REVIEW OF Elevate Learning Centre BY parent, Stacey Bourbonnais
- Date of Review
May 10, 2023
- Child 1
Gr. 6 (Male, Current Day Student)
(5) Student Experience
If I ask my son, he says he likes how the school goes to the food bank or goes swimming. He enjoys the independence of going to the public library and choosing books for himself. He loves the field trips they take too. All the kids love to see the dog at school and it gives the kids something they can all relate to and share common ground about, regardless of their personal interests. I personally like the fact that there is a low student-to-teacher ratio and he gets so much direct help in the areas he needs. He has always tried hard and had a great attitude about school, but had very few results to show in relation to the amount of effort. At Elevate, he has made leaps and bounds in his reading because they have found the right way to teach him. He's a bright kid, but with his dyslexia, the public schools could not teach him to read, no matter how amazing his teachers were.
(5) School Leadership
Communication has been great at Elevate! Because of the smaller nature of the class size, it's been a very personal experience where you get to know the teachers and you have a chance for a brief chat every day at drop off or pickup. You can email or text any concerns anytime and have a quick response and action. If your child is having a rough day, it will be handled appropriately and in the best interest of your child's mental health and overall well-being. They clearly deal with issues and problems well because they rarely come up in discussions with my son. It's especially impressive considering the strong personalities that come along with learning disorders.
My son's dyslexia has been a huge barrier to him learning to read. Despite pulling him out of public school and putting him into Montessori with low student-to-teacher ratios, no one has been able to teach him how to read. Elevate has been using the right methods to help him learn and he is progressing at an amazing rate. I know he's a bright kid and he tries hard - it is such a huge relief to have a school that's able to teach him in the way he needs to learn! The teachers definitely know what methods to use to help him learn and use positive reinforcement while still being able to give constructive feedback. There is a great mix of time spent concentrating on learning, while being broken up with other things the kids look forward to, like going outside to the park, going to the library, going swimming or going to the food bank.
My son doesn't communicate very well what goes on in the classroom every day, and with the huge progress he's making, I don't ask a lot of questions about the academic program. It's summarized in the progress reports in detail though. They hold an intensive focus on math and reading. I have had concerns about the fact that there is no French, but ultimately that's not what my son needs - he needs to read in English! I just wonder what will happen when he's back in public school again one day because he will be really far behind - but honestly, he would be anyway. The atmosphere at the school is that of acceptance and working on making friendships, which is something a lot of kids with learning challenges need help with. There is an overall concern with talking about mental health which is important to talk about and be aware of - what a powerful tool for these kids moving forward. Overall, helping the kids in the areas they struggle with and building their confidence, and giving them tools to deal with difficult moments and different challenges is going to set these kids up well to be successful in their future.
Extracurricular activities are an absolute must. With how intense the learning is, the kids need breaks from that and the extracurriculars are things for the kids to look forward to. Swimming is an important life skill, good exercise, and fun. The food bank teaches compassion and empathy and makes them aware of the community around them and that other people are not all as fortunate and need a hand from time to time. Going to the library without Mom and Dad gives a sense of independence and my son really enjoys that aspect.
I have been worried about my kid being bullied or made fun of because of his learning challenges. In Montessori school, despite the small class sizes, there was still an atmosphere where my son was made to feel like he wasn't as smart as other kids. To the contrary, he is very bright but just doesn't learn the same way as a lot of kids do. In the environment at Elevate, all kids have their challenges to overcome and there are no issues with bullying or belittling. Whether it's a result of the fact that the kids know they all have challenges, or if it's how the school handles things I don't know, but I'm relieved because if a child thinks they can't learn, they will give up. They have been encouraged to develop friendships with each other, and it shows when they are outside the school in the morning and when they come out after school at the end of the day. They are always asking for play dates with one another. Of course, not every kid is going to get along with each other, especially as the kids get older and boys and girls have many different interests. Considering the strong personalities and character traits that often go hand in hand with learning challenges, I think the school does a great job of nurturing these friendships which is important for the kids to enjoy going to school.
(5) School Life
My child does very much enjoy going to school at Elevate. If you asked him he would say he likes it but doesn't love it. That's because of how hard and intensive he is working and learning, and it's exhausting for him, but what kid would enjoy that? So it's so very important to have all the other aspects that he looks forward to, and friends that he enjoys spending time with. Having an area where he can sit and look at books, or having the dog to stop and pet and bond with from time to time when he needs a quiet break is important. Feeling connected to the teachers is also a big benefit for him. I can't think of a way for them to further improve the quality of life for the students, because they are already doing a great job at it!
I love the ability to participate in some of the field trips when parents and siblings can. The school makes every effort to connect families to encourage friendships and playdates outside of school. The school has helped other parents connect through a fundraiser night in a more relaxed and social environment. The school has been very encouraging of my son and his classmates when they have done fundraisers for various things and has welcomed the parents into the classroom while the students talk about their achievements with fundraising. I'm not sure how much more parents would want involvement in the classroom - I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling like I've exhausted myself in trying to help my son with his learning challenges and being able to drop him off at school and know he's learning is a huge weight off my shoulders. I NEED the ability to step back and catch my breath after years and years of trying everything around the clock to figure out how to help him. Handing him over to talented people who know what to do is a gift beyond description.
(5) School Location
The school is in a great location being at the entrance to a park with a playground and a lot of space for kids to run around and play. There are lots of trees and nature to give them a break. The windows are huge and give them a nice break to look out as well. The library is within walking distance from the school, and they take the public bus to the food bank and swimming which is another helpful life skill.
The admissions process was very personal and easy. The school made it easy to find a time that would accommodate my husband and my schedule and took plenty of time to talk through our concerns and discuss how the school could benefit our son. I was made to feel welcomed and didn't feel like I was jumping through hoops. Getting my son into Montessori years before was so hard, and it felt like they did us a favor by allowing us to pay to go to their school. Their assurances of being able to help with my son's challenges were not lived up to. In contrast with Elevate, they made us feel like we came to the right place, that they were happy to help our son and would be dedicated to his learning journey and ensuring he travels on the right path for him. Further, they encouraged us to try the school out for a few days to make sure our son would be happy and have a chance to see all the positive things there are to look forward to, in addition to the hard work. It was peace of mind for us all to know that it was the right decision.