Toronto, ON | Grades 9 - 12 | Shortlist
The cohort of students is small so its very easy to make friends with everyone. Most of the students are international but their command of English is very good nevertheless. The school has come to feel like a second home to me because of the incredible learning that has happened there but also because of the students and teachers feel like a second family. It is one of the most inclusive places I've been where you can always be yourself and feel accepted the way you are without having to make special accommodation for others. The number of students grows steadily every year always at a pace that manages to maintain the special community feel. The Yonge and Eglinton area is diverse so there is a restaurant or a Cafe to make anyone feel right at home.
The majority of the students of Ontario Academy of Technology are international students that dream about attending a Canadian university. These students live far from their families, what makes difficult to get the parents involved directly in the school life. Despite of this, the parents receive feedback of the students progress regularly. Social media helps to be closer to the school life, feeding us with photos and videos. I myself live abroad and every time I go to Toronto I visit OAT and the staff welcomes me very well, keeping me updated about all the aspects concerning the school life of my son and shows me the next steps to be taken. This reassures me that even if I am far from my son, everything is going fine.
I have actually kept in touch with students from OAT. I keep in touch with both students who were in my classes and also students who I would see outside of class! Although I was only there for night school and I didn't get to experience in the "day" time environment, I can say that the OAT I know and love is a close-knit and safe community. My parents had open communication with my teacher, which kept them up to date on my improvement. In terms of the broader community of OAT, I have kept in touch with the school and was going to complete my Practicum for my teaching degree there before Covid-19 hit. I had a truly wonderful experience there and I know it has only gotten better since then.
This question is not applicable for my family. Again, these are criteria that simply do not apply to the type of educational experience OAT aims to provide. As a parent, I have grown increasingly tired of the demands made on me by various other schools my sons have attended, whether in terms of my time or additional financial contributions. I am very grateful that my sons could attend classes at OAT, achieve the credits they needed, succeed in subject areas that had been difficult and frustrating for them previously. That is what we turned to OAT for and the school has provided (and continues to provide) precisely that. I do not feel any need to join a "community" beyond this or to be a more active participant in the life of the school. Please note the numerical score simply reflects the irrelevance of this criteria to our experience at OAT.
The community at OAT is student to teacher/principal. As a parent, I have communication and relationships with the staff. I do not know any of the other parents. There are no parent groups. I know many students are international and their families are not with them. For Toronto based families, there could be benefits from parents interacting together. There may not be a need for a parent council, however, curriculum nights or a night where students show achievements and work could be an opportunity to build the parent community. There could also be ways the parents could help out with extracurricular events. As my son gets older, I would very much like to be part of the university/college process. Perhaps there is an opportunity to host parent information nights closer to graduation.