Perhaps the hardest decision we make as parents is selecting our child's school. After looking at many schools we decided that the Giles School was right for two overriding reasons. Firstly, we liked the teachers, the environment, and the curriculum, both for the early years and high school. And secondly, having graduated from The Toronto French School when Harry Giles was headmaster, we knew exactly what to expect...
From the beginning, it was clear that the school Mr. Giles founded was different. We were taught entirely in French by young enthusiastic teachers brought in straight from France- and classes were small.
In the days of 13 grades, Mr. Giles pushed his students through in 12, but their achievements were still superb. Some classmates went to Neufchatel, Caltech, Oberlin, and MIT, not to mention receiving first class standing in external exams, like the French Baccalaureate, and the O and A levels.
My early experiences were of warmth and exciting learning. Although kids came from diverse backgrounds, at TFS we were equal. Education in all subjects was advanced, but it was French education that was most remarkable: we all learned to speak fluently in both official languages.
But it was high school when we first understood what early intervention and language training had prepared us for. Mr. Giles was running a school competitive with any in Canada. In Math Olympiads, science fairs, and debating competitions, we competed- and won. In the 1984 Ontario private school public speaking competition we took the first three places. We represented Canada in international competitions, as did our math and science students. We debated legendary Upper Canada College. They intimidated us. We beat them.
Perhaps the most important aspect of our education at TFS was the O and A levels. Like British students, we spent a year preparing for the O and A levels. In the English O level, for instance, we spent a year studying four books. None of the students had had the chance to study Shakespeare in such depth, and we soon understood why Shakespeare is so beloved. The same was true for math and science. What none of us knew then was that even in O levels we studied at a level and intensity that wouldn't be repeated until our majors in University.
If the curriculum was outstanding, the teachers were the most memorable. Handpicked by Harry Giles, they were the school's backbone: the math teacher who passionately loved numbers, and transferred that passion to his students; and the history teacher who relentlessly taught the great importance of structure in essays.
When our three year old was bored at daycare, our memory of attending Harry Giles' school tipped the balance. After visiting many schools we knew that TFS had changed profoundly. At the Giles School we knew immediately that Mr. Giles had started a new school based on the same principles: early intervention, advanced curriculum, excellent faculty and the best French language education in Toronto.
He made a very difficult decision very easy. ...