Roundtable Q&A Discussion About J. Addison School (2020)
J. Addison School alumni, current students, and parents shared their insights on the school’s culture, values, strengths, and weaknesses. Hear what Dareen, Marsha, Dina had to say about the school.
Highlights from the Q&A discussion
Dareen — current parent
Dareen’s child is currently enrolled at Ashwood Glen in the Children’s House.
- “I think I was surprised how easy the transition was for George … I was worried that it was going to take a lot of time for him to adjust, especially after coming back from COVID … And he really loved his teachers ... And I was worried that he was going to have a tough time adjusting, but it went really well.”
- “He comes home and tells me how much he loves his new teachers, and he wants to invite them to his birthday next year … [In] Week 3, he asked when he's going back to school. So I thought that was a great indication of how much he was enjoying it.”
- “In terms of the neatness and cleanliness, especially when he was in the Toddler Room and now in CASA, it's so nice to see such a peaceful environment because I remember when we toured other daycares, the toileting was, to me, such a mess … It's such a nice setup and the facility itself is obviously so beautiful and brand new and you can see how neat and clean and tidy it is … I feel it’s so important for them to have a calm mind and a calm mindset.”
- “Even around lunchtime and community and sitting down together, all that stuff, I find such a change in him and his manners. And he was always polite, but it's like an extra step like ‘Thank you for making this food for me, Momma.’ … At his age, I find it's crazy just even noticing the change in him, just in the short time that he's been there … Their mindset, their attitude, their willingness to do what you ask of them—you can tell they're getting the stimulation, they're being challenged, and … they're very proud of their work … .”
- “[My son] says … he loves his teachers. That's something that he always says; how his teachers are so nice … He said that he was crying at school, but that his teacher reassured him and told him that Mommy was going to definitely pick him up at the end of the day. So just like those little small things … going back to that nurturing environment where he's reassured, and he's made to feel safe and comfortable is really important.”
- “The activities and socializing that he's doing with the kids, and some of the new activities he's working on … The feedback I'm getting from him … And the teachers obviously are making a big difference in his day … He [comes] back and [tells] me about the globe, and learning about land and water and things like that … You can just see that he's enjoying the work that he's doing as well.”
- “Open communication with the teachers … I feel like that's such a big thing in their learning is that even just having conversations like George's teacher had called me to give me an update on how he was doing, and telling me just things that she's noticed in his learning.”
- “Another big, important thing about mixing the kids and ages … is that she noticed that he was picking up some of the things that she was teaching to the older kids. And then she told me ... ‘I'm going to work with George because he's shown interest. And I can see that he's ready to learn some of these new things.’ So just that very … tailored approach to each child's level, and challenging them and their level, and getting them outside of their comfort [zone]. That's something I noticed right away … George is a bit younger, but just so nice to hear that reassurance that they're going to push him still … You really do feel like you're almost getting that one-on-one … In terms of a transition, they are definitely going to be challenged in the right way, and nothing's going to go unnoticed with your children.”
- “[How I knew Ashwood was the right decision:] “We all spoke about the same thing in terms of the cleanliness, how neat and tidy, how peaceful the environment is … The other thing we really liked is that it was a new school … I thought that was a big bonus to get in on something from the ground level, to be involved right from the beginning, and be part of the school's growth as the parents … We're kind of growing together. Our children are growing with the school … I just felt like the teachers really are nurturing and really do know each student really well … Because it's a new school, they have so much more to prove. So in a way, it's like everybody's trying even harder to make sure that the parents know that they're there for their children and that the school is doing its best. And it's very clear once you walk in that … they know what they're doing.”
- “[I love] being able to have that open conversation with the teachers … and my child is noticed. Just noticing the difference in him, and the feedback from the teachers in terms of his learning and noticing that he can be pushed outside of what his grade typically would be doing.”
Marsha — current parent
Marsha has two children enrolled at Ashwood Glen, one in the Children’s House and another in Grade 1.
- “It's a very nurturing environment. If I look at Cole, who's 19-months-old, … this is the first time he's really been away from home … . So we were nervous about the transition. He cried for the first week. By week two, he was on his way, mr. independent, walking into his classroom. And we were just amazed with the habits that he brought home with him. So his vocabulary has expanded. The ‘thank you,’ the ‘please.’ The routine of when I come in, I need to take off my jacket. I'm responsible for hanging it up when I get up from a chair, I'm responsible for tucking it in … . These are habits that will live with them forever, so it's nice to see them instilling those values.”
- “We were just looking for a school that would challenge [my daughter who is in Grade 1], motivate her to do her best … She's always been polite. She's always been studious or proud of her work, but she's never been confident to present to her peers or to ask her questions to her teacher. She's never felt comfortable. And within the three weeks here, we can't get her to stop talking about school. And she's very proud to show us her agenda book … But you can see how there are going to be lifelong lessons and values as they create these study habits for the future.”
- “[My son] never gravitated towards puzzles before, but we do have a small table at home with puzzles. And so he set that up now almost as if I think replicating the school environment because we can see from some of the pictures that … they do some independent work with the fine motor skills of puzzles, and just the creative mind. So it looks like he's enjoying now some independent time … . So it's nice to see him get that discipline of sitting and working on something independently.”
- “What Madison really enjoys is the multidisciplinary approach. And what I can see is those roots of the IB Programme. Being an IB grad myself, which is building a well-rounded, holistic type of personality and honing in on the things that you're good at, but also giving you the opportunity to develop the things that you're not so good at … She likes the movement around the school. I think that speaks to the specialized spaces where materials are only in those rooms. It's a new environment. It's re-energizing for them. It's bright spaces, so she's really enjoying that. And she cannot stop talking about Makerspace … That is her favorite time at school … They get a few materials and they're asked to build something out of those materials … [A teacher] had them outside with hula hoops trying to build a walnut, she loved that it was from Grade 1 all the way to Grade 8 … I think that's Madison's favourite part, interacting with different ages, working with different teachers in a different space. So that's what she really loves about the school.”
- “My daughter is in Grade 1 right now. She was in a Montessori private school. But I think their minds at that age are so young, they're sponges. They're ready to learn whatever the teacher is willing to throw at them, with the right encouragement and the nurturing environment. So I personally don't think … your [child] … will feel the [transition to the higher grades]. I think the small class size really helps. The teachers are so energetic. When you drop your children off and you pick them up, the energy level with the teachers is the same. They're curious. They're enthusiastic. They make great progress. We get quick updates on what they did during the day. And I think the class size being as small as it is allows the teacher to tailor a little bit in terms of how they work, not only with the full class, but there's certain activities that they do one-on-one. So the teachers do modify whatever they need to and really spend time not only on things that the student is good at, but also the things that they need a bit of support or help with … And the teacher does that in such a careful and nurturing way that my daughter has no idea that she might be struggling with social studies or something else. It's not a struggle, but she needs some support … So I don't think it's going to be a tough transition … The whole school actually comes together so nicely because the older grades and the younger grades work together that they make friends not only within their class, but in the broader school … .”
- “The moment we walked in through the front doors of Ashwood Glen, the bright, open spaces … we were all remarking about how clean the school is. It's clean throughout the day. And that's not something new or special because of COVID. That's how the school has always been: bright, tidy, [and] clean.”
- “The second moment we knew [Ashwood Glen was the right choice] was when we met the administration … [The administration] took the time to meet with us, … [and they] walked through the curriculum, answered all the questions we had, talked about any unique scenarios for my daughter. And what Ashwood Glen has which we love is the profile. So they share outwardly their mission, their values. You'll hear a lot of other private schools talk about the small student-teacher ratio, but … if they don't have enough materials to go around for the entire class, then that becomes a bit of a challenge. Or they start the year with smaller student-teacher ratios, [but] … as the year progresses, they accept more registrations … So to me, it's those core values that Ashwood Glen not only puts down on the piece of paper, on their website, they live it. The teachers do. The administration does. The parent community does … As much as [the parents] see each other in the parking lot or at drop-off or pick-up, everybody is just so nurturing … So it's really just a proud privilege to be part of this school.”
- “[My daughter] ... just didn't know [that she could do it.] That’s what the teachers have given her in Week 3, that encouragement, challenging her on a personal level to always do her best. So that speaks to the ‘Empower and Excel’ in the mantra of Ashwood Glen.”
- “The other thing I like is that [my daughter] feels like she is accountable for her learning … She writes in her agenda book. She feels proud about writing what she needs to get done. And I don't have to ask her anymore: ‘What's your homework?’ She knows. She comes home, she has her routine, she does her homework … So really, for me as a parent, that's a huge weight lifted off of my shoulder. I'm not chasing her around for homework. She's doing it herself … My 18-month-old is exactly the same. He is accountable for his learning. He knows he needs to hang up his jacket, tuck in his chair, tidy up crumbs that have fallen when he's had a meal. These are small skills, but for an 18-month-old, it's fantastic to see in three weeks that he has learned all of that. And again, those are life skills … .”
- “He cried the first week [he was too sick to go to school]. He cried [because he wanted] to go to school. The second week when he had a runny nose, he cried that he couldn't go to school, and he was dropping off his sister. So that's the testament of the school and how amazing it is.”
Dina — current parent
Dina is a parent who has a daughter, Yara, currently in Grade 7 at Ashwood Glen.
- “[This] is [my daughter’s] first year in private school. She was a little bit concerned and worried about leaving her friends, and had … to live a new life here. But I think she's been more adapted to the new school. The most important thing that she's realizing here is the teachers and how they deal with their students. They are very careful with them. They are even dealing with them as their children … She's not worried to talk to her teacher or she's not afraid … to have any questions. At first, she was concerned about asking questions, or even if she had any homework [incomplete], she [would feel bad]. But now, she even asks her teacher, she can communicate with her through email. She answers her immediately, which is very, very good … Yesterday, she had a little problem with social studies, and she emailed her teacher, and she answered that immediately. She was really nervous and concerned that she's not finishing her homework … but when [the teacher] answered her and then told her to calm down and everything will be solved, she was just relieved like a whole mountain had been released out of her chest … I think this communication between the students and teachers is really important because … I feel that she is more confident now ... To make a connection between the teacher and the student to make [the student] feel like [they’re] an adult person, and [students] can count on [themselves]. And [the student] can be independent to do her work, not to be worried about anything. This really makes me feel proud of her, and she will be proud of herself as well.”
- “[My daughter] was in public school. I was concerned that she [came] back without any homework. I'm not saying that she has a lot of homework now, but she's more focused on her work … She's [always] reviewing what she's taking in school. And now that … [consolidates] all the information ... in her mind. She's not struggling with homework [anymore] … She's focusing more on everything … She even had a math test yesterday, and she had the whole weekend, but she took only half a day to review … She didn't need to work hard because everything was in her mind … And I really appreciate what [the teacher] is doing with the students. [It doesn’t take] much time for [my daughter] to focus, even if she has an exam. That means that she is taking in the material in the right way at the right time.”
- “It’s a huge transformation for Yara, and I'm really proud of her now. Really … [Her father] has said that Yara has been changed since she joined the school … And we were really happy that we [made] this decision because we were a little bit concerned … Now, we are definitely sure that this was the [best] decision we made for Yara, for her future, of course. So I definitely recommend it.”
- “[What Lina loves about Ashwood Glen as a parent:] My daughter has a little bit of confidence in herself, and … on the first day … she felt like she was not welcomed. She's not social … Many children may have this feeling. But when she got into this program with the school, I felt a huge difference. My daughter has changed 360 degrees. She's more confident, she's more social. She feels proud of herself all the time. And that is a big [transformation] for me and for her. I see her changing. I see her … blossoming. She's responsible because she's dealing with [younger kids,] so she takes care of them. And this is really a big challenge for her … [Our children] are gifted, but they don't know that. This school makes them feel that they are gifted. That's all I can say.”