REVIEW OF Académie Westboro Academy BY parent, Julia Albert
- Date of Review
May 03, 2021
Gr. 6 - 8
(5) Student Experience
We have nothing but incredible things to say about Westboro Academy. The richness of the curriculum, the small and nurturing environment, and exceptional educators who clearly love their jobs have been a life–changer for our son. Having been looked over for years in the public school system, he is finally in a school where he is seen as an individual. He has been challenged, learned so many life lessons, and overcome preconceived notions of who he is not just as a learner, but as a person. The time he has spent at Westboro has actually made him excited about learning! The compassionate, respectful, and inspiring atmosphere at AWA encourages children to push their boundaries while simultaneously respecting their needs. Nowhere else have I seen teachers so personally attached to their students' success.
(5) School Leadership
Ms. Garrard and Mr. Rhodenizer have been exceptional communicators, especially during the past year with all of the changes due to Covid-19. The school did not miss a beat switching from in-person learning to online, and back and forth. The weekly e-newsletter arrives every every Friday without fail, and contains everything families need to know. Everyone at AWA feels like family, and calls and emails are returned right away. Anytime we have needed to communicate with anyone on staff regarding our son, our messages have been promptly replied to and the situation has been successfully resolved.
Not sure where to start here - my son's Grade 7/8 teachers (they keep the same teachers for 2 yrs) have changed his life. Both Mme Nathalie and Mr. Lebeau go out of their way on a regular basis to provide well-conceived, relevant and FUN projects/lessons to engage their students. They have high–yet–realistic expectations and truly work with their students as individuals. Whether a student benefits from enrichment opportunities or needs help building confidence, they know exactly what to do. The specialist teachers are AMAZING. My son learned to play the clarinet, and has produced incredible artworks. Last year's squid dissection was a highlight for him, and the physical ed is top notch. Another bonus: looking through the staff directory, you will notice that teachers stay at AWA for many years.
We were looking for somewhere where our son could build strong foundational academic and organizational skills to prepare for high school (these had been very much lacking in his previous public school). All I can say is that he has surpassed the academic and personal development of what we envisioned. The first few months were challenging as he came from an environment of low expectations and not much homework. There is definitely a homework expectation (~1hr/eve) and lots covered in both the French and English curriculum, but this is part of what makes this school so incredible. Once he got accustomed to the pace, our son began to see the relationship between hard work and results. Also, French verbs: your child will have an incredible handle on them by the time they graduate!
There are ample opportunities for students to participate in extracurricular activities at AWA – our son opted to participate in the Ecuador trip in Grade 7, which he will always remember. Though most of our son's extracurriculars were done outside of school, there are plenty of sports, music, and other extra curricular activities (participating in competition with other private schools in Ottawa).
The general atmosphere of the student body is kind, welcoming, and hardworking. Most of the students in my son's cohort had known each other since Kindergarten (he joined in Grade 6), yet they welcomed him with open arms and he has made very close friends. Academic excellence and curiosity are common qualities among the students here. I will say that this is something that my son was unfamiliar with when he arrived, but very quickly realized that, at AWA, learning is cool. There is also a very respectful climate in the hallways of the school, which is very refreshing. Classes are small, (max 18 I believe), and there is only 1 class for each grade, which ensures an intimate learning environment, and for teachers and students to really get to know each other.
(5) School Life
Our son loves going to school. He looks forward to seeing his friends every day, and comes home talking about things that they learned or current social and political topics (Mr. Lebeau is amazing for bringing current affairs into the classroom). It is a small and inclusive environment, offering enrichment and resource to allow children to reach their full potential. From what my son tells me and what I have observed, the groups/classes don't have "cliques" and the students spend time with each other most of the day, even when they have their breaks. I am confident if there were to be any disciplinary issue (I have not heard of one since we've been at the school) that it would be dealt with both effectively and promptly.
We were newbies in 2019, and long-time families went out of their way to welcome our son and the rest of our family. During non-Covid times, there are frequent community building events (BBQs, skating, open houses, etc) to encourage families to get to know each other. Our son was invited by his peers to attend class-wide birthday celebrations and we were in email contact with many of the families within a couple of months. At gatherings (concerts, BBQs, open houses), the community is warm, inviting, and there are many active parent/caregiver volunteers always willing to step up and help out. Parents are very encouraged to participate in school events, and are extremely active in making decisions regarding the school (many of the Board members are parents)
(4) School Location
I like the fact that the school is located in a residential area, with nowhere to go besides the adjacent park during breaks. One downside: it is not on an easily accessible OC transpo route, but my son and his peers manage getting there and home just fine. It can get a bit crowded at pickup/dropoff with Ecole Lamoureux next door.
Admissions was smooth and not pressure-inducing for either our son or me and my husband. After completing a tour (just me and my husband), our son was invited to spene a couple of days in the Grade 6 class. During this time, he was being informally assessed - no having to sit in a separate room and write a test. We definitely felt that it was a no-pressure (for either party) trial and it was a great opportunity to get a feel for the school, atmosphere, and whether or not it would be a good fit. We were encouraged by the fact that – unlike most of the other schools we visited – it is a not-for-profit overseen by a board of directors (rather than a privately run business).