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La Citadelle International Academy of Arts & Science:
The Our Kids Report
Grades Nursery/Toddler TO Gr. 12 — Toronto, ON (Map)

La Citadelle International Academy of Arts & Science:

Leadership interview with Alfred Abouchar, La Citadelle International Academy of Arts & Science

  • Name
    Alfred Abouchar
  • Title

Alfred Abouchar, the founding Headmaster of La Citadelle, shares his vision for La Citadelle, rooted in the ideals of a rigorous and balanced education, attention to both the arts and the sciences, bilingualism, and the acquisition of a third language. Mr. Abouchar emphasises the importance of community-centred development of character, and instilling values as part of the La Citadelle educational mission. He underscores the importance of partnering with parents in achieving a successful education for children.

Video Contents

Highlights from the interview

  • La Citadelle is a very harmonious and peaceful environment, where we can really focus on the education of children, and make sure that we bring them all to success. Over the years, I have been surrounded by wonderful people, wonderful teachers, very nice parents, and I like the environment in which we are all working. What I find most rewarding is being with the wonderful students at La Citadelle.

  • After holding a variety of educational positions over the years, I decided to open La Citadelle, twenty-three years ago, because I really wanted to put in it all the foundations of healthy and successful pedagogy.

  • I wanted to build a school that is focused on the students and their education, focused on bilingualism in Canada, focused on creating a holistic environment, a third language, and a balanced program with the arts and the sciences, at all grade levels from Kindergarten to Grade 12. Students come to La Citadelle at a very young age. They start basically at two-and-a-half years of age in the daycare. They move to the Junior and Senior Kindergarten, where they acquire the rudiments of French, and then move on to a bilingual program at the elementary level with the introduction of a third language, either mandarin or Spanish. They very rapidly acquire French and English, the sciences and the arts, and move to an intermediary panel, where they begin their IB programme, the MYP, in preparation for secondary school, which leads them to the Grades 11 and 12, AP programs, and to university.

  • Approximately 60% of our teachers have been with us for at least 10 years. They are all committed to the education of the children, and we have had a wonderful 23 years. We're a very young school, and we're coming close to celebrating our 25th anniversary in a couple of years.

  • Since the pandemic, we have had a number of students drawn to our school because of our rigorous program of study, because of our safe environment, and because of the preparation we give the students for university.

  • We also do not have any students that fall between the cracks, because we do have a very intensive academic support program. We have two exams a year, which allow us to gauge the progress and the level of achievement of the students.

  • I have been, over the years, promoting multiculturalism and equal access to education. What I wanted to do, at La Citadelle, is to create such an environment where students from all backgrounds and cultures can feel at home, can thrive and succeed in such an environment.

  • Our alumni are very much attached to the school and continue to come and share in the life that we have at La Citadelle. Our oldest alumni are around 35 years old. They are now all finishing university and beginning their life and their career. We have students every year participating at the science fair as judges. Many of them come to open houses to talk to prospective parents. And they are usually involved in all our extracurricular activities at school and different functions. It's a real pleasure to have the alumni remain connected to the school. 

  • The educational philosophy of La Citadelle is the foundation for creating a harmonious and safe learning environment, and we are very proud to have succeeded in accomplishing it at La Citadelle. Children are constantly growing and evolving. We as educators should continuously teach them right and wrong, and how to minimise conflict in their lives.

  • At La Citadelle, we teach our children to share, to give, to be part of the community. We raise funds, we support a variety of city activities. We do a variety of things during the year, such as feeding the homeless, contributing to charitable organisations, engaging with our senior homes, with SickKids Hospital, with North York General Hospital, and with our local businesses. All in all, we teach the children to give and to be proud of giving to the community.

  • If we work in collaboration with parents, all children can succeed. But it takes a commitment on the part of parents to work in conjunction with the school and the teachers so that we can bring the students to success.

  • At La Citadelle, our parents are an integral part of the fabric of the school. We have a very open line of communication with our parents, involve them in our activities, making teachers accessible to them. In fact, we do have a very active parent support committee, which enhances our student life beyond the classroom, and creates a community centred around the students.

  • I encourage parents to assess the needs of the child, see the prospective schools in operation during the day. It’s important to see how the children are being treated, see how the teachers are teaching, meet the people to whom they will entrust their child, and make certain that at the end of the day, they will be selecting a school where they feel comfortable, that the value system of the school is compatible to the value system of the family.

  • What La Citadelle is all about, fundamentally, is offering children a proper education, with solid instructions that promotes excellence, compassion, achievement, discipline, respect, and harmony. And that’s what parents want from a school.


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