REVIEW OF Rothesay Netherwood School BY parent, Wanda Flemming
- Date of Review
October 22, 2020
Gr. 6 - 12
(4.5) Student Experience
Our daughters have really enjoyed the relationships they have developed with teachers and staff. Most teachers have taken the time to know our daughters, not just academically, but socially and emotionally, thus creating an overall personal knowledge. In the past, teachers have been quick to respond to student emails, even on the weekend, especially about homework. I hope this continues. Students have many opportunities to engage in service and charity work. This is something that has taught our daughters compassion and empathy for others and has shaped them as people. Our daughters have also enjoyed the opportunity to have the whole school come together for lunch. This has given them more of a chance to meet other students and talk with older and younger students.
(3.5) School Leadership
RNS works hard to create a positive environment for students. There are regular communication emails to inform students and parents of events and deadlines. Any issues we have had, albeit not many, have been addressed in a positive and timely fashion. I feel it is very important for all school leadership personnel to spend visible time on campus, observing, dining and interacting with the students to foster individual connections. This provides vital background that can be beneficial should issues arise.
Teachers are the heart of RNS. Most teachers work incredibly hard and have a solid understanding of the curriculum they are teaching. They are dedicated to helping students succeed academically. Parent-Teacher meetings are held early in the year which gives parents and students a chance to address concerns early. Effort reports and cumulative reports are two indirect ways teachers provide feedback. When a child appears to be struggling or marks are slipping, direct feedback from teachers to parents would be appreciated. RNS students have long days. I do feel it is much easier for boarding students to receive extra help because they are on campus. It is not always possible for day students to receive extra help because they are not permitted in the dormitories to meet with the duty teachers.
Students learn very quickly that they have to stay on top of assignments. For the most part, the academic culture is positive where students learn that everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Assessments are not just based on tests. Participation and effort also play a large part. Because RNS is an IB school, I would like to see more time spent preparing for IB exams and that teaching stop at the end of March. Students leave RNS well prepared to handle the workload of university. They have learned to lead a group and work within a group. They have been prepared to ask questions and seek feedback. I do wish more tests were multiple choice to better prepare students to take such tests in university.
Middle School is a wonderful opportunity for all students to become involved in sports and the arts. Coaches and directors are encouraging and supportive looking to ensure students are able to improve and shine. In middle school, it is not just about winning. It is about learning a new skill and foster a love of being active. Senior school sports have become much more competitive and as such it is not as easy to play on a senior school team.
The campus is set on 200 acres. It is beautiful and lush, complete with hiking trails and several playing fields. The small size, diverse cultures, house teams make RNS a great place to make friends from all over the world. The four multi-aged house teams give students a sense of camaraderie and friendly competition that runs throughout the year. The increased focus on high-level sports has created a dynamic shift in the student environment. Emphasis on having senior school students as prefects and role models for RNS students instills positive mentoring and leadership skills. When you see students walking on campus, you see them in groups, laughing, talking and having fun. Wearing a uniform eliminates the fashion competition that can be so present in middle school and senior school. Students are encouraged and expected to treat everyone with respect, dignity and compassion.
(4.5) School Life
When we asked our daughter why she wanted to attend RNS, she said it was because she felt like she was a somebody, not just a number. She said she wanted to be part of a school community. When your child doesn't complain about going to school and looks forward to returning after a school break is a very good thing. Regular four day weekends and long Christmas and Spring breaks give students a feeling of separation from school, allowing for rest and rejuvenation. These breaks are an important part to allow students to have fun, see family and return energized, knowing that another break is just around the corner. From a mental health perspective, these breaks have been a vital and welcomed part of the school year.
RNS is a school built on tradition. Some of these traditions, such as the Terry Fox Run and the Christmas Carol Service encourage members of the broader community to join and celebrate with students and staff. The recent Coffee Houses have been an important way for new parents to meet others and encourage them to become involved and learn more about the school. They are also a way for parents to voice concerns and receive clarity. It is important to have parents involved in committees under the guidance of RNS staff so that the mission and goals of the school are upheld while at the same time being open to new ideas and ways of doing things. RNS is fortunate to have many parents with a variety of skills.
(5) School Location
The towns of Rothesay and Quispamsis are safe and caring communities. RNS, set up on a beautiful hill in the heart of the town, provides an excellent balance of being both an island and a place where students can venture off campus for a run or to the local coffee shop or ice cream stand. It is the perfect location for safety and balance. We have been fortunate to host several boarding students for long weekends and evenings for them to leave campus. This adds to the overall positive experience for both day students and boarding students.
We have fond memories of the Open House we attended in the Fall of 2011. We had a grade 12 student tour us and spent over an hour showing us each building and highlighting what RNS had to offer. Returning home my daughter asked if she could accept the offer of spending a morning with the current sixth-grade class. She was paired up with another student and gathered more information that sealed the deal. I remember her saying that she felt like she was a somebody. The admissions officer was incredibly welcoming, helpful answering any questions, honest and has been a listening ear during a difficult time. I think it is very important for teachers and students to offer insight into the admission process when a prospective student has spent a day at the school.
(4.5) University placement and counselling
Our daughter was fortunate to develop a high level of respect for her university counsellor. She appreciated her attention to detail, knowledge of universities, and deadlines and had no difficulty applying to her universities of choice. Our daughter was fortunate because she started keeping a detailed list of dates and hours for accomplishments, sports teams, and service work in grade 9. Having many university representatives and alumni visit the school and offering insight is one of the most valuable things RNS offers when students are applying to post-secondary schools. Because we are fortunate to have so many great universities in Canada, it can be difficult for the university counsellor to keep abreast of new programs, especially to be competitive. As such, having an assistant to research and keep abreast of program scholarships would be beneficial. I would like to see students at the beginning of grade 10 fill out mock university applications and be aware of deadlines so that they are fully aware of the variety of applications and detail that is required. This would also be helpful for scholarship applications.