Ottawa, ON | Grades 1 - 12 | Shortlist
My daughter transferred mid-year. She likes the small classroom setting and the teaching staff. She likes that the school starts later than her previous school. She has made friends. She loves that she can leave the school grounds to grab a bite at one of the nearby cafes. She is now taking a summer class. It is a very small group and she is thriving. She likes that the teachers are approachable and are really invested in her success. She likes that the school offers a lot of 'outside of the box' and hands- on learning opportunities. For example, for this summer course in English, students walked to Preston street, each student stood on the street each facing a different direction so they could describe the scene from each their own perspective. She really enjoyed that.
School admin are very responsive. They provide excellent up to date information of school activities and events by email. I also use their app. They really seem to understand that each child is unique, with unique needs. They are caring and fair. If I can compare it to a boutique hotel- smaller and definitely more able to give the personalized attention each child's needs. They are respectful to the students' needs. They treat students like the young adults they are on their way of becoming..
As a parent, I really like the level of academic follow up with her and me to keep her on track of her assignments and tests since she has ADHD. Class notes, practice tests, morning lunch or after school extra time are all offered. This is what was lacking with her other larger school. I am thoroughly impressed with the teaching staffs' dedication and care. In fact, I can honestly say that teachers go above and beyond. My daughter also has health issues that requires a lot of catching up. The teachers were understanding and patient. They extended deadlines and offered continued support. You can tell the teaching staff were hired not only for their discipline expertise but also for their caring and dedication to their students. This is Heritage Academy's strength.
The smaller size classrooms leads to better exchange of information, explanation of concepts and engagement with the teacher and peers. My daughter is doing so much better than she had been at her previous school. It is such a relief. My daughter is completing Academic level courses with more ease than she did doing Applied in her previous school. Teachers make the learning interactive and interesting. I believe students and parents can choose applied-level courses, but in my daughter's case. The advanced curriculum is easier to understand when there is a constant checking in that the information is well received and understood. Admin will customize a schedule that meets the need of the student as best they can. During her summer school, she is excelling at Academic English and is completing work in advance. She chalks this up to the subject and the teacher's ability to capture the students interest.
My daughter is enrolled in martial arts which is not something she would have ever considered in the past so it is making her a much more rounder person. They offer many socially conscious programs such as Me to We that are for me very important in addition to academics. School trips and events are also of interest to her. For a smaller school, the amount of extra-curriculars are appropriate.
My daughter loves that she can go out for lunch or a cafe. She feels more independent. It is a very safe neighbourhood. It is walking distance to train and buses. Location for us was a bit our of the way from our work which depends obviously on the individual. To mitigate this barrier, we have arranged carpooling. The school provides a list for parents interested in carpooling. As the school has children that come in from all parts of the city and beyond, carpooling is an excellent idea.
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).
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.
My daughter likes the more intimate setting. She has social anxiety and ADHD and the school setting has helped her tremendously. Admin and teaching staff keep parents up to date so there are no surprises. Communication is easy and fluid. There is a feeling of community. I am very pleased that they have a 'uniform' and by uniform, I mean students have to wear either a t-shirt or hoodie with school name on it. So there is this sense of belonging all while keeping the student sense of self and preference. Plus as a parent it is so much easier sending your child to school with a uniform. The school is a bit older but once you get passed that, you see what's important. There is no question in my mind, caliber of teaching staff far outweighs anything else. And again, the care that the admin staff take to accommodate and meet your child's needs is impressive. Students feel heard and respected.
The responsiveness from the admin is excellent. When we found that my daughter was doing poorly in her previous school, we were given a tour. We took the opportunity to do a one day trial. It was a good fit. The admissions process was seamless. All information is sent and is very clear. After I signed consent, they connected with her previous school to obtain her Ontario Student Record. Everything is laid out pretty clearly from everything to the Enrollment form to the payment schedule. My older son who remained at his school during high school, did 2 summers of summer school in advanced mathematics courses. I say this because it is important to know that your child can attend summer school (very small class size of 4-6 students) all the while attending another school during the school year. It raised his marks. Admissions for summer school are even easier. All forms are on their website.