Belleville, ON | Grades 1 - 12 | Shortlist
My daughter is an international student, and we were looking for an environment, that afforded structure, discipline and a nurturing environment that would allow her first and foremost to be happy and to thrive. Applewood has been amazing at achieving this! My daughter is high functioning Autism, but was having challenges socially. She was becoming difficult to manage. within the first three months changes were visible. Her conversation was positive, and she was making greater efforts at being more mature. Academically, the school met her at her level and developed innovative ways to impart learning. The school adapted to meet her. I had been looking for this structure for sometime. I now feel more comfortable with the direction of my daughter's growth.
Although I live outside of Canada, the resources the school provides, and the contact they maintain via email and for student's reviews, has caused the geographical distance to disappear. The school is regularly in contact with me, if its to update me on activities undertaken, provide photos, to inquire as to medicals my daughter may require, and to take her if need be. Responses to emails are within a day. The attention to medical and other emergencies is exceptional. My daughter has also quickly come to embrace and thrive on the protocol for communication. She loves it.
Academically my daughter is delayed. Applewood does an assessment to determine the level of your child, then they craft a curricula to meet them at their level, and to solicit their best performance. Learning is taught not just in a structured environment but it is also imparted through real-life examples. There are regular parent teacher reviews during which time there is an opportunity to discuss progress. I found that I could make suggestions as to changes that I think would benefit my daughter and these are well received. There are also regular reports submitted that identify her academic level, and I can rely on those ahead of the Parent Teacher Conference to identify areas of concern in the teaching methodology, or weakness my daughter exhibits. I also use it to track areas on improvement and to question how this was achieved.
The program at Applewood is designed to solicit my child's best performance and to improve her understanding of how the world works. The teaching staff appear to be committed to imparting learning, not just using an academic approach but in using real life examples to help cultivate this understanding. An example for instance is using the game of monopoly to teach the understanding of money and trading. This at the same time teaches working as a team and interacting with other person, and how to gain an advantage. It teaches saving and budgeting. I am comforted already that that she is better placed to find her place in the world now, than she was 1 year ago before she was admitted as a student to Applewood.
As a parent the more extra activities my child gets the happier I am. The school works to achieve a proper work exercise balance. and in the warmer months there are more after school activities. I would like to see greater emphasis on finding daily physical activities for after hours even in the colder months, so that it develops in my daughter that exercise and keeping fit is also an important element of lifestyle.
There is a fantastic student to teacher ratio of about 1:2 of 1:3. Initially on admission both my daughter and I were apprehensive, she more than I- poor thing as this was an unknown experience in a foreign country. This all disappeared within 5 minutes of us entering the school. Everyone was friendly, engaging, knew my daughter by name, which told me that they had been expecting us and they had prepared, did their homework and had read ahead. The transition process was seamless. My daughter was anxious for the first two days, which for us was nerve racking. Within four days literally, she had settled and was laughing and happy and ready to embrace the new experience. This tells me that the school went all out to achieve this, which speaks volumes about their ethic.
My child is thriving at Applewood, and is happy daily. There is a boarding arrangement and in addition to or part of school life is fostering independent living. I was apprehensive at first, I did not think it would work out. I am heartened every time I call to speak with my daughter to hear a happy child, who is physically and emotionally stable. She is anxious after home visits to return to school. She has now learned to self assess her behaviour and to determine when her actions have compromised the group. She has therefore learned how to work with and among people and to appreciate different personalities. In terms of improvement I am anxious to have her pushed to achieving even more independence.
I am an international parent I reside overseas and my physical participation is very limited. I am therefore unable to say what the experience of parents who are physically present are. The school I have found, despite this have provided every avenue for communication and are always quick to respond via these mediums. They recently introduced parent square- a step in the right direction. It allows parents to actively and in real time comment on school and intended school activities. It has however been only recently launched so I look forward to its fuller development and utility in the weeks to come. The website too and the Facebook page needs to be updated more frequently to allow parents, especially international parents to feel more engaged.
I love the small town and close knit community, which I believe is essential at this stage to allow a child to thrive away from the hustle and bustle of big city! Students work towards achieving community time where they can go out unsupervised. I love this as an incentive for my daughter, who is working assiduously to achieving community time.
The application process was unremarkable. It was to be expected. I was grateful to the directors who took time when I called to have extended telephone conversations with me to help decide whether our goals for our daughter and their teaching methodology were in sink. As an international parent however, I thought there could have been more communication pre-entry and after she had been approved to attend, in terms of guidance on what to pack for the year, especially coming form a climate unlike Canada and having to pack and prepare for four seasons. That being said, once we got there the school did a stand up job in taking charge and offering full assistance in helping settle my daughter.