Roundtable Q&A Discussion About Agora Prep (2021)
Agora Prep alumni, current students, and parents shared their insights on the school’s culture, values, strengths, and weaknesses. Hear what Caroline, Anita, Elizabeth had to say about the school.
Highlights from the Q&A discussion
Caroline — current parent
Caroline has a son and a daughter that attend Agora Prep. She appreciates the way that the school welcomed and engaged both her neurodiverse son, and her neurotypical daughter. Caroline enjoys the school’s approach to meeting every student's individual needs, without comparing them to each other.
- “I had seen [Agora Prep] from when it was still being renovated, so I knew the potential. I knew that the space was beautiful, and I knew that the way it was designed was a ‘non seating- seating’ layout that would appeal to the kids, and it does. The different types of the different types of blocks, the different types of interactive toys. I knew that they would gravitate to that, and they did. [What was] unexpected for me, is the fact that [Agora Prep] is led by the children's interest.”
- “[Agora Prep] challenged my neurodiverse son, in that he thrives on predictability and he needs structure. ... He needs to know in advance what's going to happen. ... But [the Agora Prep principal] has definitely helped with that because I brought my concerns to her, and she addressed them in a way that was still true to the school's beliefs and system, while at the same time being able to help my child thrive in that situation.”
- “[My daughter] had not done any French, and now she knows her numbers from one to ten, all in French, and they seem to be engaged at [Agora Prep]. They're doing crafts and they're always excited about something that they're going to do. With the exception of my son, once in a while, he'll be like, ‘It's too hot.’ I don't want to go out today.”
- “I feel that all the parents who have chosen to bring their kids to Agora Prep are of the same mindset. It's that the traditional school system hasn't worked for their children, or they've seen them not thrive. We got first-hand experience watching our children in that environment, and very quickly realized that it really doesn't actually work for the majority of children. I feel that because we're all looking for the same thing. We're a like-minded group of parents, looking for the best for our kids, looking for an alternative way to reach out to them, to engage them, and looking for more flexibility for them as well, because that rigidity in the school system is really to the detriment of most children, because I think that it does work for a percentage.”
- “There are seats at [Agora Prep], but they're not like the traditional desks and the traditional seats. I do like the sensory room, because my child definitely benefits from that a lot. The vibe that you get from the coaches is that they are interested in your child, and what they're doing.”
- “Because technology is allowed at [Agora Prep], and its use is encouraged in their learning, I feel that it is going to help them more in the 21st century. Of course, because as a user, you have to learn how to use it, and at school they teach it in an abstract way.”
- “One of the biggest issues that my son has is comparison [to other students]. Comparison is the thief of joy. He feels that he knows how to respond. He feels that he's smart. Actually, at [Agora Prep], now he does. But previously he didn't. I actually had to show him his report card. … He didn't believe that he knew what he knew because he saw other kids finishing it faster, doing it first.”
Anita — current parent
Anita has one daughter that currently attends Agora Prep. She credits the school with having an excellent, hands-on academic program that helps her daughter thrive as a student there. She also loves the creative, non- traditional facilities at Agora Prep that her daughter gets to enjoy each day.
- “The curriculum that I was presented during this past tour at [Agora Prep] interested me, and my daughter was very excited to join. She had been at [Agora Prep] for almost six weeks now, and she was bubbling with excitement every single day to go to school, which showed that she was really liking the school. The first thing, which I loved, was the logo ‘inspiring future leaders’, that grabbed my attention. … ‘Leaders’ is a word which really grabbed my attention, which made me send my daughter to [Agora Prep].”
- “Everyone at [Agora Prep] is very helpful. [My daughter] learns everything differently. Every day, she is taught differently. I'm very excited. Every week they have some team to follow and she enjoyed it. And before, I had one complaint, that she was never able to speak, like she was not able to complete a sentence. And she was having a tough time. ... Now she's really making up sentences which are really helping me. … I really love the fun-filled environment. She really loves it.”
- “I'm happy now at [Agora Prep]. [My daughter] is able to build up a sentence, her vocabulary is improving, which I'm impressed with. It's made a huge difference in these six weeks.”
- “I love all the teachers at [Agora Prep], the way they are. I'm really happy with it. I really don't have much to say about it. I would say, I enjoy the learning system.”
- “I like the first room at [Agora Prep]. I think it's called the sensory room. It's a calm room where kids can really calm themselves, if they need a mood refresher, for whatever they're going through. I love that room the best because every student needs that time off, at some point in time. ... If nothing else works, kindness and peace of mind definitely works.”
Elizabeth — current parent
Elizabeth has one son at Agora Prep who is a neurodiverse genius. She feels that her son thrives in this atypical learning environment, and appreciates the passion that the faculty has for educating. She appreciates that the school is technology driven, and inclusive of all students.
- “[My son] started his education in Montessori, and he flourished. But then, for Grade 1 and 2, we sent [my son] to public school, and it didn't work out. They're not caring. They're not making an effort to include the neurodiverse children, which my son is. So I looked for a school that's different. One that is not just all about academics, but caring about how the child would develop and how the child would learn. And that's how I found Agora Prep.”
- “I expected the [Agora Prep] building to be bigger, and in a traditional building. I was a bit hesitant when it's in the end of a strip mall. Then I looked around, and the environment inside was beautiful. The principal/ owner is passionate, and that's more important than any physical building.”
- “[My son] loves [Agora Prep] because it's small. He likes small schools where he knows everybody, and he can navigate his way around in a physical space and know that he's safe. He feels that he's being heard here, the teachers listen to him, and they coach him through any issues that he faces. He feels safe here. That's very important to him, and very important to me.”
- “Three words to describe [Agora Prep] are adaptable, inclusive, and brave.”
- “I find that the families who go to Agora Preps are people who want different things for their children. Not the traditional school, that is militant, but are looking for something different that would suit their children's needs, diverse or non diverse, and are willing to try new things.”
- “I think the thing I love most, actually, about [Agora Prep] is ... it's a small environment. I can see that the coaches genuinely care, they care about developing the child, and making the child blossom. That is so important to me, and so close to my heart that my child is not just a number in a sea of children that they have to deal with, but an individual who has his own thoughts, who has his independence, and his strong will. I looked at what you used to describe them, his ‘superpowers,’ because biased as a parent, I know my child can be a lot, but I also know he has this ability to be so powerful in the future, if he is given a chance to blossom, to grow and to really develop as a person.”
- “That's what I love about [Agora Prep], it is giving [my son] the opportunity to do things, and not just be labelled as difficult, or as neurodiverse, but so much more. He has the opportunity to just be himself.”
- “At first, I was leaning towards a nature school that didn't use any technology at all, but after a tour with Agora Prep, and finding out that you're going to do Ted Talks for the children, I thought, ‘actually, that makes a lot more sense.’ There's no denying that the children today are immersed in technology in every way. ... So teaching the kids how to use technology and teaching them to have confidence, to sell a product, to sell themselves, to sell their projects in a Ted Talk, it's so smart of [Agora Prep]. … Let them be so confident as a young child, that they can sell whatever idea and be proud and fluent in talking to people. It's so important. ... Being able to communicate with people online, face to face, big groups and small groups is so important.”
- “[My son] started at [Agora Prep] and he thrived because it gave him the ability to choose his activity. When we went to public school, having to sit at the desk and be taught at, and sometimes there were smarter kids or faster kids in class. Then he felt left behind. But I knew he could do it if he was given enough time to work on it. A traditional school works for the average kid who's not neurodiverse like my child is.”
- “[My son] felt left behind.[Public School] did not help his confidence. It didn’t help him make friends. It just doesn't work for my child. Agora Prep is going to address all of [my son’s] issues, make him be confident, and very importantly, be happy.”