REVIEW OF Blyth Academy Etobicoke BY parent, Leigh Meadows
- Date of Review
May 29, 2020
Gr. 10 - Gr. 12
(5) Student Experience
Blyth provided my son with the most supportive, and engaging school experience possible. The caring staff always made us feel that our son was of value and that they were committed 100% to meet him where he was, to engage and inspire him to learn to the best of his ability. Our son thrived at Blyth and reached goals and heights we thought might not be possible. When our son talks about his school experience he does so with enthusiasm, he talks about how much his Principal cares, how much his teachers help him, throughout the day, and with his homework. He never feels like he can't ask questions, or that he will feel silenced. He found his voice at Blyth and learned how to use it with the school's guidance.
(5) School Leadership
The administration at Blyth Etobicoke has a special something. Our son connected on a level that inspired him. He felt supported, heard, and understood even when he wasn't doing quite what he should be! Our son was celebrated, encouraged, and respected at all times. A team is only as good as its leader and the leadership at Blyth Etobicoke is truly exceptional. Discipline at Blyth is fair, respectful, and meaningful, it is not punitive and is therefore effective in helping our son learn appropriate behaviours and boundaries.
The teaching team at Blyth Etobicoke always demonstrated passion and dedication, to the students and the school community as a whole. Finding ways to connect with the students at their level, figuring out how they learn best, and meeting them where they are. Communication with parents is first-rate, I could always ask questions, email, or meet in person and felt as though we worked collaboratively to make sure my son could get the most out of his lessons and time at school. Every class our son participated in was well presented, with real-life examples and teachings connected to our son's age and interests. Lessons were fun and engaging and he learned through discussion, which really worked for him. Some teachers that we will no doubt remember later in life, will be Blyth Etoboicoke teachers for my son.
The academic program at Blyth is as rigorous as it needs to be for each individual child, that's one of the greatest strengths of the school. Providing the support needed, when needed, pushing when appropriate, and supporting individual growth with respect. The small class sizes were invaluable for my son, together with the collaborative approach and round table teaching/learning. Blyth Etobicoke is a family, one that cares and supports each child to be the best possible. When my son started at Blyth, prior schools had been pushing him to college-level courses, however, Blyth recognized his abilities and encouraged and supported him through academic levels where he was successful. It is only through independent assessment and commitment to understanding each child individually that this was possible.
Extracurricular can be challenging in a small school campus but Blyth brings the communities together (from other campuses) to expand the opportunities for students to access various and multiple activities. Blyth Etobicoke was constantly engaging the kids in conversations to understand what extracurricular they wanted and how to provide them, be it virtual platforms, in-house clubs, or access to external facilities.
At Blyth Etobicoke the student body is quite small, however suitably diverse to create a healthy community. I think the small class sizes and openness of the administration, teachers, and staff, served to provide excellent modeling for all the kids who were always enthusiastic and respectful of each other and those coming into the school from outside. The students always seemed to be really engaged, there were always lots of smiles, and on the occasions when things perhaps were not going quite as planned, there was an understanding, deeply rooted in respect. The student council is very active and all students are encouraged to participate at a level that they find comfortable. What stands out for me the most is how comfortable the kids are with their teachers and administration which enables them to be open and honest, when they need help and when they celebrate.
(5) School Life
My son absolutely loves Blyth Etobicoke. He wishes he had started in grade 8! I think one of the most important things for him was the feeling of equality. While respecting the roles of his teachers and admin, he always felt heard, valued, and respected. He felt able to ask for help and guidance when he needed it. He also made great peer relationships, which had not always been easy for him in the past. The diversity of the school population is a major plus, giving students an opportunity to learn from each other as well as their teachers. I witnessed compassion and empathy among the students which was inspiring. Our only wish really would have been for a drama program and more access to a gym!
I always felt extremely welcomed, by admin and teachers, who made themselves available, by appointment, to chat with me whenever I had a concern or wanted to share the information I felt important to support my son's life at school. Parent/teacher meetings were well planned and always provided sufficient time to understand how my son was doing. I never felt rushed. I had several opportunities to meet other parents at events held at the school. For high school I think the expectation of parental involvement was at the level it should be- giving space for the children to spread their wings without parents looking over their shoulders but always having them connected. If there were to be a parent council I would have participated but felt comfortable knowing the administration would have called upon parents if needed.
(5) School Location
The location was perfect for us as we live in the area. The closeness of TTC is fantastic with buses and subway literally a stone's throw. Coffee shops and restaurants around the Etobicoke campus area ensured there were lots of places for the kids to grab lunch or snacks - important for high school, in my opinion. Bloor West Village is a vibrant community and my son really enjoyed experiencing the community outside of his school which felt very safe.
Admissions was a smooth experience for us. My son attended an open day to get a feel for the school, which really helped him and gave him confidence when the final decision was made to apply. I would highly recommend spending some time talking with the administration, being completely open and honest about your child's needs, and your wants. Blyth, in my opinion, is a unique school with the ability to provide an outstanding learning environment tailored (to some degree) to each child. This is why a discussion of your expectations in full will be met with honesty and respect. I also felt the registration process is well organized, early-bird registration gave us the security we like and a chance to plan financially. There really isn't anything I would change.
(5) University placement and counselling
We received a great deal of guidance, both one-on-one and in a group format with informative presentations for university and/or college counseling. As an immigrant, I didn't really understand the process at all and was feeling quite overwhelmed as the time approached, but that concern diminished quickly as guidance stepped in and we felt very confident by the time university visits started. Our son also felt very supported, he had many conversations with guidance as he navigated the many options available to him. He quickly learned to ask whenever he had a concern and was always supported, no matter how small the concern might be. We have navigated the transition to further education easily and successfully and our son is heading to study the program of his choice at the school of his choice.