REVIEW OF GlenOak Academy BY parent, Liselle Ramcharan
- Date of Review
March 17, 2021
Gr. 2 - Gr. 2
(4.5) Student Experience
My children like Art and Craft, and are always excited to see what they will have to create based on the time of the year or special occasions. The activities have been varied. For example very recently it was designing and creating Leprechaun traps for the older child, and making snow for the younger child. They enjoy the online applications that they are exposed to for learning. They were able to easily adapt to structured online learning because of the structure introduced at the start of the academic year. They enjoy the gym activities that include interactive videos that have them moving, yoga stretches that help them relax, and a big outdoor space that they are able to run around in, even roll around in the Fall leaves. The school is near nature trails that they both enjoy being able to explore.
(4.5) School Leadership
The school leadership is the reason that I moved to GlenOak Academy. It was very clear that children matter, and the educational goals are important. One visit and my children and I felt a part of the school community, and they had not even met their future classmates! There are many communication channels for communication - emailing the administration directly, using their school communication portal, phoning the office, directly contacting the teachers, even the opportunity to have Parent Sessions with the Teacher weekly. If I have any issue, and it has not been related to discipline, the teachers are quick to listen and adjust.
Quality education is very important to my family, and without knowing it, the principal had described why it was important for her and why she did not focus on a child's grade level, but on the ability. I am definitely happy with the quality of instruction. The teachers are patient, reinforce that the children understand and their passion for the children and their learning is obvious. The choice of the activities, the pride in the quality of work. One of my children is painfully shy, and the teacher was open to understanding, listened to my view of why my child may or may not respond, and would provide feedback that we could apply. The resultant change in my child is phenomenal. She displays so much more confidence, and others can see what I see - her thirst for knowledge and love of learning. My younger child does not require the same type of motivation - she is quite outspoken however the teacher is able to encourage her above her grade level, which was my desire, while not creating an environment that school becomes a place not enjoyed.
My experience of the school is that it works on balance and identifying the strengths and weakness of the child and improving areas accordingly. That was extremely important for me because my younger child was already functioning above their grade level and I did not want to limit their learning, while not making learning a stressful environment. In my opinion, they have both blossomed even more than expected. And though one might argue that the smaller size classes make all the difference, which I would agree to as well, there is also the ability to understand each child and also listen to the parents' perspective too when challenges are identified. The use of the online day for detailed sanitation due to the pandemic, proved quite useful for the children to navigate the online learning experience and having a schedule that they needed to be aware of, it also meant that there were many learning activities that the children could be introduced to that we were not familiar with our experience to date of the public school system, but I cannot categorically assume that they would not have. One activity that I was particularly impressed by, is the introduction of self-evaluation of their progress. The children were given the opportunity to judge their own performance, and present it to their parents. Definitely another way to boost their confidence.
This is not a fair review that I can give at this time. The children were at the school because of the pandemic and so extracurricular activities were different or eliminated for many. What they have managed to do is to keep up with clubs that are integrated into the school day, like Art Club, Lego Club and Minecraft Club.
The school body is a small one, which was a primary reason for me joining that community. I was personally in a panic over the structures that the public school system would be able to put in place to handle the pandemic, and I saw a school that offered small classroom sizes. This was golden for me because I saw my older child do well in a small public school setting, and I was concerned that my younger child would end up in a class with a large number of students. The student body is a very good one, from my observations. The children all seem to get along. My children come home with stories of their classmates, of the wider community, and what I should be teaching them because of what parents of other children have shared :-). My children were new to a school where other friendships would have blossomed before they arrived. There is an expectation that forming friendships will take time, but there is also a real push to encourage friends to play with new ones, to check that friends are okay; even more recently I was impressed by classmates getting together to discuss how they can help their classmate not feel sad.
(4) School Life
The quality of student life at GlenOak Academy for us is quite good. Again, this was a move because of the pandemic, so the pandemic has definitely introduced some barriers to how school life evolved because of the physical distancing. However, my children do not want to return to their previous school, though they miss some of their friends, they are very happy with the community life they have at GlenOak. The school still managed to have great activities that allowed for student engagement. They have Reading Buddie Story Time where everyone is encouraged to share a book if they wish. special activities life Spirit Days, Civvies Days and Halloween (all they cared about is the candy). The engagement, participation and generosity continue to be evident, and an environment that the children genuinely enjoy.
As the old adage goes, "Sometimes you want to go, where everybody knows your name". GlenOak is a close-knit community that has proven itself to be a very welcoming environment. There are Parent Council meetings set for every month. Though meeting has proven to be a challenge with COVID - the portal has given us an opportunity for us to still keep connected. Admittedly the year that my children have been at GlenOak Academy is what we call "the new norm", so fundraising activities looked very different, GlenOak still managed to participate in the Terry Fox Run, and was very supportive over the holiday season in supporting locally owned businesses for their fundraising efforts. One of the things that most impressed me within the community is that they are actively doing with other sectors of the society - with Indigenous children further north - that for me demonstrates that they are not only interested in providing an exclusive environment for some. All children are important and their educational needs matter too. Even within our local school "borders", there are differently abled children who are loved and their achievements celebrated. How can I say that? Their obvious excitment in the carpark going into school and being picked up at the end of the school day! For my own, particularly my younger one, not wanting to come home at the end of the school day.
(4) School Location
Although school location, beyond being in Mississauga, was not one of my decision criteria for attending the school, it turned out the be an added benefit that the location is in a beautiful part of Mississauga. There is a huge outdoor space and it is in a neighourhood that the children might even see a pair of wild turkey roaming around! The parking lot has adequate space for parking, and allows for outdoor classroom set up. That was important for me as the parent, because if further demonstrated the school's ability to make great use of the property to keep the children safe during the pandemic - and it was a healthy approach to do so as well.