REVIEW OF Kanata Montessori BY parent, Marie Bordeleau
- Date of Review
August 17, 2021
Gr. 9 - Gr. 11
(5) Student Experience
We moved Emilie to The Ridge at Kanata Montessori in the middle of grade 9 after a disastrous attempt at a local public HS. She was instantly welcomed with open arms by educators and students alike, and by the end of her second day, she told us she felt that she had come home. The following September the leadership camp at the start of grade 10 cemented her relationship with her new friends and she excelled in class. When the pandemic began, the school simply didn't miss a beat and continued to teach the curriculum on a daily basis via a number of online tools. Grade 11 has been on-again, off-again at the physical school, but she ends this month with high marks, having achieved every bit of the curriculum that she would have completed in class. The educators have been fantastic at helping the kids cope with the stress of the pandemic while keeping them current in their studies. No other school can prepare our daughter for university like The Ridge at KM! She loves it there and can't wait to go back in September for grade 12. As parents, we are grateful for the educators' dedication to ensuring all the students' well-being, and their hard work to ensure they have a bright future.
(5) School Leadership
Principal Michelle Skene and her awesome team of educators at The Ridge at Kanata Montessori do a fantastic job of keeping parents informed about life at school, especially since the pandemic began. The educators are available to talk to parents as needed and always make time for the students who need help or support. The few disciplinary issues we have been aware of were handled perfectly and fairly, and concerns we raised about one delicate issue, in particular, were attended to discreetly and properly.
It's not an easy task to motivate teenagers, but the educators at The Ridge at Kanata Montessori are incredibly inventive about how they teach their curriculum, especially through a variety of online tools since the pandemic began, and are very successful at getting the kids to participate. They are passionate and well-researched, and are excellent at challenging our daughter to reach for more, try harder, do better. They are our partners in raising her into an upstanding citizen who will be a leader in any field she chooses to apply her abilities to. They are doing a wonderful job of preparing her not only for university but for life in general. They are always there for her, and we know that she confides in them when the going gets tough, which is a very good thing.
The educators at The Ridge at Kanata Montessori offer a well-rounded curriculum that goes far beyond the provincial standards. While the high school at KM is not a formal Montessori school it is very Montessori-like in approach and philosophy. The educators encourage the students to think for themselves and develop their critical thinking in all aspects of their lives. Besides the mandatory courses there is a wide variety of electives to choose from, and of course, being such a small school not all courses will necessarily be available every single year, but by the time they're done with Grade 12, the kids will have had an opportunity to explore a great array of topics and fields, which allows them to make a more informed decision about university and their careers.
The school's small size means that there are fewer such activities available than at large campuses, but when classes were in session at the physical school, there was a growing spectrum of extracurricular activities. Some were implemented by the educators but often the kids themselves developed and promoted their own projects, and they often had an altruistic component to them. The Ridge does far more than just focus on academics, it addresses the whole child.
The Ridge at Kanata Montessori is a small high school; as such the students get to know each other very well very quickly. They are a closely-knit group within their year, and also across the grades. Students are comfortable with each other. When Emilie joined the school midyear, she was immediately invited to join in the extracurricular activities and games that were already underway. Some of the kids went out of their way to make her feel welcome, instinctively understanding how awkward it was to change school in the middle of grade 9. The students are used to collaborating with each other, and if they disagree, they are trained to debate their points of view with rigor, but to and argue them out with respect and collegiality. A lot of adults could learn from the way these teenagers interact.
(5) School Life
After languishing in a public school for the first half of grade 9, Emilie was delighted to find an intellectually interesting and challenging environment at The Ridge at Kanata Montessori. Where we used to push her out the door to go to school, she was now bounding out of the car to run inside and connect with like-minded kids and wonderful educators. Her favourite thing about The Ridge is that the student body is a big family, and she can always find a group of friends to hang out with. The educators are open and welcoming, and she can hang out with them too in the common room. She says she never feels alone at school. As parents, we couldn't wish for a better environment for our child.
At Emilie's grade school (toddler to grade 8), which was a Montessori school, parental involvement was not only welcome, it was sought. We didn't experience those years at Kanata Montessori, so we can't really comment on the parent community at school for the lower grades. Certainly in high school, there would be far less parental involvement in any case, as we are aiming to train the kids to speak up for themselves and advocate for themselves as much as possible - no teenager needs or wants a helicopter parent buzzing over their head, and it would be counterproductive to invest that much money in the Montessori philosophy only to act to the contrary of it. One imagines that, all things being equal, there would have been a number of opportunities to network and get to know other parents throughout the high school years, but then COVID-19 intervened and we all went home and stayed there. We will see what grade 12 brings!
(5) School Location
The school is 12 minutes away from our home by car, in a suburban environment that includes a very large park down the street as well as restaurants/retail a few blocks away. High school students are encouraged to step outside at lunch time when classes are in session at the school and explore the neighbourhood, as long parents have signed a form to that effect at the beginning of the school year.
The admissions process was conducted by the principal, who responded with great empathy and support when we reached out to her and asked to move Emilie to The Ridge at Kanata Montessori in the middle of the school year. We were grateful that she was willing to entertain the notion, as we all knew such a move was fraught. We filled out the necessary forms, obtained final marks for courses that were already completed and/or outlines of what was still underway and the school helped Emilie figure out what she needed to do to complete all her grade 9 credits. The school even signed up for the Ottawa Science Fair just so Emilie, who had been working on Phase III of her project, could participate in the fair 5 weeks after joining The Ridge, and the science teacher helped her finish her work in preparation for the Fair. It was a wonderful experience and a great relief to see how much the principal and the educators were willing to do everything in their power to have Emilie succeed as completely and fully as if she had started grade 9 with them.