REVIEW OF Sacred Heart School of Halifax BY parent, Leona Milne
- Date of Review
January 09, 2023
- Child 1
JK - Gr. 1 (Female, Current Day Student)
- Child 2
JK (Male, Current Day Student)
(5) Student Experience
My children simply love school at Sacred Heart. It's a place where my children get excited to see their friends and teachers. They enter school each day, warmly greeted by staff who know them by name, and they confidently walk to their classrooms, ready to learn. Sacred Heart is a warm and welcoming "second home" where my children are enveloped within a community of inclusion and kindness. One of the best aspects of the school is the amount of integration there is between older students and younger ones. My youngest in JP is currently in a "buddy" reading program with a Grade 4 student - he adores his reading friend and I am pleased with how this experience has encouraged his love of reading and literacy at the age of 4. The student experience is rich by design, and my children love going to school at Sacred Heart each day.
(5) School Leadership
School leadership at Sacred Heart is exemplary. Staff lead by example and demonstrate professionalism and kindness. I always feel comfortable discussing concerns with my child’s homeroom teacher. It is easy to email my child’s homeroom teacher and receive a timely response back either by email within a few hours or at school pick up/drop off. Teachers demonstrate kindness to students, even when corralling a group of unruly middle schoolers! I am pleased that my child is surrounded by positive influences; there is no shortage of outstanding male role models for my son, be it the current Head of School, the elementary echool Principal, or Phys. Ed teacher, to name a few. I know that my child will grow up to be a kind and respectful citizen of the world with school leaders such as the ones at Sacred Heart.
I am very pleased with the teaching at Sacred Heart, as the faculty are attentive and eager to cater their teaching to my child's abilities and interests. One example would be my Grade 1 daughter's homeroom teacher, who spends time each week reading with her to gauge her reading progress. This teacher then crafts an individualized reading program for my daughter, complete with a curated collection of bedtime books to keep her engaged and challenged. It is simply wonderful! This level of attention is very much the norm, as I have similarly witnessed other teachers sitting with students, one-on-one, reviewing essays, solving math problems, and discussing music sheets. It is truly refreshing to see this level of attention from faculty who have a genuine interest in my child's learning and development. I am confident that the attentive teaching at Sacred Heart will prepare my child for future studies and instill in them a true love of learning.
There is a rigorous curriculum for the children at Sacred Heart, and it begins with a solid, well-rounded foundation in the primary years. Early math and reading literacy are essential, and children are encouraged to begin reading and doing arithmetic at the age of 5, with number and letter recognition starting at the age of 4. Part of the daily curriculum also includes exposure to specialty teachers (French, Music, Art, Physical Education, and Religion). These teachers are all experts in their respective fields and bring a special kind of passion to the classroom. My 4-year-old son gets to experience art class led by a local artist (who has her own art studio!) and music class with an accomplished vocalist. These specialty classes augment my child’s learning and make me confident that, when paired with the academic rigor of the school, my child will be prepared to embrace life’s challenges.
There is a broad assortment of extracurriculars available at Sacred Heart, and I am so pleased that there is something for everyone. In the few years that we have been at the school, my children have participated in several after-school classes: Sportball, Mad Science, and Music for Young Children. As my children get older, I am curious to see where their interests will lead them; I know that there will be a club or sport that will help them explore their interests alongside peers with just as much enthusiasm. The school administration makes a tremendous effort to offer a wide selection of extracurriculars to students, and this truly helps to build a vibrant school community.
The student body is diverse and welcoming, from Junior Primary to Grade 12! Yes, this is a Catholic school, but one that teaches universal values of kindness, humility, and acceptance. This past year, I was delighted with the Senior School's Diwali celebration, just as I was with the Junior Primary's Lunar New Year festivities. Students from all cultures and backgrounds are welcomed at the school and inclusion is an essential part of the student experience. The student experience is also rich with school spirit. It is impossible to miss the smiles on faces on special school days such as Congé - the ultimate “Day of Play.” For one full school day each year, students from all grades take a break from their studies and simply play games and do fun activities, all organized by faculty and staff. Experiences such as these lift the school spirit and keep the enthusiasm high! The diverse families who send their children to Sacred Heart make a very intentional decision to place their children within this community. I am confident that my children are among peers who share similar values and a desire to work - and play - to the fullest.
(5) School Life
My children are happy to be at Sacred Heart, and I am pleased that they get to be in an environment that both nurtures and challenges them. This past month, I was invited to be an audience member as my daughter did her first bit of public speaking for a Christmas Advent ceremony. I was incredibly proud of her and delighted that Sacred Heart encourages opportunities such as these to practice valuable skills and develop confidence in the process. Sacred Heart is full of learning and growth for my children, and it’s easy to see this by simply walking through the school. When I first toured the school, I was immediately struck by the pride the children take in their work and how that work is showcased for all to see. Elementary school artwork covers the hallway corridors, middle school book reviews are posted outside classroom doorways, and science projects are exhibited in the school library. It is truly lovely to see a snapshot of school work (and school life!) so proudly displayed at Sacred Heart.
There is a robust and involved parent community at the school, led by the Parents’ Guild and a team of volunteers. There are countless ways to support the school. For me, the Parents’ Guild team helped me to find multiple ways to fit volunteering into my busy work schedule. In the years that my children have attended Sacred Heart, I have been welcomed as a volunteer with the Hot Lunch Program and the (beloved!) annual Christmas Fair. Volunteering has made it easy to meet other families at the school. I've also cherished the informal ways that the parent community has connected. I love that we have a parent group chat on WhatsApp for my daughter's class where parents can share class updates or send photos or ask questions! The community is made up of parents who are eager to be involved, and it's wonderful to connect with others who share similar values.
(4) School Location
Sacred Heart is situated in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia, within walking distance of many local attractions and parks. I love that my child can experience walks at the Halifax Public Gardens, a visit to the Museum of Natural History, or an afternoon at the Discovery Centre - these are all experiences that enrich my child’s learning! The school is surrounded by major transit routes, restaurants, and shops, and I often see senior school students walking to get lunch together. Although parking can occasionally be challenging, Sacred Heart is otherwise a wonderfully situated school!