Roundtable Q&A Discussion About Sunnybrook School (2021)
Sunnybrook School alumni, current students, and parents shared their insights on the school’s culture, values, strengths, and weaknesses. Hear what Lori Levitt had to say about the school.
- 1:13 - What did you appreciate most about the school during your time here? And how has your perspective on that changed now that you've had some distance from the school?
- 6:29 - What one thing would you change about the school for the better if you had to choose something?
- 9:29 - What would families find most surprising about the school?
- Show Full Video Contents
Highlights from the Q&A discussion
Lori Levitt — current parent
Lori has two children who attended Sunnybrook School from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 6. There they developed their public speaking skills, made close friends, and gained the confidence to transition into a Grade 7 International Baccalaureate Programme with ease.
- “I guess a problem we were trying to solve was the overcrowding in our local public school. Entering JK, [our daughter] was a quiet child, and we were a little concerned that she may be overlooked. … So we wanted a more hands-on [school], with smaller class sizes.”
- “[Sunnybrook School is] very warm. People seem to know each other, all the teachers seem to know all the kids that were leading the tours. … It was a feeling. It felt warm. You know, for us, it wasn't about the facilities. We didn't really think of the facilities until later when we were going through the decision making.”
- “My son, when he was in Grade 6, led [Sunnybrook School] tours as well. [Sunnybrook School] gets all the students to lead the tours to the prospective families, or people who are coming through.”
- “I think that [my kids] felt part of the [Sunnybrook School] 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 more. ... Only having that one class of Grade 6, they were all put into that leadership role, whereas in a bigger school, they're going to pick and choose the kids who are most like leaders. [Sunnybrook School] gave them all the chance to become leaders.”
- “[Sunnybrook School is] very big on their heritage and how they came about and that sort of thing. So considering the age and the size [of the school], they're very well known ... it's more well known than I thought it was.”
- “I would say the culture [at Sunnybrook School] is very much inclusive. One thing we found is living in Mid Toronto, you don't have a lot of different cultures, unfortunately. [Sunnybrook School], being an IB school, where people come in from India or wherever … you get a little bit more culture.”
- “[Sunnybrook School] allowed my children to experience a lot more culture than they would normally have had even in a local public school.”
- “The [Sunnybrook School] students go to a pumpkin farm, just like a lot of JK classes do. But we were really fascinated by how much they delved into the whole concept. They go from [learning about] life cycles of things, to celebrations and how different families celebrate. … We thought [the IB Programme] was a little deep for our JK [child], until we heard them talking about it. We realize we didn't give [our kids] enough credit ... that if they're allowed to think deep, they actually can at that age.”
- “We found that as our children went through [Sunnybrook School’s IB Programme], they would go back to their learning and connect it, which I found fascinating. As they get older, that learning becomes all tied together. So ... they may be doing maths, they'll talk about the unit, and pull it into something [they are learning] in gym class.”
- “By Grade 3 .... [students] learn the concept of an essay [at Sunnybrook School]. They learn research. [My daughter] has always done really well with research, my son as well. … They know how to pick from good research and valuable sources. ... I would say even my son in Grade 7 can do that. No problem. Probably better than a lot of adults.”
- “There's a lot of times at Sunnybrook [School] where they have to get up and stay on stage in front of somebody and speak. It becomes almost natural.”
- “[Students at Sunnybrook School] also had to do an action, because the IB Programme is a lot about action, and taking action. So learning, and then an action that goes with that learning. What [my son] did, was he worked with a charity that goes out and feeds the homeless. My son and his two partners got together … and they made sandwiches. I drove them to the [homeless shelter], and the sandwiches were handed out that night. So it was a way for them to understand that there was something they could do, even as a child.”
- “[Sunnybrook School students] can stand there and take ownership of their projects, and explain to an adult things like the homeless crisis in Toronto. That impressed me a lot that they could do that. Even some of the more quiet kids in the class had so much input on their project, and they were able to do that without any problem. They also have to present it on stage as well.”
- “I think it helps [that Sunnybrook School is] a really small school. … All the teachers really know the kids. There wasn't a lot of staff turnover either, so that helped as well.”
- “[Sunnybrook School teachers] knew that my daughter was quiet and shy. So she had to be brought out of her shell more. … I don't know how they did it, but it was certainly done. She volunteered in Grade 7 at her new school, her new big school, to speak in assembly to kids up to Grade 12 about something, and I credit Sunnybrook for that, because she was just so used to doing it. It didn't even seem odd.”
- “I think it helps that [Sunnybrook School is] small, you begin to know the teachers well, you know the staff well, the principal, that sort of thing, I think the communications are very good [at Sunnybrook School], especially when you have young children. ... So they would have a weekly email that was sent out.”
- “There were … community-building activities [outside of Sunnybrook School]. They would have a pub night, which was really super casual. You would go to a local pub, and teachers would come, so you could see them on a more social basis. I think that also helped as well, to help build a friendship a little bit better.”
- “They have a wine and cheese thing at the school run by the parents association. And it's just for social reasons, there's no fundraising involved. It's just a social activity to get people together. And there's different activities like that. I think that really helped and it really helped that the teachers attended those as well. I think the accessibility of the teachers [at Sunnybrook School] was huge, and even the accessibility of the principal ... if you had an issue or question or concern, they were always very accessible. ”
- “The [Sunnybrook School staff] were always very accessible. You could call them on the phone, and call them by 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 that school to educate your children.”
- “[My kid’s] favourite thing was the IB [Programme] at Sunnybrook . So they both chose IB schools [for Grade 7], and the transition was really good for both of them. The size of the [new] school was maybe a little scary, but the transition was really what they were prepared for. They were confident going in.”
- “I was so worried about twelfth grade … ‘How is [my daughter] going to handle the IB? Is she going to be good at it?’ … The principal sits down with each parent at Sunnybrook [School] and helps guide them. … And tell them what they feel would be a good school for their kid, based on their knowledge of the child and all the feedback they received through the years from the teachers.”