Interview with Crestwood Preparatory College Alum, Georgia Gardner
Georgia graduated from Crestwood Preparatory Academy in 2019 after attending for 10 years. When she first enrolled, she felt immediately welcomed into the warm, inclusive, and tight-knit environment, which taught her to value community. The teachers at Crestwood Preparatory Academy encouraged her to pursue her passions, while pushing her to be open to new opportunities and not be afraid of failure. Georgia never felt compared to other students, which made her feel that her individuality was valued. She feels that the school shaped who she is today, and gave her the skills she needed to thrive in university. Georgia still feels part of the diverse Crestwood Preparatory Academy family to this day.
Highlights from the interview
Crestwood Preparatory Academy taught me the value of community. The memories that I have there, the friends that I made, and the learning environment were pretty special and unmatched in terms of any other learning environment that I've ever been in. I think it's a really special feeling to go to school and walk down the hallway and know every person you're walking by. It's really special to have almost every teacher at the school know your name. It's made me appreciate how important it is in everyday life and cultivate a supportive and loving community around you at university. I think success is important, and putting yourself in a position where you can thrive is important. People sometimes seldom focus on the kinds of spaces you're in and what that looks like. Being at a place like Crestwood Preparatory Academy, I took away the value of what that meant and the positive effect on my growth and development. The biggest takeaway from my Crestwood Preparatory Academy experience was being able to look back and really be thankful for the community that I had there and the friends that I did, and not take it for granted
What differentiates Crestwood Preparatory Academy from other schools is the diversity for one. It has such a diverse student population. They have students from all over the city and different parts of the world. It's an opportunity to learn and meet lots of different kinds of people from different backgrounds, which I think is an invaluable experience.
Crestwood Preparatory School may not be the biggest private school, its facilities might not be the most pristine, but it is just the warmest, most loving, most inclusive, most encouraging environment.
I've never felt so supported or encouraged to pursue my passions as I did at Crestwood Preparatory School. I have never been in an environment where so many people want you to succeed, want you to do well, and want you to forge your own path for success that may not necessarily abide by normative standards. It is a place where you can truly be yourself and truly be supported. I would say that sets Crestwood Preparatory School apart.
In three words I would describe Crestwood Preparatory School as warm, encouraging, and inclusive.
At Crestwood Preparatory School, you're teetering on the balance of a warm, comfortable, and fuzzy school, but also one that pushes you into the deep end, and encourages you to take chances. It's an interesting confluence of attributes, but one that I think defines Crestwood Preparatory School so well. It has that warm presence, it’s a school where you feel comfortable walking through the doors every day, and has a wonderful ritualistic nature. At the same time, it's a place where once you're in that comfortable position and feel welcome there, you're encouraged to try new things and take chances and risks. That's why I think those words are emblematic of what Crestwood Preparatory School is and what Crestwood Preparatory School feels like to attend as a student.
The student population was diverse in background and interests. You could probably find every type of student at Crestwood Preparatory School, which I'm not sure you can say about many other places.
Every Crestwood Preparatory School student knew that they were going into a learning environment where no one single mould or one single norm exists. There wasn't a single expectation for what you had to be or do. That mutual understanding bound the student population and alleviated any stress or pressure regarding the ‘norm’, which I think affects many high school students today. It was something that I was very happy not to have to ascribe to.
The Crestwood Preparatory School slogan is ‘Inspire Excellence, Nurture Individuality,’ which I saw every day. In Grade 8, a few of my friends and I wanted to start a Grade 7-8 student newspaper. At the time, the newspaper was only open to students from Grades 9-12. My friends and I were set that this was something that we wanted to do and take on. So we knocked on the principal’s door, and we told him our idea, and he made it happen right away. We all met in the boardroom, and I felt very professional. I guess the point is I think it's a lot of power to feel that at 14 years old if you have an idea and you have a passion and a drive, your school will support you and back you up. I felt like that rang true at Crestwood Preparatory School.
I was a student who wanted to dip my toe into every pool. I wanted to try everything. I tried to figure out what I liked, was good at, or just try things for fun. I was on the basketball team, and I’m five-two. I can quite honestly say that I was not the star player; I wasn't necessarily the MVP, but that said, I got a lot out of it. I got to play with many outstanding players, and I was encouraged to try it. I can say that Crestwood Preparatory School is a school that supports its students wholeheartedly, 100%, in whatever they want to do.
The teachers at Crestwood Preparatory School are incredible and encouraging, and I felt limitless. I felt like Crestwood would have supported me in whatever I decided to do. There's a special quality about what that does for a student’s self-esteem. I think it's a lot of what encouraged me to branch out of st university because I had confidence from being supported at that young age.
Crestwood Preparatory School is not the biggest private school building, and it’s not the fanciest. What I would say about Crestwood Preparatory School is don't judge a book by its cover. It is one of the warmest, most loving academic communities I've ever been in. It is why I'm thriving at University right now. It's where I met most of my friends, and I still keep in touch with my teachers today. What people would find most surprising about Crestwood Preparatory School is the enriching academic community we have there. We tend to walk into spaces and immediately think that it might not be the best because Crestwood Preparatory School was not the biggest. I would just really hope that you look past that physicality and really look into what Crestwood Preparatory School offers. Crestwood Preparatory School has given me the confidence to branch out, try new things, not be afraid of failure, be open to new opportunities, and support other people and their pursuits and dreams.
Academically, we tend to think of a linear pathway to success. We understand what that means, and we expect that successful students must be ascribed to certain criteria; they must have good grades and be involved in many extracurriculars. Breaking through that one definition of success is what I've kept with me. I think that it's so important to do what you love and to love what you do. If there's anything Crestwood Preparatory School has taught me, it would be the importance of exploring those passions Love, support, and nurturing from a young age are tremendously transformative. Now I'm starting to understand and be even more appreciative of that experience. I have the freedom to just be involved in clubs and not worry about being the MVP on the basketball court, star debater, or best curler.
I'm thankful that I could try out so many things and explore any passion or interest that I had at Crestwood Preparatory School. At times, a lot of my teachers would joke that I would spread myself too thin because my schedule for the week was packed. If I could change anything about my own experience, it would maybe be to not stretch myself too much.
What has surprised me is that my Crestwood Preparatory School experience has not left me. I still very much identify with the school, I'm still friends with a lot of the same people, and I have a friendly relationship with the teachers that inspired me most.
When I was in the Crestwood Preparatory School community, I was immersed, involved, and had many friends. It was such a warm community to be in, and now, two years later, I feel like those relationships are still very much intact.
What I loved about Crestwood Preparatory School was that it offered me a chill environment to excel. I never felt like I was fighting to be in a club. It never felt like you had to step on anybody else to be successful. Everybody is building their own skyscraper, and you support one another and cheer one another on. Something I enjoyed about Crestwood Preparatory School was getting the private school benefits of the unbelievable teachers and the vast resources, without that stress and pressure of looking over my shoulder and worrying about what the next person is doing. That's something that I would pass on that influenced my experience. When students are finding themselves and want to fit in, that community is really important. It's something that's impossible to overlook.
Crestwood Preparatory School always made me feel like I belonged. It encouraged me to pass that ethos on and try and create as many spaces like that as I can.
Crestwood Preparatory School helped me figure out what I wanted to do. I never felt measured up against anybody else. I was always encouraged to explore my passions, and now I'm in a position where I'm studying something that I love. I feel very confident in where I chose to study for University.
Crestwood Preparatory School encouraged me to follow my own path, and it's something that served me well. My classmates from Crestwood Preparatory School also felt the same way, that they found their passions, and found where they feel like they most belong because of that inspiration and individualized encouragement from Crestwood Preparatory School.
There wasn't a day that I was at Crestwood Preparatory School that I didn't feel loved, included, excited to learn, and happy to be at school. I remember graduation and what that felt like to leave that environment. That cemented how wonderful it was to be at that school. There's a unique community environment that feels very family-like and comfortable. To walk down a hall and know everybody's name and have that school atmosphere where everybody feels connected encouraged me to succeed in every aspect. There’s nothing more that I would want from an academic community. There's nothing more. I think that accolades and trophies and whatever, it's all nice. Still, I would trade all of it for the community that I had a Crestwood Preparatory School, and it's something that I've tried to replicate, but it was such a special community to grow up in.
Crestwood Preparatory School shaped who I am today, and it's something that I'm tremendously thankful for.
All of my friends have the same great experience at Crestwood Preparatory School. It's really hard to find any place where you feel immediately welcomed, which was my experience at Crestwood Preparatory School. I would advise students not to feel like they're boxed in in any respect because they're not. When you enter a new space, there’s always pressure to feel like you have to perform or fit in. I think there's also a lot of apathy and many students who don't want to get involved. They don't want to do anything, and a school to them is just a place they go to, then they go home at the end of the day. I would encourage students just to try something new. If you're interested in something, just go out for the team, see if you like it, and take advantage of all that Crestwood Preparatory School offers. Take advantage of the fact that the teachers and administration are there to support you and want to see you succeed on your path. I would encourage students to take advantage of every opportunity and not shy away from new experiences and understand that failure can be constructive.
Crestwood Preparatory School is really special. I was there collectively between the lower and upper schools for ten years, and I still consider myself a part of that family.
As a student who came in not knowing what I wanted to do, but wanted to try many things, Crestwood Preparatory School nurtured those passions, and I felt that I could pursue what I wanted to in a way where I felt very limitless. I felt like I could do anything. I felt like Crestwood would support me 100%, and I had some pretty crazy ideas when I was there.
Within reasonable limits, to have a school that supports you 100% of the way is just incredible. Crestwood Preparatory School is an environment that's not bogged down too much. There's a very clear line of communication between students and teachers and students and Administration, which is freeing.
Crestwood Preparatory School is the kind of environment that breeds individuality, and is the reason why I felt like I was able to pursue my passions in University freely I'm more than thankful for my experiences at Crestwood Preparatory School and for everything that Crestwood Preparatory School has done for me.