Teachers who inspire

Students in B.C. schools amazed by mentors

Nobody knew exactly what Mr. Ravensbergen, the chemistry teacher, was going to talk about. But the senior boys and girls at Collingwood School, in Vancouver, filed dutifully into their weekly seminar to hear him. Read more


List of British Columbia private schools

 
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"Confident Learners. Inspiring Leaders. Creating a thriving world.

  1. SMS is Western Canada's only girl-centred boarding school
  2. SMS was the first girls-school in Canada to integrate a STEM curriculum into daily programs
  3. Visual and performing arts options are woven into our weekly programs

—From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Girls)
  • Traditional curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $19,992 to $74,006
 
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St. Margaret's School 19992 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Day Girls

Whytecliff Agile Learning Centres


Langley & Burnaby, British Columbia
Glover/Logan
 
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"Whytecliff is a safe, empathetic & supportive place for teens with a diverse range of learning needs / personal challenges. Our positive community & high-growth environment pulls each child up to be their very best!

  1. Safe, empathetic, supportive community for students with a diverse range of learning needs
  2. Low student-to-educator ratio of less than 5:1 lets us really get to know you
  3. Each child gets a personalized program tailored to their unique gifts, strengths, and talents
  4. Dual-accredited as both an independent school and a Positive Youth Development program

—From the school

  • Gr. 8 to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $8,900 to $19,500
 
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Whytecliff Agile Learning Centres 8900 HighSchools Day Day Coed
Victoria, British Columbia
Richmond Rd/McRae Ave
 
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"Independent Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12 boarding and day school in Victoria, BC, Canada focusing on outstanding preparation for life. Find out how a SMUS education can benefit your family." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $22,050 to $85,060
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St. Michaels University School 22050 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Boarding Coed
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"Brentwood is a leading university prep school that brings to life student choice through its bold tripartite program. We are a true boarding school, not merely a school with boarding, and the ocean is our playground." —From the school

  • Gr. 8 to 12 (Coed)
  • Liberal Arts curriculum
  • $32,000 to $96,300
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Brentwood College School 32000 HighSchools Boarding Day Coed
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"We identify the experiences that facilitate education that empowers the individual and fosters a community of collaborative contributors through interdisciplinary, integrated integrated projects." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum
  • $9,565 to $32,000
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Westmont Montessori School 9565 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Delta, British Columbia
56th/19 Ave
 
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"Southpointe Academy is the only secular International Baccalaureate (IB) Continuum World School south of the Fraser River authorized to deliver the entire range of IB programs from K-12." —From the school

  • Gr. K to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $21,600 to $42,825
  • Day school
  • 663 students
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Southpointe Academy 21600 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
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"GNS is an independent JK-12 International Baccalaureate boarding and day school in Victoria, BC, that empowers and supports each of our students to do their best through truth and courage in learning and in life." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $9,345 to $73,145
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Glenlyon Norfolk School 9345 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Homestay Day Boarding Coed
Victoria, British Columbia
 
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"Brookes Westshore, an IB World School on beautiful Vancouver Island, BC, offers grades 4 to 12 and both day and boarding programmes, with an average class size of 15 students." —From the school

  • Gr. 4 to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $9,800 to $59,200
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Brookes Westshore 9800 MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Day Coed
North Vancouver, British Columbia
Harbourside Drive/
 
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"Bodwell High School emphasizes a well-rounded education with strong student support. The school's motto, "Strength in Diversity," pays homage to the 40+ countries students come from. Bodwell offers AP and IB courses." —From the school

  • Gr. 8 to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $26,000 to $29,000
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Bodwell High School 26000 HighSchools Boarding Homestay Day Coed
Richmond, British Columbia
 
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"We emphasize critical thinking, as well as innovation, joy, and curiosity." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 8 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum; Reggio Emilia
  • $21,400 to $34,500
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Pythagoras Academy 21400 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Duncan, British Columbia
Brownsey Avenue/Government Street
 
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"Queen Margaret's School is a gender inclusive independent day/boarding university preparatory school in Duncan, BC that focuses on preparing young trailblazers...no two journeys are the same." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $7,000 to $68,780
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Queen Margaret's School 7000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Day Homestay Coed
West Vancouver- Bowen Island, British Columbia
 
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"Our four year program is developed to equip and inspire students to cultivate their humanity. We are distinctly different: a small (IB) middle school that fosters intellectual engagement, citizenship and leadership." —From the school

  • Gr. 6 to 9 (Coed)
  • Liberal Arts curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $20,925
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Island Pacific School 20925 MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Vancouver, British Columbia
Broadway/Granville
 
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"Vancouver's only dedicated STEM high school, VISST offers the full BC curriculum with accelerated & enriched STEM. Students will learn from domain experts and PhDs in small classes." —From the school

  • Gr. 8 to 10 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $1 to $23,400
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Vancouver Independent School for Science and Technology 1 HighSchools Day Coed
Vancouver, British Columbia
 
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"Stratford Hall takes learning beyond IB with its IDEA Lab, OEE and partner schools, where students strive to develop harmony between the urban and natural world through activities like camping, music, and orienteering." —From the school

  • Gr. K to 12 (Coed)
  • Liberal Arts curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $26,750 to $31,250
  • Day school
  • 545 students
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Stratford Hall 26750 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Vancouver, British Columbia
 
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"HongDe Elementary School provides Kindergarten-Grade 5 students a Chinese (Mandarin) / English bilingual education in a safe and supportive learning environment that recognizes the individual needs of each student." —From the school

  • Gr. K to 6 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $16,800 to $19,800
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HongDe Elementary School 16800 Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
Victoria, British Columbia
Quadra Street/Burdett Avenue
 
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"Our students learn in a progressive, authentic, inspiring, welcoming, nurturing and in a safe, child-centred environment. Our small size, with one class for each grade, gives a sense of being part of a close-knit family." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 8 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $8,196 to $16,950
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Christ Church Cathedral School 8196 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Vancouver, British Columbia
Dunsmuir/Seymour
 
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"Alexander Academy is a private high school offering the BC Dogwood High School Diploma and a unique University Transfer Program in a culturally rich and academically challenging environment." —From the school

  • Gr. 10 to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $16,500 to $22,800
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Alexander Academy 16500 Day Homestay Coed
North Vancouver, British Columbia
 
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"Brockton is a coeducational IB World School where every student matters, every family matters, community matters, and learning for life matters." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $27,200 to $30,600
  • Day school
  • 345 students
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Brockton School 27200 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Kimberley, British Columbia
 
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"Grateful. Mindful. Purposeful. Successful. At Purcell Collegiate School, we will prep you--for university and for life. Learn more about the u.prep@pcs suite of extra-curricular programs on our website." —From the school

  • Gr. 7 to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $62,000 to $83,000
  • Boarding
  • 60 students
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Purcell Collegiate School 62000 MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Coed
North Vancouver, British Columbia
Keith Rd/Lynnmouth Ave
 
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"Collaborative and engaging, North Star's programs put students at the center of their learning and quest for knowledge." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 7 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum
  • $8,550 to $16,785
  • Day school
  • 110 students
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North Star Montessori Elementary School 8550 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Summerland, British Columbia
 
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"Looking for an education that's out of the ordinary? Unisus School is a Pre - K to Grade 12 day and boarding school in Canada's Okanagan, offering the International Baccalaureate program + the B.C. Diploma (Dogwood)." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $12,945 to $56,500
  • Day, Boarding
  • 130 students
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Unisus School 12945 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Boarding Coed
North Vancouver, British Columbia
 
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"Our rigorous, personalized programme and strong teacher-student relationships enable us to cultivate each student's talents, helping them build on strengths and discover the joy of learning." —From the school

  • Gr. K to 12 (Coed)
  • Liberal Arts curriculum
  • $21,500 to $24,500
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Alcuin College 21500 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Surrey, British Columbia
152 Street/Highway 10
 
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"We understand the importance of developing a well-rounded individual. Our Art and Sports Expert Streams are integrated with the Academic curriculum to amplify our students’ growth into capable and confident adults." —From the school

  • Gr. K to 7 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $17,000 to $18,250
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Glarea Elevated Learning 17000 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
West Vancouver, British Columbia
Upper Levels Highway/Cypress Bowl exit
 
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"By inspiring excellence – the continuous pursuit of personal best - in education and life, Mulgrave strives to equip lifelong learners to thrive in a diverse and interdependent world." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $26,850 to $30,290
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Mulgrave School 26850 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Burnaby, British Columbia
Boundary Road/Canada Way
 
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"Whytecliff is a safe, empathetic & supportive place for teens with a diverse range of learning needs / personal challenges. Our positive community & high-growth environment pulls each child up to be their very best!" —From the school

  • Gr. 8 to 12 (Coed)
  • $8,900 to $21,000
  • Day school
  • 32 students
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Whytecliff Agile Learning Centre - Burnaby 8900 HighSchools Day Coed
Vancouver, British Columbia
Cambie/Nelson
 
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"Claren Academy is a future-focused independent school located in the heart of Vancouver. We give students the tools to be creative, competent, and happy in their changing world." —From the school

  • Gr. K to 7 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $19,855
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Claren Academy 19855 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
West Vancouver, British Columbia
 
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"Collingwood’s personalized and inclusive approach fosters academic excellence and well-being as our students explore opportunities across the four strands--academics, athletics, arts and service learning." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $25,100 to $29,450
  • Day school
  • 1256 students
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Collingwood School 25100 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Maple Ridge, British Columbia
240th Street/Dewdney Trunk Road
 
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"Our practices in teaching and learning are exemplified by our outstanding academic results and are achieved through the active engagement of the head, heart, and hands." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $28,400 to $38,400
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Meadowridge School 28400 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Vancouver, British Columbia
West Broadway/Stephens Street
 
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"Pear Tree School’s mission is to provide a complete, inclusive, and stimulating education that nurtures the intellectual, social, emotional, physical, and ethical development of every student." —From the school

  • Gr. K to 8 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $19,200 to $24,950
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Pear Tree School 19200 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
North Vancouver, British Columbia
W 22nd/Phillip
 
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"As a Reggio Inspired School in North Vancouver, Sunflower engages daily in rigorous reflective practice - collaboratively designing curriculum and environment around the emerging interests and curiosities of the children" —From the school

  • Gr. PS (Coed)
  • Reggio Emilia approach
  • $2,400 to $5,500
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Sunflower Early Learning Society 2400 Preschool Day Coed
Shawnigan Lake, British Columbia
 
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"Beginning in Grade 8, our unique Shawnigan journey purposefully guides students through a distinct, unparalleled and bold educational experience on our stunning waterfront campus on Canada’s beautiful West Coast." —From the school

  • Gr. 8 to 12 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $35,500 to $90,000
  • Day, Boarding
  • 540 students
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Shawnigan Lake School 35500 HighSchools Day Boarding Coed

"How many of you have families that have been affected by cancer?" he asked. About a quarter of the students put up their hands. What about close friends? Three quarters.

Then James Ravensbergen launched into a talk about his search for a cancer cure. He had spent two years in the early '90s at the University of British Columbia and the B.C. Cancer Research Centre trying to come up with a compound that would help radiation tell the difference between malignant and healthy cells. He didn't find one, but his work wasn't for nothing - others have since picked up his master's thesis and are improving on his research.

Since that spring lecture, students have looked at Ravensbergen differently. He is no longer simply Mr. Ravensbergen, the chemistry teacher, but a flesh-and-blood example of how chemistry class can lead to something much more meaningful.

"It seemed to me he was speaking from the heart," says head boy Christian Hordo, who is at university this year in a castle in East Sussex, England, as part of the study-abroad program at Montreal's McGill University. "I know that if I wanted to get into that specific field, I know I could turn to Mr. Ravensbergen for help."

You don't have to look hard in B.C.'s private and independent schools to find people like Ravensbergen - teachers whose unique accomplishments in other fields give their teaching a "real-world" legitimacy in the eyes of students. Whether they've searched for a cancer cure, represented Canada on the playing field or published award-winning poetry, these teachers have the capacity to inspire young minds. Of course, you can find such role models in public schools, too, but their prevalence in even the smallest private schools is striking enough to make you wonder if they are being actively recruited.

Ravensbergen was offered his job at Collingwood a mere five days after seeing a posting for it in a newspaper. Would the public school system have been so quick to hire him? His master's degree would have put him in a higher salary bracket than a teacher without one, so a school district facing budget pressures would have had reason to favour a less well-educated candidate - teaching ability and all other things being equal, of course.

Most private schools, however, would welcome the higher degree. A candidate with such credentials might cost a little more, but the investment is worthwhile when you're competing with other schools for students. An interested family on a one-day visit might like to meet a biology teacher with world-renowned expertise on the Galapagos Islands, or a business teacher who made millions in the private sector before "retiring" to teach.

"I still think it's most important that, besides the depth of their subject knowledge, teachers really have a good pedagogical background, which means they have to have a real understanding of child development and how people learn," says Gail Ruddy, Head of School at York House School in Vancouver.

"Even if you've been an expert in an area, that doesn't necessarily mean you can give that back to kids. If (an applicant) has both, then you sure would want the person that has that kind of cachet for the kids, because they do look up to people. They like people who have accomplished things."

Over at Vancouver's St. George's School, math teacher Pat Palmer presides over silence as a dozen students sit hunched over their textbooks preparing for final exams. Palmer is a quiet, bespectacled man of about 40, who speaks in the soft, measured tones of a librarian. Gavin Berman and Michael Landels might be the only students in the room who know that he could once elicit roars from a stadium full of 50,000 rugby fans.

Berman and Landels play for the St. George's rugby team, which Palmer has coached since about the time he made his debut on the wing for Canada's national team in 1983. Palmer retired from international play 11 years later, having scored more tries than any national team member in history.

He doesn't advertise his accomplishments, but the boys have heard the whispers.

"I heard he ran the 100 in 10.6," says Landels, his voice low enough to avoid embarrassing the teacher.

Palmer, a St. George's grad, coached at the school for several years before he was hired as a teacher following the 1987 World Cup. His rugby accomplishments and "old-boy" status helped him get his foot in the door, but his way with the kids kept him there.

"Everyone on the team has so much respect for the guy. There's almost a feeling that we want to win for him more than for us," says Berman. "And it carries over to the classroom. You look at the guy and how modest he is and all he's done, and there's just so much respect."

The new creative writing teacher at St. Michaels University School in Victoria, BC, gets similar respect from his students. Terence Young is a published poet who moved to SMUS from a nearby public school, Claremont Secondary, two years ago. His first collection, The Island In Winter, was nominated for a Governor General's Award in 1999. His first book of short fiction, Rhymes With Useless, was published by Raincoast Books in August.

"I think it's important that you model in your own life the things that you are preaching," says Young. So it's not that the subject is just something you get paid to teach, but something that you believe in, that you are engaged in and take seriously."

His reasons for switching schools were simple: Claremont's program had become so strong and well-supported that it would survive and thrive without him, and he wanted a new constituency in which to spread his enthusiasm for writing.

Ruddy has some accomplished teachers on her staff at York House, an all-girls' school not far from St. George's. Thelma Wright, for example, is a two-time track-and-field Olympian and a member of the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame. But York House's most significant role model might be Ruddy herself.

From her office window, Ruddy can watch girls from the junior school swarm the playground equipment during their breaks. She remembers when the equipment was being installed, and the contractor asked her if she wanted him to modify the original design - you know, to accommodate girls.

Ruddy would have none of it. Little girls can do anything little boys can, she reasoned. And York House students don't have to look any further than their administration for proof. Five of the school's six senior administrators are women, which means no student at York House grows up thinking it's unusual for women to be in charge.

"The nice thing is we don't even have conversations about it, like, 'Oh, those are women up there,'" says Carol Thompson, a graduating student who is taking arts at Columbia University in New York City this fall. "We just know. It's just part of our mindset, and it's part of how we look at ourselves."

Stephanie Tait, also a Grade 12 student at York House, says a big reason Ruddy's leadership has such an impact is because she doesn't do it from a distance.

"She gets very involved in students' lives," says Tait. "I went through some really difficult times, and she was really interested on a personal level, like 'Stephanie, how are you?' She approaches you in the hall, puts her hand on your shoulder, really looks you in the eye and wants to know how you are. And that's really what counts. When they reach you on a personal level, that's what helps you grow into who you really are, which is kind of what York House is all about."

And that's what bringing role models into schools is all about. It's more than an opportunity for students to be taught by people in the know - it's a chance to make human connections that remain in their memories and inspire them throughout a life of learning.


Frequently Asked Questions

How many Teachers who inspire are there?
There are 31 Teachers who inspire that are Our Kids trusted members.

How much is tuition at Teachers who inspire?
Tuition fees for Teachers who inspire range from $2,400 to $96,300 per year with an average tuition of $27,018 per year.

What’s the largest school?
Of the Teachers who inspire, the largest is Collingwood School with 1256 students in Grades JK to 12.

Are Teachers who inspire good?
We interviewed both parents and students. You can read reviews about Teachers who inspire on this page.

Is there a private school expo where I can meet with Teachers who inspire?
Yes. You can meet with private schools and education experts at the Our Kids Private School Expos held every year in September and October. These events are designed for both parents and students. Find event details and ticket info here.

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