REVIEW OF Star Academy BY parent, Natalia Diamond
- Date of Review
January 24, 2024
- Child 1
Gr. 1 - Gr. 3 (Female, Current Day Student)
(5) Student Experience
My daughter is now in her 3rd year at Star Academy. Previous to Star, she attended a Montessori school for both Junior and Senior Kindergarten and thrived in that learning environment, but that particular school didn't offer any higher grades. The initial draw to enroll her at Star Academy post-pandemic was the small class sizes and track record of providing an excellent online learning program when schools were temporarily closed, but we were quickly impressed at the variety of learning opportunities and experiences that the school offers. My daughter especially loves the daily gym classes and always looks forward to technology and art classes as well. Star Academy includes a lot of “hands-on” learning and group work, which works very well for my daughter's learning style. Last year she was excited to create a model of a treehouse, which included furnished rooms, play equipment, ladders and even monkeys, all based on a learning unit on different types of homes around the world.
(5) School Leadership
I’m truly impressed with the way that Star Academy promotes an inclusive learning environment and their proactive anti-bullying stance. I feel that this is a huge issue in many public schools and something that I worry about. At Star, they not only have a very detailed anti-bullying policy, but they take the time to ensure students understand what it means, and staff actively monitor and enforce the policy. School administration does a great job communicating to parents and keeping them updated on all the “happenings”, through a weekly newsletter and mid-week reminders (very appreciated!). Each teacher sends out their own classroom newsletter on Friday afternoons, with updates and photos, which is incredibly helpful when your child typically provides one-word descriptions of how their day went!
I think that one of Star Academy's biggest strengths is its teachers. I truly look forward to parent/teacher night, because my daughter's teacher takes the time to get to know her learning style, her personality, and how to make her feel challenged. I love to hear about how my daughter interacts with other students in her class, and what challenges she may be working to overcome - all topics I don't get to hear about at the dinner table! Teachers at Star are constantly improving their skills, whether it's something that they can apply directly to their teaching methods, new technology or updates to the social/psychological side of teaching. I'm confident that my daughter's teachers are highly qualified and proud of their abilities, which in turn transfers into the confidence instilled in their students.
It was important to me to find a private school that still follows the official Ontario Curriculum so that my daughter is on par (or over) these requirements when she transitions to high school. I feel that a huge benefit for students at Star is the low student-to-teacher ratio, which gives students more opportunities for one-on-one time with their teachers to truly understand the learning content. In larger classes, quieter students may struggle to be heard and fall through the cracks because the teaching staff simply can't keep up with the number of students. At Star, I know my daughter is getting all the attention and instruction that she needs. She is encouraged to push beyond her comfort zone, which keeps my daughter more engaged and sets the precedent for her learning journey.
For a small school, there are more extracurricular activities than I expected. There are many clubs for students to choose from, whether sports, games, crafts or otherwise, and students are encouraged to try something new each semester. One of my daughter's favourite clubs was "story-telling", where everyone took turns adding to a made-up story. The results were always hilarious, and she would excitedly tell me the crazy plot twists after school. Each year, the school hosts a number of events that parents and family members are invited to attend, including Speech Night, an art exhibit, and a Science Fair. The Science Fair is quite a production and includes group projects from the younger grades, and small team and individual projects from the higher grades. The students put a great deal of thought and work into their projects and present their work both in-person and in digital formats.
Although Star is a smaller school, there is great diversity in the student body and its teachers, and the school administration truly takes the time to teach and celebrate different cultures and holidays. I know of larger schools that don't take the time to recognize this and find that unfortunate, as learning about other cultures teaches kids to respect and value others' experiences and beliefs. My daughter gets along well with those in her class and has a few close friends who sometimes have play dates at each others' homes, all planned out by the kids. Each gets assigned a certain "task" in preparation for the play date, and more than once now I've been contacted by another mom to ask if I knew I was hosting a play date that weekend, or that I had been volunteered to bake cupcakes! I love seeing how my daughter has gained independence and confidence since she started at Star Academy.
(5) School Life
My daughter truly enjoys going to Star Academy. Classes are never boring - teachers do a great job engaging their students, yet give them enough independent time to work on their individual assignments. Homework is slowly increasing as my daughter moves up in grade level, but it's never overwhelming. The split grade format works very well with the small class sizes, and students tend to interact with each other more since every other year they're in class with a different group of kids. I would love to see older grades partner up with a lower grade for a special project to teach different perspectives and bond through mentorship. Our family also loves the 11 month school year program - having a week's break every other month gives us opportunities to take vacations outside of the typical busy periods, and the 6 week summer break still gives ample time to recharge after a challenging school year.
The small class sizes mean that students spend a lot of time together and really build some close friendships, and I love that the school parent community is quite close as well - most parents know each other on a first-name basis. The school year always begins with a family BBQ, which is a great opportunity to meet not only the students in the class but their parents as well. Throughout the year, parents are encouraged to participate in various cultural and holiday celebrations, and the younger grades also put together very special Mother's Day and Father's Day events. Some parents get very hands-on and come in for a special presentation or activity to do with the class, but there's really no pressure for those with busy work schedules.
(5) School Location
Star Academy is tucked away in a quiet residential pocket in South Mississauga. The school is on a large piece of property with a huge green space and plenty of tall, shady trees. It’s safely off the main road, making it easy for students to stay on the property without fear of wandering off. Currently, there is a lot of construction activity as the city is updating Dixie Road, but this doesn’t impact the school itself, other than gaining a new driveway entrance/exit.