Roundtable Q&A Discussion About Cambridge International Academy (2021)
Cambridge International Academy alumni, current students, and parents shared their insights on the school’s culture, values, strengths, and weaknesses. Hear what Rosie, Nancy, Hannah had to say about the school.
- 1:02 - What did you appreciate most about Cambridge during your time there? And how has your perspective changed now that you've had some distance from the school?
- 2:46 - Can you talk about what the structure was like at Cambridge?
- 6:28 - What to the best of your knowledge, most differentiates Cambridge International Academy from other schools?
- Show Full Video Contents
Highlights from the Q&A discussion
Rosie — alum
Rosie is a former student of Cambridge International Academy from China. During her time there, she appreciated the small class sizes, allowing the teachers to spend more time helping and forming relationships with each student. Rosie feels she has become more independent and self-motivated because of her experiences at the school. She also learned time-management skills and is prepared to deal with the stress of university life. She is now studying at the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University.
- “As an alumna of Cambridge International Academy, the thing that I appreciated most was that school felt like a home to me. The learning environment and the school were unforgettable, and the teachers were helpful and knowledgeable. The pace of work for each semester was tight but still full of extracurricular activities. I still remember the time that we celebrated the Chinese Spring Festival together. We cooked hot pot and made dumplings with the parents and teachers. We also counted backwards and welcomed the Chinese New Year. It was the school that made my first time celebrating the traditional Chinese festival without my parents so meaningful.”
- “In the past, I felt like it was tough to manage my time, [and it was hard] to overcome the heavy study pace. I have also doubted myself and even wanted to give up. However, thanks to the study experience at Cambridge International Academy, I gradually became more independent and self-motivated.”
- “The experiences [at Cambridge International Academy] helped me learn time-management skills, and also gave me the ability to deal with the stress of university life.”
- “The schedule [at Cambridge International Academy] is condensed, which helped me stay on top of my grades and my homework assignments every day. Every semester is just two months long [at Cambridge International Academy]. … It cultivated my strong time-management skills and the ability to deal with any stress and always have a positive attitude. That helped me enter university later on.”
- “I think what most differentiates [Cambridge International Academy] from others is that we have formed a community where everyone could have equal opportunities to lead and organize school events. We always had room to demonstrate our abilities. For example, more people got involved in extracurricular activities like joining the Student Council, and we all had opportunities to be leaders. [There wasn’t] just one year leader, because we used to rotate to become the leader and cultivate our leadership, collaboration, and communication skills.”
- “[Cambridge International Academy] is also flexible and creative enough to enable the student-driven community and think outside of the box.”
- “I learned time-management skills [at Cambridge International Academy], and also money management skills. I needed to plan an executive event within a specific time frame and limited budget. I developed my interpersonal and public speaking skills because I needed to inform the school through announcements to let others know my plans and ideas. I followed up by talking to all the students personally and getting them excited to participate in the event. [Cambridge International Academy] helped me connect and talk to people outside my friend circle. It helped my understanding of the variety of interests within the student body.”
- “[If I could only pick three words [to describe [Cambridge International Academy], they would be warm, responsible, and supportive. … [Cambridge International Academy] cares about every student both for their academic performance and their life. There was even a meeting with school principals in Grade 12 to discuss my study plans, such as university applications and program options. A teacher is responsible for addressing any issues for both international students and local students effectively.”
- “[Cambridge International Academy] provides platforms to demonstrate our abilities and to grow, such as joining the Student Council, participating in volunteer work, or joining the public speaking club. … I think every student could [achieve] self-development when supported by Cambridge International Academy.”
- “Even though I was comfortable with public speaking because I'm outgoing, I knew I could always get better. The ‘Toastmasters’ [public speaking club at Cambridge International Academy] taught me how to get better. It gave me practice, and [I got] feedback whenever I gave my speeches. The feedback from both my friends and [the teachers who helped run] ‘Toastmasters’ helped me improve continuously. ... At the end [of the year], we all delivered a speech to the entire school community. Even though we felt nervous, it helped push us out of our comfort zone.”
- “[People] may think, ‘oh, Cambridge International Academy is a small private school, and unlike other public schools, they may not have enough opportunities, development for learning, or extracurricular activities.’ [Actually, Cambridge International Academy] has excellent opportunities for socializing; they provide business competitions and other clubs where you can find like-minded people to make friends with.”
- “The small class sizes [at Cambridge International Academy] enables every teacher to care about every student and help them achieve their goals.”
- “At the end of each semester, teachers find [students] one by one, go over our transcripts, and summarize our weakness and strengths and which courses we need to improve on.”
- “When I received my first writing assignment from English class [at Cambridge International Academy] in Grade 12, the grade was lower than I expected. I went through it and reached out to my teacher to go over it. The teacher was approachable, helped me go [through it] paragraph by paragraph, sentence by sentence, and gave me suggestions. In a big class size, teachers may not care about every student because they have a lot of students to care for. The small sizes at [Cambridge International Academy] provided us many advantages.”
- “[Cambridge International Academy] is a five-minute walk from a Plaza where we could go to the supermarket to buy necessities or fruits and snacks during our break time. Also, we could have meals from several nearby restaurants, and there is a gym at the nearby Plaza that could also satisfy our need for exercising, to maintain our study and life balance.”
- “[Cambridge International Academy] had one of the instructors from [a local] gym come over to our school to provide weekly workouts for the students who are interested.”
- “I learned [at Cambridge International Academy] that having physical fitness significantly helps me maintain the balance in my life and relieves my stress. I always felt nervous when working at a heavy study pace. The instructor [that came to the school from a local gym] could always motivate us and challenge us to be our best physical selves and even set personal goals, rather than worrying about what everyone else was doing. I think it was great to have her come to the school because it made us more comfortable trying things we may have never tried before and not be afraid of feeling excellent.”
- “The staff and students [at Cambridge International Academy] are so flexible and helpful. They can solve any issues you may encounter in the future and help alleviate your concerns … [Cambridge International Academy] always provides platforms for [students], and you will learn and gain abilities from those kinds of experiences.”
Nancy — alum
Nancy is a recent graduate of Cambridge International School. During her time there, she felt that the teachers helped her reach her full potential by customizing unique learning experiences based on her interests and needs. She was thankful for the many opportunities to participate in extracurricular and volunteer activities, which she feels provided a platform to showcase her leadership skills and other talents. Nancy made many close friends at Cambridge International School with whom she still maintains a deep connection. She is now attending the University of Toronto in the Bachelor of Business Administration Co-op program.
- “At Cambridge International Academy, teachers and tutors catered to [students] needs, talents, and interests. They assisted us in reaching our best level by customizing the unique [curriculum] based on our academic achievements and personal interest.”
- “[At Cambridge International Academy, students] are empowered to become independent thinkers, have flexible minds, and use speculative thinking. We are inspired by a lifelong curiosity and strive to uncover our academic potential.”
- “[Cambridge International Academy] provided me with a happy life and an excellent educational environment, where I established deep friendships. We still have a connection with each other [now].”
- “[I] went [to China] on the Nanjing World trip [with Cambridge International Academy] to see the beautiful landscape and taste some delicious food. I had an accident during the trip, and I went to the hospital. I was so sad about that, but my friends at [Cambridge International Academy] were there for me. The warmth among friends [at Cambridge International Academy] has moved me very much.”
- “[I had] close friendships when I studied at Cambridge International Academy.”
- “There are two points I want to talk about that differentiate [Cambridge International Academy] from other schools. The first is fairness. [At Cambridge International Academy,] everyone has a fair chance and an environment to show themselves. For example, the students who are good at painting, when they make a beautiful painting, they will be displayed in the corners of the school. The knowledgeable and talented students often like to participate in business competitions provided by [Cambridge International Academy] or participate in the election of chairman of the Student Union, showing their leadership and communication skills.”
- “[Cambridge International Academy] is not only concerned about the academic part of [school], but are also very concerned about the students’ lifestyles. When I was ill one day and late [for class], the school teachers called me and cared about my situation. The homestay took me to the hospital and accompanied me, which moved me.”
- “[One] word I like to use [to describe Cambridge International Academy is] academic. [Cambridge International Academy] assists its students in reaching their highest level of academic achievement by utilizing renewable educational resources that are relevant and engaging.”
- “Educators [at Cambridge International Academy] take a holistic approach to learning that establishes positive student relationships.”
- “I admired [the teachers’] professionalism [at Cambridge International Academy]. They know how to use different strategies to cultivate [students] into independent thinkers. … [Teachers at Cambridge International Academy] always create new and fantastic ideas, involving great activity. … They constantly provide energy and help the students.”
- “[Cambridge International Academy offered] such amazing volunteer activities, and I gained different volunteer experiences at the school. I felt really happy there.”
- “Teachers [at Cambridge International Academy] choose learning methods that suit each student's characteristics to … give full display of the students’ strengths, and make up for their differences. They stimulate students' interest in learning, establish their confidence in their knowledge, and promote their all-around development.”
- “My parents always hoped that I could successfully enter the University of Toronto to study. Because of the help of the [Cambridge International Academy] teachers, I successfully entered the University of Toronto.”
- “[When I was filling out] my applications to university, the teachers [at Cambridge International Academy] fully understood my interests and advantages, and they helped me put those relevant advantages in my application documents. When I learned that I had successfully applied to the University of Toronto, my parents were happy and surprised, and they are so thankful to [Cambridge International Academy].”
Hannah — current parent
After moving to Canada from the Middle East, Hannah looked for a school for her two children that matched her family's values and beliefs. After visiting Cambridge International Academy and observing the welcoming and lively learning atmosphere, she decided it was the right place. She is impressed by the facilities at the school and feels that they offer everything her children need for a well-rounded educational experience. Hannah has seen progress in her children academically and knows that they feel secure and comfortable at Cambridge International Academy.
- “So originally, we picked Cambridge International Academy because we had just moved back into the country from the Middle East, and my children have always been in a private school. Although the schools they've been in mainly were faith-based, I know that Cambridge [International Academy] has a reputation internationally. I stumbled upon an ad for [Cambridge International Academy] and decided to check it out. We felt that the atmosphere of the school matched our beliefs, so we decided that we would take this step with them.”
- “[Cambridge International Academy] provides extra help, pushes the kids a little bit extra, and builds their confidence. This is all possible because of the one-on-one learning that happens. It allows the teachers to maintain trustworthy and comfortable relationships with the students and vice versa.”
- “One of the first activities that [my kids] were so happy about was a cooking class in the open kitchen [at Cambridge International Academy]. [Cambridge International Academy] has a fully functioning library, a computer lab, and a gymnasium. So although we didn't expect that from looking at the building, they had everything they needed on the inside.”
- “[Students at Cambridge International Academy] have access to WiFi, which is good so that they can do their research from their desk. So they're happy about that. They get a lot of work done in class too.”
- “I like that [Cambridge International Academy] finds a lot of outdoor activities to do with the kids while maintaining the COVID protocol. They do hiking, and they visit conservation areas and stuff, so they're still able to go outside to exercise and have fun too.”
- “The staff [at Cambridge International Academy] are constantly talking to their [students], asking them questions, and making them feel comfortable. [The students] are building that rapport with their teachers, and they can ask questions without feeling judged. This is building a community, which made a significant impact on us. Another thing I think that goes along with that is that [students] don’t feel as competitive because of the class sizes. They can give their all without feeling that they are competing with anybody else. They are just in competition with themselves, which helped them flourish.”
- “[My kids] haven't said anything bad [about Cambridge International Academy]. ... I have two very different children. One does well in a large setting, and the other loves at-home learning. [My kids are] both very comfortable [at Cambridge International Academy]. They love the way the teachers teach educate them. They can build rapport with their teachers, which is super important for me. They spend eight hours a day there, so that's really important. They also have more freedom because of the smaller classroom sizes, and they love their school trips.”
- “Teachers make or break [school] for kids, [and my kids] feel very secure with their teachers [at Cambridge International Academy].”
- “The children are very happy with their [academic] outcome at the end of the year. They're happy with their development because of the continuous assessments [at Cambridge International Academy]. The teachers stay on top of it, and their outcome has been excellent because of that.”
- “The teachers [at Cambridge International Academy] take responsibility in being consistent with the kids and helping them. If they see children lacking or falling behind, they will take that responsibility and help them move forward. … Children need consistency, and they need routine.”
- “The teachers [at Cambridge International Academy] focus on the growth mindset and developing the talent of the students through hard work and good learning strategies. … I believe that this showcases the school's flexible, positive, and open-minded values. They matched [our family values], and we're happy with it. All [the families at Cambridge International Academy] have different values. Not everything we believe in will align with each other; however, we have a common goal for our kids.”
- “At the end of the school year, when you see your child's progress. … It kind of reaffirms your decision [to send them to Cambridge International Academy] and makes you feel happy.”