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Sunnybrook School:
The Our Kids Report > Reviews
Grades JK TO Gr. 6 — Toronto, ON (Map)

Sunnybrook School:

Interview with Sunnybrook School PARENT, Laurie Levitt

Laurie Levitt has had two children go through Sunnybrook School. Both her son and her daughter attended from kindergarten through to Grade 6. Coming from the public system, concerns about crowding led them to investigate other options. They had a preference for co-ed. They knew nothing of the IB program. But when they walked into Sunnybrook, it felt like home. Laurie says the school was a good fit for both her kids, even though one was shy and the other boisterous. From public speaking to critical thinking to math skills, Laurie says the school set them both up well for success.

Video Contents

Highlights from the interview

  • As soon as we walked into Sunnybrook, there’s no other way to describe it other than it felt right. It felt like it was going to be the right school for our daughter. We were very impressed by a tour that we took, led by a Grade 6 girl, and we thought ‘If our daughter could end up as eloquent as that at Grade 6, we’re in’.

  • My kids felt like a part of the community. They didn’t just go to the school — they were part of that school. It’s a very small community, which I think helped both of my children in different ways. It helped my daughter come out of her shell, giving her leadership opportunities. When you only have one Grade 6 class, that’s your school’s leadership. So when my daughter was in that grade, she got those opportunities, whereas at a bigger school, she might not have had the same chance to be a leader.

  • Before choosing Sunnybrook, we looked at bigger schools, and at single-sex schools. Both my children went onto bigger schools as well. But at the time, the bigger schools just seemed too big for us. To us they seemed more like public schools in terms of size. And we didn’t really understand single-sex education, because my husband and I both went to co-ed public schools. We also were concerned about having them in just one school from kindergarten all the way to Grade 12. We wanted some change and transition, thinking that different schools could give them different abilities and different experiences. So that led us toward Sunnybrook.

  • The school is very big on their heritage, their history, and how they got started. They’re also very well known, especially for a small school. I never expected other people to have heard of Sunnybrook, but more often than not, they’ve heard of it. That to me is unbelievable.

  • We didn’t know anything about the IB program when we started at Sunnybrook. It’s very interesting, to say the least. It’s very knowledge-based, inquiry-based, and research-based. Back when our daughter started in JK, they had this unit called ‘Apples and Pumpkins’, which happens in the fall. They went to a pumpkin farm, just like a lot of JK classes do, but what really fascinated us is how much they delved into the whole concept. They go from the life cycle of things, to celebrations and how different families celebrate, and why celebrations are important to us, and what they celebrate and all sorts of things like that. At first we thought it was a little deep for a class of junior kindergartners — until we heard them talking about it. We didn’t give them enough credit. If they’re allowed to think deeply at that age, they actually can.

  • The number one way the IB program paid off for our daughter is that she learned how to write an essay. And I don’t mean she learned this in her middle or high school — in Sunnybrook, they start writing essays. I think it’s around Grade 3. They’re small, manageable, but they learn the concept of an essay, they learn research. She’s always done well at this ever since, and that is credit to Sunnybrook.

  • Another skill my kids learned at Sunnybrook is public speaking. I remember this one time, when one of them was going to do this speech at an assembly, and they were quite young. Maybe I was projecting my own fears of public speaking, but I remember asking them ‘Are you nervous? How are you feeling about this?’ And they looked at me like, ‘Why would I be nervous? I do this all the time. This is not a big deal.’

  • It really helps that all the teachers really know the kids. That’s because it’s a really small school, and there wasn’t a lot of staff turnover either. Even if your child is only in Grade 1, the Grade 6 teacher will still know your child. They begin to know them early on, and they do a lot of school activities together with all the teachers. For example, they do this wonderful school musical at the end of the year. The students get to know each other really well, across grade levels. I found it really heartwarming.

  • My son is very boisterous, very loud, and our one concern was that maybe Sunnybrook would be too small for him. But somehow it wasn’t a problem. For example, we were thinking of the small gym, and the fact that he was very sporty. The small gym wasn’t an issue at all because they do a lot of outside activities. They go to the parks a lot. They do outside activities like curling, skating, rock climbing, gyms, things like that. When you go tour Sunnybrook, one thing you notice is how tiny the gym is, but they do so much to get them outside of that small gym.

  • As parents, you get to know the teachers well. You know the staff well, the principal well. I think the communications are very good. Especially when you have young children, that good communication is so important, because the kids are not telling you about things as much themselves.

  • Sunnybrook would have community-building activities, and not so much focus on fundraising. There was a little bit of that, not a lot. Instead, they would have a pub night, which was really super casual, where parents and teachers would go, so you could get to know them on a more social basis. That helped as well, just to foster that kind of friendship. Instead of parents and teachers being siloed, it felt like you were working together.

  • The accessibility of the teachers was huge, and even the accessibility of the principal and vice-principal. If you had an issue or question or concern, they were always very accessible. You could call them on the phone, call them by their first name, and arrange to come in and see them, no problem, or speak to them on the phone. It was just a very open-door policy. I think that helped me a lot, because as a parent, you put a lot of trust in a school — not just educate your children, which is important, but to help make them into good people. Between parents and the school, you have to have the same values.

  • While we were at Sunnybrook, we were involved in a change the school made to a completely different math program. It was a difficult transition, because there were some gaps in how the old math curriculum and the new one lined up. But I think it was a great idea. It’s called Singapore Math. My son went all the way through it, and his math skills are amazing because of it. They put a lot of thought into rolling it out, they knew it wasn’t going to be easy, and they made sure to have the support there to back it up. In the end, it was a great thing. Singapore Math is amazing.

  • One change that we lived through at Sunnybrook was a construction project, when they purchased the house next door and they expanded the school. It gave them a new art studio, which is awesome, and bigger kindergarten classes. And I have no complaints. The school handled it really well.

  • Sunnybrook is not a huge fundraising school. The fundraising is always done through the Parents Association. Anybody can go to those meetings and give input and give their two cents — it’s quite accessible. So any fundraising that’s done is parent-driven. Basically, the school may have a wish list, but it’s parent-driven.

  • The kids at Sunnybrook knew each other so well that they really were like siblings. It was unbelievable. One nice thing about that was they forgave other kids for some of their quirks and stuff, whereas maybe in a bigger school they would have been made fun of. They saw each other for who they were. They had known each other for so long, they didn’t think of any of their quirks or anything as odd. They were very accepting of each other.

  • By the time our daughter graduated, she was ready for the next challenge. Early on, she wasn’t the most confident child, but by graduation, she wanted her next school to be big, and to be all-girls. That surprised us, but I think it was because she had been at a small, nurturing environment that she had the confidence to do that.


More about Sunnybrook School

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Key insights on Sunnybrook School

Each school is different. Sunnybrook School's Feature Review excerpts disclose its unique character. Based on discussions with the school's alumni, parents, students, and administrators, they reveal the school’s distinctive culture, community, and identity.

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Our Kids Feature Review

The 50-page review of Sunnybrook School is part of our series of in-depth accounts of Canada's leading private schools. It provides a unique and objective perspective on the school's academics, programs, culture, and community.

  • Academically, Sunnybrook students share a capacity for accelerated learning.
  • The school has a personal, involved feel.
  • School leadership has been remarkably consistent since the founding.
Read our in-depth review

Our Kids Feature Review video

Learn about Sunnybrook School's unique and defining characteristics through this informative video.

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More video reviews

Roundtable Q&A (2020)

Watch our Sunnybrook School Q&A discussion to gain fresh insight into the school's culture, values, and strengths.

Roundtable Q&A (2021)

Watch our Sunnybrook School Q&A discussion with Lori Levitt (Parent) to gain fresh insight into the school’s culture, values, and strengths.

Parent, Nina and Mark Angelo (2023)

Gr. 1 to Gr. 3 (current), Gr. 1 (current) — Watch our parent interview with Nina and Mark Angelo to get the inside scoop on what it’s like to have a child attend Sunnybrook School.
See all video reviews (7 total)

More written reviews


Parent, Laura Waters (2020)

Our daughter started at Sunnybrook for SK. She immediately felt welcomed into the entire school community. At Sunnybrook, every staff member greets each child and knows them by name. She loves how her...


Parent, Olivia Kao (2019)

My child recently switched from a Montessori environment to Sunnybrook School this year. Although it has only been a month, he is excited to go to school everyday. He loves his teachers, the team ev...


Parent, Reza Asadikia (2018)

The size of this school is in a way that is not intimidating for younger students, but at the same time encourages interaction with older student to help them grow. With one JK and one SK classroom cl...

THE OUR KIDS REPORT: Sunnybrook School

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