REVIEW OF The Bishop Strachan School BY alumnus, Allison Smith
- Date of Review
September 19, 2018
Gr. 2 - 12
- University (major)
University of Oxford, University of Toronto
(4.5) Overall Experience
I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at The Bishop Strachan School. BSS has a strong academic program which prepared me for university and graduate school. Learning in small classes with teachers that paid attention gave me the skills to succeed in more independent learning environments. I also really enjoyed the all girl learning environment. Comparing this with university, I found it was much easier to ask questions and engage in classroom discussion at BSS... which likely made me more confident to do so in a co-ed learning environment later on. Additionally the peers I had while a student at BSS were wonderful. Parents take an active interest in their children's lives and there is a strong parent community. I would recommend BSS to anyone who has daughters for this reason alone.
(4.5) School Leadership
The individuals who manage the school administration are extremely strong at what they do. I am involved with the alumnae association and have had the opportunity to see how the school leaders respond to different issues that face the school over time. It is quite exceptional how the school has recruited such an excellent board and administration personnel. That the school is able to draw such impressive people to these roles is wonderful and helps make sure the school is keeping on top of what is going on in the community and greater world.
The quality of teachers and instruction at Bishop Strachan School is quite impressive. I am still in touch, twenty years later, with some of my teachers, even after they have retired. This speaks to the dedication of the teaching staff I believe. When I was considering law school, Bishop Strachan administration helped to put me in touch with my favorite high school teacher who had retired so I could talk to her about the significant decision I was facing. When I look back on it, it was quite life changing and I appreciate the school helping to facilitate the conversation. I think it is also noteworthy that the school is able to retain teachers for such great periods of time and that many teachers return to events after they have retired.
The academic programming and facilities are excellent. After graduating Bishop Strachan School I felt prepared for studying independently at university, business school and law school. Being put under some pressure in high school to achieve academically, while still living at home with a strong support system, helped me to thrive when I was no longer living at home. If I hadn't been prepared by Bishop Strachan, I do not know if I would have had such a positive experience with my studies after high school. There was a subsection of my class that was competitive however overall the students were quite collegial. I think it was a good balance overall and not a negative. The atmosphere amongst the student body is different amongst different cohorts and I think I had a strong year.
There were many opportunities for extracurricular activities for students who are inclined towards athletics, arts or education. It is a good balance. I focused on art, as opposed to athletics or academic competition, in high school and felt there was support for students like myself to develop and there were wonderful teachers. I think some other schools emphasize the importance of athletic acheivement which would not have been a good fit for me.
My cohort was very friendly and welcoming. There were approximately 220 students in our graduating class, I believe, and everyone knew each other by name. This is thanks to the school holding different class events that mixed the grade beyond the classroom. There is a great deal of diversity amongst the students. Including international diversity thanks to the boarding program. It is inevitable for a student to be exposed to backgrounds unique from their own which is very different from schools that base acceptance on geographic catchment in the city or religion. There is no one type of person that embodies the BSS girl in my opinion but if I had to name some qualities of a BSS student they would be friendly, outgoing and achievement oriented.
(5) School Life
There is a community for everyone to fit into at BSS - students who are athletic, acandemic, into the arts, etc. It is a positive environment and the students are generally happy. I enjoyed being a part of the BSS community while I was a student but I appreciated it even more after graduating. There is a strong network of alumnae that volunteer to mentor current students or graduates and many alumnae events to allow students to stay involved. Most significantly as a graduate I appreciate the environment that I went to school in now more after being out in the world. It is a special place where the girls are encouraged to try things, grow, become more confident. It really is a great environment. I feel fortunate to have the experience I did.
There is a strong community at BSS. I am still friends with many of my high school friends and am involved actively with the schools alumnae association. The schools makes it easy to get involved as a student or graduate by providing so many different opportunities. I was most involved with the arts community while a student and so can speak primarily to that. Students are encouraged to take risks, try new things, etc. before they move onto the next stage in education. The class are not traditional or boring. The teachers are also superb in the arts courses the school offers. I think the girls are fortunate.
(5) School Location
The school is in a community/ neighbourhood which is unique from the other girl private schools in Toronto, which are in busy areas of the city. It feels extremely safe. There is a small village of stores located a few blocks away that are is great for the walking to go during lunch when in senior school. The area is also very beautiful.
(5) University placement and counselling
The schools works with the girls closely to discuss university options well in advance of graduation. I went to my first choice school for undergraduate university. The guidance department is skilled at what they do and allows the students to meet one on one with counsellors to discuss potential career paths, programs, schools, etc. The university school tours are also a wonderful resource for getting a feel for life after BSS. The school buses the girls in the senior school to visit local universities and sets them up on tours, etc. It is a great program for the girls to get a feel for university and what campus like would be like. Overall the career counseling is wonderful.