It's been over four years since we went through the application process but I vividly remember it because it was an exceptionally pleasant experience (especially in contrast to the application process of a 'competing' school which at best can be described as sloppy and slow). The admissions process was rapid and simultaneously made us feel confident in the school's student selection process. Overall, it was clear, efficient, seamless and most importantly, warm and welcoming. The experience set the standard upheld by the Director of Admissions and proved to be reflective of what was to come in the subsequent years. Our journey began after being disenchanted with the public school our son attended. He was in the middle of grade 4 in French Immersion when we relocated to Oakville from downtown Toronto. Accordingly, we transferred him to a local school with a French Immersion programme. While the staff, administration and teachers, were lovely, our son was not being challenged academically and his level of French quickly deteriorated. Transferring to MacLachlan was the best decision we made for our son.
Our son started attending MacLachlan in grade 7 and is currently in grade 10. The choice was between MacLachlan and another private school and after touring and shadowing both, he chose MacLachlan. As he put it at the time: "Mom, it's so quiet! I can think." My husband and I were extremely relieved and happy because our son's choice was congruent with ours. Meaning his character was, and is, in alignment with the overall nature of the school. As a small school, it allows for significant personal attention to each student. As an introvert, our son feels very comfortable, safe and supported by the staff as well as his peers. This has allowed him to grow and develop his confidence which is reflected in all aspects of his life. Our decision was especially reaffirmed with the school's response to the pandemic which was exceptional. While teaching was immediately and seamlessly shifted online in real time (due to the school's existing and ongoing online platform), swift action was being taken to prepare the school building which included cleaning protocols, outfitting it with new, state of the art filtration system, plexiglass barriers as well as PPE equipment). The overall response to the ongoing crisis demonstrates a level of care and concern for the entire staff and student body that quite frankly I believe is unparalleled. It is emblematic of the overall ethos and facilitated in large part due to the small and intimate nature of the school.
We have an incredible level of appreciation and respect for the school. The leadership standard is set high by the school's executive director, the head of school and the deputy head of school. They are always open to new ideas, listen to the parent body as well as the student body. They respond quickly and appropriately to changes and circumstances. The school's leadership response to the changes necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic were exceptional. This has further increased my appreciation of the school's leadership and of the administration's ability to execute new plans efficiently and with transparent communications. Both the leadership and administration are always accessible, responsive and caring.
Each teacher stands out for their expertise in the subject they teach. Much like each student is chosen for their fit, each teacher seems chosen for both their expertise and clear alignment with the school's character. They deeply care about each student evidenced by the constant and ongoing availability for support and encouragement. Constructive feedback is clearly communicated and each teacher goes the proverbial extra mile to ensure our son is striving for improvement to reach their potential. Dialogue with parents is always available, open, frank and encouraged. As parents, we feel extremely confident that our son is being prepared for a successful future. We have seen our son's growth over four years which is a result of the teachers' support and empowerment. MacLachlan teachers are wonderful teachers and incredibly caring and lovely individuals.
MacLachlan provides an extremely strong academic foundation that we feel will prepare our son very well for their post-secondary experience no matter what institution they attend in the world. Prior to transferring to MacLachlan, we had enrolled our son in private math instruction (outside of the public school system) because we felt the system was extremely lacking in mathematical foundations. We were extremely pleased this was no longer needed at MacLachlan because the academic standard is so much higher. Another example is how rapidly our son's French language abilities improved even after several years of deterioration in the local French Immersion programme. Our son has both scientific and artistic interests and both are strongly supported by the academic programming. The overall academic program is rigorous and engaging which encourages excellence.
MacLachlan is easily accessible being close to a GO station as well as main highway. It is in a mainly residential neighbourhood providing access to downtown Oakville (which is lovely). Senior students regularly leave the campus for meals (before the pandemic). The campus itself is a beautifully renovated mansion providing a welcoming environment as well as all the necessary amenities for school life. It's also close to a newly built community centre.
Due to the size of both the campus and the student body, extracurricular activities related to sports are limited. Efforts are made to provide sport engagement through collaboration with other schools but the emphasis is not on competitive sports. Other extracurricular activities such as art, debating, music are well supported by the enthusiastic and capable teachers who make themselves available.
The student body is small and this allows for greater connection and familiarity among all the students. This greater connection also decreases opportunities for troublesome conflict and brings the students closer together. When conflict does arise, the teachers and administration are immediate in their involvement. Despite the fact that students come from diverse locations, the online connectivity they enjoy allows them to maintain close relationships when not on the premises. The prefects provide great leadership to the rest of the student body and are aspirational examples for all students. From a broader perspective, the ethnically diverse school body provides opportunity for a greater understanding of the community in general and empathy for people of all backgrounds, preparing the students to become global citizens respecting, understanding and appreciating universal human values, cultural differences and world issues.
Our son thoroughly enjoys attending MacLachlan and has been provided various opportunities to showcase his talents. He feels seen, heard and appreciated. He was able to start a new club with the wholehearted support of the school. The school provides many opportunities for non-academic participation. These include the Alchemy programme (annual play), music concerts, open houses for science and art projects, friendly competition among School Houses, celebrations of different holidays from different parts of the world, regular CD days (casual dress which also include fun themes, etc...). Our son greatly enjoys participating in the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award programme and has enjoyed playing the school mascot, Salty the Dog. He has also greatly enjoyed travelling with his class prior to the pandemic and hopes to do so again. He especially hopes to participate in future Round Square exchanges (network of 200 like-minded schools in 50 countries).
All parents are very welcome and strongly encouraged to participate in the Parent Association. The association runs monthly meetings, chaired by a parent representative and attended by the head of school and the executive director. This allows for direct communication between the parent body and the school administration. During the pandemic, the opportunity to connect has continued but shifted online. Weekly emails are sent by the Head of School to keep everyone informed on upcoming events and a monthly newsletter is penned by the Executive Director keeping everybody abreast of the school's Future Ready approach. Additional communication between parents and the school is open at any time and highly encouraged. All staff, teachers, administration and executive are easily accessible and greatly responsive. Several events (Welcome BBQ, PA breakfast, Volunteer Luncheons, fundraising events including Fun Fair and Galas) are held throughout the year providing opportunities for parents to come together increasing the sense of community. There are also plenty of volunteer opportunities throughout the year.