Interview with Rowntree Montessori Schools (RMS) PARENT, Sangita and Vin
Highlights from the interview
Our older boy Dylan went to Rowntree from a fairly early age, around age two, and we started at the prep school and we were very happy with the environment that was created there. It was a very nurturing environment, the teachers there were very kind and caring and in addition to that, we found him to thrive and he was learning great stuff at a very young age, so we were very happy with that. We continued him right through and right through into grade school there and we were pretty happy with how things were moving along. When we had our second boy, Ryan a few years later, it was just a logical place to put him into as well.
Well, I had a checklist. Like most parents, I wanted to interview the principal, I wanted to meet with the teachers, I wanted to look at the curriculum, I wanted to look at the environment and I did that with all the schools that I was researching within Peel. So I had spoken to a few parents as well. That was very critical for us in making our decision and it was the right decision because everything seemed to fit. All the checkboxes were checked off and we figured that it had a lot of really convenient aspects to it. So we'll give it a try and we were pretty much hooked after that first year.
Our older boy Dylan had a great experience there. We are very happy. So when you make this kind of decision, you can't ever be sure, it's a year by year thing, but we've stuck with them for good now, so we've been very happy with the entire experience so far.
Well, we feel like we're part of a family. We feel like we're part of the Rowntree community, and we've developed excellent rapport and relationships with the other teachers and staff and other parents as well. And I think it's been a very natural process. Over the last ten years or so, we've gone to meet some wonderful parents, some really good kids with good values. And both of our kids have been exposed to this type of classroom environment where the other kids are very cordial, friendly, respectful. The teachers really get involved, they care. So our initial experience, as I said, it's sort of a year by year thing, so you can never be sure. But certainly we're comfortable early on and that's only grown. So I think it's been actually really positive.
We've had ongoing conversations with our children. I like to check in with them after each semester, especially towards the end of the year, regarding their experience at the school. How are you feeling? How do you feel that your year went with your teacher, with your peers, and administrative staff? And it's always been positive. My kids always say that they feel like it's their second home, they are part of a family and they feel very comfortable. They look forward to going to school every year.
Teamwork. It's interesting because they do instill the same values that are important to parents. They focus on values. They actually take one particular value every month, and the teacher will have conversations about that one value. The students have the conversation amongst each other, and at the end of the month, the one particular student who really is rewarded, whether it be teamwork, hard work, leadership, grit, responsibility, these are all things that parents want to instill in their children. And Rowntree definitely does that within their school community.
Well, I would say that both of our children seem to understand what these different values mean. I think that at a young age it's hard to really tell kids what responsibility is until they are trying to experience it, what teamwork is until they actually start to work well with other kids. So you can talk about it. But I think that they actually are encouraged to go out and experience these values themselves to go out and experience things in the classroom environment that will teach them to be good people, teach them how to get along with other people well, teach them the value of hard work and determination.
So I think that even at this age, our younger one, he understands what it's like to work in a group and how important that is later on in life. So it's not just a matter of doing an assignment with one or two other kids. It's a matter of understanding other people's point of view, working well, assigning tasks. So he's still pretty young, but I think even at this age, he's getting that, which isn't necessarily the case in a lot of classroom environments. I mean, academics are obviously stressed.
There are a lot of great schools out there. But I think that really to go above and beyond. It's not only a matter of teaching them how to be a great student, it's a matter of teaching them how to be really good, kind, caring people. And I think that doing it this way where they have all these little values, because I think all these little values add up to being that kind of citizen that we want our kids to eventually be. So I think that it's nice the way that they've broken it down. Kids are able to focus on different little blocks. You could say, in this foundation, on a month by month basis.
They really focus on these core values because I believe in the end, they want to shape these kids into good people. So aside from academics in providing a very enriched curriculum, this is also very important to them. These values which we as parents really appreciate.
And aside from the academics, of course, I wanted my children to have the best education. There were other things that were important to me as well. Bullying, the safety of the school, and just the values of the teachers. How nurturing are they? Are they open to discussions? We feel very blessed. Like I said, my experience with the preparatory campus was amazing. And then we moved along to the Academy which was a really nice transition.
My older one had a little bit of a little bit of anxiety initially, just for a week, enjoying the summer school. And his former principal had found out I had sort of had a conversation saying he's a bit nervous. So she contacted the principal at the Academy campus. And the next day I got a phone call. We had a meeting. My son had a meeting with the principal myself as well, and it was just to make him comfortable and ask him questions about why he's feeling anxious and try to really help him feel more comfortable. And then sort of this weight lifted off his shoulders and he's excited to start school in grade one Academy. So they really work as a team.
Well, they do go above the Ontario standards, but it's done at a really great pace. There are integrating cross curricular tasks. So if the children are working on a speech about endangered species, they integrate computers in it as well. So they have the opportunity to do a Google Slides presentation. Perhaps they'll do a drawing of the animal that they selected as well. So they're trying to pull from different subjects. It is very structured, which is fantastic.
Every kid, when they walk in at 09:00, it's respectful. At 09:00, you're listening to announcements, you start your day. It's structured. It's all math. You get your break, you get language, you get your lunch, you do signs or social studies in the afternoon. They really go above and beyond in terms of delivering the curriculum in a fun, informative way. They give ample time to do assignments. They are testing in different ways. Sometimes it's just on hard copy, sometimes their phone books or the computer. It's nice to see. It's not so rigid. It's not just the traditional way of learning, which is just notebooks textbooks they pull from. Yes, textbooks, but other resources as well.
I really appreciate the fact that it's a really intimate environment. Like the classrooms are fairly small. It's not a large school by any stretch, but it's a nice size. So I really appreciate that. I appreciate the size of the school, the size of the classrooms, the fact that with that, the kids get a lot of individual attention when they need it.
I felt very comfortable with that aspect of it right off the bat and also safe in the sense that we know how they feel about bullying. They not only discourage, but it's absolutely forbidden and forbidden from being hidden in the school. So we know that our kids are going to be in an environment where they're given every opportunity to drive in and they don't have to worry about things like that.
It was interesting because when I was looking at the schools, I did my homework and I'd come home and we'd have a conversation about what I liked, what I didn't like. I focused more on the academics, the teachers, the environment, whereas he was interested more in what their policy is for bullying, and the fees, also. And yeah, just the safety. The safety was really important for my husband and also diversity. They really embrace and celebrate diversity, which was very, I think, important to both of us. So we had a checklist. I had a checklist. But coming together, that's why I think that we both sort of fell in love with the school because it sort of.
Yeah, I think it crossed off both of our checklists and the most important things. And obviously we alluded to the fact that it's strong academically. I think obviously that's one of those things that's going to be important to do every parent.
I think that you want your child to be able to maximize their potential. You want them to get the most out of their education as they possibly can without being distracted by other stuff, other stuff that's completely unnecessary. So if you have another child picking on your child during the school year, that's something that shouldn't be tolerated. But unfortunately, in a lot of situations it's kind of buried and you only find out about it after your child's had a miserable year. So these kinds of things do interfere with the child's ability to do the best that they can. So you want to make sure that that's completely nipped in the bud and in terms of sort of the overall development of their values and stuff. I think that if there are some emotional issues, they aren't swept under the rug here. They are dealt with head on. And I think that all the children in the class are given an opportunity to sort of have discussions about that sort of stuff out in the open. And so all these kids end up benefiting from that and evolving.
Some of the children, some of the parents I've spoken to, whether their kids have had a rough month or just going through things which are very normal, the teachers are aware, very supportive. The staff, the administrative staff, the principal, everybody like I said, it's a family. Everyone's involved. It's not just their academic success that they're concerned about. They are very concerned about the child's overall mental health, emotional wellbeing, it's just as important. The child has an opportunity to express how they're feeling, why they're feeling it with their teacher privately.
If there are any issues with students, it is discussed independently with one child, then the other, then they bring the children together. It’s a very solution-oriented school, and then parents are involved. The end goal is always to sort of be united, with forgiveness as well. There's been moments with both of our kids, whether they're having an emotional day, it's addressed, and then they move forward, but it's done in a very healthy way.
I think they are greeted respectfully and with a lot of love. And the minute they walk in, the front desk staff are just so kind, loving, caring, supportive. They know these kids are running into their arms and they want to be hugged. They want to be kissed. How are you? And everyone says, good morning. The older children are sort of these are given sort of responsibilities to walk around to make sure everyone's okay or if there's any issues children need help, assistance with their bags.
It's a very supportive environment amongst the peers. I've seen kids struggle walking in with too many bags and you'll see an elder kid and grade helping out, or the front desk staff will assist and say, can you please take Bonnie to his room? There's no hesitation. The kids go to their classroom, the kids are reading. It's really positive, very positive. And this is on an ongoing daily basis. So that's why they feel it's a family, because everyone knows everyone and it doesn't matter what grade you are in. It's not just a number. You feel like you are dropping your child off to their second home.
They both said the same thing: we love the teachers. The teachers are so kind and we love the fact that it feels like a family. They really focused on the fact that everyone is so kind and it's a family unit, both of them. That's what they appreciate the most, which is wonderful, wonderful for parents to hear that.
I think that they have found an environment that they feel very comfortable in and they can thrive in. I think so far from what we've seen, their academic potentials are maximized. And I would say you asked them what things that they might like to see improved. Honestly, there really isn't that much that they voice to us. I would say perhaps my older boy, he's really into baseball and a couple of sports. It's hard for any school to have teams in every single sport possible, but obviously my older boy would vote for baseball if he had a chance to expand their repertoire of extracurricular stuff. But that's a bit of a wish list, so not going to happen in every situation for sure.
Their online platform is exceptional. In order for you to track your child or children's progress, it's very easy to follow. It's very organized. You're able to go online. You can message any teacher, their math teacher, science teacher, computer teacher. They respond within 24 hours. You have the ability to see when your child’s assignment was given and when it's due, how well they did, with comments that were given by the teacher. So it's a really great platform that they've set up. It's not overwhelming at all and easy to follow. And one thing that they should be commended for, especially during the pandemic.
I think one of the things that we just touched upon were the fees, and I think that's a very individual thing. But what I would say is that we've certainly done some homework, and I think that you get really good value for what you pay for with Rowntree. So one of those things that I think is on everybody's check box, it might be at a different sort of level on different people's checkboxes in terms of where it is in terms of a priority, but nobody's immune to that. Nobody wants to feel like they're overpaying for anything. And I would say that Rowntree is very reasonable, especially relative to other schools and especially relative to what you get.