Roundtable Q&A Discussion About Kells Academy (2021)
Kells Academy alumni, current students, and parents shared their insights on the school’s culture, values, strengths, and weaknesses. Hear what Natasha, Erin, Jessica had to say about the school.
- 3:01 - What did you appreciate most about Kingsley during your time there? And how is your perspective on that change now that you have some distance from the school?
- 8:49 - If the school were to be represented as a single person, what would its personality be like in only three words and why?
- 13:28 - What would families find most surprising about the school?
- Show Full Video Contents
Highlights from the Q&A discussion
Natasha — current parent
Natasha has one daughter that went to Kingsley Primary School until Grade 6. Though her daughter is no longer a student there, Natasha is still an active member of the Kingsley Primary School community through her volunteer work and board member. She appreciates the school’s student-centred approach to teaching and working with children, which significantly improved her daughter’s confidence and critical thinking skills.
- “There are many things that I appreciated about [Kingsley Primary School] while we were there, but one of the core pieces that stands out is [Kingsley Primary School’s] student-centred approach to learning and working with children. … So to me, that stood out tremendously with Kingsley [Primary School].”
- “A student-centred approach, to me, looks like a few things. One of them is the one-on-one discussions with educators. The faculty at Kingsley [Primary School] is very accessible, very open and very inviting. So you don’t have to wait long periods or need to chase down any educator. They're very available, which was helpful, especially when my daughter just started school, and it was a completely new experience for her. For me as well as a parent to have that was priceless.”
- “Kingsley [Primary School] not only caters towards the child's mind, which is important, but they cater to the whole person, the development of the mind, body and spirit of the child. Nothing's left out. I think that that is hard to find these days and is very critical for the development of children.”
- “[Kingsley Primary School] creates learning goals that are challenging but are doable. So there's this feeling of success that comes at the end of [those goals] that will build confidence and does build lasting confidence in children.”
- “Because of the foundation that Kingsley [Primary School] builds with the children and the parents, there’s a sense of community, and the children just want to be kind to one another. When you're kind to one another, it really makes for a positive learning environment. … When you have an environment like Kingsley [Primary School] that's very supportive and kind and compassionate, then you'll find and you'll see, as I saw, our children thrive, and they do very well.”
- “I feel like Kingsley [Primary School] faculty welcomes not just the idea of challenging students to grow, but challenging themselves as well to grow and embrace new ideas.”
- “[The Kingsley Primary School] faculty welcome the questions, and welcome the curiosities [of students]. It fosters critical thinking, and that critical thinking is carried over. … She's able to think about things from different perspectives and has the confidence to do that. So [words that describe Kingsley Primary School would be] critical thinker, compassionate, and empathetic, because I think the whole community is very empathetic.”
- “There's a very personal relationship that happens between staff and students and staff and families at [Kingsley Primary School]. I think that compassion helps children to build that confidence, and not only that, it helps children to be able to mirror what compassion and empathy look like.”
- “When you go to the [Kingsley Primary School] website, the first thing you see is, ‘children are seen, heard, and respected.’ You see that, and it's not just something they say to try to reel you in. It's something that you're going to experience, and your children are going to experience. That to me that speaks to [Kingsley Primary School’s] integrity.”
- “The warmth, the compassion, the empathy, the holistic approach, all of these things [at Kingsley Primary School], give [students] permission to be able to enter into that space with an open mind, and open heart, and allow themselves to be challenged to grow, to ask questions in a safe and nurturing environment, and last but not least have fun.”
- “There are too many to name, but some [experiences] that stand out [at Kingsley Primary School] would be the trips to go and hear an Orchestra play. We got to partner and have the children's art exhibit at the University of Toronto, and it would stay there for a month, and people could come and leave comments for the children as emerging artists. We had this Indigenous Knowledge Keeper come in and work with the children around some Indigenous teachings. Something else that stands out to me is when my daughter was there, there was a time where parents would come in, and speak to the class about their work and their professions, or their jobs. That was really interesting because children got so excited to see their family members come in, and other children got to learn so much from the storytelling and sharing.”
- “Between [Kingsley Primary School] partnering with different community stakeholders, and interaction with folks in the broader community, it really opens up children's worlds, and minds to embracing engaging with, and celebrating difference, and learning through that difference. I think that's been really amazing and something I haven't seen anywhere else.”
- “[My daughter’s] whole person has benefited from [Kingsley Primary School]. I feel like Kingsley [Primary School] has given her the tools to ensure that she continues to be successful, even though she is now in a public school with many more children. It’s a very big public school. She went into it, and it was a huge change, but she had the core foundation that I think will stay with her forever. That was a gift, because [Kingsley Primary School] nourished her spirit and her mind.”
- “When [my daughter] went into public school, she was bored, because she was way ahead of everybody. The level of education is really high at Kingsley [Primary School], and so she thrived, and she continues to thrive.”
- “Even though my daughter has left [Kingsley Primary School], I have stayed, because I believe so strongly in Kingsley [Primary School]. I'm so thankful for the life-lasting gifts, that I continue to partake in volunteerism today. I want to continue giving back and expanding, and building this amazing school, to help ensure that other generations coming up can experience those benefits that my daughter carries with her currently.”
- “[For parents] thinking about coming to Kingsley [Primary School], I want you to know that at Kingsley [Primary School], you are not just a number. You're not just a body. … Children are seen, heard, and respected, and so are parents and families. Along the way, it's not always perfect. As fabulous as everything is, there are bumps in the road, and when bumps happen, the principal and the faculty hold space for you to share your thoughts, your feelings, your concerns, and to collaboratively problem-solve, so you don't feel left out. You feel very included in the solution-finding process.”
Erin — current parent
Erin has one son that currently attends Kingsley Primary School as a kindergarten student. Since enrolling him, she has seen an improvement in his social skills and emotional intelligence as well as an improvement in his learning. She feels that the school values understanding each child’s individual needs and learning styles, which leads to a safe and comfortable environment for students to grow.
- “[Enrolling my son at Kingsley Primary School] is one decision that I just feel so good about. I have never looked back. If anything, I'm so, so thankful that we made this leap, because the change in my son is just incredible. I feel like we got him back. He's back to his happy, energetic self. He loves going to school. He's formed meaningful friendships, and we couldn't be happier”
- “In terms of what I expected, Kingsley [Primary School] brands themselves as a school with a great, big heart. That is absolutely true, from the moment that you put your foot in the school, even just for a tour, you feel that caring and compassion came out earlier, and it's not just about getting to know the students. They get to know your whole family. Instantly everybody knew my son. They knew my daughter. They knew both my husband and me. You could just see that they really walked the talk, and it made all the difference. It's at the groundwork for learning, because if you don't have that feeling of safety and that feeling of comfort and care, then the learning can't take place.”
- “I think what wasn't expected was how far beyond the curriculum Kingsley [Primary School] was able to go. The junior and senior full-day kindergarten is pretty much the same curriculum in public schools. Then we saw how Kingsley [Primary School] delivered it, and it was night and day, the extent that they could go with the various themes, with the enrichment activities, with how hands-on some of the learning could be. ... My son learned exponentially more in one year at Kingsley [Primary School], even with a good percentage of the year being online with COVID, than he did the previous year.”
- “I would say for sure [the biggest impact Kingsley Primary School has had on my son] is on his confidence. I've seen his confidence come back, and his joy come back. He is a happy kid again. … I feel like I got my son back. I think back to when we were finishing JK, and he was sad and withdrawn, and he just was not himself, and if you know my son, he really just exudes life.”
- “The main difference of [Kingsley Primary School] that I see is that focus on the whole person and understanding each individual child, their strengths, where they have opportunities to grow, and how they can continue to build. I really see now that [my son] is able to grow as a whole person, and not just academically.”
- “I think my son would tell you that [Kingsley Primary School is] a great school. He's so proud to go to [Kingsley Primary School]. When you hear him talk about his school, he just smiles, and he's always singing the Kingsley [Primary School] song. … Next year, his little sister is going, and he is also so excited about that. He's always bragging ‘my sister is going to be here.’ They both wanted to go to the camp; Kingsley [Primary School] runs a camp through the month of July, so they both really wanted to go together, but she has to get a little bit older.”
- “Every week at [Kingsley Primary School], I’m like, ‘this is so cool … .’ It’s everything. It’s so hands-on. [One week] they were sanding little circles of wood to make a kindness mobile. Then the next week, they're painting a giant mural of a dinosaur. ... I saw the best printing I've ever seen my son do for that little dinosaur mural. Then they're making applesauce, and they're peeling the apples. They're doing all the different movements. They're doing measuring and estimating with pumpkins.”
- “There is so much at [Kingsley Primary School] to really enrich and make the learning engaging. ... I think [Kingsley Primary School] needs to have organization to be able to pull off that much. … It comes down to the weekly communications from the principal, and then the teachers are also in regular communication. If there's any little thing that crops up, the teacher is accessible.”
- “One of the key values of [Kingsley Primary School] is inclusivity and just really valuing everyone for their differences. Even during COVID, when we're just kind of going in and out, you still felt really welcome and connected to the other parents that are there and the other families. I think one of our hesitations was that we wanted to have diversity, and we didn't want there to be a feeling of elitism or entitlement. That was something that was really important to us. I remember when we did the first tour of Kingsley [Primary School], we both walked away and knowing that it is such a grounded school. There's none of that stuffiness, and it doesn't feel competitive at all. It's such a nice, comfortable environment.”
- “[Kingsley Primary School] is so fun, and it isn’t just the kids. You see the staff, and you see the parents, everybody just knows how to let go and have a good time. I'd say that part of their core values is just being sincere and genuine and knowing how to have fun.”
Jessica — current parent
Jessica has one son that currently attends Kingsley Primary School. Since his enrolment, she has seen improvements in his confidence, happiness, and willingness to learn. She attributes these changes to the individualized approach to teaching and the emphasis on communication and inclusiveness at Kingsley Primary School.
- “[My son] was so excited that everybody got along right away [at Kingsley Primary School], and I just watched him flourish. This year, I watched him do so well in subjects that he was already doing well in. … And he did really well with his reading. Enough so that I felt that I had to check in with the teacher and say, ‘this is real, right?’”
- “There's not going to be high school support needed [for my son] because he is catching up at [Kingsley Primary School]. He's able to learn the way he learns and get the support and one-on-one time, which was great. I had constant conversations with the teachers [at Kingsley Primary School] about things that we could do together between home and school to keep helping and reinforcing.”
- “I've seen a huge change in [my son since he has been enrolled at Kingsley Primary School]. Confidence-wise, definitely. As far as independence and responsibility goes, I feel a lot better now with him going into Grade 5, knowing and feeling that he's prepared for his future education. … I wish Kingsley [Primary School] went to Grade 12.”
- “[Kingsley Primary School] exceeded my expectations. ... I was really happy to see how inclusive [Kingsley Primary School] is and how open and communicative the team and the school are about everything. [Kingsley Primary School] has changed my son and our family.”
- “[My son] loves [Kingsley Primary School]. He's very happy.”
- “[The first word I would use to describe Kingsley Primary School]\ would be enthusiastic. … Everything is really encouraged, and everyone's enthusiastic in a good way so that it really feeds people and the kids to want to do more and support each other. I think it breeds more enthusiasm, especially when [students] are younger.”
- “I think everyone's enthusiastically fun, and happy, and supportive at [Kingsley Primary School]. [Another word to describe Kingsley Primary School] would be inclusive. ... That to me is something really important, because I think that it just continues to shape our kids [into knowing] that different is good. I remember growing up. My dad said, ‘how boring would the world be if everybody was like you, you want to go meet people that are not like you, and learn different things.”
- “Kingsley [Primary School is] not about trying to conform every [student] to the same way. It's trying to let everybody have their own voice, and their own way of doing things, and showing that that's okay, so that they can build confidence, without trying to figure out how the next person is doing it. [Another word that describes Kingsley Primary School is] compassionate. I guess that goes with caring and empathy in those other areas, too.”
- “I feel that each student is treated uniquely, and looked at uniquely at [Kingsley Primary School], and then there's an operational plan in place to help that child bring out the best of them in every step, from social activities to education. You can really feel how much the teachers and the staff care about the kids at school. The kids can feel it, the parents can feel it, and you can even feel it from other parents. … All of the parents are connected, because they all want the same thing for their kids.”
- “I think inclusivity is key at [Kingsley Primary School], but independence, creating independence and developing independence is also important. I think once you've got those values in school, the parents, a lot of times, will naturally start to take those on as well and reinforce them. Respect is a [value] that I've seen in the school, [and it’s] just little things, even just my son being a 9-year-old boy coming and telling me that he had to write a letter explaining that he handled something he could have handled better and he had to sign it, and just wanted to show me.”
- “I love [Kingsley Primary School]. [They value] accountability and respect, and those values are so important. I think fairness is another value that I have really seen, which goes with inclusivity. I've seen firsthand, watching my son come back and share about the idea of fairness, and what's right, and giving people a chance, even though he has some challenges.”
- “[My son’s] teacher [at Kingsley Primary School] would stop the class, take time, and let my son read what he needed to read at his own pace, and really sort of set that foundation.”
- “[Kingsley Primary School is] really open to hearing what the parents have to say and the different opinions and ideas from people."