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Reviews of St. Margaret's School

Victoria, BC  |  Grades JK - 12  |  Shortlist

 

Review by: Cheryl Major - Parent (Nov 02, 2021)

"SMS is a student-driven school where girls take the lead!"


Student Experience

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, supports and inspires them. They especially love the big sister/little sister program and multi-grade learning sessions. They also enjoy the multitude of opportunities they have to get in front of an audience to speak, perform or lead, and I love that subjects such as mental health and social justice are introduced in the early years. I know that my daughters feel loved at this school - they are safe and cared for in a way that is second only to home. Overall, I can't think of a better environment for girls to learn who they are, find their voice and build their confidence.


School Location

St. Margaret's is located on a beautiful campus. Tucked away in a popular Saanich neighbourhood with limited access points the campus is very safe, but connected to local trails for hiking and biking. The school is a short drive to downtown Victoria and has access to beaches, lakes and larger hikes all within 30 minutes. The Greater Victoria area is great for adventures, culture, community and fun!


School Leadership

The school leadership clearly has a genuine concern for and interest in simply doing the best they can for every single girl at the school. They reach out to parents regularly and clearly care about the environment, the girls and the relationships. The school leadership has changed quite a bit over the last few years but I think they have found the 'right fit' and are headed in a good direction. You can tell that it's an excellent working environment at SMS because of the longevity of so many staff members.


Teaching

We have loved every teacher and support staff member we have come across at SMS. The teachers are absolutely passionate, innovative and engaged, and the collaborative/team teaching environment means that the students experience multiple teachers at all grades, getting expertise and energy from each one throughout the day. I have the impression that staff is well supported and truly enjoy working at SMS. I am so impressed by the level of education, experience and ongoing commitment to learning that I see among staff at this school. You will find teachers volunteering for lunch-hour and after-school clubs, supporting activities the girls want to pursue (such as pride parade) and taking part in spirit days with as much enthusiasm as the students. My youngest daughter has had some challenges, and the learning support team has been fantastic about identifying and adjusting to meet her needs in the classroom, while giving us tools and tips for ensuring consistency at home. My older daughter was ready to extend her learning in some areas and, with a couple of other girls from her class, worked with the Foundation Years principal to form a social justice club and then an Inspiring Women's Book Club. Report cards are thorough and informative, parent-teacher interviews and student-led conferences are well-structured and valuable.


Academics

In our six years at SMS, my daughters have been challenged at an appropriate level and provided with opportunities for extended learning. They both came out of the Junior Kindergarten program as avid readers, and still remember some of the Japanese they learned in those years. I can clearly see that they are getting an above-average level of instruction and depth of knowledge, taught in a way that encourages thoughtful insight. SMS has a STEM focus, and both of my daughters have been given a strong foundation in Math, in a way that makes it fun for them, as well as experiences in programming and robotics. During the pandemic, SMS quickly adapted to online learning, offering a full suite of classes, activities and learning supports.


Extracurriculars

In the Foundation Years, the girls are able to participate in many clubs during the school day (Green Club, Art Club, Robotics Club, etc.) and some teams are offered during after school hours, such as Triathlon, which focuses on the running and biking, and Robotics, which participates in FIRST competitions. In addition, the school offers a suite of on-campus activities that families can register for during after-school hours, such as music lessons and gymnastics. In an all-girl environment, it seems that there is less desire to be competitive and more to experience the sport/activity and support each other.


Students

SMS is a student-driven school where girls take the lead! This is a small school where everyone gets to know each other in a supportive and caring environment. I haven't yet met a student who doesn't know my eldest daughter, and I love that cross-grade socializing and learning are encouraged - it offers so many opportunities for formal and informal mentoring. This is a school where girls play longer, where they are never 'too cool' to get to know the younger students, and where ideas and initiatives are supported. Girls at SMS are leaders who raise their hands, speak their minds and participate fully in the larger conversation. The girls at SMS encourage each other, are full of spirit and house pride, and create an environment that truly allows everyone to express their most authentic selves.


School Life

My daughters absolutely love going to school at SMS and count it as one of their homes. They feel safe, supported and cared for in an environment that is both fun and inspiring. They know that they can follow any academic or extracurricular interest, that their energy and enthusiasm will be encouraged and celebrated, and that they can find, and use, their voice here. The experiences, friendships, supportive staff and overall safe environment of the school have given my daughters safe harbour during some otherwise tumultuous times, and I am grateful to the school for being the one steady thing we can always count on. The experiences, values and community at SMS have given them the tools, mindset and strength to navigate adversity, New students in each of our years there have been wholly and immediately welcomed, without exception. Many new girls have said they 'found their place' at SMS, and friendships have extended through families to vacations and activities together.


Community

As a parent at SMS, I am highly involved in the community and felt welcomed as part of the school since our first day at Junior Kindergarten. The school has an Auxiliary which also functions as a parent group. We connect class families, plan and run activities and fundraisers, offer a business directory to connect and support family-owned businesses and run used-uniform sales through a private Facebook group. Each class in the Foundation Years, and many of the Middle Years, has a Class Rep that attends monthly meetings and keeps the class informed of school priorities and upcoming activities. Parents run activities such as the Halloween dance, book fairs, a family skate on Family Day, a holiday Craft Fair and end of year celebration. Parents also get involved in the academics of the school, whether it's a science class on building a meteorite or weekly wellness sessions for healthy and active living.




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