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Arrowsmith School:
The Our Kids Report > Reviews
Grades 1 TO 12 — Toronto, ON (Map)

Arrowsmith School:

Roundtable Q&A Discussion About Arrowsmith School (2020)

Arrowsmith School alumni, current students, and parents shared their insights on the school’s culture, values, strengths, and weaknesses. Hear what Alex, Leslie, Monisha had to say about the school.

Video Contents

Highlights from the Q&A discussion

Alex — alum

Alex first came to Arrowsmith School in 2016 for the summer program, after his mom read and loved a book by Barbara Arrowsmith-Young. He is originally from Austin, Texas but decided in 2019 to attend the school full-time in Toronto because of how much he gained from his summer experience. He feels that the level of community and the commitment that the teachers have to helping students with special needs at Arrowsmith School is unmatched by any other school he has been to. They acted as a support system and taught Alex how to set achievable goals for his future.

  • “It was a hail mary, just an absolutely, purely, by chance coincidence that my mom happened to have the book [by Barbara Arrowsmith Young], and heard about [Arrowsmith School]. She fell in love with the idea, and when I got [to Arrowsmith School], I started realizing, ‘Oh, this is for real. This isn't just some hour-long, after-school kind of deal. This is for real, and these people [at Arrowsmith School] are trying to change these kids’ lives for the better.”
  • “I think what I appreciated most [about Arrowsmith School] is the teachers drive to help the students. … The teachers were so involved with the students and just helped them every step of the way. If something was hard, it was like, ‘hey, it's okay if you need to take a step back, it's totally fine.’ Or ‘do you want to talk about it?’”
  • “I appreciated that student-teacher relationship [at Arrowsmith School] of the teachers being a support system for students, and not just being a watchdog that's making sure everything is going smoothly. … That was my favourite, most observed thing.”
  • “My perspective on [Arrowsmith School] hasn't changed. I think if anything, I appreciate it more because now I'm able to sit down in class, and I'm able to look at universities and be like, ‘hey, I have a real chance of going here.’ Because of the work that I did at Arrowsmith [School], I can actually understand what I need to do, how I need to do it. It's given me a way to set achievable goals for myself.”
  • “I would say [the biggest thing that differentiates Arrowsmith School from other schools is] that it's so involved. At Arrowsmith School, it's not just you and one other person, it's you and a bunch of other people. You don't have the feeling that you’re in it by yourself. … You have that bond with not just the teacher, but also with your 12 or so classmates, which really was one of the things that helped me a lot when I was [at Arrowsmith School].”
  • “There are kids [at Arrowsmith School], not just from Canada, but from all around the world, Australia, for example. When I went to the summer program, there was a kid from Lithuania. There's just this kind of shared bond with everyone, and you're all there together, trying to achieve the same thing. So I think that's what really helped me.”
  • “[Arrowsmith School] is kindly ambitious, because there's such a drive to do well, to help other people, and to continue the mission started all those years ago. [There is a drive to] to continue that [mission], to improve upon it, and to give it out to everyone who needs it.” 
  • “[Arrowsmith School is] open to everybody. It doesn't matter what background or walk of life you come from. Open arms all around.”
  • “I wish more people knew about [Arrowsmith School] ... because I think it's such a great thing for people. It's helped me so much. It's helped me get my future lined up, and I feel like I can actually go out and do things. I feel like the way I interact with people is completely different than before. Even after the summer program, I was completely different from before that. I just wish that there were more [locations of the school] because people really need to hear and know about all the good that you all are doing up in Toronto.”
  • “I think [what would surprise families about Arrowsmith School the most are] the connections that you make there. The first day of me walking in that school, I did not expect to make any friends. I thought ‘It's just going to be me by myself.’ That first day, someone came up to me and got me playing that game with the ball in the little backyard.”
  • “The whole school, the whole student body at [Arrowsmith School] was involved. They weren't afraid to reach out [to students] beyond their own class to play frisbee or gaga, or when we went on lunch break we would walk together down to the park. … There is a whole sense of shared community. … I think that was to me the most surprising thing based on my experiences of school, which is everyone's going to stay in their own class. No one's going to reach out beyond that.”
  • “You are going for something that will not only help you now, but will help you so much later down the line, and will help you achieve those goals that you want to achieve.”

Leslie — current parent

Leslie has one son that currently attends Arrowsmith School. At a young age, he was diagnosed with multiple learning disabilities. Leslie knew that he was going to need extra attention and an individualized education plan to meet his needs and help him succeed. She feels that Arrowsmith School has met and surpassed her original expectations, and her son has made huge improvements academically and socially. He has seen his confidence enhanced, and he is excited to go to class and spend time with his teachers and friends.

  • “[Arrowsmith School’s] ability to break down the issues that your child has is extraordinary. We got [information about] all the parts of the brain in terms of where [my son’s] deficits are and where his strong points are. That really helped us kind of break down where we needed to focus the most. That was a huge benefit to us. … We just had a label before, but not really any answers as to how to fix it. I like that [Arrowsmith School] was really focused, and everybody was so caring and understood, and everybody went, ‘we can see the path that you've been down, and I'm glad you're here. This is where you need to be.’”
  • “It's nice to finally feel like you're not being shuffled along, and you're finally being heard. People [at Arrowsmith School] are openly wanting to talk about where the actual issues are, so that was a huge benefit.”
  • “[My son’s] confidence is growing. When we were doing remote school with the public education system, he was regressing. He was having headaches every day. He was feeling sick every day. Now, [at Arrowsmith School], [my son] logs into class on his own. He's happy to go to class. He's happy to see his friends. So confidence is a big thing [that has changed]. He's starting to read and write again. He had stopped [before], because what was the point? He couldn't do it anyway. So what was the point?”
  • “[My son] said, ‘mom, [Arrowsmith School is] a great place for kids with learning disabilities.’ He said, ‘you train your brain, and you can make clubs.’ If anybody knows my son, [you know] he likes to make clubs. So he's made a Pokémon club. He's made a dirt bike club. Not only can [students] learn school things, but they can do the social aspect as well.”
  • “Everybody is kind at [Arrowsmith School]. It doesn't matter how many times I interject or ask a question to a teacher, either about something that [my son] might be struggling with, or something that I feel I might be stepping out of line by suggesting. [The community at Arrowsmith School] are always kind, and always saying, ‘no problem, ask the question.’ [Arrowsmith School is] patient. I know if [my son] stumbles on something, it's nice that the staff is always like ‘that's okay, you got this. If your head hurts, that means your brain is just growing.’”
  • “I can say honestly, as a parent to [my son], if [Arrowsmith School] gives [an assignment] to you, that means that you're able to achieve it. Those words are not something that I could say in regular [public] school. ... So I like that… [Arrowsmith School] wants to involve everybody, because, to be honest, it takes everybody to try and get these kids to the point where they're self-sufficient and they're running on their own.”
  • “Everybody's hardworking at [Arrowsmith School].”
  • “[Arrowsmith School] has done a really good job of fulfilling our needs for us. We live an hour away from the closest facility, so we're so grateful that it went remote when it did because it was going to be a huge sacrifice for our family to try and get [our son] where he needed to be. We're really thankful that there are opportunities for parents to contribute because we're very determined people and want the best for our kids.”
  • “[Arrowsmith School] has been the best thing for our family quite honestly. The fact that parents at the school get together for four monthly meetings and stuff to learn more about the process is great, and I can't say enough about it to be honest.”

Monisha — current parent

Monisha has a daughter who currently attends Arrowsmith School. She was diagnosed with ADHD at age seven, along with other learning difficulties and challenges. After struggling to find adequate support for her daughter in the public school system, Monisha decided to try the six-week summer program at Arrowsmith School. After seeing drastic improvements in her learning, and doing an Arrowsmith assessment, Monisha decided to move from India to Toronto to send her daughter to Arrowsmith School full-time. She is now seeing progress in her daughter’s confidence, academic ability, and desire to learn.

  • “I discovered Arrowsmith three years ago. We came to Arrowsmith for their summer intensive program, the Cognitive Intensive Program, which was a six-week program, and in that six-week period, I noticed some changes in [my daughter], which I hadn't noticed for the longest time, despite every other thing that we had done.”
  • “[My daughter’s] ability and confidence to just sit down and work at something increased dramatically [at Arrowsmith School]. Her desire to even pick a book improved.”
  • “We did the Arrowsmith assessment, and what we realized is that there were a bunch of different areas that [my daughter] had deficits in, some that we knew of, some that we didn't. It was recommended that we come as part of the full-time program [at Arrowsmith School]. It took me two and a half, three years to make my way to Toronto from India, and in fact, in 2020, we came here and enrolled in the full-time program, and I'm so glad that we did.”
  • “It's been a very different year and a half, with the pandemic. We came to Toronto in February 2020. Within five weeks of us arriving here, the lockdown started. So [my daughter] was lucky to get five weeks [at Arrowsmith School], in person, to get to know the teachers and some of her classmates. Then we moved online. I was super impressed with the speed and just the sheer effort that the Arrowsmith [School] team put in to make the program go online. Everybody was learning, whether it was the students, the faculty, or the parents, all of us were learning how to do this.”
  • “I think one of the things that really worked is how Arrowsmith [School] and the parent population partnered together because we were all in this together for our kids. So that was something that was unexpected, but it really worked well. I think that also opened up the gates for so many more children to get the help and support from [Arrowsmith School]. ... [Attending Arrowsmith School] is the first time where [my daughter] felt like she was in a place where she felt a sense of belonging.”
  • “[My daughter] didn't feel like she was sticking out [at Arrowsmith School] or that everybody was looking at her because she was different, and she learned differently and at a different pace. … The first time we came [to Arrowsmith School] for the summer program, [my daughter] stepped on the campus, and within 5 minutes she looked at me and she said, ‘Mama, all the kids are like me here.’ So I felt like this is going to work, and that was really important for me as a parent.”
  • “The math program and the English program that Arrowsmith [School] offers are just excellent. The amount of progress that I've seen [my daughter] make in those areas has been quite dramatic. So that's worked.”
  • “I think the biggest [impact Arrowsmith School has had on my daughter] is confidence. [She has] the feeling that she can progress, she can improve, and she can do things. Within four months of her starting the full-time program [at Arrowsmith School], she and I, for the first time ever, read three books. We never read a book from cover to cover before [that].”
  • “[My daughter] now looks forward to math, which she didn't before [joining Arrowsmith School]. She was scared. Those are the visible changes that you see in her, but I'd say hands down the confidence [has improved the most].”
  • “[My daughter] loves [Arrowsmith School]. This is a place where she gets to go belong, make friends, and where she feels like she's actively working towards improving herself. She has goals, and she gets rewarded for any small bits of progress that she makes. That's a big deal for children who have had deficiencies or deficits throughout their life, and haven't experienced progress, or the feeling of making a move. [She has] daily goals and personal goals, which is a system that really works well for [my daughter]. She says that, and she says, ‘I feel good because I know I'm improving.’”
  • “I think [Arrowsmith School] is also a place where [my daughter is] coming into her own. She's a teen, and that's always a very defining place for any child. Arrowsmith [School] is home for her, and that's what she would say.”
  • “Positive, optimistic, and inspirational [are 3 traits that can be identified at Arrowsmith School].”
  • “I think perseverance is a big value, whether it's of [Arrowsmith School] or the parents there. Every single parent that is at Arrowsmith [School] has gone through a journey with their child, and that journey isn't ending anytime soon. It's a long road, and as parents, we're not giving up. So if one thing doesn't work, we try another and another. I see [Arrowsmith School] doing that, and I see the kids doing that as well. If one [learning or behavioural] strategy doesn't work, [Arrowsmith School] tries something different. I'd say perseverance is definitely one [value of Arrowsmith School], and hard work is another. [They also value] caring and being a nice person. I'd say everybody within the Arrowsmith [School] community are just wonderful human beings.”

More about Arrowsmith School

Back to Arrowsmith School overview

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