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Junior Academy:
The Our Kids Report > Reviews
Grades Nursery/Toddler TO Gr. 8 — Toronto, ON (Map)

Junior Academy:

Roundtable Q&A Discussion About Junior Academy (2020)

Junior Academy alumni, current students, and parents shared their insights on the school’s culture, values, strengths, and weaknesses. Hear what Andrea Charleton had to say about the school.

Video Contents

Highlights from the Q&A discussion

Andrea Charleton — current parent

Andrea works as an educator, and knew that she wanted her children to learn in the private school system. She has a boy and a girl who are twins, who have very different needs, which are accommodated nicely by Junior Academy.

  • “We have boy/girl twins, and I learned early on this [parenting] journey to make everything simpler for ourselves as a family. So that was sort of reason number one [for enrolling our kids in Junior Academy]. The reason I tracked down Junior Academy in particular is because I had seen firsthand the impact of having a child at a school, where if a particular need were ever to pop up along the way, it was easier to put support into place. It tends to lead to a far more successful outcome for that child.”
  • “I really have found that Junior Academy walks the walk when it comes to offering support, if needed. We have ended up using a variety of supports over the years, primarily for one of our children. We've actually more recently been able to do that. So that has worked out.”
  • “The reason why I really found Junior Academy appealing is they truly do zoom in on each individual child. I've mentioned that we have twins, they're unbelievably different people, and yet each of them has in very different ways been invited to stretch, grow, mature even more than I anticipated. I think I perhaps underestimated the degree to which the school would be able to really pinpoint what each of them would need, and hold them to some very clear standards.”
  • “I was relieved that my instinct about the school's ability to kind of walk the walk in providing [academic] support, was definitely proven to be true. Within our first year, we had some nice pieces in place for one of our children, easy access to some potty time, for instance. So that definitely met my hopes and expectations. I think what was a really delightful and somewhat unexpected discovery, was that the culture of [Junior Academy] really jived, really jives with what my husband and I value most.”
  • “So we are each people who know the game of the independent school world very well, but we are more interested in community and happiness in our children more than anything else. I think it was the warmth of the [Junior Academy] community, and the genuine inclusiveness of it … . I didn't quite expect this, but, boy, what a nice cherry on the top.”
  • “I think the most important piece [of a Junior Academy education] is that [my children] each have become very confident people. We had an okay experience at our local school. … It's fair to say that the experience was bordering on traumatic, and there was a bullying incident. I was hoping that with all the right pieces in place, confidence would grow. That has certainly happened for both of them. As I'm sure we all are aware, until someone feels confident, they can't actually put their energy into getting better at things or taking risks or challenging themselves.”
  • “The first thing I would disclose with 100 percent honesty, neither child, even after having a tricky day, has ever refused to go to school. We've never had one of those horrible mornings. … I think that really speaks to their sincere comfort with [Junior Academy]. They have each let it slip that they really like knowing all the adults in the building. So even if they've only known some teachers from afar, they know their names, they have a good sense of what they're all about.”
  • “It's funny seeing me as an educator, dealing right now with very unique circumstances in school, and in schools across the world. [My kids] have commented on the real bonus that [Junior Academy] has going for it, being a smaller school. Junior [Academy] has not had to turn itself into a pretzel to make the cohorts work, and so on. I know that's a brilliant piece of luck more than anything else, but it's been a powerful reminder of the ways in which a smaller school does have more flexibility in a variety of ways.”
  • “Thanks to the predictable, streamlined routines for both children and for families … . I am so grateful I'm not getting 30 emails a week [from Junior Academy]. There is one really communicative email, and that is just one tangible example of what I mean … . Junior Academy strikes me as very grounded, it knows what its priorities are, what it values most and what its mandate is. … Many schools drift, and are a little bit unclear about that.”
  • “[Junior Academy is] like a grounded person. ... It is genuinely kind. I think I've already mentioned this, but there's an explicit emphasis on community and along with that real respect for each and every child. So our children over the years have definitely learned, in lots of interesting ways, that each one of their peers is to be respected, and has his or her own terrific strengths, and unique qualities. I think that has been emphasized just a little bit more at [Junior Academy] than it might have been elsewhere.”
  • “[Junior Academy has] that emphasis on individual progress being that number one goal, and valuing that over a more competitive environment. Seeing that far more distance is gained by helping each individual child, each along at their own pace. … They challenge them appropriately rather than being met with an explicitly competitive culture. That actually it's fine for many kids, but I would argue there are many others for whom that can be a bit intimidating.”
  • “I have found that both [Junior Academy] and the parents clearly value academics and those essential numeracy and literacy skills. I have observed homework and little glimpses. It’s definitely being reinforced but at a reasonable pace and a developmentally appropriate pace.”
  • “What I loved about the model [at Junior Academy] is that you have an OT on site, and the speech path if need be. And those are the two big [assets]. My mom is a speech pathologist, so I think she helped me understand that any time there's any little interesting thing around speech, that actually correlates with 75 percent of other interesting learning challenges a child might have.”
  • “As I knew [Junior Academy] had [accessible learning support] on site …  it got me thinking, right, we can make this all work, with a streamlined day, that is less traumatic for the child. And the other big piece about it all being on site, kind of links in with the cultural stuff. For one of our kids, those supports have never been necessary, but she has come to understand it's actually really normal to get specific help with things. It is not stigmatized. … So that learning piece right there, especially before kids go into middle school, That's a huge piece for them to understand. That it's okay to get some help where you need it.”
  • “One little detail I would mention … . As an observer, I think there are the occasional interesting days in the calendars. There might be a ski day. The kids, for instance, love pizza lunch days. But by and large, my observation is that 99 percent of the calendar remains very consistently followed. I think the kids seem to have a very predictable, familiar day because [Junior Academy] is protecting that instructional time. This is deceptively often underestimated in other schools.”

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More written reviews


Parent, Elin Raymond (2022)

Junior academy has been life changing for our family. My son needs academic and behavioral support to succeed and he has received that and more! Accessing in house behavioral support, and OT has made ...


Parent, Andrea Charlton (2022)

Our children sincerely enjoy authentic relationships with every adult in the building, feel known, and understand what is expected. They know there are boundaries in place and expectations to be met. ...


Parent, stephanie Myers (2022)

My daughter has had a tremendous experience at JA for 9 years. She is engaged in the classrooms, enjoys participating in the clubs, the concerts, talent shows, assemblies, special/free dress days, piz...


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