My son came to Team from a French Immersion school in the TDSB. He was falling far behind. He started Grade 4 at Team School and transitioned beautifully. The staff is outstanding. The compassion and encouragement they put forth were priceless. The max class size is 8, which gave him the opportunity to learn in a calm environment. To accommodate the students' individual levels they were broken up into sub-classes and worked at the level they were at. No student is left behind. When you are ready for the next level, they move you up. While at Team my son developed a strong work ethic and sense of self. Speech nights and clubs helped him socially. They even offer bus-ing!
Every two weeks we received a phone call from my sons teacher giving us an update. They put a lot of emphasis on homework but insisted that if the student didn’t understand what was expected they were to leave it and the teacher would help the next day. One day my son came home with a picture one of the other teachers had taken of a block of ice he’d shown her that was shaped like North America! At our first Meet the Teacher night we were so impressed to see how all of the students had been taught to formally introduce us to their teachers and principals.
The first year my son was at Team he kept accidentally referring to his teacher as Grandma. She has since retired. He is now in Grade 10 at Team’s sister school Mentor and listed the Team physical education teacher as one of the top 5 people to influence who he is today. The teachers really listened to all of my concerns and always had a kind word for students. They always found creative ways to engage the students. When we were ready to transition to Mentor College, his teachers had him begin using the same books so that he would be ready. The teachers ran so many clubs and encouraged the students to join them. My son is a bit of an introvert and his teachers always kept an eye out for him to make sure it was his choice to be on his own. I can’t thank them enough for that.
Team School is geared toward kids who have learning challenges. The first couple of weeks of the school year are spent testing the students in reading, writing, spelling, grammar and math. Students are then broken into sub-groups based on their results and use the appropriate workbooks. No student is made to feel like they are any better or any worse than anyone else. I loved that the students were taught grammar and cursive. These are things no longer taught in the public school system but I feel are lifeskills they need. By the end of Grade 5, his second year, my son was at or above grade level in all subjects. He started spelling at a grade 2 level. Team does not offer French due to the learning challenges faced by students. I would not have wanted my son to attend the Team High School, as we felt we were ahead academically.
Team had a club for everything. My son wasn’t into clubs but the teachers somehow managed to convince him to join the cooking club, lego club, soft ball and book club. The sports teams were not always great but it’s a pretty small school. The students went swimming regularly at Mentor’s primary campus and they offered swimming lessons after school as well.
Within a couple of weeks at Team we got our first birthday party invite. Every student (8 to a class) was invited to everyone’s birthday party. This meant a lot to us. The students come from all across the GTA so they really didn’t see each other regularly on the weekends. There were 8 kids to a class but students typically paired off with another class for social studies, phys ed etc. They really bonded while spending 4 days at the Outdoor Education Centre each year. My son was a bit of a lone wolf but the other kids always invited him to join them at recess to play soccer or tag. New students would sometimes start part way through the year and I remember how excited they were to have someone new in the room.
My child loved everything about Team School. I think he would have gladly stayed there all the way through high school. He even loved the bus ride to and from and became quite attached to his bus driver. He was always so proud when he got to show us around on speech night or meet the teacher night. Every year Team put on a musical and all students were involved in the production, either acting or in the choir. Definitely a highlight! Student of the Week was huge and earning points towards the coveted letterman cardigan you could wear in place of your blazer on Fridays was a great motivator. Bingo nights and Christmas concerts were fun too. Especially when the students got to see some of their teachers performing.
There wasn’t a lot of parent involvement at Team. We did attend Meet The Teacher night, speech night, end of year play, Christmas concert and parent teacher interviews. At the end of the year they host an amazing assembly where students are awarded plaques for their achievements. The teachers all get up and make beautiful speeches about how great the students are. The students beaming faces and red-eyed parents fill the crowd. I did help out at the end of year play our first year there. A midway with rides and games is brought in for the students. Their favourite day of the year! The small class sizes meant no extra parents were required for field trips. We would also be asked to bake for the bake sale. I went to a Mentor Team Parents Association open house at the beginning of the year but most of the parents were from Mentor and I felt a little out of place. They do run a great used uniform sale twice a year. After all of the time I spent advocating for my son in the public school system, it was a bit of a relief to let go of the responsibilities knowing he was in good hands. Taking that step back and letting the school and staff do what it does best was better than therapy.
The school is in a residential area of Mississauga. While my son was there we opted into sending him by school bus that was offered through the school. The bus brought students to and from Mentor College where they switched to the home bus. This was quite expensive but it did pick him up and drop him off right outside our house. We were lucky to have such a great stop.