Berkeley, Brown, Johns Hopkins, UCLA, Dartmouth, Wesleyan, U of Pennsylvania,U of T, McGill, McMaster, Waterloo, Queen’s, Western, King’s, UBC, Dalhousie, Quest.
    Schools our students attend (last 4 years): Cambridge, Columbia, Brown, NYU, Wesleyan, U of T, McGill, McMaster, Waterloo, Queen’s, Western, King’s, Dalhousie, Quest.

    What The Abelard School says:

  • Rathesh Balendran wins Schculich Leader Scholarship to York, 2016.
  • Gala Farah wins scholarship to St. Andrew's, 2018
  • Estee Feldman wins scholasrhip to Brown, June 2015
  • Our students are accepted into the best universities and the most competitive programmes in the world, including Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, Brown, Columbia, The Sorbonne, St. Andrew's, the University of Toronto, McGill, Waterloo, Queens, etc.
  • Remi Free wins Scholarship to Columbia, 2016
  • Josiah Cohen wins scholarship to Columbia, June 2017.
  • Malcolm Kennedy accepted to Cambridge on full Blyth Cambridge Trust scholarship, 2015

  • Notable Alumni

    Alumnus Graduation Year Accomplishment
    Vitalik Buterin 2013 Vitalik Buterin is a programmer, writer, founder of Ethereum and co-founder of Bitcoin Magazine. In 2014, he won the World Technology Award for the co-creation and invention of Ethereum.
    Kate Wallace 2012 Named by Campus Life as one of 22 MOST INSPIRING COLLEGE WOMEN UNDER 22 for developing a software app to combat human trafficking and child exploitation in India.
    Gabe De Roche 2000 Gabe De Roche is the Senior Communications Advisor to the Ontario Minister of Health and Longterm Care.
    Christopher Olah 2012 Christopher Olah is employed at Google Brain as a research scientist focusing on: Distributed Systems and Parallel Computing; Machine Intelligence; and Natural Language Processing. See the New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/06/technology/google-artificial-intelligence.html

    Alumni Highlights

    • All of our Alumni proceed to university. 60% pursue post-graduate degrees.
    • Congratulations to Abelard Alumna Estee Feldman, who has been accepted to the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology.

    Stories & Testimonials


    One of the Finest University Preparatory Educations Around

    As a university educator, I can say that in my experience the Abelard School provides one of the finest university preparatory educations that I have encountered. Few schools provide the depth of foundational education—where else do high school students learn Greek, Latin and Philosophy?—let alone the breadth of subject matter that Abelard covers through the diverse interests of its talented staff. Abelard’s focus on educational diversity in the Humanities and Sciences provides a balanced and comprehensive engagement with learning, which prepares students for their encounter with university, as well as stimulates their insights into potential careers. Abelard graduates hit the ground running.

    However, Abelard offers much more than academic excellence. Its small size creates intimacy and engagement among students that goes beyond the classroom and fosters lively discussions in the hallways, encourages independent intellectual pursuits and generates lasting friendships. A few examples from my son’s activities come to mind that help illustrate the Abelard experience:

    • staging the battle scene in Julius Caesar for the annual play (with the wood-worked swords made by another parent)
    • discovering the astonishing bio-mechanics of a running ostrich
    • discussing the antics of Buck Mulligan in the opening chapter of Joyce’s Ulysses
    • the group of Abelard students out for a night at the theatre discussing the performance of Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
    • discovering a latent capacity for maths and science ... and writing a computer program
    • excitement translating the inscriptions on Roman monuments in museums in Berlin
    • finding other students interested in chess and starting a chess club

    I would urge anyone to consider Abelard as their school of choice for students who hanker for learning, who seek a milieu that supports independent intellectual growth and who would thrive in small enriched educational environment.

    - Tim Pilgrim, M.A. M.B.A, Dipl. Analyt. Psych, Lecturer at New College, University of Toronto


    A Place Where Young People Can Be Themselves

    The Abelard School is small, which gives it its chief advantage. In a small school, there can be no cliques. No popular students. And, therefore, no unpopular ones. They have to get along, and for certain types of teenagers that is a great relief and a removal of considerable stress.

    The small size also means that the teachers know the students to a degree not possible elsewhere. That means that they really can tailor learning to the student rather than to an average standard that fits no one perfectly. The teachers are the same from year to year and so your students grow with them.

    My child has never been happier at a school. She can just be herself and herself is not one that sits well with the usual standards of normal. These are life-long friendships being found amongst kindred spirits.

    That said, the Abelard school is challenging. Incredibly so. It is a classic form of education that emphasises the core disciplines. And the work load is considerable. The key point is that, at least in my experience, my daughter happily does the work. We sometimes have to literally force her to watch TV or come to the movies rather than study.

    The Abelard School sets itself under the radar. There is no glitz only substance. It isn't for everyone but the students it is right for, it is their place.

    - Dr. Joshua Gans, Professor of Strategic Management and Jeffrey S. Skoll Chair of Technical Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto


    Challenging Classes, Inspiring Teachers

    It may be that no school is perfect, but Abelard certainly comes close. Our son is finally being challenged here by the demanding classes he (and we) missed in middle school. He comes home eager to do homework, and he clearly wants to meet or exceed the high expectations of the inspiring teachers, who have opened his eyes to subjects he had not felt entirely comfortable with before.

    Because most classes have fewer than ten students and teacher-student colloquy is fundamental to the Abelard experience, he always has opportunities to question and participate. The size and intimacy of the student body has inspired close friendships with a group of individuals who—mirabile dictu!—support and encourage one another rather than compete for marks or condescend.

    The administration has been very responsive to our son’s religious observance. We appreciate the seriousness of the student body and the teachers’ firmness, but while the learning is sometimes hard, it often seems to be quite a lot of fun. The students are diverse and open-minded enough to appreciate a wide range of teaching styles. We are so pleased with the Abelard curriculum that when we spend next year overseas, our son will take the year off (doing independent studies and other kinds of learning and volunteering) in order not to replace a year at Abelard with a less-satisfying year at another school.

    - Dr. Linda Safran, Research Fellow at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, University of Toronto, and Dr. Adam Cohen, Associate Professor of Art, University of Toronto


    Motivated, Creative and Enthusiastic

    It was a pleasure teaching Abelard students—they are a very special group of motivated, creative and enthusiastic young people.  I was impressed by the students’ work ethic and mastery of the course material, and students in the upper grades were consistently performing at a higher level than the University of Toronto undergrads I have taught!

    What impressed me even more than the students’ performance, however, was the way in which their interest in the subject matter extended far beyond the desire to get a good grade.  Their genuine excitement about learning is something that also puts them on par with top undergraduate students and suggests that they will excel wherever they choose to study after they leave Abelard.

    Abelard is a place where doing well, exploring new ideas and being proud of each other’s achievements are central parts of school culture.  I see this close-knit support as vital for enhancing their confidence as they transition from high school into university and beyond.  Most students have well-rounded lives and excel in various areas (academics, sports, the arts, community projects), and Abelard encourages their desire to pursue a variety of interests.

    - Sarah Knudson, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Sasatchewan; former Abelard teacher


    Abelard Raises the Bar in Mathematics

    The Abelard School gave me an excellent grounding in mathematics and a broad range of subjects, and gave me the confidence and skills necessary to pursue mathematically intense work throughout my academic and professional careers. Increasingly, good quantitative and mathematical skills are of acute utility in almost every subject --- from the proof theory of theoretical computer science to the use linguistic data in literary analysis. The confidence and facility with mathematics that good teachers instill is invaluable, and I am greatly indebted to mine at Abelard.

    When I entered graduate school in Mathematics and Computer Science, I was in many ways pursuing a fascination and a love of a subject that had begun many years previously. Abelard was an extraordinarily important time for my development in many ways, not least my understanding of mathematics and how to study it. I was very lucky to have teachers who taught with such passion, humanity, and understanding of a subject that is far too frequently sold short.

    I am extremely lucky to have the breadth of education that I received at the Abelard --- it is a treasure which has served me well throughout my career.

    Dr. Chris Thomson-Walsh, PhD (Cambridge), Abelard Class of '02


    Nothing Short of Spectacular

    With my secondary school diploma in hand, poised to begin my first year at Harvard University, it is now very easy for me to see how instrumental Abelard has been in getting me to where I am today. In preparing me and my classmates for higher learning, in teaching us to read and think critically, and most of all in opening our wondering eyes to the pure excitement of academic learning, Abelard has been nothing short of spectacular.

    I initially embarked upon my secondary studies elsewhere, but as I very soon discovered, I was never cut out for life at a big public school. I hated the anonymity of a regular school with its 30-something class sizes; I was frustrated by the bureaucratic inflexibility of some of the teachers and administrators; but worst of all, I found the course material boring and uninspiring. Some part of me didn't want to be reading watered-down textbooks - where the classic works of Western literature are briefly summarized in a 50-word blurb at the side of the page - forever. It's not hard to imagine my excitement then, when in my very first history class at Abelard, a thick packet of photocopied papers was plopped down in front of me: our introductory reading assignment was the first book of Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War.

    My coursework at Abelard only got meatier. It is a school where all the grade 10 students read The Iliad, where the grade 12 English class reads Joyce's Ulysses, and where the third-year Latin class reads Virgil in the original. Academically, Abelard gives its students something to sink their teeth into. But it wasn't just the interesting and rigorous coursework that made me come to love Abelard. Guiding us through such a challenging curriculum was a set of the most intelligent, highly educated, and dedicated teachers I have ever known. Whether to help with a difficult concept, to provide extra information for curious students, or simply to chat about this or that, Abelard's teachers with their infinite patience were always there for us.

    Abelard, with its small size, inclusive warmth, and quirky student body, sees each of its classes gel together and learn from each other. Abelard not only guided me towards a great university experience, but it also gave me the skills I will need to thrive there, and the sense of belonging to a community that will enable me to stand on my feet.

    Anne-Marie Zapf-Belanger, A.B. (Harvard), JD -- in progress (UBC), Abelard Class of '05


    In the News


    April 17, 2018 - Abelard Launches Middle School!

    We are pleased to announce the launch of our Middle School Programme for the fall of 2018. A few spaces remain available! ...

    August 9, 2017 - Abelard Student Josiah Cohen Columbia Bound!

    Abelard is thrilled to announce that yet another of our graduates is Columbia-bound. Congratulations to this fine scholar! ...

    June 20, 2016 - ABELARD SCHOOL student awarded largest Canadian scholarship!

    A graduate of The Abelard School, Rathesh Balendran, has been selected to receive $60,000 to study at York University. ...

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