REVIEW OF Albert College BY parent, Helen Walsh
- Date of Review
October 17, 2023
- Child 1
Gr. 10 - Gr. 12 (Male, Day Student)
(5) Student Experience
My son was not ecstatic about attending Albert College, or any school for that matter. It was his third high school. He attended two different public schools for Grade 9 and neither was a good fit. He did not like school and there was no real accountability for attendance or homework at those schools. Albert College seemed like a good choice. We met with the Head of School and he welcomed my son to take a chance and see how he felt about AC. He started in Grade 10 and immediately we could see a difference. He attended classes and he started to do his homework. He was made accountable and also did not "fall between the cracks". The teachers were aware that he had not been successful in his other schools and went out of their way to try to ensure that this experience would be different. Long story short, he graduated as an Ontario Scholar and as an Albert Scholar.
(4.5) School Leadership
The leadership at Albert College was fair and they worked to foster a positive school environment. Equity, inclusion and diversity were important and this was key to my son's experience. The discipline at Albert was clearly laid out and the fact that students participated in the process of discipline made it even more effective. A committee made up of students and faculty dealt with the issues at Standards. They would make recommendations to the Head of School on how they felt a student should be dealt with when breaking the school's code of conduct. It was transparent and fair. The communication of decisions was made to the Senior School students in Chapel, helping to avoid gossip or wrong information being put out.
The teachers at Albert College are passionate, knowledgeable and flexible. Having a child in school during COVID-19 was like nothing you can imagine. Class one day, home the next, no contact, eating at desks, teachers getting new instruction on what is happening on a daily basis with changes happening overnight, you get to really see them work hard to be the best that they could be at a very trying time. We found that the teachers went above and beyond during this crisis, regardless of what they were dealing with in their own lives at the time. As for communication, Albert provided two formal rounds of time to meet with all my son's teachers and hear about how he was doing. They told me about his challenges, gave me advice on how to best support him at home, recommended a plan of action when he was struggling and generally let me know that regardless of his performance academically, my son was well-liked and valued as student/person in their classroom. They challenged him with the curriculum, but never let him flounder. When he needed support, they were there to provide it.
The academic program at Albert College, I would say, focuses on the core subjects. The school provides a solid foundation in math, English, art, drama, science, French, etc. They offer the core courses to complete the Ontario secondary school curriculum providing every student with what they need to move to post-secondary school and be set up for success. They also focus on the 5 A's - Academic, Arts, Athletics, Active Citizenship and Adventure. Students participate in all five areas and so become well-rounded students that try things they may never have tried otherwise. I think one weakness is the lack of course offerings for things that are not core classes. It would be nice to have had perhaps a class on digital arts or some other more specialized classes. However, with a small school, it is not easy to do that. If you want a small school with an environment where everyone knows each other, it may not be realistic to expect film classes. Regardless, Albert College more than prepared my child for his next steps.
Due to the fact that Albert College has the 5 A's, there were more than enough extracurriculars for every student. Students were offered athletic teams, some competitive, some more for fun, as well as opportunities in the arts (annual musical or play, bands, choir, visual arts), active citizenship where they could volunteer with organizations in the local community and also international causes, Adventure provided opportunities to winter camp, trips abroad and working towards the Duke of Ed. award. Students were provided all sorts of opportunities that were varied and appealed to different needs and wants.
Albert College is a small school, with an amazing feel of family. Students socialize across grades and make lifelong friendships. Having boarding students from all over the world offered a unique experience for my son. He made friends with students from Hong Kong, Bermuda, Russia, Jamaica, Nigeria as well as Belleville and Kingston. He learned about different cultures and was able to understand the world from a different perspective. Day students and boarding students together created a tight-knit community with caring staff and teachers around them. At the start of the school year, all students from Grades 7 to 12 attended Camp Tamakwa which was an amazing bonding experience and the House system also helped to create school spirit. This spirit was always evident whenever there were House competitions at the school. My son would proudly wear his Deroche shirt and participate to try and ensure his House won the House Cup.
(5) School Life
My son did not love going to school. Period. However, by the time he was in Grade 12, he loved certain classes. He has built relationships with some of his teachers that made him want to do well. He was treated with respect and teachers often reached out to help him get more involved. For students who are not the most "popular" kids, or for someone who is quiet, like my son, the quality of life at Albert College could not have been a better experience. He went from a child who never spoke in class to giving his Culminating Oral Presentation in one of his Grade 12 classes on The Economics of Twitch. He stood in front of his class and gave it his all and was proud of his work. He was applauded by his class and his teacher congratulated him, which made him feel confident and seen. It is hard to put words to how that made me feel as a parent of an extremely bright child who struggled to find his voice. He may not have loved school, but he felt safe enough to thrive there.
The parents at Albert College are amazing. Welcoming. Friendly. Helpful. The Parent Liaison committee welcomed me and my husband and reached out to us to offer help and answer my questions. The community is also like a family. There were plenty of opportunities to socialize. From the Welcome BBQ to the paint night and an amazing Gala. Parents were also visible in volunteering their time in classes. There were a number of parents who also were guest speakers at the school. As a parent, I was offered numerous opportunities to volunteer and get involved. From scooping ice cream for all the students from Pre-K to Grade 12, to volunteering on a governance committee. I also felt that parents were really valued and thanked for the efforts they made at the school.
(5) School Location
Albert College is on a lovely campus in Belleville. It is very open and fits in right along Lake Ontario. I liked Belleville because it has the amenities of a big city, but felt more like a small town. Students would go into town and venture off-site. When they were old enough, students would head off campus for lunch together as they were close enough to some places to get a bite to eat. It was a good blend. The campus felt like home, but you could walk to the beach or the local Tim Horton's in minutes.
I think the best advice I would give would be to apply early. The process can be complicated, I imagine, for international students, but for day students, the process was very easy. We applied early so that we ensured there was a spot for my son and also so he could get ready mentally for a new school. The enrolment team was helpful and answered all of our questions. I know my son was nervous about taking the admission testing, but the director of enrolment was kind and supportive and helped to sway his fears. I think the process is good and I can't recommend any changes. I think parents should start early. The most stressful part for us was getting his paperwork from his current school. That is why I think starting the process early is the best advice I could give.
(5) University placement and counselling
Wow. The process started in Grade 11. Our son was introduced to the process of what would happen in Grade 12 before he even got there! The director of guidance worked with every student and gave every student the time needed to ensure they applied to schools that would be best for their success. From start to finish, there was support throughout the entire process. My son was provided time with all the schools he was interested in, right on the AC campus, as well as a trip to the large fair of universities. He was given one-on-one time to talk about where he would like to go, what he wants to do, and how that could happen. Applications to universities were successful and there was never a moment that he was nervous about the process.