REVIEW OF March Academy BY parent, Holly Hutchings
- Date of Review
March 09, 2023
- Child 1
Gr. 2 - Gr. 3 (Male, Current Day Student)
- Child 2
Gr. 2 - Gr. 3 (Female, Current Day Student)
(5) Student Experience
Our twins love March Academy, particularly the amazing group of talented teachers, and the wide range of activities built into the week (from x-country skiing to yoga to piano and more). The family-inspired atmosphere builds relationships across the ages. We, parents, love hearing from our kids about their new-found love of learning - enabled by the small class sizes, and dedicated, caring, and inspiring teachers. After nearly 2 years at the school, our kids have no negative feedback. Additionally, the administration is always seeking to introduce new skills and experiences for the students - for example, in our first year, the kids learned fencing (so unique!). The school year has fun little field trips built in - from chickadee trail hikes, to spirit horse ranch adventures, etc.
(5) School Leadership
At March Academy, there is a true “team approach” to leadership and administration, and teaching overall. We also appreciate the simple yet effective way that the Academy provides email updates and communication (nearly weekly) to parents. We have yet to experience any situation requiring disciplinary measures, but they do have a school manual with an ethics code that parents can read and access at any time. One very small example I can think of is when a new student joined the group Grade 1-3 class. He seemed to have a rough time fitting in and acted out, so one day when the boy was busy learning with another teacher, the Grade 1-3 teacher had a chat with the students about some ways to help the child feel more welcomed, giving them a chance to integrate and lead with kindness, etc. It worked like a charm, and now all the kids have gelled and have a nice and respectful relationship.
From our experience, the teachers at March Academy are second to none! Again due to the small class and school size, the teachers are generally leading certain age groups (eg Gr 1-3; Gr 4-6; Gr 7-8), but they also recognize the benefit of being exposed to a variety of teachers/styles through the year. So it seems like more of a flow. And it is evident from our twins’ experiences that the teachers love what they do - from a great curriculum to tailoring the approaches to student needs, to bringing in experts (such as nature studies, or parents with unique jobs or skills etc.), to mingling the grades and beyond. Also, there are amazing specialty teachers who bring in cool activities each week - like piano/music, yoga, tae kwon do, French, and more. One of our favourite aspects of their approach to student feedback is their detailed “report cards” (which are nothing like the public school system’s) and reviews with parents. To our pleasant surprise, the second round of report cards in the year is more of a self-assessment done by the child! The teacher also assesses the progress so you can compare the two, and the icing on the cake is being invited to the school. Your child walks through their OWN presentation (with info about their goals and accomplishments, with photos and videos embedded), and they feel SO proud at the end, and ask if parents have any questions. It’s awesome.
After experiencing Gr 2-3 with March Academy, and thinking back to our own elementary school experiences from decades ago, there is simply no comparison in terms of the quality approach to academics and generating a love of learning. And we sincerely appreciate that there is a certain focus on the core curriculum, but it’s complemented by a “follow the child” approach as well. And in these young years/grades, it is refreshing that there isn’t a heavy emphasis on “homework”, but children do learn to be organized, etc. (so one day they will have the ability to easily prioritize time to get homework done). To us and our kids, this is not a weakness (we love the small school size and family vibe), but some children may prefer larger schools/bigger social groups.
Extracurriculars are a highlight at March Academy. Our kids absolutely love the great range of activities, skills, and sports available. And we as parents love that our evenings/weekends are then freed up because the kids already do so many activities at school that we don’t really need to do more. From chess, to tae kwon do, to x-country skiing, to yoga, to dance class, and more - the kids are exposed to such a well-rounded set of activities! One aspect we would have liked available is competing with other schools.
March Academy is a family, and it appears that students of all ages and teachers really love it that way. For example, everyone joins together to kick off the week talking about their weekends and anything interesting in the news, etc. Everyone chimes in and shows interest (according to our twins/Gr 3). And during DEAR (drop everything and read) and other times in the week, the grades interact and help one another. Group projects like building mini bridges or using basic machines to turn off a light switch are done in groups across the grades. So it is clear that the students get along and work together. Due to the small school size, there is no “student council”, but there is no apparent need either.
(5) School Life
As described in various other responses, school life at March Academy is like a family - a community where everyone contributes and is provided a broad depth of mental, physical, and emotional experiences. Our twins love attending this school - and they particularly enjoy the great teachers, the specialty activities they get to try out, and the overall spirit of having fun learning and working together. It would be nice if the school could interact and/or compete with other schools. However, our kids do not seem to realize this or express that they are missing out (they’ve never known competition). School life at March Academy also includes exposure to coding and tech, and each student uses their own iPad (provided at and by the school).
March Academy is small and friendly, and the parent community is also small and friendly. There are opportunities for parent involvement (such as various school concerts throughout the year, Remembrance Day ceremony, etc.), and what we very much appreciate is that it’s a more relaxed situation. Your level of involvement is self-driven, not forced. I have less info to be able to share about this section because our time was during Covid when people generally kept to themselves. However, now we are very much enjoying the “right after school” times when students and parents may stay longer on the school property (so kids can have fun and parents can chat if they like). And the school property is so lovely - with a large field/yard, a clean creek full of amazing wildlife, a giant snow hill in winter, and more.
(5) School Location
The location is great! It’s got its own dedicated space with beautiful features (like a clean creek to explore), yet it is so close to fun local parks (for skating, playgrounds etc.) and near a public school with a large toboggan hill that can be used. Field trips are all nearby and fun for the kids, and easy for the parents to pick up from.