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The Cole Academy:
The Our Kids Report > Reviews
Grades JK TO Gr. 8 — Toronto, ON (Map)

The Cole Academy:

REVIEW OF The Cole Academy BY parent, Emmy Pantin

  • Date of Review
    January 24, 2024
  • Child 1
    Gr. 3 ( Current Day Student)

(5) Student Experience

When my son started at the Cole Academy in September, he could barely read. His reading ability has significantly improved and he is now a reading monster! I can't get him to stop! He loves the classes that are available to him at Cole that were not available to him in public school - science, French, and cooking. He enjoys playing with the other sporty kids at the school. They play soccer, basketball, baseball, and lots of other types of sports every day. The really important thing for my kid though is that the school is small. There are currently 14 kids in the whole school, and only 4 kids in his class. This means lots of one-on-one time with teachers, so he can be challenged where he excels, and supported where he struggles. This also means that the environment is calmer and quieter than his public school experience, which is key to his ability to learn.

(5) School Leadership

The school environment is amazing. The school is small, so lots of attention can be given to kids who need a challenge, *and* to kids who need support, and to kids who need both. My child has a dual exceptionality - he is gifted and has a learning disability at the same time. Cole meets his unique needs, and the school is designed to do just that. Every kid gets a learning map, which essentially functions as an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). At Cole, IEPs are not an exception. They are the rule. So each kid gets a personalized map to learning success. It's amazing. My kid also struggles with social/emotional regulation. The school uses a restorative justice and progressive discipline model for addressing problems. This means that problems don't just get addressed, but kids learn *how* to solve the problems, and I can see my son growing and being more and more able to get through problems in a more prosocial way.

(5) Teaching

The support around my son's learning disability and his social/emotional regulation challenges are an incredibly important part of why our child is at the Cole Academy. But more than that, our child is also gifted. He has a math mind and he's a whiz at science. Cole teaches the Ontario curriculum, but it seems that they go above and beyond the provincial standards. The school also teaches incredibly valuable things that are not in the curriculum at all, like time management and life skills. And they teach the curriculum in incredibly creative and unique ways - for example, cooking to teach science and math. Hands-on instruction is definitely a part of the way they teach at Cole, and it has been a successful approach to my child's learning. There is an English teacher *and* a literacy teacher. The literacy teacher uses the Orton Gilingham method among other science-based approaches to teaching reading and writing, and this has made a huge difference for my son.

(5) Academics

When we were applying to private schools, we were looking for a school that follows the provincial curriculum. We were happy to see that the Cole Academy does. But what we didn't know when we sent our child to Cole is that the school doesn't just meet the provincial guidelines, they offer innovative and creative ways to do that, which means that they go above and beyond the provincial curriculum. There are so many value-added ways that they approach academics. My child learns math and science in a classroom, as well as through cooking, for example. Because Cole is small, and class sizes are small, every child's academic needs are met where they are at. My child excels at math and science, so he gets taught above grade level. My child struggles with literacy, so he gets more support to learn to read and write. Every child is given an individual curriculum based on their needs and abilities. Each subject has its own teacher, so the school functions in more of a high school model, where each class is guided by a teacher expert in that subject. This has the benefit of allowing students to go deeper into a subject area, rather than relying on the more generalized knowledge of a public school teacher.

(5) Extracurriculars

My child loves athletics. Sports of any kind appeal to him. We were worried that the school, being so small, wouldn't be able to meet his desires. We were wrong! There are a few other sporty kids in the school, so not a day goes by that he doesn't play soccer or basketball at least once after school. The school participated in the Rosedale Day school-organized private school cross-country race. Students hosted a community dinner for parents and friends, and there was a performance during the incredible dinner that was prepared and served by the students. Students made crafts to sell at the church holiday market. There's a running club every morning, an after-school homework club, and the opportunity to create other after-school clubs as desired by the student body. This is similar to a secondary school model, where the student body guides the extracurriculars. I can't say enough about how amazing it is to have a child's needs met where their interests lie for extracurriculars.

(5) Students

The Cole Academy is a small school. There are currently 14 students in the school, and my child (grade 3/4) has four kids in his class. This is an incredible opportunity for my child to get one-on-one time with a teacher. The student body is full of creative, thoughtful kids. The school is full of spirit. Their mascot is a "thundercat," an amazing hybrid animal that cheers them on at every turn. One of the kids works really hard at making Thundercat costumes and is an excellent cheerleader. The school atmosphere is whimsical and creative and full of adventurous and inspiring ways to celebrate themselves and their community. Cole is focused on social justice and peace. Students regularly volunteer to make meals for the Out of the Cold program at the church. Cole is an inclusive school, including gender-diverse children, children from LQBTQ2S+ families, children from racialized families, and students with disabilities. The school lacks physical accessibility accommodations at the moment, but I'm sure this will be addressed in the future.

(5) School Life

My child loves going to the Cole Academy. There is a beautiful balance between student-led and teacher-led learning at the school, which my child responds to incredibly well. I cannot compare Cole to other private schools, but I can compare it to public school and I cannot say enough about the positive experience my child has had at Cole relative to his experience in public school. My child loves going to school, and loves learning, and at Cole, he gets the education he needs and the support he deserves. This makes him able to succeed at school. I don't think Cole does enough to make it clear that school is a place where kids with disabilities and kids with differing identities, including gender-diverse kids, can find a safe and supportive environment at the school. I think the school could benefit from more girls and BIPOC kids joining the student population. Unfortunately, the school is not yet in a position to offer scholarships or needs-based grants, which hinders the diversity of its student population. But they are actively working on it, and this gives me hope that the school will become more diverse as the school progresses through the years.

(5) Community

The parent community is really committed to the school. There are quite a few LGBT2S+ parents at the school, making us feel less alone as lesbian parents. The principal is very accessible and will happily discuss curriculum and other issues with parents. Parents have an annual social, which they are discussing becoming a regular event. Would be nice if we had more parent meetings, but as the school is new, so is the parent community, so I am sure that there will be a development there as time passes. I must say that I felt quite alienated by and was unwilling to participate in my child's public school. Not so with Cole. I have a strong desire to volunteer at Cole, because of the school's welcoming and warm culture.

(5) School Location

The Cole Academy is a block away from the beach. The school has "forest Fridays" meaning that once a week students spend the majority of their days learning outdoors. This is incredibly important to us as Indigenous parents. We believe in land-based learning, and our child gets these needs met at Cole. Cole has regular field trips to experience the amazing opportunities to learn outside of the school walls. The school regularly brings in community organizations to support student learning. Cole is proud of its learning beyond its walls.



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