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Review of: The Dragon Academy


"my boys have found a home where they are understood"

Kate Hilton - Parent    (Apr 02, 2018)
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Student Experience

The Dragon has been a godsend for our family. Both of my boys have found a home where they are understood, intellectually challenged, and surrounded by people who support and care for them. My son describes having found his tribe, at long last. The energy at the school is palpable. Students are engaged in an incredible range of activities, despite the small size of the school. The students become very close, and identify as "Dragons". It is amazing to see the graduating students talk about how tight the bonds among students are. Bullying is not tolerated at the Dragon. Students who have suffered for being 'different' at other schools find their differences celebrated here. There is a marvellous spirit of collaboration and shared purpose, which is evident at all of the school's public events.


Teaching

The curriculum at the Dragon will satisfy the most curious of minds. There is great flexibility in allowing kids to experiment and follow their interests. The principal and the teaching faculty are all sensitive to the needs of the 'gifted non-conformists' in their charge, and it is amazing to see how kids who have been frustrated in other school settings thrive here. The quality of the teaching is superb. I am very impressed with the level of instruction, and with the complexity of the ideas presented, even in the lower grades. Support is always available for students who are struggling, and I have been grateful for regular communication from teachers at these times. I've also appreciated the willingness of teachers to strategize with me whenever issues arise.


School Leadership

The school leadership at the Dragon is extraordinary. I have rarely met an educator as passionate as Dr. Fox, and her personal commitment to each of her students is inspiring. Similarly, the teaching staff are deeply engaged in the welfare of each student, and in the creation of a culture that is welcoming to all. The Dragon is designed for 'gifted non-conformists'. This informs all of the activity at Dragon, both inside the classroom and beyond. Kids are allowed to experiment and to fail. They are taught to harness their boundless enthusiasm and passion in constructive ways, whether is it in the formation of a club, or in the design of an experiment. The school is extremely responsive to problems as they arise. Discipline is compassionate and appropriate.


Academics

The Dragon has been a godsend for our family. Both of my boys have found a home where they are understood, intellectually challenged, and surrounded by people who support and care for them. The academic mission is unique. It is unusual to find programs for gifted children that don't resort to assigning more work, instead of making the work itself more challenging and creative. The Dragon specializes in engaging gifted minds in new ways. Although my kids are not yet at the 'next steps' stage of their education, I'm confident that kids receive the training necessary to gain admittance to their post-secondary institution of choice. Perhaps more importantly, I'm confident that they are given the opportunity to explore all of the possibilities open to them, and to discover what really excites them intellectually.


Extracurriculars

The Dragon has a huge emphasis on community. This means that there are many opportunities for students to come together through clubs and other activities, and find ways to develop their talents beyond the classroom. While there are opportunities for competition, my kids have benefitted from opportunities for collaboration - in the creation of new clubs, for example, or in the arts evenings, or the annual play. The students seem exceptionally well-rounded to me. They graduate as politically aware, engaged, and thoughtful citizens. I expect that this is not the school for parents who want their children to participate in competitive sports teams; the kids are more likely to shoot hoops at the JCC after school. However, this is the perfect school for parents who want their kids to develop lifelong friendships, resilience, intellectual curiosity, and engaged citizenship.


Students

The Dragon has a huge emphasis on community. Students are engaged in an incredible range of activities, despite the small size of the school. The students become very close, and identify as "Dragons". It is amazing to see the graduating students talk about how tight the bonds among students are. The Dragon is designed for 'gifted non-conformists'. This informs all of the activity at Dragon, both inside the classroom and beyond. Kids are allowed to experiment and to fail. They are taught to harness their boundless enthusiasm and passion in constructive ways, whether is it in the formation of a club, or in the design of an experiment. They are also taught to respect each other's differences, and to celebrate what each person brings to the formation of a unique community.


School Life

The Dragon has been a godsend for our family. Both of my boys have found a home where they are understood, intellectually challenged, and surrounded by people who support and care for them. My older son describes having found his tribe, at long last. The energy at the school is palpable. Students are engaged in an incredible range of activities, despite the small size of the school. The students become very close, and identify as "Dragons". It is amazing to see the graduating students talk about how tight the bonds among students are. Bullying is not tolerated at the Dragon. Students who have suffered for being 'different' at other schools find their differences celebrated here. There is a marvellous spirit of collaboration and shared purpose, which is evident at all of the school's public events.


Community

Parents are very welcome at the Dragon, and encouraged to participate in the community. Parent Guild meetings are held regularly, and there are many events where parents are invited to experience the community spirit. As a new parent, I was greeted warmly by other parents and immediately offered opportunities to become involved. At the same time, there is no pressure on parents to devote huge amounts of time to the school. The school runs beautifully without parental intervention, so parents can choose how involved they wish to be, depending on time and inclination. The school is extremely responsive to parents. Teachers and administrators are always open and frank, and willing to strategize with parents. I'm impressed that the creative mindset that is encouraged in the kids is also evident in the school leadership.


School Location

The school has the best location of any in Toronto. It is tucked on a quiet street around the corner from the ROM and U of T. Students have easy access to the TTC, along with some of the country's best cultural institutions, and centres of learning. The school makes great use of its location. Students spend time at concerts, plays, and exhibits. They have memberships at the JCC, just a few blocks away, and are encouraged to use it for fun and fitness. They are encouraged to be independent, and to walk out at lunchtime and find something interesting to eat. There are parks and coffee shops and public art installations just steps away. I love that the diversity of our city is part of student life at the Dragon.


Admissions

The admissions process at the Dragon is less structured and more effective than at larger schools. Parents and students sit down with the principal, and students subsequently visit. Dragon is a small community, and the admissions process is about assessing 'fit'. I left the admissions process with a very clear sense of the mission of the school. I never felt that I had been force-fed a brand, or told what the school wanted to be; I was told exactly what it is: a community of gifted non-conformists. Both of my sons were delighted with their day visit to the Dragon, and I believe that it is absolutely the right way to assess fit. Students who visit will have an accurate picture of what the school is like. There is never an effort to put on a false show for visitors.


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