REVIEW OF Braemar House School BY parent, Sarah Stevenson
- Date of Review
May 03, 2021
JK - SK
(5) Student Experience
Braemar House School is like another home for our child. She feels not only supported there, but also cared for, as if the students and faculty were an extension of her family. She is proud to bring home and share new skills and knowledge that she learns. She has also gained confidence to try new activities and to tackle unfamiliar and increasingly complex problems. In the two years that she has attended, she has made many new friends. She loves the varied activities during the physical education classes, such as the yoga and swimming. One of her favourite events are the monthly assemblies that bring together the whole school community. Seeing the students together with the faculty as well as some of the parents (who are always welcome!) creates a positive atmosphere that really resonates with her. It’s a small school, and so she knows many in the school community by first name; she is excited to tell us who she greeted that day.
(5) School Leadership
We have been impressed by the professionalism and competency of the administration at Braemar. The principal and the director work closely together and communicate with staff, students and parents in a coherent manner. In doing so, together they run a successful and effective institution. The school operates smoothly, and the faculty present a united philosophy. The leadership has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to pivot exceptionally well through changing expectations and realities, both within the school community and outside of it. Parents are invited to provide constructive input during decision-making, and in parallel the school’s administration and staff also rely on their own extensive and valuable expertise.
Having an educator in our family, we have high expectations regarding the demeanor and strategies of our child’s teachers. The teaching staff at Braemar are experienced and knowledgeable in their respective grade levels, and consistently use effective strategies of instruction. They encourage students to push their boundaries while creating safe and supportive spaces. At the same time, they encourage participation from the parents on a regular basis to make sure all invested parties are on the same page. We have been given opportunities not only to discuss the periodic assessment of our child’s development, but also to discuss less formal milestones, as well as her developing personality characteristics. Of the teachers with whom we have interacted, all have cared as much about feelings of well-being and mental health, as our child’s academic considerations.
We are pleased with the academic achievements that our child has reached while attending Braemar. Her reading in particular, has far surpassed our expectations. We are also impressed by the academic levels of older children that we have seen through assemblies and the school blogs, as well as the variety of academic opportunities that have been made available at Braemar. The teachers consistently create lessons and units that allow students to experience the curriculum in a hands-on manner with modern and advanced teaching tools. When selecting Braemar, we were looking for a well-rounded school experience, instead of one focused just on academics. The supportive academic encouragement that the teachers provide, is always at first preceded by attention to our child’s confidence and well-being. At Braemar, we have also found a school environment that balances an emphasis on the arts with physical education and academics.
We are pleased with the extracurricular activities that have been made available at Braemar. Students are offered weekly swimming lessons, in-class leaderships opportunities, experience gardening, participation in a range of specialty clubs, ski trips, and high-quality outings to museums, farms and other educational centres. Braemar has sports teams (sometimes with specialized volunteer coaches from the community) that participate in competitions with other independent schools. Each year we look forward to seeing our child taking part in the annual school-wide musical and seasonal concerts.
During our first tour of the school, we were pleasantly surprised by the polite and courteous nature of its students. We are now used to this, and appreciate the students holding open doors, their smiles, and their friendly greetings. Our child considers everyone who shares her classroom her friend, and we have been thrilled to see many of those relationships progress beyond the school hours. Any conflicts that she has had with other children have been mediated gently and thoughtfully by the school staff, and all involved students were guided with kindness toward resolution. At Braemar, there is plenty of interaction between the different grades, from collective play at recess, to shared physical education classes, to mentorships given by the older students to their younger counterparts. Lessons at Braemar about being a respectful citizen and a good friend are reinforced not only for in the classroom and between the students, but also in the context of the neighbourhoods that surround the school and the people who live in them.
(5) School Life
With its relatively small size (perhaps 125 students across 10 grades), Braemar has a familial atmosphere within the school community. Students in adjacent grades share enough of their activities to often know each other well enough to play together. Teachers make an effort to get to know the younger students and to spend time with them before the students reach their classrooms, years later. Every morning, our child looks forward to going to Braemar, to seeing her friends, to sharing stories from the weekend or the last night with the administration, to showing her classroom teacher a new piece of clothing or accessory. The daily schedule at Braemar is divided into four parts that are separated by two recesses and a lunch break. This gives the students ample time outside to socialize, play and be in the fresh air.
There are a number of events that are organized by the school that encourage parents to get to know each other (such as a winter dinner/dance), that encourage students to see the strong connection between home and school (such as the first week of school BBQ), that encourage students to bond with each other outside of school hours (such as the autumn bowling night). As parents who were new to the school, we have felt comfortable and welcomed at all of the events that we have attended. Beyond these events, parents regularly socialize before school in the parking lot, and after school as their children play on the playground; this is a testament to the strong sense of community that Braemar has managed to create. Parents are also encouraged to participate in a number of different school committees and to provide constructive input whenever it is appropriate.
(5) School Location
Braemar backs onto property that includes a public park with an expansive and well-tended lawn, some mature trees, and a playground that was newly constructed in 2020. Within the park, there is also an enclosed basketball court, a shallow tobogganing hill, soccer fields and a baseball diamond. On the school grounds, there is a covered sand area and an asphalt area with a basketball net. At the front of the building, there is a wonderful outdoor classroom with seats made from tree stumps, and at the side of the building there is a food garden and learning area. The school is at the centre of a quiet, well-kept and highly sought-after residential neighbourhood in Brantford with beautiful trees and a family-friendly atmosphere.