“We don’t jump on their weak areas,” says Angela Burgos, head of school. “If your child struggles with math, we’re not going to pounce on math right away — a sure recipe for failure and discouragement. Instead, we work on developing strengths to get some traction and then tackle those harder areas.” That approach accounts for much of the value that Centennial can offer, and the success that it has. The typical student arrives after struggling within a traditional academic setting. Most often, that struggle is a result of linguistic disruption—dyslexia, dysgraphia—or executive functioning issues, as common in children with ADHD or autism spectrum disorders. For them, the approach taken at the school can feel like a breath of fresh air. Instruction is empathetic, using strategies appropriate to the students' unique needs. An environment in which students find themselves as part of a majority, rather than an academic or social minority, can also create unique opportunities for the development of a positive self-concept than might previously been available to them. “School results increase because their confidence increases," says Burgos. Celebrating their 50th anniversary, Centennial Academy is also unique within Montreal in that it offers a full curriculum in both English and French.