REVIEW OF Elevate Learning Centre BY parent, Dana Cooke
- Date of Review
May 10, 2023
- Child 1
Gr. 4 (Male, Current Day Student)
(4.5) Student Experience
To put it simply, my son loves going to school each day. In the past, he has been frustrated and often in tears after returning home due to feeling like he couldn't keep up with the rest of the class. Because he has a learning delay they have tailored the curriculum to him and at the same time have given him learning strategies. He actually recently told our principal that he "gets more work done here than at my old school!" and actually enjoys it. The individual attention and small group work/low student-to-teacher ratio are perfect for him. I'm continually amazed at the activities they have the children do - from interview skills to the process of creating a viable product to market.
(5) School Leadership
Our principal, Julie, has extensive experience (over 2 decades) in education and resource skill work. She is passionate about helping these children. She communicates often to the group of parents and individually with each parent, always willing to take a minute to listen to any questions or concerns we may have at drop off/pickup. If something requires a more time-intensive meeting she schedules it immediately and takes notes to ensure the parent is being listened to and issues are addressed. Her weekly newsletters are full of useful information as well as celebratory notes about how the students are progressing. When issues arise during the day she debriefs with the parents upon pickup and works to rectify with healing circles and utilizing the skills they are teaching the kids to solve conflicts.
The teachers at Elevate are all very experienced. Most have many years in the public system and have also been resource/special education teachers. This gives them skills in dealing with diverse learners often not abundant in the public system. In addition to these certified, experienced teachers, Elevate utilizes teachers in training from local college programs which only adds to the low student/teacher ratio environment already provided. When I have had meetings about my child, the teacher that spends the most time with him will come into the meeting to share her first-hand account of what she sees/experiences. I find all teachers there are kind and patient with the right amount of boundary setting and structure that aims to get the most out of the students. They keep the students on task (which with this group is no easy feat!) and provide appropriate challenges and leadership for them.
Elevate was just the education program we were looking for. When we first applied I brought my son's IEP with me and the principal highlighted all the areas of need he had and spoke to each point about how Elevate's program would address them. He needed to go right back to basics with reading and learn in a way that isn't currently taught in most public schools. They tailor the curriculum to him and his needs - even providing support/understanding for his ADD. When we began with them last year he was reading at a grade 2 level - well behind where he should have been. I'm elated to share he has almost closed the gap of his reading level (now grade 4) in 1 school year.
Elevate is a smaller school and to round out the student experience, they provide a number of really great field trips. In the past, they have been to Crawford Lake, the Joseph Brant Museum, and the Art Gallery of Burlington. As a part of the curriculum, they have monthly trips to help sort food at Food for Life which provides help for those that have food insecurity. This is my son's favorite trip.
Elevate began as a small pod school in response to the struggle for online learning for those with LDs during the pandemic. It has grown but is still a small school with a small student body. As such, the students have formed close relationships with each other and often have play dates after school. Because it is such a small school the students and teachers all know each other very well and are quite close. Elevate is comprised of Diverse Learners with various diagnoses so the environment can sometimes be challenging, however, the students utilize the skills they are taught to deal with these situations. They are learning how to respond in a way that I feel isn't being offered in such a consistent capacity in the public system.
(4.5) School Life
After a really challenging 1st grade year at a previous school, we knew our child was behind. The work frustrated him and his struggles were not being addressed in any manner. He was teetering on having a horrible relationship with the school which we knew would be his attitude for the rest of his school career. I believe Elevate has been integral in helping him create a desire to go to school. In the past he was punished for his ADD - many teachers in the public stream do not understand or have the training (or frankly the time) to deal with students that are unable to focus and need to move. At Elevate they understand, accommodate, and create a space where he feels safe and able to be himself. It's exactly the type of education experience he needs.
The parents at Elevate are encouraged to gather at both drop-off and pick-up to chat. I personally have forged some great new friendships and even when my child returns to their local public school (that is our goal) - I know we will maintain these relationships and be friends long after. The parents are a great source of information and support since all children attending have either a learning delay or a diagnosis. I find it to be a very understanding, non-judgemental group which is important when you have a bad day at home and feel like nobody understands the struggle. Whenever I share a story with a parent they inevitably say "Oh, us too!". It's something we are all experiencing together.
(5) School Location
The school is currently located right beside a large park that has multiple playgrounds and is within walking distance of our local public library. The building itself is small and intimate. The staff has made the rooms into wonderful places for the children to learn and feature many sensory accommodations for students with LDs. For field trips, they often take public transit and get to see the city.