REVIEW OF Nancy Campbell Academy BY Alum, Gabriel Quinn
- Date of Review
November 06, 2019
Gr. 10 - Gr. 12
- University (major)
Norwich University of the Arts
(5) Overall Experience
My experience attending Nancy Campbell spanned from age 15 to 18 and were the most formative years of my life. Nancy Campbell's number one priority as an institution is to create world citizens, who care about their environment and seek to better the world. I can say with confidence that because of the shared goal of the institution and the students, I transformed into the man I am today. The community service opportunities the school offered gave me the means to become a more conscious, aware, capable, and compassionate youth in today's world. At Nancy Campbell, you are able to build strong relationships with your teachers, because of the small class size. One of the strong characteristics of the school is that it is small by choice and really feels like a family. I've kept in contact with friends I made there that truly feel like family, and are key contributors to some of the job opportunities I've had access to post-graduation. No school is perfect, but Nancy Campbell strives to grow from the difficulties, and help students grow as well.
(5) School Leadership
The keyword to describe Nancy Campbell's administration is attentive. The school staff cares deeply about the student body's well-being. There are constant consultations and actions being put into place in the school to improve the social and academic environments. The administration is always open to suggestions, and are there to help with issues the students are facing. When it came to dealing with problems and having to discipline students, the administration made the issue very clear and often talks one on one with the student to know why, and to understand the situation. When it came to students making mistakes, the administration almost always offers a second chance for the student to learn from it in a healthy way. I faced a lot of challenges during my time at Nancy Campbell, both in life and in my academics. I had challenges at home and with my early education. I received a lot of one on one help from the administration with these problems and was able to overcome them and graduate with an above 90 average. My qualities were seen, and I was singled out as a leader among the students, I didn't know I had such potential but it was that potential that was nurtured into qualities that heavily impact my life today. I've been nominated at my university to be a student ambassador, and I attribute that to the help I received from the administration.
The teaching at Nancy Campbell gives you a lot of room to succeed, and also a lot of room to fall behind if you don't do the work. The school gives a bit more responsibility to the students to make sure their time is managed well, and their education is on track. In a normal school setting, a student would go home to a parent who helps to make sure all the homework is done. If you are living in the residence, the only person who is going to hold you accountable is you. I struggled with this freedom, but am glad to have overcome the challenge, because I was going to have to learn to manage your time in your university education anyway, I'm glad I learned early. One of the most unique qualities of the school is that it developed its own course called WCC (world citizenship course) that is only found there. This course spans all grades and offers a unique education into family dynamics, childhood development, and the state of the world we live in. Because of this training, I feel very at ease moving about in the world and find it natural to make new contacts wherever I go and learn new skills quickly. The dynamic between the staff and myself were on the informal side. I attribute this to the small class sizes and close bonds the students build with teachers. I still keep in contact with many of my teachers at Nancy Campbell. The fact that it was more informal, did not impact the respect I had for the staff. The work ethic they would show in their participation in extracurriculars and how they were available after school to help the students evoked a great deal of respect. My English teacher Dr. Walker stands out from the rest. I missed a lot of my academic education from age 10 to 14, because of family complications. I struggled a lot with English grammar, and essay structure. After Ms. Walker's two classes in English and creative writing, I became a strong writer in multiple disciplines, and my essays often receive praise in my current university program. I attribute this to the encouragement, and instruction I received in her class. Many of the teachers I had during my time at the school greatly impacted my academic and personal development. a couple of them have retired from the school, so I cannot say that they are still at the school, but many of their values and teachings are still alive and part of the culture. If you are wondering about the teachers at Nancy Campbell, they are all very compassionate, understanding, and encouraging practitioners.
The strengths of Nancy Campbell's academic program is in its flexibility. A student can often consult with a teacher in creating an alternative way to satisfy the unit's criteria if they are struggling to relate or engage with the mainstream project. This can create a culture of unique presentations, and often artistic approaches to a project. Another strength is in the willingness of the school to offer help. The weakness of the academics at Nancy Campbell is, in my opinion, a result of the nature of boarding school. Without a parent present, the student might struggle to identify a weakness and instead of being forced to ask for help and try a little harder, they might ignore their struggle and turn away from it because they have that option. The academic attitude of the student body varies greatly from year to year because of its small size, and the constant introduction of new students who may bring a positive, or negative impact on the environment. I know in my year, my circle of friends strived for excellence. The experience is very much dependant on the individual.
The school has very strong extracurricular programs. From yoga to chess club, the school offers many unique extracurriculars. One of the most interesting and formative for my life was the focus and support in the performing arts. I was very embarrassed to sing and perform before I attended Nancy Campbell. By the time I graduated, I was performing in nearly every act at Nancy Campbell's three showcases it has every year: Fall, Spring, and graduation (priority given to the graduates of that year). I now perform music at open mics, and love getting involved in performance opportunities which have opened many career doors in my life. I would not recommend Nancy Campbell if you are looking for strong sports programs (although many students have joined teams outside of the school and performed very well). The school's extracurriculars are catered to the performing arts, and community service projects.
It is very hard to give a review of the students, since the school is as small as it is, and the student body is constantly changing and growing. That being said, during my time at the school, the general attitude was shaped by a mutual goal to make the world a better place. most of my peers were strong-spirited, ambitious, diligent, talented, and felt like family. The atmosphere was one of action. How could we make the environment better? How could we get other students excited about serving the community? How can we create an attitude of striving for excellence? These were all questions we asked ourselves (I am referring to my class as senior students in reference to the other grade, and the student body as a whole). The typical student at Nancy Campbell will say yes to a community service opportunity, whether its tree planting, volunteering at a community event, or being involved in community outreach programs, and I think that says a lot. It certainly meant a lot to me. Nancy Campbell is one of the most diverse schools you will ever see, with students coming from all corners of the globe. This makes for a very strong and connected student body, who become more aware of the greater world beyond Canada.
(4.5) School Life
The school life is very standard to a boarding school experience. The food they offer for meals is diverse and nutritious. The accommodations allow you to have your own room to work and have time for yourself. the building itself isn't very big and easy to navigate, so you can most often find who/what you're looking for. The school has highspeed wifi, a gymnasium that's often open for casual use, the art room is also often available after school, there are classrooms for the use of student council meetings, and a full multimedia studio/recording studio which is a new addition that was not there at the time when I was attending (but I have been back to visit and can attest to its positive impact on the creative options that the students have). The usual state of the student body is being joyful. A young person's life is always going to have difficulties and challenges, which is why it is so unique for a student body to show as much joy as the students of Nancy Campbell do. There is stress during exam times, but that's natural. The majority of the students were very passionate. If they were not, it was likely not the fault of the school, but of the student's general attitude towards life (many students completely transformed into positive joyful people out of going to Nancy Campbell, myself included).
The strongest aspect of Nancy Campbell is its community. I made some of my best friends at the school, who are a very strong part of my life today, despite most of us living in different countries now. Because the school is a boarding school, you grow very close to your peers. You don't often meet their parents if they are from another country, but occasionally parents have come and were so welcome in the school, often hosting a cultural event/meal for the students. When all the parents come for graduation, it is a very emotional time for the students, to meet everyone's families. The alumni presence is very very strong at Nancy Campbell, the seniors are often involved as role models for the younger grades and often come back to the school to teach workshops and come to their graduations. It's a bit of a tradition for alumni to come back for the next graduation, to support the class after them, and to see each other.
(5) School Location
Nancy Campbell is in Stratford Ontario, which is an incredibly safe and friendly city. Almost everything is in walking distance, and the walks are often very beautiful. Sometimes it feels a bit small, but there is a unique charm. If you are considering Nancy Campbell, I would highly recommend meeting all of the local shop owners, and really exploring the people and places around, because I have gotten many interesting work experiences in the city, and its a very safe place to go meet new people. One of my mistakes while attending NCA was that I didn't socialize as much with the members of the city, but I come back often to see friends, and be involved in local events and got to really know the place. I come back at least once a year because it really feels like home now.
My case is unique because my older sister went to Nancy Campbell before me, so I already knew how wonderful it was for her, and knew it was the right fit for me. I didn't find it very stressful because the administration makes you feel very comfortable during the interview process. I would highly recommend visiting the school if you are considering if you are close enough. Getting to know the students and space will let you know if it is a good fit for you. One of the schools strongpoints is diversity, so they are eager to have all kinds of students even if its not the best fit for the student, because that student will bring a unique perspective into the school, and help create a more diverse environment, which could help the student grow into a more well-rounded person, but not feel as comfortable at first.
(4.5) University placement and counselling
Nancy Campbell has an almost perfect university acceptance rate, many universities visit the school and give presentations to the students, and the school will help students apply to their schools of choice. They can't help much if you're applying to schools outside of Canada, but that's just the nature of the system. I applied to a school in the UK and was accepted on my second attempt (I did not have a strong application due to my apathy and desire to take a gap year for community service). On my second attempt I got into my school of choice. If you want to go to university in Canada, it's amazing. If you want to study at a school outside of Canada, you will have to do the research and applying yourself.