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Reviews of German International School Toronto

Toronto, ON  |  Grades PS - 9  |  Shortlist

 

Review by: Rani Beharry - Parent (Jun 09, 2022)

"My children have had some caring but firm teachers."


Student Experience

I have 2 children at the GIST currently in grades 2 and 4. They have been enrolled since 2018, having come from a Montessori education. I am also the head of the Parent Council and very involved in school life. I appreciate the smaller classroom sizes and individualized attention that my children get. There is immediate feedback from the Administration about any concerns. I find that the curriculum is flexible to the rapid changes in the world, especially in this digital age. The children have a trilingual education and therefore, more opportunities are open to them. The school is ambitiously growing and expanding its curriculum and services. I am impressed with any program that has high standards and offers the children a wealth of opportunities, as the GIST does,


School Leadership

The Administration works well with the parents individually and takes into consideration with initial meetings and follow-up meetings when there are any concerns. These are addressed in efficient and judicious ways. As head of the Parent Council for the past couple of years, I have witnessed first-hand the inner workings of the Administration. They have effectively dealt with issues brought forward by parents and attempted to solve them expeditiously. There is a good collaboration between the Admin and the rest of the school.


Teaching

My children have had some caring but firm teachers that offer both them and us constructive feedback and solutions to any concerns. They work collaboratively in an approach that works for each individual student instead of a uniform expectation that some other schools have. Individual student issues are taken into consideration and parents are kept part of that plan. Teachers have weekly lesson plans with Zoom links embedded for absences due to illness. The benefit of being a smaller school is that the children will not fall behind as the teaching is very much individualized. There are 3 paths of German enrichment, depending on the language proficiency of the new student enrolling in the GIST. This tailored approach ensures no one is left behind and can become proficient in German.


Academics

The academic program is strong in its cultural and pedagogical approach. However, it is evolving to incorporate the rapid changes in our world in preparing the children for the challenges and opportunities that I certainly did not have at their stage of education. There is a lot more digitization and technology within the classrooms and the GIST is keeping pace with this. It is remarkable that the GIST got the MINT and IB certification this past year. This is going to benefit the students and ensure that they are prepared for the world in which they find themselves when they graduate. It is imperative to the GIST that the children are keeping pace with both the German and Canadian curriculums. They have managed this challenge well and even incorporated French early in grade 1 (the public schools do not start French until grade 4).


Extracurriculars

There are opportunities within the school to participate in physical and academic competitions. There are many programs in aftercare which children have an opportunity to participate in after completing their homework such as sports, French and music, which augment their extracurricular activities. The programs were challenged during COVID due to the cohorting of children. This is now changed and we are getting back to the same terrific programming my kids enjoyed. My son started playing chess in the chess club and has kept those skills going. There is a new playground and newly updated programming every term. My kids enjoy these immensely and often get upset if I pick them up early before their extracurricular activities end. It is a good testament to the programs.


Students

I believe that the children have a community spirit and generally get along quite well. Any conflicts are handled as opportunities for personal growth. The social and emotional well-being of children is taken into consideration quite well at the GIST. As the school is small, teachers regularly provide feedback, beyond the parent-teacher meetings if there are areas of concern. This individualized approach has benefited my children quite a lot. The students regularly have intramurals and speech competitions. There are numerous fundraising efforts and the sense that they are part of a larger global community. There is a caring and supportive atmosphere and parents are invited to stay connected to this. I have always felt my children have thrived within this school atmosphere.


School Life

The parents organize various events for both the parents and students, as well as fundraisers to enhance school programs and activities. My kids love being part of these and gain a greater understanding that they are part of a larger, supportive community. The students regularly have intramurals and speech competitions. There are numerous fundraising efforts and the sense that they are part of a larger global community. There is a caring and supportive atmosphere and parents are invited to stay connected to this. I have always felt my children have thrived within this school atmosphere. The Christmas Bazaar is a yearly well-attended event that brings together the school and community. The wreath sales organized by the Parent Council benefit the student body in enhancing programming, supplies and facility improvements.


Community

As head of the Parent Council, we meet with the administration on a monthly or biweekly basis. It is an open forum with the class representatives to actively participate in the growth and development of the school. There are many events organized by the Parents Council and parents are invited to help fundraise in order to benefit the student body in enhancing programming, supplies and facility improvements. The Christmas Bazaar is a yearly well-attended event that brings together the school and community, which the parents largely organize collaboratively with the Administration. This creates more of a community, along with some parents reading to the children in both English and German. The children see directly what their parents have contributed to school life and learn by example that they are part of a community.


School Location

Excellent parking and use of space. The neighbourhood is quiet and safe. Students have access to many parks in the area. A very open and green space with a community garden. It is located in a church with ample room for the kids and great lighting. The kids play freely and enjoyably on the grounds. A new playground has augmented the joyful play area.




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