REVIEW OF St. Margaret's School BY parent, Julie Akeroyd
- Date of Review
November 03, 2022
- Child 1
Gr. 5 - 9 (Female, Current Day Student)
- Child 2
Gr. K - 3 (Female, Current Day Student)
- Child 3
Gr. K - 1 (Female, Current Day Student)
(5) Student Experience
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 teachers really know them and are able to encourage their strengths and support them in areas where they need further development. They also love all the enriching extracurricular opportunities: athletics, clubs, music, and leadership, which add an important and valuable addition to the learning they are doing within the regular school day. As our family lives close to SMS, they also appreciate the proximity to school that allows them to walk to and from school most days, supporting both the family and school's value of sustainability. Finally, they value the many leadership opportunities they get at the school, including public speaking opportunities from the earliest ages - they experience so much pride from preparing and participating in these events.
(4.5) School Leadership
The school leadership is very engaged and involved. Many days they are standing at the front entrance to welcome students to the new day: I love this, as it is such a welcoming gesture that really reflects the caring community atmosphere of the school. They know my children and their days are focused on nurturing my daughters to be the best versions of themselves. They are very responsive to issues and concerns. I also am impressed with their constant vision for the future and growth of the school to develop new opportunities for students.
It is incredibly valuable to me how well my children are known by the staff at St. Margaret's School. Being a small school, the educators know who my children are as learners and individuals. This close connection allows the educators to nurture my children's strengths, as well as support them in areas that need improvement. I have found that the educators at this school are universally positive, passionate, and dedicated, whether this is during the regular school day, or in the countless hours that they all dedicate to leadership roles, extracurricular activities, or special events put on by the school. Whenever I interact with the educators at this school I am always impressed by the high level of dedication demonstrated. Furthermore, as a parent, I have always experienced and appreciated a very prompt level of response and availability from the educators (at all levels of leadership) if I need assistance or wish to connect to discuss something concerning my child.
SMS has a strong focus on experiential learning, which I think is fantastic. I feel like my daughters are developing the ability to think critically, which is so fundamental. I am impressed with the school’s focus on specialized learning, such as having a numeracy specialist and educators who are focused on fine arts. I am confident that my daughters are getting a high-quality, well-rounded education. The academic culture is to encourage passionate learners, and I know my daughters enjoy having the opportunity to focus on areas of learning that interest them. I feel like SMS nurtures an age-appropriate balance of rigour and self-directed learning, and I am confident that this approach has contributed to my daughters being so engaged and participatory in their learning.
Yes, absolutely. There are so many interesting activities for my daughters to be involved in, right from the junior ages. I love it when my youngest arrives home to tell me she has independently signed up for a club or activity, knowing that she has developed the confidence to make these decisions herself in grade one, but also that she gets to learn amazing things (that she wouldn’t learn from me!) such as Green Club or coding. My elder daughter also has opportunities like rowing and Model UN, which allow her to develop her passions. The available activities span a wide variety of interests, from STEM to sustainability, to the arts, to athletics, and to special interest programs. There really is something for everyone!
SMS is a small, closely-knit community. Students and families are very close and support each other - it’s wonderful. Families enjoy many activities together, both organized by the school and independently. I feel like the school is an extension of our family. There is a huge focus on developing social and personal skills like kindness and respect, and it really shows in the culture of the school. We were unsure about choosing an independent school and were hesitant about the perception of having “private school kids” and the entitled stereotype that can go along with it. SMS has totally assuaged our concerns: it is a very welcoming environment with unpretentious students and families who are united in their vision of nurturing women and girls to become confident leaders and world citizens.
(4.5) School Life
Every morning my girls excitedly head through the front doors of SMS (in fact, my eldest often arrives early to attend optional activities before school!). I think to say that your three children - all at different ages and stages - love their school and enjoy attending each day is a testament to the special place that is SMS. They love their teachers, the stunning campus where they can learn and play in nature, and the many extracurricular activities, and they (and we!) love the included meal plan that feeds them delicious, healthy, diverse lunches each day. I know they each feel loved, safe, and supported at SMS, and because of this, they are each thriving in their own growth and development. I feel so grateful that my children have the immense privilege to attend this school.
There is something very special about the St. Margaret's School community. You can feel it as you enter the campus: it is quiet and serene, but at the same time bustling with energy and enthusiasm. It is a place of opportunity. There are very strong connections between students, staff, parents, and families. Our family loves St. Margaret's School for the wonderful connections we feel with the close-knit community: our children have strong, supportive friendships and, as parents, we greatly appreciate our relationships with other like-minded parents who have become part of our parenting "village". Parents are very welcome and can be actively involved in the school, whether it be on boards or committees, volunteering for sports teams, or participating in the many events that are held at the school, and there are class representatives that facilitate activities and communication. This being said, there is no pressure to participate, which can be a burden on parents who do not have the ability to do so.
(5) School Location
St. Margaret's School is located on a large, safe, and quiet campus that takes full advantage of the abundant nature surrounding it. The location is one of the many reasons we send our children to this school, as it allows them a lot of outdoor connection, exploration, and play during the school day (much of the curriculum is integrated with outdoor learning); they can walk to school independently along quiet residential streets, and there are many trails and parks nearby for them to explore. School activities regularly include off-campus exploration and trips, either by walking to nearby locations, or taking school transportation to places further afield. Boarding students get the benefit of what feels like a rural on-campus experience while being only walking distance away from central urban amenities like transportation, grocery stores, pharmacies, and coffee shops.