REVIEW OF The Giles School BY parent, Brenda Lee
- Date of Review
July 14, 2020
Gr. SK - 6
(4.5) Student Experience
My two kids, now grades 4 and 6, have attended Giles since PK2 and SK, respectively. It is a small school experience, with smaller classes and kids get lots of individual attention. All the students and teachers from across the school grades know each other, so there is a real sense of community. Of course, my son would say that what's missing is a big gym and more gym classes. However, I think what's most important is that the school has developed a very nurturing environment where kids feel safe, free to express themselves, allowing their confidence to flourish. Of course, there is homework and the kids are really challenged academically, but it's not a cookie-cutter approach, exactly the same with each kid. The school really does a wonderful job of recognizing the uniqueness of each kid.
(4.5) School Leadership
Have definitely seen an evolution in the leadership over the past few years. The school has made great strides in improving communication and addressing parental concerns. What is impressive is the vision of the school's leadership to marry those elements of a more typical "traditional" school with those elements considered more modern or leading edge. As a parent, this gives me confidence that my kids are in the best possible learning environment and with the best possible chance to thrive. And because my son did attend another school (albeit for a very short six weeks), I can definitely say with certainty that I have much confidence in the leadership at The Giles School. One of the things they do best is that they listen.
Like any school, there are some teachers that you and your kids will work better with than others. However, all teachers do really make an effort to communicate with parents, listening and responding to individual needs of each child. And it really helps when teachers are frequently available and responsive. On the advice of one of his teachers in the 2nd grade, my son was evaluated and diagnosed with ADHD at the end of 2nd grade and the start of 3rd grade. His teachers have continued to challenge him academically, but always keeping in mind his unique challenges, adapting and supporting his individual needs. Since classes are small, all the children get plenty of attention. It has been really rewarding to see both my kids flourishing with each passing year.
For grade 6, we did make the decision to move my son to another school in the hopes of transitioning him to a slightly large school environment. He lasted 6 weeks before we made the decision to return him to Giles. The educational curriculum at Giles is second to none. It's a great balance between the core subjects and the "extras" that make the school unique. My kids also really enjoy the Mandarin and the music program, as well as a special subject introduced in each term; robotics, leadership, financial literacy, etc. By introducing these special programs throughout the year and not all at once, it allows kids to focus on one at a time and really reap the benefits without feeling overwhelmed. And with classes being small, and kids getting lots of individual attention, the kids are able to advance further through the curriculum and with more depth.
Probably the one weakness of a small school is fewer extracurriculars. The school has made more of an effort to add some additional activities, but it is limited by student numbers and sheer physical space. The school does participate in some small school tournaments, as well as a couple of overnight trips at the beginning and end of the school year (beginning in grade 4) that the kids love!
In a smaller school, it's inevitable that everyone ends up knowing everyone, very much like an extended family. Many students have older and/or younger siblings at the school, so it's not unusual to see older students looking out for the younger ones. And while the student body may be small in size, there is certainly no lack of school spirit. Having accompanied my kids on numerous school trips, tournaments and other school events over the years, I can see that the kids are an enthusiastic, energetic, close knit bunch. Of course it is normal from time to time that there are conflicts between students, but the teachers really try to actively manage those situations and take advantage of those teachable moments as they arise.
(4) School Life
My kids feel at home at Giles. It's a safe, supportive environment where they are treated as individuals, not as a number and no one falls off the radar. The classes are small, so kids really get to know their classmates and teachers well. If there was one thing the school could improve, it's a bit more physical health education or just incorporating more physical activities in general, especially for those energetic kids who need more time and space to burn off a little steam. Overall through the years at Giles, I've seen my kids mature and develop really good habits. They are well adjusted and really happy at the school and look forward to returning each fall.
Parent volunteers are a huge part of what makes this school unique. There are always activities happening throughout the year and they really rely on teachers and parents to be active participants. Whether it's Science Fair, track and field or the Second Harvest campaign, these events provide great opportunities for parents to get to know the teachers and the other parents as well. And as my children grow, I have really appreciated the support network over the years. It made the decision to enroll my kids in a private school, I was really concerned about them being educated in an "elitist" environment. However, I can honestly say that the one notable thing at Giles is that for a private school, there is absolutely no air of pretension. It is a very down-to-earth community with very down-to-earth children.
(3.5) School Location
The school is located fairly centrally, near main highway arteries. The one challenge the school has is a need for a larger physical space/auditorium on the school grounds for physical health education or other school events. Currently, the school uses a space at a nearby church, so moving the children back and forth does present some challenges in terms of convenience.