REVIEW OF Greenwood College School BY parent, Jen Hastings
- Date of Review
December 14, 2022
Gr. 7 - Gr. 12
(5) Student Experience
I have three kids (1 girl, and 2 boys) who go to or went to Greenwood (our daughter graduated in 2020). All of my kids started at Greenwood in grade 7. My kids have different personalities and different academic interests and strengths and they have all had a very positive experience at Greenwood. I think the thing that stands out the most for our kids is the sense of community at Greenwood. The day starts off with heads of the student council and some staff greeting students at the door as they walk into school. The multi-grade House activities as well as other multi-grade programs (e.g. peer mentoring, sports, arts, committees) at the school give an opportunity for students to meet and work with a variety of students as well as teachers. Kids get to know a lot of different people in the school.
(5) School Leadership
I think the school administration listens to parents and students and is responsive. To be honest, I have not had an issue that I felt has had to be handled by the school, but I have heard of other parents who have, and they have felt listened to and that there was a response/action after. I have worked closely with school administration on the parent association and I have seen firsthand the thought and consideration that goes on behind decisions. The goal to ensure students as well as parents feel included.
I have been very happy with the teaching! As I mentioned I have three different kids and all of their needs have been met. My daughter was encouraged by her teachers to take AP classes and she did well in those. My one son was told by his teacher that he was very good in English and that his teacher was going to expect more from him (not more homework, just a higher level of work). It was said in a very positive, encouraging way and my son was very happy that his teacher thought that and it motivated him to work even harder. My other son has motivating teachers as well and he has learning accommodations that have allowed him to excel at school. All kids have many opportunities throughout each week to meet with their teachers for extra help or to go to the designated extra help sessions that are listed in the timetable (held most days of the week). One of the most fantastic programs that Greenwood has in place is its Advisor Program. Each student is placed in an advisor group (the Advisor group generally stays the same for grades 7-8, 9-10, and 11-12). The Advisor group is comprised of a group of students (10ish) and a teacher. Students meet with this group several times a week and it is a set "appointment/class" in the timetable. Advisor groups talk about managing their school work, study habits, having an opportunity to do work, and many other things. Advisor groups are really important especially in grades 7, 8, and 9 as far as helping kids adjust to school and knowing they have someone they can ask for help to navigate the many facets of school. It is also nice for parents to have a point of contact with someone (the Advisor) if they have questions or want to pass on some information. The Advisor is someone parents and students can talk with and information can then be passed onto the child's teachers (if that's required/requested).
I think the Academics at Greenwood are terrific. I think the school does a great job at ensuring kids have the appropriate methods of teaching (if they need accommodations etc.) and I think the school does a great job at pushing kids to excel in their courses. There are some Advanced Placement course opportunities and for a school that is not huge, there are many different types of courses available. All kids are required to take a mix of different types of Art courses in grades 7 and 8. There are courses such as cooking and food, regional geography, and other 'not your regular classes' type of courses. There are many different Business type courses in grades 10-12. One of my son's favourite classes has been Tech Design where they work in the Innovation Lab. Unfortunately for him, there isn't a higher level grade where this course is offered, but the school is starting another similar course for the younger grades. One drawback for some is that the school does not offer a Robotics class for those who are interested in that. I believe there is a Robotics Club, but not a school course. My impression of the academic culture and atmosphere is that it is one of support. The teachers and the administration encourage kids to 'venture forward' and to try their best. I believe that the school sets the kids up for success. I also believe that the school thinks that success is multi-dimensional. The school encourages kids to join committees or clubs and or sports teams. Their hope is that kids will join other activities (vs. just academics) and that they will then have more of a sense of community within the school and be more well-rounded and have fun while doing it all. I do believe (and know firsthand from my second year university daughter and now my grade 12 son going to university next September) that the school prepares kids well for post-secondary life. My daughter was well prepared for her Medical Sciences program at UWO and my son seems prepared for his co-op Business program at Dalhousie (with his high school math courses, his 4+ business courses in grades 11 and 12, etc.).
For a school the size of Greenwood, it is amazing how many sports teams and clubs the school has to offer. They have almost every type of sports team, for example (not an exhaustive list) Cross Country Running, Swimming, Hockey, Golf, Rugby, Ultimate Frisbee, Basketball, Volleyball, etc. They do not have Football or Lacrosse. Within many of those sports teams, they offer a Team A and Team B so all kids that are interested in a sport but maybe not at a highly competitive level can have an opportunity to play with teammates, learn and compete. There is also a huge variety of clubs and Committees at school - e.g. Rock Climbing, Chess, Debate Team, Dance Team, Environmental and Stewardship Committee, etc. If a student wants to start a club that interests them and they have a few other students who are interested, they can approach a teacher to help start that club. There are also many opportunities in the Arts program to get involved, such as choir and the junior and senior plays. There is also Community Time within the school timetable and students can use that time for clubs and committees as well as free time (supervised) in the gym. There are many opportunities for kids to pursue their nonacademic interests.
The general atmosphere of the student body seems to be one of people who want to be at Greenwood and want to participate with student life. There are many ‘multi grade’ opportunities for students to interact together - e.g. in clubs, committees, some sports teams and especially with House activities. Also, when grade 7 students leave for their Outdoor Education trip to camp in September, they have grade 12 students as their ‘counselors’. Due to these many opportunities for students to be together, the dynamic seems to be one of people in the same grade as well as other grades interacting with each other and getting along. As well, because teachers and staff go on OE with the students (and trained guides), the dynamic between teachers and students becomes more familiar.
(5) School Life
My three kids have enjoyed and appreciated going to Greenwood. As I mentioned my kids are very different from each other as far as their learning habits and interests and all three kids have had success and feelings of accomplishment and loved being at Greenwood. The day starts off welcoming with students and staff greeting students at the door as they enter the school. There are also many spaces throughout the school and opportunities (Community Time, breaks, etc) for kids to interact with other students and hang out with their friends. Whenever I have been at the school it seems as though the kids are very happy to be there.
Although parent involvement in schools tends to decrease as our kids get older (and they don't always appreciate us at the school as much as they did when they were younger), there are many opportunities for parents to be involved in the school. There is a Parent Association called The Roundtable that every parent/guardian of a Greenwood student is automatically a member of. The Parent Association meets monthly to come up with/execute initiatives as well as get school updates. Parents choose whether to go to those meetings as well as have opportunities to volunteer at different events such as Staff Appreciation Lunches, Class Representatives, the big parent association fundraiser, Wintergreen, etc. There is an icon on the school website for The Roundtable for all parents to access any relevant parent information including meeting times. The school also hosts information sessions for parents on varying topics - the topic last month was Connecting with Teens. There are also two grade socials for parents a year, in the fall and spring as well as informal coffee mornings hosted by the grade reps.
(4.5) School Location
The school is accessible for most students as it is on the bus line and not far from the subway. It is also close to many neighbourhoods for some to walk. The school does not currently have outdoor greenspace (although there are plans and permits for a field to be built next to the school starting this spring) the school takes advantage of many spaces around it. Students and staff access the June Rowland park across the street and the school uses the Mount Pleasant Cemetery for things like the Terry Fox Run and Cross Country running. The school uses a local pool for the Swim Team practices and they bus students to The Beach and Sunnybrook Park for rugby and ultimate frisbee. I think the school does a great job of accessing many community locations.
The Admissions process (for anything) is inherently stressful. Having said that, the Greenwood Admissions Team is wonderful! They are friendly and professional and I think they do a wonderful job of putting kids and parents at ease. As a Parent Ambassador, I work with the Admission Team for Open Houses and school tours and I see them trying to make the process less stressful for families. They also try to answer questions openly as they want families to know as much as possible about the school so families can make an informed choice as to whether Greenwood is the right place for their child. The school hosts many events (Open Houses, A night in the community at a current Greenwood family, school tours, online info) because they want families to get to know as much about the school as possible to make an informed decision about applying to and accepting at Greenwood.
(5) University placement and counselling
I have two Greenwood grads who are in university and I can confidently say that Greenwood has prepared them well. Not only was the education, teaching methods, and course content great, but so was the preparation as far as them being responsible for their learning and organization. Both of my kids are in different university programs (Science and Business) and they feel that their Greenwood teachers, and the courses offered, prepared them for their programs in the university. The Advisor program at Greenwood also prepared them well. Students have their Advisor group all the way through Greenwood. In grades 7-9 they discuss many things including organizational skills, study skills, what type of learning is best for them, learning to advocate for themselves and to follow up with teachers when needed, etc. In grades 10-12 they continue with that but start to focus more on preparing for post-secondary and figuring out what interests them and making sure they take the courses they will need for their area of interest. This attention to organizing and preparing them helps the student become more confident in their abilities to manage and advocate for themselves in post-secondary life.