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St. Margaret's School:
The Our Kids Report > Reviews
Grades JK TO Gr. 12 — Victoria, BC (Map)


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REVIEW OF St. Margaret's School BY parent, Natalie Burns

  • Date of Review
    May 08, 2024
  • Child 1
    Gr. 1 - Gr. 4 (Female, Current Day Student)
  • Child 2
    Gr. 6 - Gr. 7 (Female, Current Day Student)

(5) Student Experience

Our child joined St Margaret’s mid-year, never an easy time to do so. She was so warmly welcomed by the girls and teachers, and that really assisted in her transition. Since she was behind in reading she immediately received wrap-around support and showed amazing progress. Her confidence, curiosity, and hands-on learning all grew by leaps and bounds. She enjoys her friends, teachers, and the wide range of opportunities. She immediately joined the after-school tennis and Lego club, she’s learned to code, build a greenhouse, and jumped into French, even though she hadn’t learned the language before. We are thankful every day to be part of such an amazing school. Our daughter can’t wait for Grade 2 and has asked to be signed up for “everything” because she doesn’t want to miss out on all the fun and learning.

(4) School Leadership

We have so appreciated Mary Lue Emerson as Junior School Director. She is warm, very experienced and knows each child. She is accessible and never misses an opportunity to pass on a story of my daughter’s success. The school has several vehicles for communication, including a weekly newsletter. Overall, the administration has been accessible and proactive in providing some really great support to parents, like webinars, guest speakers town hall meetings, etc. We have not come to the administration with a disciplinary action or anything like that, so cannot speak to that process.

(5) Teaching

Our daughters receive support, challenge and praise from their teachers, I see them being held to a high standard, and gaining the confidence that comes from knowing you can achieve your goals. Most importantly, the teachers know and understand my daughters, celebrating their unique strengths and interests, while coaching them in areas for growth. They are always available for an informal chat or to schedule a formal meeting. In the Junior school, you can expect a lot of daily interaction with the teacher, especially at school pick-up. They are very good about having quick chats to let you know how the day went if any challenges or big wins of the day and quickly demonstrate that they know your child well, things like their favourite type of music, favorite animal, or special interests. In the older grades, you have less face-to-face time with the teachers, but they are always available by email and will introduce him selves over a Zoom meeting early in the school year.

(4) Academics

I believe there is a culture of leadership and exploratory, multi-disciplinary learning at SMS. I think the gentle but persistent emphasis on leadership skills is sowing the seeds of critical thinking and a sense of self-confidence that will serve the girls well in life. A large part of the academic success comes from outstanding teachers, individualized learning, and a girls-only environment. We found teachers to take the time to get to know our students in depth, and to both assist in areas where they are weaker, but also acknowledge and celebrate areas of strength. They have been provided opportunities in leadership in these areas, such as playing with the senior band, well only in middle school, and providing assistance to students in younger grades with their academics. The girls in the environment help to foster freedom of expression, exploration, high expectations, and leadership.

(4.5) Extracurriculars

The range of extracurricular activities at SMS is excellent. The hardest part is having to say no to some of them because of other commitments. It’s not easy for a small school to support a range of music and athletic opportunities but they do a great job. Our daughters have participated in swim club, knitting club, beading club, basketball, triathlon, cross country, extended music, and as a school ambassador, as well as several summer camps!

(4) Students

The students have been warm and welcoming at SMS. A key strength is the small size, which allows for a lot of multi-grade interactions and friendships. The small classes also encourage (if not require) girls to work through issues or conflict, getting to know each other deeply and respecting each other’s differences. As stated above, joining a new school is not easy. We felt that the parents and students, along with the teachers made gentle efforts to help the girls feel comfortable, make friends, and get to know their way around. After admission, we received personal calls and emails from parents inviting us to “meet-ups” where new students could meet each other and some current students. This made them feel much more comfortable.

(4.5) School Life

Both our daughters really enjoy SMS. They enjoy the campus, the extracurriculars, and the fact that it is a girls' school. We were initially concerned about the all-girl environment, but it has been great for our girls. They are strong and confident and have no preconceived notions about what subjects or topics are for boys or girls. When our daughter transferred from a co-ed school to SMS, her number one comment was that they spent so much more time learning and working in the SMS environment, and there was much less time spent on disciplinary issues. While they are not in love with the uniform, we like it as parents! And, getting to eat in Alexis Hall more than makes up for it to the kids.

(4.5) Community

The parent community at SMS is strong. Parents are most often involved with school in the junior years, so it is easier to connect at drop off or pick up items there. Historically there has been a “class rep” or someone to reach out to for questions, which has recently morphed into What’s App communities for classes. It is a bit more difficult to connect with parents and families in older grades, however sporting events (e.g.' weekly basketball games) and special events (e.g., art night, math night, concerts) provide some time to connect, and this year the Grade 7 parents did a pub night to get to know each other and welcome new families. We also did a Barbie movie day over the summer. The most important tool for a community is a class list to invite other parents and girls to connect.

(4.5) School Location

SMS is in a great location! It’s a little bit of a walk to Transit, but only because it’s tucked away on a beautiful campus. Our girls like the grounds and forest, but they also have had excursions to Beckwith Park, the duck pond, and even to get Bubble Tea, which are all close by. The adjacent elementary school has a good relationship with SMS families, sharing parking, crossing guards, etc. as needed.

(5) Admissions

I would strongly advise anyone, considering admissions to take advantage of the school tours and spend as much time as possible, observing things on campus. We found it very helpful to visit a couple of times, have all of our questions answered, and be able to observe the school in session, as well as on a day when students were not there. We were impressed that the school communicated its benefits, without disparaging any other schools that were alternatives. We also did not feel any pressure to join, nor did we feel that we were not welcome for a second visit. Instead, it was a no-pressure environment and we were welcome to spend time on campus.

 

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  • Canada’s first all-girls STEM school.
  • Oldest continuous independent school on Vancouver Island.
  • Emphasis on leadership and experiential, interdisciplinary learning.
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More written reviews

(4.8)

Parent, Julie Akeroyd (2022)

K to Gr. 3 (current),K to Gr. 1 (current),Gr. 5 to Gr. 9 (current) — My daughters absolutely love the close, caring community at SMS. They enjoy small classes that foster close relationships with both fellow students and educators. Given the small class sizes, their te...

(4.6)

Parent, Cheryl Major (2021)

St. Margaret's makes every day an amazing day for both of my daughters. My daughters have had an excellent academic education while learning and practicing values in an environment that challenges, su...

(4.6)

Parent, Erin Solbakken (2018)

St. Margaret’s is amazing. The entire faculty goes above and beyond. Our daughter is nurtured and supported in all areas. She loves the ability to try many new things as well as focus on those she ...
See all written reviews (7 total)
 

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