REVIEW OF Bishop Hamilton Montessori School BY Alum, Silvie Cheng
- Date of Review
January 24, 2018
(N/A) Overall Experience
What stands out most from my time at BHMS was how freely I was able to follow my own interests and passions - while there was certainly a well-rounded curricular structure, we also had room to explore the things that interested us and spend more time on them. To this day, I still have fond memories of the hands-on learning that I experienced at BHMS, driven by curiosity and the desire for discovery.
(N/A) School Leadership
I remember the school leadership and administration being warm and friendly, creating a positive school environment. Everyone greeted each other as they passed the office in the morning, and there was a mutual respect between students and administration. Looking back, I think it is special that each teacher takes the time to say goodbye to every student at the end of every day, creating individual bonds. While there was certainly a level of authority amongst leadership, the staff was always approachable - I never felt afraid to wait by the teachers' lounge if I had a question, or to ask the office administration for any help.
When I attended BHMS, there was a spectrum of teaching quality that truly depended on which specific class you were in. During Grades 1-3, I was fortunate to have a teacher who was not only incredible caring, but also very observant - she had a huge positive impact on my personal development. As a young child, I was quite shy, but she noticed that ironically I flourished in leadership roles. She would pair me with other students when working on certain projects, which gave me the opportunity to come out of my shell and develop more confidence amongst my peers. In my Grade 4-6 class, this teacher continued to have a positive impact on my personal development, though his academic knowledge on a few subjects was perhaps not as strong as others. I began to feel unchallenged and not as stimulated as in prior years, leading to my decision to transfer to the public school system's Gifted program.
See above. In addition, I often felt that I was one of the few students who were particularly self-driven when it came to academics - in Grade 5, I was already being given Grade 9 math problems, and I continued to want to be challenged. My fellow students were always collegial, but there were times when I wished for a more inspiring peer environment.
I particularly enjoyed the extracurricular programs offered at BHMS. I was able to participate in a wide variety, both athletically and artistically. Many of the opportunities led to me discovering hobbies that I then pursued more deeply outside of the school environment - for example, I enrolled in a musical theatre program at the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama after enjoying singing in choirs at BHMS, I continued painting lessons while enjoying art-making at BHMS, etc.
Looking back, as a January baby and comparatively quite a bit younger than my peers, I had a bit of a hard time socially. Also, back when I was a student, I was one of the very few of Asian descent, and I did feel different than the "typical" student (apparently I often threw away my Chinese food lunches, so as not to be picked on...I do remember being so happy my parents let me sign up for Friday pizza lunches!). Given that it's been more than 15 years (!) since I attended BHMS, I am sure the current ethnic background of the students is much different and that diversity is the new norm.
(N/A) School Life
Being a student at BHMS was definitely an enriching and fulfilling experience - I enjoyed going to school every day! I don't recall being stressed at all, namely because I was able spend my time following my own interests every day. There was a perfect balance between structure and freedom, and I feel that my years of learning there contributed greatly to who I am today.
The broader community has been wonderful to me as an alumnus - I have gone back to visit teachers and still see some at community events to this day! I was also invited back to participate in the school's 30th anniversary gala, and have kept in touch with a couple of friends. The administration has been wonderful not only in staying in touch over the years, but also in supporting alumni career endeavours, spreading news via social media, etc. I feel lucky to still be a part of the BHMS community at large!
(N/A) School Location
The surrounding neighbourhood of BHMS is safe and open. I enjoyed spending recess and gym class on the expansive school property and being able to walk across the field to Pinecrest pool for after-school activities.
N/A (as I started at the CASA level, I have no recollection of this!)