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Academie Providence:
The Our Kids Report > Reviews
Grades Nursery/Toddler TO Gr. 8 — Ottawa, ON (Map)

Academie Providence:

REVIEW OF Academie Providence BY parent, Pascal Bastien

  • Date of Review
    May 08, 2024
  • Child 1
    Gr. 1 - Gr. 4 (Male, Current Day Student)
  • Child 2
    JK - Gr. 2 (Male, Current Day Student)
  • Child 3
    JK (Female, Current Day Student)

(4.5) Student Experience

While all of our children are different, and while they love home above all, all three of them love school. This is particularly true given their relationship with their teachers, but naturally is also nurtured by healthy relationships with their peers. I am tempted to share the example of our youngest daughter who started school this year after having been at home for four years. She is shy, and the shock of starting school was real. Yet very promptly she was made to feel safe, and gradually she has been blooming. She has developed trust and affection for her teacher, thus cultivating a very positive association with school and learning. I have also been pleased to see that, while we did witness an episode of early bullying directed at our older son, this was dealt with promptly and was an occasion for the growth and development of virtues. I do not think any school is completely free of such experiences since childhood is a natural time for growing minds to test boundaries. What distinguishes Académie Providence may be the way in which this episode was addressed harmoniously by school leadership, by the teacher, by classmates, and by the two students' respective families - such that I think we can safely say this has made the class stronger and more united.

(4.5) School Leadership

School leadership, largely in the person of the headmaster Sr. Nisrine, has been very responsive to our concerns from the time of our first encounter, before our official registration. Communication channels have been easy to maintain bilaterally, and I feel that an atmosphere of honest and cordial dialogue has always been maintained. Discipline is addressed with wisdom, with the love of each pupil and a sense of their limitless worth as children of God, and with an associated desire to cultivate in them virtue, thus preparing them to be wholesome participants in society, no short of being saints, whatever their respective callings may be.

(4.5) Teaching

The quality of the teachers is, without a doubt, one of the greatest strengths of the school. While Académie Providence is run by the Antonine sisters who give the school its Christian orientation, the majority of teachers are lay women, many of whom are also mothers of students at the school. The teachers from various international backgrounds share a strong sense of professionalism and intellectual rigour that appears to be often waning in primary school education. Most Académie Providence teachers may not have completed a Canadian "Teacher's College" but, needless to say, this does not preclude above-average pedagogy and careful attention to each student. In an Ottawa school that uses French as its main teaching language, it is manifestly refreshing to hear French spoken with care, and at a generally more sustained level. Language is needed to sustain thought, reflection and writing. A solid base in the primary language of education thus strengthens all other aspects of learning. It prepares the children for confident and intelligent communication once outside the familiar environment of their home. Perhaps the only element that I can identify as slightly lacking would be the presence of male teachers - who, admittedly, tend to be fewer in the teaching profession generally and not simply in this establishment.

(4.5) Academics

On the academic front, Académie Providence has a curriculum that meets or surpasses all the requirements of the AEFE (Agence pour l'enseignement français à l'étranger) which is internationally renowned for its rigor. It also means that students can move somewhat seamlessly from this school to others that are similarly accredited around the globe. We have been very pleased by the academic level at Académie Providence and by the level of involvement of the teachers. We feel it provides an adequate connection to classical education while integrating more novel educational goals and techniques. I have no concerns that they will be well-prepared for their next steps in life. I see Académie Providence cultivating a love of knowledge, teaching the children the pillars of academic rigor, and allowing them to communicate effectively through both spoken and written communication.

(4) Extracurriculars

The school organizes various extracurricular opportunities, often following learning or seasonal themes. This can range from sporting events with another school to farm, museum or embassy visits. The school schedule also provides sufficient flexibility (Friday afternoons are off) for us to cultivate other extra-curricular activities outside of the school. Our children play various stringed instruments and in turn, have the opportunity to play alongside the school choir every month at Mass.

(4.5) Students

In this Ottawa school, as expected, children come from various ethnic, linguistic, cultural and religious backgrounds. Amidst these differences, one uniting element appears to be a strong sense of the family (the nuclear family but also the school family), an aspiration to virtue, and a desire to cultivate each child's gifts to the fullest. As in every school and in fact every human grouping, subgroups naturally form within classrooms, but this does not appear to be at the detriment of class unity. There appears to be a genuine desire to ensure that no one is left behind. This is in part fueled by the cultures of the families that make up the school, and it is complemented by the Christian atmosphere that teachers and leadership provide.

(4) School Life

Académie Providence offers an enriching student life experience. Though each of my children has different personalities and relationships with school and learning, all three of them have developed a fondness for school, for their teachers, and for their peers. The school environment is nurturing and is helping each student explore their respective interests and reach their full human potential. This is the case not only in terms of academic development, which is naturally central but also in their social and civic development, as the school is helping them grow as wholesome and engaged citizens. It is true of their emotional development, as it is equipping them with the tools to establish healthy and balanced relationships both horizontally (e.g. with their classmates) and vertically (e.g. with people in positions of authority and with younger pupils). It is true of their physical development, with a special emphasis not only on exercise but also on healthy dietary habits. I will concede that this is an area where I perceive improvements may be possible in the younger classes; I suspect more scheduled hours dedicated to exercise and sports may in fact prove beneficial not only for fitness but also in enhancing focus in the classroom. We appreciate that the school places particular importance on spiritual development, understanding the intrinsic value of each and every one of us, created in the image of God and hungry for a relationship with the loving Triune God, Creator and Savior.

(4) Community

Parents have various means to engage with the school, both in formal and informal ways. Parents may join the school council (which oversees academic planning), the parent counsel (which oversees various activities and fundraisers), or the spiritual committee (which aims to introduce children to prayer, almsgiving and virtue). Parents may also get involved through a number of specific areas of interest (e.g. music for liturgical worship or facilitating certain sports activities). Parents of given grades tend to be connected via WhatsApp groups and thus easily communicate regularly. Communication with teachers and the school leadership is likewise facilitated. As in any small institution, the school continues to be shaped by the very people that constitute it, and it benefits from the parent community's active involvement.

(4) School Location

Académie Providence benefits from a fairly central location in Ottawa. It is no doubt located in a somewhat humble neighborhood, and this communicates clearly that the purpose of this school is not to flaunt a certain status but to be at the service of the children's education. Children do not have in-and-out privileges, though they sometimes venture outside the premises of the school, accompanied, with their respective classes. The school is also equipped with an array of cameras to ensure monitoring and security.

(4.5) Admissions

The admission process is certainly not stressful but involves sufficient steps to ensure the new family has a good understanding of the mission and vision of the school and feels aligned with it prior to any formal registration. My advice would be to enter into the admission process with the candid and honest desire to identify if this school is indeed the best fit for a certain child; there is certainly no benefit in trying to adjust one's image in order to try to match the perceived requirements.


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