REVIEW OF St. Jude's Academy BY Alum, Farah Ahmad
- Date of Review
February 23, 2018
Gr. 12 - Gr. 12
- University (major)
Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCAD University)
(5) Overall Experience
The time I spent at St. Jude's Academy was unforgettable. When I came to St. Jude's Academy I was a newly arrived immigrant from Egypt, where I had a very different educational and cultural background than my friends, and so the fear of not fitting in was quite frightening. However, the very welcoming environment and diverse community of St. Jude's Academy demolished any possibility of being left out in every aspect (Academically and socially). The year that I spent at St. Jude's Academy was one of the best years that I have ever experienced. St. Jude's Academy helped me expand my thinking, recognize my strengths and interests and, lastly, I become a better person. It taught me a lot of valuable lessons that prepared and assisted me in a lot of ways that without, I would have struggled with what life has to offer. Prospective students should expect to find a community that will become their extended family and their second home. They will find caring and supportive teachers, friendships that will last a lifetime, academic excellence, and they will have memories of being part of the SJA family.
(4.5) School Leadership
St. Jude's Academy has a consistent high expectation and ambition for the success of their students. The school is focused relentlessly on improving the teaching and learning quality and the students' experience. St. Jude's Academy administration team and staff treated every student equally and always promoted rich opportunities for learning both within and out of the classroom. They were integrated into our community and this made them all approachable. They were listeners and always wanted to help to ensure the continual student improvement and school improvement. They were friendly and respectful and always responded to problems appropriately when informed. St. Jude's Academy administration staff treated disciplinary issues in a very polite and respectful manner and always took time to listen before proceeding with any sanctions or informing the parents. Communicating with the parents was appreciated by the students, as the school was always able to do it effectively. Furthermore, the privacy of the student in question was also respected, when dealing with an issue that impacts the schools' community at large. St. Jude's Academy administration team were basically loved and respected and played a very important role in the improvement of the school's community.
St. Jude's Academy teachers brought back my faith in teachers again. At St. Jude's Academy, the teachers, devote a great amount of effort to the student's daily teaching activities and in helping their students improve in every way possible. They have an amazing energy and a great sense of humor that I had never experienced before coming to St. Jude's Academy. They all have a real passion for teaching, and it shows through subtle contamination of energy among the students while in class. The students were connected, and we bonded to make class great, light and enjoyable together! The relationship between the students and the teachers is a mix of Formal and informal with mutual respect from both ends, which was one of the things I liked about the school. That being said, the teachers at St. Jude's Academy always remained open and receptive to comments and questions all day and year long. Also, the effectively communicated and constructive feedback that I received from my teachers was one of the ways that I was able to improve myself. This supportive quality did not stop the day I graduated, but, in fact, two of them are still very supportive and continue to have a positive impact on my academic and personal development. These are the ones that I consider my champions, and I'm always keen to stay in touch with the St. Jude's community. St. Jude's Academy teachers are truly gifted. It was just incredible to see the different approach to teaching.
St. Jude's Academy has a variety of extracurricular activities that every student will be willing to join. Between arts, athletics, law, music, and literature, no field is left out. Students are encouraged to be part of at least one extracurricular activity. As a new immigrant, I was not familiar with most of them, but I was encouraged to challenge myself and became part of many activities. I was co-captain of the Mock Trial team, which made it to the Peel Region Mock Trial Competition to come in second place, overall. I helped to mentor the senior girl's Soccer team, and I was part of the Track and Field team. I also aided in the organization and implementation of The Syrian Refugee Clothes Drive. Lastly, I taught four, six years old children various art techniques in the after school art program. Being part of all of this, helped me develop collaborative skills and learn commitment. Not only that, but it also helped to know about different fields (Law and sports) that I would have never imagined being interested in.
St. Jude's Academy student body is small (roughly 12-20 students in the grade 9-12 classed). This was very special, as we had greater opportunities to get to know one another personally and develop close-knit relationships. This positive classroom friendship improved our academic performance. The small student body also enhanced teacher-student relationships, as the teachers had much more one-on-one time with the students and were able to truly develop a relationship. It afforded teachers the opportunity to get to know their students personally, as well as academically. These positive relationships between the student and teacher are profoundly meaningful to me and to many other students. The school atmosphere was not a typical boring school day, but instead, it was characterized by a relaxed atmosphere filled with purposeful activities. This atmosphere possessed in a real sense an atmosphere, which makes itself felt in the presence of even a casual visitor. St. Jude's Academy does not have a "typical" student, as we all come from all over the world and each of us has our strengths and weaknesses. However, our school body was very enthusiastic, bright, encouraging and respectful to one another. We all had a connection of heart and mind, so ethnicity, language, origin, socio-economic standing, gender, and sexuality did not affect the respectful treatment of one another. Instead, this diversity brought us closer and made us life time friends.
(5) School Life
The number of hours I spent there are some of the most vivid memories that I have. It is quite surprising to me the fact that I spent more time there than at home. I loved being there for a couple more of extra hours after school for extracurricular activities. I loved being there talking to my teachers about anything. I loved being there because I was surrounded by students who were passionate and helpful in every way possible. I loved being there because I felt it was just like home. I believe my classmates and other students did enjoy their time. St. Jude's Academy is always up to the task when it comes to improving student's life and their experience. The year that I was in St. Jude's Academy, the biggest struggle was the slow internet. However, as soon as the student union mentioned it, the school dealt with the issue. As a grade 12 who was applying for university and trying to maintain high grades, I certainly felt some stress. However, the stress did not impact my social life. Instead, it made me closer to the teachers and my friends, who were always there supporting an helping as much as they could.
My class, class of 2016-2017, was the first graduating class from St. Jude's Academy. As a result, we did not engage with any alumni. However, the following years are engaged with the alumni, as some other students and myself still visit the school and support it. Parents are encouraged to be part of St. Jude's Academy community and to attend musical or theatre performances. Furthermore, St. Jude's Academy has a parent guild that hold meetings regularly that parents are encouraged to be part of for the improvement of their child's experience at St. Jude's Academy. Also, these meetings cover any concerns or issues that the parents wish the school to solve. I am still in touch with some of my closest friends at St. Jude's Academy. We see each other a lot and we talk on a regular basis. It is a community that still supports.
(4.5) School Location
St. Jude's Academy is located in Mississauga. The surrounding area is quiet, which sometimes can make it feel like an island. However, St. Jude's Academy believes that learning extends beyond the classroom. Hence, across the school, there is an ice rink, where the students go and practice skating. Also, beside the school, Lake Aquitaine park is located. The park is very beautiful, especially during the fall, where we used to go early in the morning and practice for track and field. Moreover, there are lots of restaurants that are walking distance from the school. Students can go and grab something to eat after school. However, the students usually do not venture beyond the school grounds, as St. Jude's Academy has everything available on campus.
(5) University placement and counselling
St. Jude's Academy counselors work one-to-one from a very early stage with upper school students to determine his or her long-term plans, goals, strengths and interests. St. Jude's Academy discuss their students' interests and help them to develop personalized education plans by helping them to choose their courses each year; they then re-examine the strategies with students each year to decide if they still fit or need tweaking. When students are in Grades 11 and 12, St. Jude's Academy takes several measures to prepare them for the road ahead: arranging university information sessions and trips to campuses in Ontario, and providing a well-organized handbook of application processes and deadlines. When I was applying to university, it was a very straightforward process and I was supported in every step taken.