Bayview Glen KEY INSIGHTS
Each school is different. Bayview Glen's Feature Review excerpts disclose its unique character. Based on discussions with the school's alumni, parents, students, and administrators, they reveal the school’s distinctive culture, community, and identity.
What we know
- Bayview Glen educates and develops the whole child.
- Enrichment and acceleration are central to Bayview Glen’s academic programs.
- While many independent schools today talk about educating global citizens, Bayview Glen integrates an international dimension throughout its curricular and co-curricular programs.
Bayview Glen is widely known for its real-world learning and global citizenship in a richly diverse, coed environment. During its ongoing growth and evolution, the school has held fast to its core values of balance and inclusivity while growing and innovating in step with changes in wider society.
Bayview Glen’s mission—“Whole Child, Whole Life, Whole World” —captures its commitment to fostering students’ full potential inside and outside the classroom, beyond the school walls, and past graduation. Academic excellence is a top priority at the school, but so is exploring the wide range of co-curricular offerings in everything from the arts and athletics to technology and social justice. That exploration begins in Preschool and continues right through to Grade 12.
“As a big school, we offer extensive opportunities for students to discover their passions and purpose,” says Head of School James Lee, noting that balance is key in a Bayview Glen education. “We’re founded on academic excellence, yet we still allow students the space and opportunity to learn in multiple ways. It could be through volunteering, sports, clubs, or global experiences – there are so many avenues they can follow.”
ON SCHOOL LEADERSHIP
When James Lee became head of school in August 2022, he recognized that the school had been thriving, but also knew that the pace of change in education has accelerated in recent years. In response, he’s taking a measured, yet bold, approach to shepherding Bayview Glen into its next phase.
The school’s deep commitment to educating the whole child in a values-based culture resonates with Lee. “My priority as a school leader is to maintain and foster a really strong ethical purpose within the community,” he says. “This drives me just as much as my love of children and learning.”
When we asked Lee’s colleagues about their relatively new boss, they described him as approachable and thoughtful, yet also visionary. And everyone commented on how Lee took the time to meet with all staff members during the first months of his tenure.
In working towards the school’s next five-year strategic plan, Lee is taking a thoroughly collaborative, consultative approach that includes staff, students, and families. In our conversation, he spoke broadly of the strategic objectives he envisions so far. Most of them involve building on Bayview Glen’s existing strengths, such as the cultural diversity of the student body. Enhancing the school’s experiential educational opportunities is another goal.
ON THE ACADEMIC ENVIRONMENT
From Preschool to Upper School, it’s all about instilling a love of learning at Bayview Glen. The academic program is rigorous but balanced, ensuring students can dig deep into their core interests and stretch their abilities.
This is a school for curious, self-directed learners who want—and can manage—more than a baseline education. Our conversations with teachers, students and families alike made it clear that Bayview Glen sets a high standard, and students meet it.
Enrichment and acceleration opportunities are available at each stage of students’ education. In the Lower School, all children learn math and French a grade ahead. In the Prep School, Grade 8 students can take Reach Ahead credits, which are Grade 9 courses. This enables them to enter the Upper School with space and flexibility in their schedule to take advantage of the wide variety of Advanced Placement (university-level) courses available.
Most of Bayview Glen’s Global Education offerings spring from its affiliation with Round Square, a network of over 200 schools in 50 countries that are committed to experiential learning and character education. Upper School students can also opt to earn a Global Studies Certificate, which is increasingly recognized by universities and employers.
Teachers implement Bayview Glen’s “Whole Child” mission through individualized, inquiry-based instruction that prioritizes a strong relationship with every student. “We call it teaching from connection,” says Head of Lower School and Preschool Jesse Denison. “It’s the foundation of all of our pedagogy here, and we invest a lot of time in building those bonds with students and families.”
We spoke to several alumni who said that the accelerated pace allowed them to enter university with enough AP credits to fast-track their degrees. “I was able to skip a year and had no trouble doing second-year courses right away, which was really helpful and increased my confidence,” says one graduate.
Based on our discussions with faculty and administrators, it’s fair to say that Bayview Glen students tend to want that bit of extra challenge. “Our aim is to keep all of them in that zone where they’re a little past their comfort zones,” says Denison. The parents we spoke to agreed that the school strikes this balance. “They push the kids so they’re performing at their highest capacity,” says one. “For example, they might get assignments that are technically past their grade level, but in subjects they love.”
Public speaking, STEM and the arts are key features of the Bayview Glen academic experience. Starting in the early years of the Lower School, students speak at assemblies and perform in the ‘Spring Festival.’ “Being able to speak clearly and confidently in front of a crowd is a crucial skill, and not all kids have it,” says one parent who coaches the robotics team. “When we go to robotics competitions, Bayview Glen has an advantage because of this early training.” Early and consistent instruction in computer skills, coding and robotics also helps. On the other side of the academic spectrum, the school emphasizes music, drama and the visual arts throughout the curriculum. Taken together, these facets of the academic program contribute to the school’s mission of developing the whole child.
“In a way, academics are a given here,” says Head of Upper School Fiona Fenili. “We attract top students who go on to attend top universities. Our added value is that every student here can find their niche.” She adds that the school is very intentional about communicating the message that marks are important, but not the only measure of success. “We want students to see the bigger picture and the advantages of a well-rounded learning experience inside and outside the classroom. They’re all ambitious, so we focus on following your own path instead of comparison with others.”
The students we met agreed that they don’t feel overly competitive with their peers, but said there’s healthy competition. “It helps all of us achieve,” says one Senior School student. A Prep School student agreed, saying, “The school really discourages us from paying attention to other people’s marks.” According to Upper School teacher Melody Russell, the school has made some formal changes in this direction. “We don’t present academic awards at assemblies anymore,” she says. “We mail them. And we don’t include median marks on report cards. Some parents and students pushed back against that, but it was making some kids feel bad about themselves. That’s the last thing we want as a school.”
Head of School James Lee describes Bayview Glen’s academic mission quite simply. “We value academic excellence, and so do our students. But we want them to learn in an environment that promotes exploration and well-being, so they leave with a lifelong love of learning.”
ON CO-CURRICULAR PROGRAMS
Bayview Glen’s “Whole Child” philosophy is plain to see in the school’s wide-reaching co-curricular opportunities. Even from the early grades, students have the chance to explore their interests and discover new ones through clubs, athletics, and summer camp.
Participating in co-curriculars is strongly encouraged as part of the school’s emphasis on holistic education. “There are very few students who are not involved in something outside of their academics,” says Upper School teacher Melody Russell.
Bayview Glen’s emphasis on integrating science and tech learning throughout students’ in-class experiences is evident in the school’s award-winning robotics clubs. Denison, who co-founded the first club more than 10 years ago, says the success of robotics can be attributed in part to the problem-based learning approach. “From an early age, our students tackle the kinds of challenges that robotics competitions present, which gives them an advantage,” he says. “We’ve also just built up a culture that’s really passionate about robotics, and the younger students see it in their older peers and want to be part of the excitement.”
In Bayview Glen’s Gryphon Athletics program, the guiding principle is “competitive participation,” says Heather Woodard, Director of Athletics U9-U13. “Especially in the Lower School, and even up until Grade 8 in most cases, there’s a place for everyone in sports. Our aim is to keep kids involved for as long as possible, which means giving them meaningful opportunities for competition at their individual level and the experience of being part of a team.”
Making sure students are thriving in all aspects of their lives—academically, socially, and emotionally—is integral to Bayview Glen’s “Whole Child” approach. As one parent of a student in the Lower School put it, “They care about every part of your child. For us, it was very important that it’s not just a 100 per cent focus on academics.”
Head of School James Lee is well aware that parents’ and society’s awareness of children’s mental health has increased due to the pandemic. For him, however, there’s an even larger imperative to invest in students’ non-academic well-being. “There’s a greater calling to do that because we’re a school where we value students’ holistic development and learning,” he says, noting that every faculty member is certified in Mental Health First Aid. “We know from the research and our own experience that, if kids aren’t healthy and well overall, it negatively impacts their learning. We’ve been committed to students’ social and emotional health as a school for a long time, but we want to get even better at it. It’s one of our strategic priorities looking ahead.”
Bayview Glen hired Antoinette Morgan as the school’s first Director of Student well-being in 2022. As an experienced social worker, Morgan takes an active approach in her role. “I don’t stay in my office and wait for students to come to me, because many who really need support never will,” she says. “I go out into the school and chat with the kids, and observe who their friends are or whether they’re often alone.”
In the Lower and Prep Schools, students also enjoy a wide circle of care, including a social-emotional learning program called Second Step. The program fosters knowledge and dialogue around positive mental health through weekly conversations and curriculum studies from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 8.
ON UNIVERSITY PREPARATION
Bayview Glen is a university preparatory school, but the focus is just as much on exploration as preparation. “When people talk about the post-secondary planning process, it sounds very narrow, like it’s just a series of checklists,” says Troy Hammond, director of university counselling and student services. “That’s not real life. Yes, there are certain criteria and application deadlines that students have to meet, but we prefer to frame it as an experience rather than a process. It starts in Grade 9, and it’s about students exploring their interests, strengths, and options so they can make the best possible decision.”
In the more than 20 years since Hammond started working at Bayview Glen, he’s shifted the focus in post-secondary counselling away from preparing students to simply get into their preferred program to ensuring they’re ready for the larger demands of university. “We work hard to help students understand how to thrive once they make the transition,” he says, noting that parents are always welcome to speak to him and his team about their children’s future plans. “There are workshops on topics like university timetables, majors and minors, university student support services, and graduate and professional degrees.”
THE OUR KIDS REPORT: Bayview Glen
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