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Chisholm Academy:
The Our Kids Report
Grades Gr. 7 TO Gr. 12 — Oakville, ON (Map)

Chisholm Academy:

Leadership interview with Adam Bernstein, Chisholm Academy

  • Name
    Adam Bernstein
  • Title
    Associate Head of School

Adam Bernstein, Associate Director, describes how Chisholm Academy prioritizes student well-being and individual growth within a nurturing environment. He talks about the community-oriented culture of the academy, personalized learning experiences, and strong support structures. Bernstein also highlights the dedicated staff, welcoming introductory programs for new students, and the integral role of parental involvement in fostering student success.

Video Contents

Highlights from the interview

  • Students who are drawn to Chisholm Academy typically have experienced some form of academic difficulty. The three main groups of kids we have here are those with ADHD, those with learning disabilities, and those who have struggled with anxiety. Chisholm Academy isn't a traditional private school, but if your child has experienced learning difficulties, we might be the place for you.

  • Chisholm is often viewed as empathetic, compassionate, and creative, with these traits permeating everything we do here. When researching schools, it's important to distinguish what makes each organization stand out, what they are known for, and what they do differently from others.

  • We are not a punitive school, but have a very low threshold for bullying, maintaining a reputation as a place that embodies empathy, compassion, and creativity. We tend to move quickly to assess inter-student conflicts, using them as teachable moments. 

  • Over the years, students who had often not participated much in their school community become a lot more active, which further just enhances their confidence and self-esteem. These are things that are constantly reinforced here at Chisholm. They leave here with a special set of skills that have been reinforced over the time they've been at Chisholm: self-advocacy, organization and study skills, and general executive functioning skills, to name a few.

  • We really believe that the way a child feels about themselves can sometimes be as important as the grades that they're achieving. 

  • Chisholm does whatever it can to try to mitigate the new students’ anxiety, starting on the night after Labor Day, when only parents come to the school. This is a night where all staff are present, and we have a discussion with parents to help them understand what to expect on the first day for their kids. On Wednesday, only the new kids come in. This is a smaller group where we're able to allow them to begin to feel comfortable. There's no class instruction or anything like that. We play games and might order pizza. We allow them to get any questions answered in a smaller group setting, helping them feel more comfortable. By Thursday, the first official day of school, we hope that the new students already feel a bit more at home and less anxious. 

  • Chisholm Academy is a very close-knit community with a lot of support. It's fair to say that we provide a kinder, gentler environment for kids to learn. Teachers appreciate the supportive nature of the administrative staff. I may be biased, but it really is a great place to learn or work. Fortunately, Chisholm Academy has very low staff turnover, which is beneficial for both staff and students. On average, we only lose approximately one staff member per year, and almost exclusively during the summer. 

  • The relationship between parents and the school is seen as a key factor for the success of the student. We are a Google Classroom school and ensure that parents are up to speed with its full suite of apps to keep track of academics. We expect parents to receive same-day responses to questions, whether that be by email or phone.

  • If a student is found not to be a good fit for Chisholm Academy, it's typically due to behavioral issues. We do not accept students whose primary issue is behavioral, as it's not something we are equipped to deal with. 

  • Every year, Chisholm Academy invites alumni to return to speak with current students about their experiences, providing a concrete vision of what's possible. 

  • We have cultivated a strong relationship with the greater Oakville community, participating in local fundraisers and having students in many co-op placements. 


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Key insights on Chisholm Academy

Each school is different. Chisholm Academy's Feature Review excerpts disclose its unique character. Based on discussions with the school's alumni, parents, students, and administrators, they reveal the school’s distinctive culture, community, and identity.

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THE OUR KIDS REPORT: Chisholm Academy

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