Our son loves the variety of the activities at March: each student has an individual piano lesson each week and sings in a choir; they also have yoga, taekwando, cross country skiing in the winter, nature studies, art, French, time for reading and social time before school for games. The school has outings, put on a musical last Christmas, has a recital and other social activities for the students and their families. Reading is supported and encouraged, which our son enjoys. Portions of the learning are done with the entire school, which allows older and younger students to interact and to learn from each other. This creates a positive social environment that our son loves. The integration of academic education, social skills and different activities makes the learning environment a positive one for our son. He feels safe and supported with his teachers and peers.
The teachers and administrator at March have kept us informed of our son’s progress in all aspects of his education and his participation in the school. They respond to our questions and concerns quickly, thoughtfully and thoroughly. They communicate if they have questions or anything occurs with our son and we have agreed with every action they have taken. We have watched our son blossom socially and academically for the first time and we believe it is because of the guidance and support provided by the teachers and the administrator.
Our son came to March after seeing different educational and medical professionals, who were uncertain why he was having difficulty learning; they were unable to make a diagnosis. The teachers at March have many years of experience teaching children who face a variety of challenges and at times in more unusual combinations. They approached teaching our son as an individual, as opposed to a specific issue or diagnosis. My son has made incredible progress, compared to his prior 2 years in a public school and 1 year in a private school, during which we were paying for in class assistance for him. The teachers and administration at March have also partnered with us to ensure that as parents we are supporting our son effectively. The teachers have challenged our son and for the first time he is reaching learning goals and is being effectively intellectually stimulated.
March is known for preparing students to be effective independent learners who can go on to succeed in the public school system after grade 6, regardless of the challenges they face in their learning. We believe that our son will leave March Academy with the confidence and tools for lifelong learning. The homework is not excessive and is designed to ensure that we know what our son is learning and share in his progress. The positive, integrated social structure of the school also builds social skills and confidence. The students are challenged and stimulated at a level that meets their individual learning capacity and ensures that they take responsibility for their learning. We believe that March will prepare our son academically and socially for the more challenging atmosphere when he attends grade 7 in a public school.
There are wonderful activities at March Academy that occur at the school and at times outside of the regular school hours. Last year the students all trained to run in two community runs and parents ran with the students. The teaching of yoga and taekwando during school hours with qualified instructors is very positive for the students. Our son was not a fan of yoga when he started because he found it too "slow", but now we find him doing yoga at home. The philosophy of taekwando is a positive influence on the social fabric of the school. This is not a school that has organized sports teams due to its small size, but physical exercise and health are central to the school's philosophy and the small size allows for a more interesting mix of extracurricular activities to happen within the school hours.
There are never more than 33 students from grade 1 to 6. There are more students in grades 4 to 6 and our son has enjoyed the other students, who have been welcoming and inclusive. Our son often tells us that the students are kind to each other and he does not worry about anyone being mean to him. We believe that the integrated nature of the grades in the school creates a stronger sense of community and responsibility toward all of the students. Prospective students come to the school for a couple of days before they determine whether to attend, which allows the administration and teachers to ensure that a new prospective student will work well socially in the school. We also get more opportunities to interact with the other parents and students because of the small size of the school.
The overall quality of student life at March Academy is very good. It is a wonderful environment for all students, no matter what learning challenges they may be experiencing. Our son enjoys the school very much and often states how much more he likes the school than the prior two schools that he attended. We do not worry about his learning or his social experiences at March Academy. The administrator and staff are able to focus on each student because of the small number of students and for the students it maximizes their chances for success academically and socially. The policies and goals articulated by the school are put into action and are consistently applied. We believe that each student feels part of the school.
The parenting community at March Academy will support the school in any manner that is needed through volunteering, bring in interesting speakers for the children or attending the school functions. We have been blessed with great leadership in the parent group that have formal and informal gatherings. The students come from across the city of Ottawa and surrounding area. During our son's first year at the school we had moved to Ottawa partially to have him attend March Academy and the other parents helped us with a car pool due to some of the challenges we were facing to get our son to and from school in his first year. Parents are always open and willing to talk to the parents of prospective students to provide information for making the decision whether to enroll their child or children.
The school is located on a beautiful, large piece of land that has a large grass area for the students' activities. It provides a wonderful outdoor space. the school is in a quiet residential neighbourhood in Kanata north. It is safe and quiet and the school is set back from the road. The students use the surrounding community for some activities, like the Terry Fox run and skating, but everything that is needed is at the school.