Ottawa, ON | Grades 1 - 12 | Shortlist
This is awesome. The students openly acknowledge and accept the differences among the student body and don't make anyone feel that they don't belong. There is a common respect between the students not only within a given grade but within the school in general. Due to the low number of students, there is an opportunity for all students to interact and get to know one another. Many long term friendships have been founded at Heritage. In the 9 years of school prior to this, even though primarily at one school, this was not possible for my son. He always felt as an outsider and different from everyone else. This caused numerous issues and lack of confidence which was simply terrible for him. Heritage changed all of that. We took advantage of on opportunity to have a trial day, when we were first deciding about the school. After only the one day, our son wanted to change school because quite frankly the difference in attitude and environment was that much more supportive.
There is a variety of personality types- like at every other school. The difference here is that these differences are viewed as gifts and strengths. The is value to being different. My daughter would describe some students as quirky but you can find quirky anywhere. My daughter has quickly made friends. Luckily my daughter meshes well with all sort of different personalities. There appears to be a higher percentage of boys but my daughter has found female friends she enjoys going out at lunch with. I think they take care in assigning classrooms. They have lockers but they are rarely locked. That's the feeling at Heritage Academy. Open-door, family feel. They have a strict no bullying policy but I don't think it is an issue anyway.
The students seem happy, polite, and respectful. When we first stepped foot in Heritage for our child's trial day, we were struck by how friendly and welcoming the students were. They were smiling, holding open doors for us, and being very outgoing. Similarly, the teachers seem happy and fulfilled in their jobs. They also treat the parents like partners in supporting the students. I have not seen any significant cases of bullying or physical fights. This is likely because discipline is handled effectively, and class sizes are small enough to see and catch problems before they bubble to the surface. They appear to support each other, and are empathetic of those with significant learning and other challenges. The students are mostly boys, which can make for boisterous classrooms, but the three strikes system and focus on positive reinforcement seems to work well.
The class sizes were obviously great - you always had confidence your child was getting all of the help they needed. The homework fights were gone. It improved our family life immeasurably learning new techniques and having support for all the school work during school hours. The kids were mostly all in the same boat so to speak so they were all respectful and understanding of one another. The only downside with a small school population and disproportionately more boys than girls is that if you don't happen to gravitate to the one other girl in your class those bonds don't always form. That said our daughter still keeps in touch with many former classmates and her friend group included kids both younger and older which is not a bad thing.