Kanata Montessori is located next to the Trans Canada Trail on a large parcel of land with its own greenspace. The school is also situated near a community sports field and park where students often walk to participate in group activities. Both public transit routes and on-site parking are available. There’s also a large plaza nearby that students can visit over lunch hour.
Given the size of the school, the number and variety of extracurricular activities is surprising. Students can choose to participate in sports and compete at local events. There are also recreational sports clubs for activities such as downhill skiing. Outside of sports, there are plenty of other opportunities. Our daughter enjoyed the improv club where members could join for fun or opt to compete against other schools.
The principal is an exceptional leader. She provides clear and consistent messaging to both students and parents. Although always available to parents, she promotes the need for students to self-advocate in preparation for post-secondary studies and life. Her positive energy is contagious, and she’s always up to a challenge. When the pandemic started, she worked with the educators to ensure that students didn’t miss a beat. She’s always present in the school to encourage learning, creative thinking, responsibility and a strong sense of community.
Our daughter didn’t apply to university, but she was well supported when reviewing post-secondary options. The principal is extremely knowledgeable and provided excellent guidance. With such a personal connection to each student, she was able to help our daughter consider suitable programs. The educators were also supportive and interested in helping our daughter to review her choices. The focus tends to be on university because that’s the planned path for most Kanata Montessori graduates. The students are encouraged to work hard from the beginning so that they can achieve their goals. During curriculum nights, students are reminded that many programs are very competitive and that they must choose their courses wisely. The principal is very familiar with the various post-secondary institutions, their programs, and the admission requirements.
When we selected Kanata Montessori, the high school hadn’t opened yet. We met with the elementary principal to discuss the plans and determine whether the school would be a good fit for our daughter. His commitment and passion were evident from the first meeting. He took the time to get to know our daughter, to share the vision for the new school and to address all of our concerns. We never felt rushed or pressured, and he continued to be available to answer questions. Leading up to the opening, we were invited to social events and information sessions with other students and their families. Although the admissions process would be quite different today, the high school principal shares his passion for education and community.
The environment at Kanata Montessori is very friendly and casual. Students don’t wear uniforms, and the school setup is comfortable. There are fun seating areas, a kitchen that’s available to students, a ping pong table and even a few pets. The students enjoy regular Jeopardy matches and theme days, and they can count on their educators to participate too. Our daughter graduated during the pandemic. She was disappointed to miss out on the traditional events, but the school’s response was heartwarming. Every student was surprised by a drive-by parade of cars occupied by every single staff member from the school. They brought balloons, a yard sign and a graduation gown. The administration also found other creative ways to help students celebrate the milestone, and none of it was out of character. Kanata Montessori is a second home full of warmth and caring.
The educators at Kanata Montessori are dedicated to their students. When our daughter struggled to understand new material, her teachers found alternate ways to present the information often drawing on her areas of interest to help her make the connections. Without hesitation, they would take time outside of class to follow up with her and ensure that she was on track. Each educator has a passion for their area of expertise, and they inspire the students to share that interest. Even outside of class, it’s not uncommon to see teachers and students debating theories or discussing literature. The contribution isn’t limited to academics. If a student wants to start a team or club, there’s always a staff member ready to volunteer their time. They take a genuine interest in their students.
The academic program at Kanata Montessori has a strong foundational core intended to prepare students for post-secondary studies. There are also many hands-on options including impressive music and physical education classes. For our daughter, the school’s unique outdoor education program provided incredible opportunities. She learned about the natural environment, conservation and outdoor survival. She also participated in multi-day excursions where she experienced activities such as hiking in the Adirondacks, kayaking in Georgian Bay and building a lean-to as a winter camp shelter. She discovered an interest in nature photography and created websites where she could share her work. She also developed leadership skills by acting as a helper in the elementary Forest School program where she could share her knowledge and experience with younger students.
We joined the Kanata Montessori community when our daughter started high school. Everyone was welcoming, and we felt like an integral part of the school from the very beginning. The administration hosted a spaghetti dinner so that families could connect, and we were all invited to a tour of the new high school building ahead of its opening. Parents are encouraged to attend curriculum nights and participate in special events so there are always opportunities to learn about school happenings and to get to know the other families. The students often initiate fundraising events where parents can assist and watch the senior students thrive in their leadership roles. The administration also solicits feedback from both parents and students to help improve programming and school life.
Kanata Montessori is a small high school (with about 100 students when our daughter attended). The number is large enough to support group activities and events while still feeling like a tight-knit community. Class sizes are small allowing for increased participation and individualized attention. The students are encouraged to be respectful and kind, and the senior students are expected to serve as role models. In our experience, they rise to the challenge. Our daughter would frequently tell us about older students watching out for her and helping her. I recall one instance when she fell on her way home after school, and a senior student risked missing his own bus to help her get to the stop. The sense of community and caring really sets this school apart from the others.
We couldn't have asked for a better school for our daughter. She was guided to make good choices, encouraged to build on her own strengths and motivated by educators who went out of their way to support her. As a student who struggled academically, she benefited from unique opportunities that wouldn't have been available elsewhere. More than that, she became part of a caring community. Every Fall, she and the other students received a “red carpet” welcome from cheering staff members. They would start each year with an away trip to help build solid bonds between students and staff. Regular theme days helped keep school fun, and she was thrilled to be selected as caretaker to the school’s first pet (Charlie the Hamster). When high school came to a close, she and the other graduates were celebrated in creative pandemic-friendly ways.