Interview with Montcrest School PARENT, Ruth Goba
Ruth’s youngest daughter was the first of her children to attend Montcrest School. Starting school without the support of her older sisters was difficult, but she gained confidence quickly. Ruth credits the support and welcome of the staff with the successful transition. She noted that all the staff are connected to the students, even those not directly teaching them.
Highlights from the interview
We chose the school because we had several friends whose children went there, and we'd heard wonderful things about it. One close friend in particular had a daughter who had gone through Montcrest and graduated in Grade 8 and who had absolutely loved it. We chose it because it was a smaller school and it felt like a family. It was very welcoming and warm. And that's how we ended up deciding to apply for our daughter.
Our daughter gained confidence when she started at Montcrest. She had always been in school with her two older sisters, and they had both moved on to higher grades and were no longer in the same school with her. She was really nervous and very anxious about starting without her sisters being there. But the school was wonderful. Every single person from drop off in the morning knew her and knew her name, and would ensure that she was looked after, which is what they do with all the kids. Throughout the year we watched her gain confidence in her abilities and her work, in her interactions with other people, and gain confidence. So we did see a difference.
I think the thing our daughter likes most about Montcrest School is the way everybody is listened to and everybody is validated. She's got a lot of empathy as a person, and it's very important for her, both for herself and for those around her, to be accepted and valued. And Montcrest is really good at doing that. The individual teachers teach that to the students. It's a really holistic approach to the child. So it's about the academics, but it's also about the social aspect. Those two things are really important.
As a parent, I appreciate the holistic approach that the school takes. The way that they teach is a very hands on, involved way of teaching. It's not just the teacher standing up at the front and doing a lesson. The kids are involved in the learning, so they explore. The outside is brought in, which is actually really critical, too. So they're outside a lot during the day, rain or shine, which is good. And part of their work and part of their lessons include what they do outside. Then there's a lot of teaching about respect and the value of other people's opinions and difference.
If I could think of one thing to improve on, I think I'd like to see more diversity in the school. I think that's part of the nature of independent schools, however. The students, the faculty, and the parents certainly have been indicating that they also see that and want to see change. So there's an organic growth of that movement. I'm part of a committee right now that's working on improving that in the school. The school is really working on changing that in a substantive way. And I can see that both from the staff, from the faculty, and from the kids, which is really interesting. And so part of Montcrest valuing what their kids want and what their kids say is also appreciating that the kids want more and want to understand more and want to learn more about the world. They're doing really hard work and really good work in ensuring that that's happening.
I remember being shocked one day when Sasha, my daughter, got out of the car and a faculty person spoke with her right away, asked how she was, asked her about something the previous week that had happened, something good, and then spoke to me a little bit after she got into the class. That had never happened before at another school, where a faculty person who was not directly teaching her or connected to her knew her name, knew what was going on, and made her feel really welcome and safe. So that was a really pleasant surprise.
From my experience, one of the school’s highest values is respect. They value difference. I don't know if that's a value, but they value difference. Another value is academia. How they teach. It's really important, I think, how they teach. Each of the teachers, each and every teacher, is warm and open with the kids. They connect to each of them individually. They make a point of connecting with the kids. They make a point of encouraging the kids. They make a point of valuing the opinions of the kids.
Everybody is different. Every family is different. Everybody comes from different backgrounds. People have different learning abilities. I can't speak for everybody, but I suspect that one of the things that draws families to Montcrest is the appreciation of that holistic approach to education and a holistic approach to learning and the encouragement that takes place, the support that takes place. I suspect that that's one of the values that binds the parents in the school.
The first reason I’d recommend Montcrest School is the teachers, for sure. The second is the approach to learning and the appreciation that every child is going to get to the same place but everybody gets there in a different way. The third is how they value the kids.
I wish I'd known about it sooner! We weren't really happy with what was happening at our neighbourhood school and one of our close friends said, ‘You really should consider this school— go and see what it's like.’ And we did and I wish someone had said that sooner, because I suspect we probably would have tried to move sooner if we could have.