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Agate Private School:
The Our Kids Report > Reviews
Grades Nursery/Toddler TO Gr. 12 — St. Catharines, ON (Map)

Agate Private School:

REVIEW OF Agate Private School BY parent, Tracy Stirling

  • Date of Review
    April 29, 2024
  • Child 1
    Gr. 4 - Gr. 7 (Female, Current Homestay Student)
  • Child 2
    Gr. 11 (Female, Homestay Student)
  • Child 3
    K - Gr. 12 (Homestay Student)

(4.5) Student Experience

My grandchild truly enjoys the freedom to follow her own curiosities and be able to dig deep as her curiosity dictates. She enjoys the interactions she has online with other pupils as well as the principal. She very much likes that she doesn't have the stress of tests or comparisons to other pupils. This program has given her the time and space to regain her curiosity and imagination after numerous years of expected conformity where she did not feel she was heard nor appreciated. She has learned to be more comfortable with making mistakes and no longer feels she is judged negatively for them. This has allowed her to take more risks and discover more things that interest her. This has given her more confidence to meet head-on things that are challenging for her.

(4.5) School Leadership

The principal, Gayle Hanlon, is a very knowledgeable administrator and facilitator. She responds to all communication in a timely manner. She provides lots of support for parents whether they are new to facilitating their child(ren)'s education or have been doing so for years and have hit a spot where they just need some advice. Ms. Hanlon is professional and personable in her interaction with parents and others who are taking responsibility for the education of pupils of Agate. Ms. Hanlon is a pleasure to work with and an amazing resource person. She is also willing to do video chats with parents to address any concerns they may have or help clarify anything they are unsure of.

(4.5) Teaching

This is a very different type of school from the usual brick-and-mortar school. The parent helps guide their child(ren) provides access to resources and supports them in their discovery of the world around them and their gifts. As such, it is difficult to describe how the staff does in relation to the child as it is the child who is the driving force behind their own education. The principal is always available to provide suggestions of how a child might learn certain things that they are interested in and what resources might be available to meet the child's goals. As you can see, this is very different from the top-down type of teaching in other schools. This is a child-based and interest-directed education.

(4.5) Academics

This is a pupil-driven program. Since each person learns things at different speeds, this is also how this school functions. A pupil can dig as deeply as they desire in any area of study they choose. Some pupils who dig deep can excel and do things that are multiple grade levels above their age and be quite successful in doing so. The same child may have challenges in other areas of study. They have the time, space, and support to work on those areas until they have an actual understanding of the subject. This has allowed past graduates to move smoothly into further studies in the areas they have an interest through post-secondary institutions, tech schools, apprenticeships, or other avenues. I am very confident that Agate will prepare my grandchild to be successful in whatever she chooses to pursue.

(4.5) Extracurriculars

Since this school has pupils all over the world, it is a little more difficult for most to participate in in-person activities. As such, parents are encouraged to ensure their child(ren) becomes involved in activities they enjoy in their local communities to meet that need for physical activity. For those who are near the physical school, there are various classes or programs that are encouraged. I believe this creates a very tailored program for each pupil.

(4.5) Students

Agate has pupils all over the world. It is a small school with a current student body population of under 500 in grades one through twelve. The pupils are encouraged to treat each other with respect and compassion regardless of age. Pupils are not restricted to interactions with age-peers and this creates an atmosphere of inclusion and understanding. There is a willingness to let other pupils take their turn and a real spirit of curiosity about the ideas of others. There is an undercurrent of cooperation and fair play among the student body. Squabbles are minimal and rarely need the intervention of an adult. When an adult does intervene, it is to help guide them to a win-win situation if possible and for them to have a better understanding of the other person in order to develop compassion for their fellow person.

(4.5) School Life

My grandchild loves being a pupil of Agate. She loves the freedom it gives her to learn at her own pace without negative judgments of her. It also allows her to take deep dives into the things she is curious about for as long as she wishes to maintain that dive. She really likes that she no longer feels the need to keep up with others in things as simple as what she wears. This has given her a better grasp of who she is and what she likes outside of the general peer pressure usually found in other schools she has attended. Her interests are met with curiosity instead of condemnation. This has been a massive boost to her confidence. This is a very unique program that helps children develop confidence in themself and their decision-making ability.

(4.5) Community

Parents are encouraged to communicate with each other to share their experiences both good and challenging. It is wonderful to hear from a parent that had a struggle that you are currently experiencing and learn how they worked it out. It is often enough to know you are not alone. Other parents will often have suggestions for resources for deep dives as well. Most parents are friendly and welcome interaction as time allows in their schedules. There is often a parent meet-up online and any parent may attend. They might focus on a certain topic or they may just join in a social way. This is how the school encourages parents to contribute as much or as little as they are comfortable to the overall school community.

(4.5) School Location

As this is more of an external program with pupils attending all around the world, the physical location of the school's office is of little import. That said, the physical location of the school is in a pleasant, residential neighbourhood. The student body attends in their own home, in their own neighbourhood, town or city, country, or even traveling with their family. This allows the family to choose where they are and generally what they are exposed to. Some families choose to travel their country or even the world while their child(ren) continues their education while experiencing the world. This creates so very many opportunities for expanded learning.

(4.5) Admissions

This is an excellent school. Make sure you visit their website to understand how this school is different from other schools to ensure Agate matches with what you want for your child(ren). The application process is simple and the principal, Gayle Hanlon, is very good at explaining the process and helping you. I found it to be low-stress and I had no real problem filling out the proper paperwork. Ms. Hanlon helped me ensure the student record was transferred to the school as well. This is only necessary if the child was previously enrolled in another school prior to enrolling in Agate.

(4.5) University placement and counselling

I did not take advantage of the counseling program with my youngest child as that was not their choice of trajectory. My other child did not complete high school at Agate. My grandchild is only in grade seven at this point. I do believe that should post-secondary education be the choice they make, there will be plenty of support in place to help guide them in the direction they wish to go. I am aware that pupils are encouraged to make choices that support their dreams for the future whether that is attending university, college, trades school, apprenticeship, or starting their own business. I am also aware that there are many supports in place to assist pupils apply in a timely manner to the programs they are most interested in.


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More written reviews


Parent, Tess Fairbridge (2024)

Gr. 2 to Gr. 5 (current),Gr. 2 to Gr. 5 (current) — My children love the freedom to follow the topics and interests that currently have their natural focus; they have the support to learn what they want to and aren't forced to memorize anything they're...


Student, Kathy Parris (2024)

Gr. 3 to Gr. 4 — I love Agate Private School. My son is learning at a faster rate with far more retention. I am able to accommodate his needs. He loves school, loves learning, and asks intelligent questions. I wis...


Parent, Celene Dobson (2024)

JK to SK (current),JK to Gr. 2 (current) — At Agate Private School, my child's homeschooling experience has been nothing short of exceptional. The flexibility to tailor the curriculum to my child's unique learning style and interests has been ...
See all written reviews (4 total)

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