Ottawa, ON | Grades 1 - 12 | Shortlist
There are numerous events throughout the year from teacher parent interviews, school celebrations and events to school trips which involve parents to as much as they prefer to be involved. I have had the opportunity to attend many of these over the year and always feel welcome and part of the larger community. Parent teacher interviews are also really helpful. It is evident that the teacher really knows and understands our son and so we are confident that he is getting exactly what he requires to succeed. They are open to our suggestions and very collaborative. As the kids have the same classmates most years, the parents naturally bond. They have one thing in common which is a great starting point. I find that we have developed friendships with some of the other parents because of the school as well which is nice.
The students come from a wide range of abilities and backgrounds. There is no judgement; there is acceptance of everyone's needs and strengths while showing compassion and patience when it comes to a students limitations. Families are always greeted with a warm smile from reception in person or by phone. It is a smaller school so you truly have the sense it's like a family. My daughter started in the middle of the second term, so my involvement was limited to 4 months only. I have not connected with other families other than the kind parents who carpool my child. I really liked the parent teacher meeting. This is an opportunity to have a quick check in with the teacher about your child progress, by no means to be exhaustive as they are always available to discuss anything more by phone or in person. They are very accessible. I liked that the meetings were timed with a friendly bell reminder that time was up to keep us on track (I've been one of those parents in the past that would take more time but also frustrated when my time was being cut into).
I always feel welcome when I go into to the school, and I'm sure other parents feel the same way. The staff and teachers always smile and know who I am. It feels like a family. I don't have much experience with the broader parent community. I went to one meeting, but didn't find it particularly useful. It is possible that it just is not my thing. That said, I have, however, made friends with other parents, and it's nice to have the similar bond of having children with learning challenges - children who have not had as much success in the public system. One thing that I don't think works very well is the parent teacher interview process - at Heritage or anywhere. I would rather have a more substantive discussion with my child's teacher(s) as issues arise, rather than a five minute timed conversation once a year.
Overall I think the school did a lot to engage parents. Not all of us participated to the same degree (we didn't due to work issues) but certainly, when I did, I felt welcomed and enjoyed the other parents. Parents were included in field trips and parent/teacher interviews and the like were also occurring as they do in public school. That said because the school was as intimate as it is - you felt free to chat with the teachers at any time and if there were any concerns they were handled at the moment. The school experience in this regard was the same as in public schools. Holiday shows, graduations etc, were all the norm at the school. I didn't feel any need for more parent involvement from my perspective.