Burlington, ON | Grades JK - 8 | Shortlist
My son loves JK at BCA - at age 4 he's reading simple books independently, can count to 100 and loves to learn. He has made many friends and looks forward to attending each day. As a BCA alumni I can attest personally to how the school helped to strengthen my faith, by having teachers and friends outside of my family and church to demonstrate a life lived for Christ. I attended a good local public school and was diagnosed with a learning disability but because I didn't have a behavioural issue and was a solid B/C student I didn't receive additional support in the classroom. I joined BCA and was immediately given additional resources, 1:1 help and learned how to learn with the disability. I rejoined my public school peers in high school and was then a 95% average student. I know the positive changes are a result of the dedicated teachers at BCA who truly love their students and help them to learn to the best of their ability.
The teachers are amazing and the principal is beyond exceptional. Teachers see and say hello to every student and parent in the hall, usually by name. Teachers are available to meet and respond to emails quickly. Parent teacher interviews are scheduled twice a year but check in regularly in between. In JK the teacher updates us daily at pick up, with specific examples of how our son's day was. We also receive a weekly update with what the students will be learning each day (letter of the week, memory verse, individual topics to be covered in each subject and even pictures of the books they will be reading!). This proactive communication helps facilitate discussion with our son at the end of the day to talk about what he did that day.
BCA is located perfectly between Burlington and Waterdown. Easy access in and out of the school with quick highway access via Brant St or Waterdown Road. BCA has a huge field behind the school and is surrounded by forest - perfect for games, activities and additional educational opportunities. I like that the school is not in a busy subdivision because traffic is less and visitors are quickly identified.
BCA is an extended family and wonderful community. Parents become friends and are encouraged to get involved in the classroom, school and overall community. In the classroom, parents are encouraged to attend field trips, help with weekly subjects (memory verse, art) and on special days (celebrations, theme days). In the school, parents are encouraged to attend weekly chapel, run recess clubs, coach teams and help in school-wide events. In the community, parents are encouraged to assist in fundraising for the golf tournament or Tinsel Town. There is a Parent Council and Board of parent volunteers as well. Even with two full-time working parents we find time to get involved with the classroom, school and feel connected with the other parents and community. Grandparents are also welcome and regularly get involved with events.
My son who is in JK loves going to school. He loves memory verses, Bible, math, gym, music, reading and free play. He is encouraged and supported and as a result, he loves to learn. As a parent, I love doing the daily drop off and pickups. The parents often talk to each other and, like the students, form friendships. At other schools I see parents waiting in silence as each is on their phone. My younger 3 year old can't wait to go to BCA and asks daily. Even though she is not a student at BCA yet many of the teachers and students know her by name and say hello. BCA is an extended family, a community and everyone is welcomed with open arms.
The students are BCA are diverse and come together to form a community that is accepting and loving. Because the class sizes are small (there are 15 kids in my sons JK class) the friendships are strong and long-lasting. Even in JK playdates outside of school hours occur regularly because the students and even parents form great friendships. As a BCA alumnus, I am still in regular contact with two of my classmates 20+ years later. One of the things that immediately stands out is how the school encourages leadership and helping others. Students look for opportunities to hold open doors for others, pick up dropped items or garbage off the floor and lead groups or clubs (an SK is running a recess soccer program for other students organizing drills and scrimmages). The students are proud of their school and it shows.
As with other schools there are the basic sports and clubs available - basketball, volleyball, tracks and field, etc. BCA competes with other local schools regularly in single games or tournaments. BCA also has extra clubs and activities including recess clubs like lego, prayer, floor hockey, soccer, etc. These clubs allow students from different grades to connect over a similar interest and build friendships. It also gives each student a place of belonging and an activity they can succeed in outside of typical academic subjects.
BCA has a strong academic program. The teachers work with each student to reach their own greatest potential. Expectations are high, the assignments are tough but the teachers are supportive and encouraging and the students rise to the challenge building in self-confidence. In all grades, there is an option for 1:1 music lessons (vocal, piano, flute, etc) for students to partake in. As a parent, this means one less extracurricular we have to schedule into our week because it is done during the school day. There is also an option for 1:1 language sessions (French or Spanish) for students to partake in. For students who love languages, this is a wonderful opportunity not available at other schools. There is also specialized sports and outdoor program available in upper grades.
The teachers at BCA are wonderful. They truly love the students and desire for them to succeed to the best of their ability. Students get the academic base but also the hands-on experience to apply their learning. In JK this can be counting to 100 as a class and then apply it by celebrating "100 day" with the day dedicated to fun math games (that my son asks to play at home). In higher grades, it could be learning about early settlers and then going out into the forest to build a structure to withstand the elements. Additional possibilities for 1:1 music lessons and language studies are also available. In JK they also have French and Spanish language classes weekly! My son is challenged academically to his level, encouraged and loves to learn.