REVIEW OF Braemar House School BY Alum, Tatyana Zebroski
- Date of Review
September 15, 2021
Gr. 6 - Gr. 8
(5) Overall Experience
I attended Braemar from grade 6 to grade 8 and I really loved my time there. Braemar has a great school environment/community, academics, and extra-curricular activities (I especially enjoyed participating in our yearly musicals). I was able and encouraged to seek out leadership opportunities within our school community. Many special traditions and activities make Braemar unique, including the monthly assemblies, holiday celebrations (i.e. the Thanksgiving lunch and winter holiday concert), opportunities to interact with our local community, clubs and trips, Braemar Bonanza (a recess program where older students would help organize games for younger students), and student leadership (student's council, morning announcements, running Tuck Shop, student recycling, etc). Braemar definitely prepared me for high school both academically and socially. During my transition to high school, I felt confident to talk to my teachers and seek clarification and didn't struggle to learn new material, as I had already seen some of it in grade 8 (especially in language and math classes).
(5) School Leadership
Braemar's school leadership team is amazing, and goes above and beyond to make sure that every student has a positive experience! Every morning, the leadership team welcomes students to the building and wishes everyone a good day. I always felt comfortable approaching our administration to bring up anything, from a friendly chat, to leadership ideas that I wanted to take on within the school, and I know that my classmates felt the same way. Mrs. Krason (principal) or Mrs. Pass (executive director) would always wait outside with students after school before parents came to pick them up. They would wait with me every day while I was waiting for my mom to pick me up (around 15 minutes after school hours). Communication was always thorough, and parents were welcome to come into the school to talk to the administration staff or teachers when needed. Because of Braemar's close-knit community, issues between students were rare, but Mrs. Krason would always deal with them fairly and kindly.
I attended Braemar from grade 6 to 8 and was able to interact with many teachers, who were all very friendly and approachable. Within the classroom, teachers provided clear instructions and helped when needed. Outside of the classroom, I was also able to interact with teachers other than my classroom teacher (i.e. through teacher-run activities, volunteering, etc). I really enjoyed having specialist teachers for music, visual arts, French, and gym. Braemar has a great math program, and when I started grade 9 math in high school, I found that I was well prepared, and even already recognized some of the "new" grade 9 information. I was also very prepared for grade 9 English, after writing the 10-page thesis paper in grade 8. The teachers always encouraged students to try our best and strive for excellence.
When I first started at Braemar in grade 6, my teacher took extra time to make sure that I was caught up with the other students, especially in math. Braemar focuses on all areas of academics, and also has a great arts and physical education program. The school has three separate terms, and has a term specifically for music (where a music instructor teaches each grade a different instrument, including piano, guitar, drums, and ukulele), a term for drama (students all take part in the school's musical, including memorizing song lyrics and lines, rehearsing scenes, and performing in front of a live audience), and a term for visual arts, culminating in an art show. By grade 8, students are confident to create a 10-page thesis paper on a topic of their choosing which includes researching facts, forming an opinion, spending time writing and editing the paper, and learning how to properly cite sources. Enrichment opportunities are available to keep students appropriately challenged. Classmates encourage one another to strive for excellence, and I never experienced competitiveness between classmates for top marks. We often took up work and were confident to answer questions. The teachers were very kind, and students never felt embarrassed to say a wrong answer.
A wide variety of extra-curricular activities were offered at Braemar, and every student was encouraged to participate. There are many leadership-focused extracurriculars that I really enjoyed. I was a member of the student's council in grades 7 and 8 and was the student council chair in grade 8. I also really enjoyed participating in the "green team" (environmental club), compost crew, being a Braemar Bonanza leader, participating in the school musicals (Alice in Wonderland, Into the Woods, and The Little Mermaid), being a part of First Lego League (robotics), chess club, etc. Students from grades 4-8 also participate in a speech competition (younger students participate in a storytelling competition). There are many sports teams available for students to join including baseball, basketball, volleyball, soccer, ball hockey, etc. We also had badminton tournaments. Students attend many field trips, including swimming lessons, research trips to the Bell Homestead (students each research a room in the home and have a special presentation night for members of the community), Me to We in Toronto, escape rooms, and a grade 7/8 trip to Quebec City.
Braemar has a close-knit community of just over 100 students (small class sizes with a maximum of 16 students per grade). Students from all grades interact with each other and older students help the younger students during recess. This sense of community between students is established at the beginning of the school year, with the special rose ceremony. At the beginning of the school year, grade 8 students welcome the new Montessori (kindergarten) friends to the school with a rose. At the end of the year on the last day of school, the grade 8 students receive a rose from the Montessori students to say goodbye. All of the students are very kind and very welcoming. I remember a classmate inviting me to her birthday party after my "observation days", before I was even officially enrolled in the school.
(5) School Life
I loved going to school at Braemar! The environment was very warm and supportive and was everything I was looking for. We were able to attend many fun events, activities, and trips. We had monthly casual days (no uniform theme days), such as decades day, dress like your favourite teacher day, red and pink day, etc that added to our sense of community. We also had monthly formal assemblies to celebrate our successes. Each grade had specific additional learning opportunities (i.e. in grade 7, every student brought in a recipe and the class would learn how to cook it during different days over the course of the school year). We were also able to fundraise and were taught about different virtues (each month would have a different virtue, and students who went out of their way to demonstrate the virtue would be celebrated at the end-of-month formal assembly).
Braemar has a very strong sense of community, including the students, staff, parents, and alumni. There are very small class sizes (maximum of 16, my graduating class had 9 students), which help both in terms of academic support, but also classroom community. Everyone got along, and there were multiple times when we would organize entire class gatherings outside of school hours. I am now going into grade 11 this September and am still in contact with some members of my class. There is also a community within the school in terms of students of all ages. Older students always help the younger ones when needed, and students take part in cross-grade activities (i.e. our clan activities). Parents are also a very welcome part of the Braemar community and are able to be as little or as much involved as they would like. There are many committees for parents to join if they would like and many volunteer opportunities. Alumni are invited back to the December formal assembly to visit the school, sing holiday songs, and drink hot chocolate, which is a loved tradition across the Braemar community.
(5) School Location
Braemar is located in a quiet residential neighbourhood in Brantford, Ontario. There is a large yard, park, and all-purpose pad, that we were allowed to play on at recess. The students never left during the school day (aside from school-organized trips), but the school is located within walking distance of many stores, restaurants, and the Gretzky Sports Centre. Braemar also has an outdoor classroom, food garden, baseball diamond, and a shade structure.
When I was first interested in attending Braemar, I was able to book an appointment with my dad to talk to the principal, Mrs. Krason. We sat in her office and talked about the school and why it might be a good fit for me. She answered all of our questions and explained many details about student life at Bramear. My family and I were really impressed with everything that Braemar had to offer and I then scheduled my observation days. Observation days are a time when the student is able to attend class at Braemar and the teacher and student both see that enrollment would be a good fit. After my observation days, I was admitted to the school, purchased my uniform, and started attending school as a Bramear student.