Toronto, ON | Grades 9 - 12 | Shortlist
The school is very small (3000 square-feet as of September 2019) so I would take someone for a tour of the breakroom and one of the classrooms. They have uniform desks and massive white-boards. This is really great for student collaboration. Hamed is very accommodating with things like fresh water coolers and a massive foosball table. Students are allowed two breaks a day. This is almost never done in high school but is great for giving students time to decompress and walk around in between studies. This improves a student's focus in class.
When my son was in the middle of the 11 grade at Ontario Academy of Technology, I asked him if he liked the school. For the first time in his life, he told me that he loved a school. He told me that he loved the teachers, he loved his friends, the place and the staff. I could not be happier when I heard this. Today the school does not provide a place for lunch or social meetings betwen the students. However I feel happy because I know that next September there will be an upgrade about this matter, once the school is expanding its area.
Going to my class there was honestly often a highlight even though it was for my least favourite subject Math. I’m very grateful for my experience there. Students were generally happy there as we were all treated as equals and given attention as needed. I think the academics at OAT are challenging, which is what really sets it apart from many of the smaller private schools I have heard of or attended. Thankfully the staff there (Hamid was my teacher) were very good at handling stress and so if he noticed the levels were getting high he’d change gears and shift to something less stressful or just take a break. Just his friendly demeanor was good enough to destress and help students calm down after a long day.
Again, I am commenting based on my sons' attendance as part-time students. They first attended OAT to receive supplementary tutoring, then as students for a full-year math credit (Grades 10 and 11). They were and are completely positive about the experience, have enormous personal liking and gratitude for their instructors, and were/are always perfectly happy with the quality of the instruction and the supportive and welcoming atmosphere. As I noted in my previous answer, OAT is a small and focused school. It will not provide a typical school experience with all of the supplementary social and athletic opportunities of a large school. If you are looking for a learning environment that allows students to learn a subject at a pace and in an environment that is responsive to them, OAT can provide that very well.
My son is very happy at OAT. He likes the other students and teachers. My son first enrolled at a large high school. It was very big and he had problems making friends. In class, he just felt like a number. He was very unhappy and struggled to fit in. At OAT, it feels more like a family, everyone knows each other. OAT fosters a positive environment and the kids and teachers all seem like they enjoy being there. My son tells me none of the kids are lonely and they have friends. In a small school setting, there isn't much opportunity to socialize with different kids. To expand my son's social network, he has kept up his friendships from his primary school on weekends.