REVIEW OF Alcuin College BY parent, Susan Federspiel
- Date of Review
March 27, 2023
- Child 1
Gr. 8 - Gr. 12 (Male, Day Student)
(5) Student Experience
My son loved the community and the personal connection with the teachers at Alcuin. The positive relational approach allowed him to excel in his academics and socially. The students had a lot of ability to choose areas of interest that connected to the curriculum. Alcuin teachers make school interesting and fun and relate the learning to the real world. Getting good grades became important to my son because he wanted to do well and also to not disappoint his teachers. This personal approach worked well for him! He was able to make many friends at the school, and when he first came an older student was assigned to help him get used to the school format. It was a very friendly and kind place to get an education.
(5) School Leadership
At Alcuin, problems are worked through fairly and quickly and allow students and parents to keep their dignity. They work with the students and parents against the problem, not against each other. They provided excellent communication and opportunities to connect regularly - great leadership (the best) at this school! With such a small school, everyone knows each other well, so bullying and other behavioral problems are at a minimum. There is very little "othering" and enough students that one can also connect with new friends if there were any interpersonal issues. Also, students mixed with other grades appropriately as friends. My son had friends younger and older than him, and this was a great experience for him as well.
The teachers work with each student closely, ensuring they are both challenged and kept engaged in their own learnings. They care deeply about the students as learners and support the students at just the right level they need to make sure they are learning but not getting discouraged. The projects and assignments are thoughtful, interesting, and multifaceted which sometimes allow increased dialogue regarding what they learned. They teach like a college - they are all learning together a subject matter and can discuss each other's perceptions about the project and what they learned. Subjects are connected with others, for instance, Science with English, or English with History. The style of teaching really resonated with and engaged my son who had personal and professional relationships with his teachers, which is only practical in a small class environment.
The academic support at Alcuin is beyond compare. They take each child's individual needs into account and bring them up to a university level working with them one to one. My son was accepted into a top university and I know that without Alcuins support, this may not have happened. This school has a caring staff that helps students every step of the way. They make sure the student has sufficient challenges to help brain growth and a growth mindset. I could see my son being challenged but not beyond his ability. I appreciate the program they have at Alcuin to allow every student to succeed and meet their personal goals. I have experienced through my son the "above and beyond" attitude at this school.
Alcuin offers numerous extracurricular activities and - especially with the new school they are moving to - this will certainly increase. They offered great competitions such as World Scholars Cup and Model United Nations which were wonderful experiences for young and older teens. Alcuin offered a wide variety of physical experiences through its PE program and including a run club, a board game club, a tea club, a debate club, and many others. Students are supported to create their own clubs and lead them. My son was given the opportunity to support younger students in learning debates, and academic competitions, which was a wonderful experience for him.
Having a great school spirit and many activities to bring students together was the norm for Alcuin. Involved and caring parents, caring teachers, and administrative and resource staff leads to students who care about themselves and others. At Alcuin, the students feel part of the school and feel known. There are opportunities for students to work together with their teachers to present things that are of interest to them, to start clubs, and to feel supported every day. Students also feel respected so they respect others. It is a small student body so everyone knows everyone, and this makes a big difference in how the school feels socially and culturally. Alcuin is a school where everyone belongs - and it's not just said its lived every day.
(5) School Life
School life at Alcuin is about being welcomed, being known, and being cared for as a person. They provide learning that connects with students' personal interests. Relationships come first at Alcuin, and when students enter the door they know they are valued. Although the facility they were at when my son started wasn't the fanciest school building, it was the people that make the school community. With their new location and facility, I am sure that the quality of life for students will be improved even more with the gym/multipurpose area and new classrooms. My son loved going to school at Alcuin because the leadership and teachers were so stellar, and created an excellent environment and quality of life for students. I appreciate their caring and concern for students.
The parents were welcome to be a part of the school in diverse ways. We could be parent liaisons for grade levels, we could be involved as volunteers, and we could assist with special events, performances, and fundraisers. We could also attend some field trips. Alcuin did a great job of fostering a strong parent community and it showed. Parents attended their parent-teacher meetings, Christmas concerts, field trips, debate opportunities, and competitions and were connected through their grade liaison. They welcomed parent feedback and inclusivity to the level that parents wanted and were able to participate. There was a good amount of information provided so you could participate easily as a parent. You really are part of the Alcuin community family when your son or daughter attends school there. It is a welcoming parent community that I appreciated.
(5) School Location
The school is surrounded by the community of North Vancouver. My son went on many field trips in the community with the school including fencing, the library, the municipal hall, and the art gallery. The school also organized many interactions with local organizations and local projects. My son really appreciated the giving back campaigns the school had involving volunteering with the local food bank as well as surprising people in the community with random acts of kindness.
The staff at Alcuin were curious about my son's strengths, goals, interests, and abilities. My son has strengths in verbal communication so for him, with the small class sizes and discussions, it was a very good fit. He was able to spend the day as a "try it" which was wonderful and also connected us with a local family to get their perspectives on school life. The process included a family interview which was excellent in allowing us to ask our questions, and be upfront about any worries or concerns we had. The staff there is supportive and goes the extra distance to ensure it is a good fit for both the staff and the student to ensure learning goals are met.
(5) University placement and counselling
The resource staff helped my son know what would be needed for him to attend university. The school offered a university-level course that my son took in grade 11 which gave him an extra edge in applying for university. They assisted him to be successful in his prerequisites and ensured that all requirements were met to help him reach his goals. Several of his teachers also became references for him as he applied to 3 different universities. Staff also helped him assess the universities to ensure he had a good fit. As well, my son needed some academic accommodations at university, so the resource teacher ensured we knew how to apply for them so that he would have the supports he needed at university. The staff was wonderful in helping my son reach his university dreams.