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Bond Academy:
The Our Kids Report > Key Insights
Grades JK TO Gr. 12 — Toronto, ON (Map)



Each school is different. Bond Academy'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

  • Bond is a school that, after a period of growth and development, has truly come into its own.
  • A balanced approach to learning and physical fitness is offered across all the grade levels.
  • Bond Academy offers experienced leadership.
Read our Feature Review of Bond Academy

Our editor speaks about the school (video)

Handpicked excerpts

All schools grow and develop over their lives, and that’s particularly true at Bond. It was created in 1978 to serve primarily international students who were learning English, completing high school requirements, and intending to enrol at Canadian universities. They arrived to prepare for university entrance, acclimating to the North American context and attending the school for one or two years. The offering grew, though, to include a broader set of learners and to offer a more comprehensive program, first with the development of the high school program and then, in September of 2002, with the creation of the junior and middle school programs. Today, Bond provides students a full Kindergarten to Grade 12 experience and then some.


In 2010, all three divisions—elementary, secondary, and international—moved into the current location on Birchmount Road. With the move, the school conceptually became a complete whole, both in practice and in name. Known from that point on as Bond Academy, the school also had values that were as clear as the name. While leadership was still distinct—there was a principal of the lower school and one for the upper—administration worked closely together. The intentions, too, became consistent across the levels: young students benefit from a diverse population, with cross-generational mentorships to encourage their experience of it. The upper grades would benefit from feeling a part of a larger whole, and an even broader, richer student experience. If the school was once a place for international students to prep for the move to post-secondary study, today, Bond is very much centred on offering that, as well as a full academic and social experience.

“'Why are you doing drama?' I’ve had that question asked of me. And I think it’s one of our more critical skills. Where else can you learn to think on your feet, improvise, project your image the way you want someone else to believe in you? Are those not the skills, for instance, you would need for a job interview?”
—John Healey, head of the elementary program

The Montessori program begins in the year the child is eligible for Kindergarten; children need to be turning four years old to enter Kindergarten and each program continues until the transition into Grade 1. Most typically, students remain within the program they first register in: the Montessori students stay in the Montessori program, just as the Kindergarten students stay in Kindergarten. “The programs are extremely different,” says teacher Lisa Balm. Kindergarten is more play-based, whereas Montessori is more structured. “It’s a very different learning environment, and a parent would have to decide which environment would be better for their child,” she says.

Teaching is dynamic, and the classroom furniture has been chosen to facilitate student engagement with one another, as well as intensive interaction with the course content. Were you to visit a classroom during the instructional day, you’d see teachers working closely with students, sitting with them in groups, and engaged in, more often than not, project-based inquiry. This isn’t an environment of chalk and talk—with the teacher lecturing from the front of the room—but rather of teachers leading through prompts and questions. “It’s very engaging and hands-on,” says Principal Phil Davies of the academic delivery, “with a lot of working together.”

“The school is not the building; the school is the people in it.”
—John Healey


Phil Davies arrived at Bond in 2010 as a teacher, and had served as curriculum leader and vice-principal before becoming principal in 2018. One of the things that attracted him to the school was his predecessor, Jeffery Farber, whom he had worked with in various capacities within the local public board. The approach Farber took in his leadership was one intending to balance all areas of student life, both academically and socially. Says Davies, “There was a very intensive program, in terms of arts and sports, which I really liked. And I could see that every day [at Bond]. People living that life.”

John Healey has been head of the elementary program since he helped found it in 2002, providing a nice continuum to the program. He brought a lot of experience, including that of working closely with populations of at-risk students. Before arriving at Bond, he was a principal within the Toronto public school board, marking a career that spans decades since his first position as a teacher in 1968. “I came here for five years, just to open the school,” he says of his arrival at Bond, “but I really enjoyed what we’re doing here, so I stayed around.”

Healey is old-school, as it were, in all the best ways. When he talks about education, you get a sense that he’s seen it all, and has a long experience with forming best practices. Which, actually, he has. When discussing the security measures—all students enter the school using an electronic key fob—he’s matter-of-fact, having deliberated intently on the operations of the school. His approach to the academic experience, and the life of the school, follows in kind. “I’ll be honest,” he says of the preschool, “we don’t truly follow every nuance of the Montessori programs.” Indeed, parents appreciate that kind of honesty as well as the approach. Montessori isn’t perfect, developed at a different time within a different cultural and social context. To be flexible in its application, as Healey is, is a strength, allowing important adaptations for the students who are here, now, rather than blindly expressing an abstract curricular ideal.

“The centre of our approach is very holistic,” says Healey. “I don’t see education as simply what happens in the classroom.” As in physical fitness, “you can’t be working out only one arm. You’ve got to work on the whole body. We look at things that allow children to build up their self-confidence and self-esteem, which I think are critical to learning.”


The current location is somewhat recent, and the last of four locations the school has had over the four decades since its founding. Each has been incrementally larger, inside and out, with this last the largest by far. The building was once occupied by a chocolate manufacturer, though all signs, perhaps sadly for some, are gone. The school has made the building its own, and spaces are modern, open, and bright.


Some athletic facilities are available on site, including sports fields and a full-sized gym. Beyond that, and to provide the full breadth of activity, the school looks to local resources, including the pool at its old location on Midland Avenue, now home to Midland Avenue Collegiate Institute. All grades attend swimming lessons there, making use of an Olympic-sized pool that includes an Olympic-grade diving platform. Parents and students love it, and indeed there may not be a school in the GTA with such a dedication to aquatics. The focus is recreation and safety, though some students have gone on to have success in national and international competition.

In building out the elementary program, administration seized upon the opportunity to provide a better balance between physical fitness and academics, given that the provincial curriculum has consistently chipped away at physical education programs. “If you feel good physically, you feel good mentally. So the approach is ‘healthy body, healthy mind,’” says Healey. There is some form of compulsory physical education every day, five days a week, for all learners, Kindergarten to Grade 8.


“Basically, I look at our school as meeting our community needs,” says Healey. Supervised before- and after-school programs are an element of that, giving families the flexibility to pick up and drop off knowing there is not only supervision but also active engagement with peers and teachers. Parents are welcome into the school after 4:30 p.m., free to visit with teachers, sit and watch children in the gym, and visit with other parents. “It’s got to be inclusive,” says Healey. “To me that’s the energy you can feel when you walk into the school. It’s a friendly place.”

“Knowledge we can get. It’s not important to memorize the knowledge—it’s more important to know what to do with it.”
—John Healey


The school attracts local students from a broad catchment area, from downtown Toronto to as far away as Ajax and Pickering to the east, and Markham to the north. Bond supports international students, including a language centre offering ESL classes in addition to the core curriculum, as well as provisions for foreign credit equivalency.


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