REVIEW OF Guiding Light Academy BY parent, Janice C
- Date of Review
May 03, 2021
Gr. JK - 8
(4.5) Student Experience
My children have been at Guiding Light Academy for 9 years and have been very happy there. The Catholic formation has been excellent for them, and the curriculum stimulating and challenging. It is a small learning environment so they all get a lot of one-on-one attention. The teachers have worked hard to provide extra material above the regular Ontario curriculum so that when they leave the school at grade 8 they will be more than ready for high school. It is not only the academics though they enjoyed, they also enjoyed the various feast days the school would celebrate such as dressing up as their favourite saint for All Saints' day, or the Crowning of Mary, as well as the themed weeks the school would put on during the year, such as Reading week, Math week, French week etc. Currently they are learning coding which will be very useful for future studies in computer science. The small class sizes also provides the feeling of a family, so no one ever feels left out.
(5) School Leadership
My experience with the school principal and the administration has been very positive. Mr. and Mrs. Jackson are always ready to listen to any suggestions or concerns and will always address them immediately if not within 24 hours. I can even contact them on the weekend and they will respond! If there have been any problems with my children in the classroom, I have been notified quickly and we have always worked out a positive solution together so that we could move forward quickly without wasting any learning opportunities. They have communicated well with parents through monthly emails, as well as sending reminders.
The teachers at Guiding Light Academy have been working hard to provide good academic instruction to all the students. As a result of the COVID-19, they have had to provide both online and in-person instruction and accommodate for all the various student needs. Last year after March break when everyone had to move online, the entire staff managed to get the whole online teaching system in place within a week and we were able to continue our studies without any interruption which we were thankful for. During parent-teacher meetings they are honest and let me know of not just my children's strengths, but their weaknesses and we are able to collaborate together to formulate a plan to help them through those difficulties. And if one of my children is ahead of the curriculum they will gladly supplement their workload to continually keep them challenged. The religion component is well-taught by the brothers of the Heralds of the Gospel and they are very qualified to teach the Catholic faith.
Over the years Guiding Light Academy has always tried to bring a more challenging curriculum to the table. I was amazed when my grade 7 son told me with enthusiasm that he had extracted DNA from a banana during one of their science experiments that day. The science and math classes are teaching one or two grades above their current level which keep them challenged. Pre-COVID the school also has a beautiful music program where all the children would participate in the school choir, perform at the annual gala dinner held in November, as well as sing at various local parishes. I would say though the program that sets this school apart from many other schools is their Catholic religion program which is run and taught by the Heralds of the Gospel. The curriculum taught is true to the Catholic faith, and being religious brothers they certainly know their faith and teach it well. In the higher grades they also teach Latin which has been a favourite. They also teach cursive writing, an art which is sadly not being taught anymore in many schools. The cursive writing has been amazing, not just teaching them how to write beautifully and legibly, but getting them to slow down in this fast paced world. The children are also taught from kindergarten onwards on how to perform and speak in front of audiences, thus enhancing their public speaking skills. Every year, pre-covid, the school would arrange a field trip up to the Canadian Martyr's Shrine for prayers and Mass, and at the end of the year there would usually be an educational trip to places such as the science centre, aquarium or Pioneer Village.
I feel that for the small school size, they have done a good job with offering extracurricular opportunities for the children. Pre-Covid, there was the beautiful music program they had which all children were involved in. They also implemented coding programs for the higher grades, as well as involving the older children in spelling bee, math and engineering competitions. In terms of athletics, pre-covid they had soccer once a week off-site which all the children enjoyed for grades 3 and up. The children also got to enter a cursive writing contest.
Guiding Light Academy is a small school compared with other private schools. But because of the size, it allows for close relationships to develop between the students. The students get to know each other very well and if there are any difficulties between students, they get rectified very quickly. Every student is friends with everyone else and no one gets left out. The Catholic spirit of the school helps to foster love of God and love for thy neighbour, the result being charitable behaviour between the students, as well as respect for their teachers and administrators. In the upper grades each student is given a role so that they can learn responsibility in fulfilling it as well as learning how to work with each other. Group work is encouraged which has really helped them develop their teamwork skills.
(4.5) School Life
My children enjoy going to Guiding Light Academy, because the school is like a big family, everyone is friends with each other, and they enjoy the curriculum. I believe the Catholic character and the size of the school has really helped to foster the positive environment. Before covid, the the children would attend Mass at the nearby Catholic Church, then get bussed 3 minutes to school to start the academic portion. Prayer plays a major role at Guiding Light and the students pray at set times throughout the day. Although they have a general daily schedule, the school has different themed weeks here and there so that they can focus specifically on a certain subject for an entire week. One thing they could improve on is having a larger yard to play in, but that is limited by the size of their lot so I'm not sure if much can be done there. But that didn't seem to affect my children's happiness there much.
If there is a school that feels like a family, where the parents feel welcomed and involved it's Guiding Light Academy. Pre-covid the school and the Heralds of the Gospel organized many fundraisers and events, especially the Christmas gala dinner where parents were invited to help fundraise. The Heralds of the Gospel also held prayer retreats for the parents and families so that we would all be on the same page with regards to the Catholic formation of the children. They school also held events where students would perform and parents were invited to watch. Those were wonderful opportunities where we could get together and catch up. They did annual events honouring Mother's Day, Father's Day and Grandparents' day as well which were very special, and also taught the students to honour their elders. The graduation and awards ceremony at the end of the year was something to look forward to as it featured performances by the children, graduating speeches by the grade eight students, and of course prayers of thanksgiving, and it was held outdoors with a picnic. It really is like being part of a large family!
(5) School Location
Guiding Light Academy is located in Streetsville, Mississauga which is a beautiful village-like setting. The library is about a 10 minute walk from the school and often they had field trips there. Before covid the students attended daily Mass at the local Catholic parish and then would be bussed 3 minutes to school. The students and parents have become part of the parish community as well. There are quite a few coffee shops, restaurants, and boutiques in the surrounding neighbourhood as well. Students are not allowed to venture outside the school unless they are on a field trip.