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The Linden School:
The Our Kids Report > Reviews
Grades JK TO 12 — Toronto, ON (Map)


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The Linden School:
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Roundtable Q&A Discussion About The Linden School (2021)

The Linden School alumni, current students, and parents shared their insights on the school’s culture, values, strengths, and weaknesses. Hear what Raja, Madigan, Tara had to say about the school.

Video Contents

Highlights from the Q&A discussion

Raja — alum

Raja graduated from Linden School in the class of 2011 after six years there. She then earned her bachelor of science at The University of Waterloo in public health, and is now pursuing her Master’s in public health at McMaster University. Raja felt prepared by Linden School to succeed in her post-secondary education both academically and socially.

  • “When I share my [Linden School] experience and people hear my graduating class was 14, compared to their hundreds, they're fairly shocked. I had a very positive experience transitioning from Linden [School] in Grade 12 to first-year University. What comes to mind specifically, is that I was comfortable sitting at the front of the class. I did wait in the back for a little bit, and then I realized, ‘You know what? That’s not for me.’”
  • “At [Linden School], the way the classrooms are set up, you are always at the front, and I missed that. So I went right back up to the front [in university]. I enjoyed that I was comfortable going to office hours asking professors questions, and I noticed that that was all really critical for my own learning process, which was nurtured at [Linden School], and I continued to foster that. I felt very prepared for my science courses [in university]. I was in life sciences, biomedical sciences, biology, chemistry, and physics [at Linden School], so I felt so prepared. For some units, I was like, ‘Whoa, I already learned that at [Linden School].’ Experiments and labs were also really a huge part of my first year as well, and I felt really prepared to do those experiments and to do the write-ups and reports that were also needed.”
  • “I really didn't know what to expect going into university. I valued that having taken seven courses at Linden [School] all the way from September to June, I found out that was a surprise and a shock to many of my friends whose high schools were semestered. I was able to manage a course load of five whole courses and three labs, and I really appreciated that. ”
  • “I didn't know anybody when I went to Waterloo [for university]. My parents dropped me off nice and early, and I was left to my own devices at 8:00 a.m. in residence, not knowing a soul. I had no hesitation joining clubs and immersing myself in social life and the community campus life [in university], and I think that that was fostered at [Linden School], to just go out and do what resonates with you, and connect with your community. I also was able to reconnect with an old Linden [School] friend at university, which was a nice connecting point as well.”
  • “When I was at [Linden School], I remember just loving how small and tight-knit the community was. I knew everyone's name all the way from Grade 1 to Grade 12. I could have conversations with the primary school teachers in the hallways, during recess, and after school, and I wasn't even a primary school student. … There was just such a huge sense of community in that way.”
  • “[Linden School] had some really unique opportunities, and for me, that was the steel pan program. I learned how to play a new instrument. I joined that club. ... I loved it so much that I ended up joining another community outside the school. So that was really impactful for me and very meaningful. I really felt that the teachers cared about me and my peers. Whether that was just the jokes we were making or the topics that were talked about in class, teachers being able to tailor the content because they knew their students, or just the extra support that was provided.”
  • “I just really felt heard and seen at [Linden School] and with some distance. … I really appreciate that community aspect that was fostered, but also the social justice foundations and feminist pedagogy that was instilled at [Linden School]. I also didn't realize what a difference it is outside of [Linden School]. I think about the topics that we tackled and the sense of community. I think about ‘All School,’ which is a weekly assembly of sorts, where the entire school does an activity, and there is an emphasis on the primary school engaging with the middle school and the high school.”
  • “I think the social justice foundations that were instilled [in me at Linden School] have led me towards public health, and I value them very much.”
  • “I think beyond that, taking a step back from all the topics, and regardless of the issue, bringing an intersectional lens to the discussion is really important, so that we really understand how the layers of identity really impact women differently. For instance, racialized women in low socioeconomic conditions under those low socioeconomic statuses are often disadvantaged. … [Linden School] helped me address that. I think the social justice lens that [Linden School] takes, that feminist pedagogy, really helped raise awareness for me, and instilled that at a young age so that I was able to think critically about things. They also equipped me to feel comfortable to be a knowledgeable advocate on such critical issues.”
  • “The English teacher that I had [Linden School] helped me so much to strengthen my critical analysis in English, and [my] essay writing skills. She helped me improve my writing so much. She took the time to review three drafts before the final. We would meet after class. … So much time and guidance was taken to help me strengthen that skill and that course.”
  • “My best friend to this day is still someone that I graduated with at Linden [School]. We were together from Grade 7 to 12. … I know she'll be the maid of honour if I were to get married, she'll be the godmother of my children, and she'll officiate that wedding as well, because she can do that.”

Madigan — alum

Madigan graduated from Linden School in the class of 2021. She is now set to pursue a degree in neuroscience at Guelph University. During her time at Linden School, Madigan appreciated the small class sizes, which ensured that each student gets the one-on-one attention they need to succeed. She believes that this mindfulness of student needs and interests helped her discover her passion for learning about the human brain. She values the close friendships she fostered in the school's nurturing and comfortable environment.

  • “I would say the size is the first thing that everybody notices [about Linden School], meaning that there's a different ratio between teachers and students. So a lot of the classes, you have more time with the teacher, a teacher who has tailored the education to you because they have that ability, and they can work with you more one on one.”
  • “Another thing that is quite different is the fact that at Linden [School] their education is female-focused. So whether you're learning in history or English or science, you learn a lot more about female discoveries and milestones for female scientists and female historians, which is really nice.”
  • “It's really nice to be able to learn about role models and about amazing women. Also, the emotional environment that is at [Linden School is great]. Whether that is emotional connections between teachers and other students, or faculty and staff, or the emotional support that [Linden School] provides. Whether that's during test-taking, if you need a little bit more support around pressure, or you're just having a rough week, or just a rough hour. [Linden School] is there, and they make the appropriate accommodations depending on what you need.”
  • “[Because Linden School] is in a house, it doesn't feel like an institution. It feels comfier. It doesn't feel like you're necessarily at home, so you're still able to get the work done and not lounge around, but it's definitely cozier. The library is an amazing place to be with your friends and get some work done, but also lounge around and is comfortable. I think what was really important is you walk in and you immediately feel safe.” 
  • “I came to Linden [School] not being particularly educated on what was going on in the world, whether that was politics, the BIPOC community, just basically the most important things that are going on in the 21st Century. Whereas I'm leaving [Linden School] able to educate my family and my peers, have deep conversations [about those topics]. ... I feel like I can raise awareness, and be educated so that I'm not spreading any false information.”
  • “I would just say that [what is unique about Linden School is] the close relationship between students and teachers. It’s really nice. You feel a deeper connection, and you're getting a better education because of it.”
  • “The first day that I arrived at [Linden School], I had my classmates just kind of walk up to me and welcome me, and then we just hung out for the rest of the day. I felt like I had just met my lifelong friends. The people at Linden are incredibly welcoming, and they make it easy for you.”
  • “I am going into neuroscience, and I have been in love with the neuroscience field for a couple of years now. … My biology teacher, when we were supposed to dissect a kidney. … She asked me, ‘would you prefer if I just got a brain for you to dissect instead?’ So obviously, I was like, ‘well, that's a no-brainer.’ And so then that happened. So I was able to dissect a brain.”
  • “[It’s great] knowing that I have those secure friendships, and all of those memories with those girls, where we can really just be our true selves, and have educational conversations about the world together. That began at [Linden School]. To have these amazing friendships that started at [Linden School] the first day that we all met, and then for them to grow, and to continue to grow, and they're going to be growing for the rest of our lives.”

Tara — current parent

Tara has a daughter who attended Linden School, but she has played many roles in the Linden School community over the years. She was a teacher at the school, served as the school’s guidance counsellor and was the interim principal. She holds a Master’s degree in women and gender studies, which is one of the many reasons she is a perfect fit to work in a school that has such a strong emphasis on social justice education. She believes what makes Linden School unique is the emphasis on holistic education for girls.

  • “When I was a graduate student in women and gender studies, my focus was women in education. I learned that [Linden School] had a lot of respect, even in its earliest days, from professors of education. Many of their daughters were attending the school, and that led to my curiosity. I thought, ‘if I ever have a daughter, I'm going to send her to this school.’ So for me, what makes [Linden School] really unique is the emphasis on holistic education for girls and its socially progressive vision of education.”
  • “[Linden School] emphasizes the social and emotional aspects of learning a friendship, positive relationships with older students, mentorship, all the stuff that really we're talking about much more now. Even in the 90s, this was very cutting-edge. Then the other piece of it, the social progressive aspect of Linden [School]. What we mean by that is that the world is changing rapidly. We are a more diverse society. We have a level of gender diversity and fluidity. [Linden School] has a vocal group of LGBTQ+ families within the school.”
  • “[The LGBTQ+ community] has always been very important to [Linden School]l. In addition, the school has always had a strong anti-racist component, and so their values of equity and diversity were very much at the forefront. It's been integral to the school’s culture. Many other schools are just starting those conversations now, so it's a real honour to be part of this community. Those are the exact reasons I chose [Linden School] for my daughter.”
  • “I think that [people] would find the strength of [Linden School’s] athletics program quite surprising, because you look at our small school and you immediately get a sense that it's nurturing, it's supportive, and it's cozy. ... But we are awesome athletes as well. I think one of the most exceptional things about the school is the teachers also have this holistic view of girls’ wellness, and they also encourage that risk-taking.”
  • “[Linden School] has a no tryouts policy, which means that they don't break up our school population into these elite athletes that get all the attention, and then the students who didn't make the cut on the team are heartbroken. If you want to play and you have a good attitude, you are encouraged to join.”
  • “[Linden School’s] commitment to a socially progressive vision of education is very important, and I think it's quite unique. What I mean by that is we don't hold on to tradition just for the sake of tradition. We don't have a uniform. We don't have a very hierarchical student government structure. Everyone has the potential to be a leader, and we will support you as adults in finding that leadership voice that you want to have in the school or in the broader community.”
  • “I think the most important thing is community. We know how important that is for mental health at any age... To feel connected to others. … I think the values of community and inclusion are so central to this school, and it makes it absolutely unique in the Toronto school landscape.”
  • “[Linden School] really supports each individual student, which you can only do in a small school environment. When you have an average class size of around 10 students, each student is really seen and valued. I think you get as much time with your STEM teachers as you do with your English teachers. If it feels like you want to do a science fiction novel, let's say, for a novel study, they will support you in that there aren't a lot of preconceived ideas.”
  • “There is a lot of room for flexibility and creativity at [Linden School], and I think that that's a big piece of [helping young girls achieve their passions]. It's the creativity, and that they don't limit their students to being a math student or an art student. Similarly, with athletics, they try to get students to really explore the full range of who they are as learners.”
  • “Though my daughter is now a computer science major, her love of theatre continues, and I know she'll look back at those years at [Linden School], and I know that a certain kind of seed was planted. I think that that's a big piece of [Linden School], is really valuing the individual.”
  • “[There's] this idea that to be good at mathematics, you have to be kind of gifted. Well, we have a lot of research now that shows that this is not the case. [Linden School] has been really at the cutting edge of improving a sense of confidence, and what we call in education ‘self-efficacy,’ which is your belief that you can do it, because if you believe that if your little inner voice is telling you at age 10 that you can do it, then you will.”
  • “There are so many memories at [Linden School]. I would say the biggest one for me, whether it's as a parent, or as an administrator or a teacher here, is just the sheer joy in the community, the amount of laughter and genuine affection between the students. They're just very happy, and very supportive. … You could be anywhere in the building, and the screaming starts, and it’s students finding out that they got into the university of their choice, or they got early admissions to wherever, Waterloo or Queens or Western. So that, to me, is very gratifying, and it's a great memory. I look forward to that time of year every year when we get to share that happiness with students.”
  • “One of the unique things that [Linden School] can do is the guidance program, is to really bring people with undergraduate expertise, from undergraduate education [programs] into the [Linden School] community, so that parents have a real sense of what makes a healthy transition to post-secondary.”
 

More about The Linden School

Back to The Linden School overview

More video reviews

Alum, Toni Spilfogel (2021)

Watch our alum interview with Toni Spilfogel to learn about the unique experience of attending The Linden School.

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Parent, Roseanne Carrara (2018)

My daughter came to Linden from an overcrowded Toronto Catholic District School Board classroom where, as a strong student, she was never expected to challenge herself, and as a beginnger athlete, she...

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Parent, Caitlin O'Leary (2018)

My daughter is very bright, engaged and articulate, but she's also very reserved and shy. She was in one of the better public schools until Grade 3, by which time it was very apparent that she'd give...
 

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