Roundtable Q&A Discussion About The Sycamore School (2021)
The Sycamore School alumni, current students, and parents shared their insights on the school’s culture, values, strengths, and weaknesses. Hear what Emma, Meghan had to say about the school.
- 3:04 - What did you appreciate most about the school when you were there? And how is your perspective change now that you've had a little bit of time away from the school?
- 10:51 - What is the unique thing about the London school?
- 13:38 - Is there a course that stands out for you that would have really set things apart for your child?
- Show Full Video Contents
Highlights from the Q&A discussion
Emma — alum
Emma graduated from The London School in 2020 and now attends Western University where she studies neuroscience. While at The London School, she was involved in various extracurriculars and activities such as fundraisers and field trips. Emma enjoyed the small class sizes at the school and felt that her teachers cared about every student and saw each of them as an individual. She feels the school was a tight-knit family, and she was able to make many close friendships that have lasted beyond graduation. She believes that the school has prepared her for post-secondary education and her career beyond that.
- “During my time at [The London School], which was a long time, I really loved how involved the teachers were in my success and the other student's success. It really seemed like we were all in it together. I really enjoyed having a quiet work environment, because I think everybody benefits from that, whether they know it or not. I think that when it's loud and bustling, you just don't get as much work done. I also enjoyed that because of the small size of [The London School].”
- “[Students] really get to know what they're learning really well, and get to know all the people in your classes at [The London School]. It's all really collaborative. You're working with all the students, even if you don't really know each other well at first. I really appreciated that [The London School] didn't give [students] an authoritarian sense with the teachers. It wasn't about calling them ‘Mr.’ or ‘Mrs..’ it was about having trust that you're going to listen to what they have to say, and they will, in turn, listen to what you have to say. There's a mutual respect there.”
- “The [most unique] thing is that learning at [The London School] is more of a partnership between the students and the teachers. The teachers at the school never take a stance where they're in charge, or where they demand you to respect them. ... It's a mutual relationship, it's a trust that the students and teachers have with each other.”
- “The teachers [at The London School] act like more than just teachers. I've had the chance to talk with them about personal stuff that was happening [to me], or things I was going through at the time. They saw that it was affecting my learning in a negative way, and they wanted me to have the best possible outcome, whether it was with a test or an exam. So I think that's the biggest difference, because in a normal classroom with 30 kids, I really don't think that teachers get the chance to get to know every single kid.”
- “I think for me the biggest difference of [The London School] is that you get to know your teachers on a different level than you otherwise would.”
- “A course like [climate change and natural disasters] isn't even offered in a traditional high school. I think it really sparks interest because it's something that none of us knew anything about.”
- “If [The London School] were a person, [words that would] represent it would be productivity, quirkiness, and sensitivity. … Productivity increases when [students are] taken out of a busy, loud environment, and are put somewhere where their teachers and classmates are working with them and care about their success. I think that the word quirkiness is appropriate [to describe The London School] because you get to see people's mannerisms, and how they work on things that are hard for them. You really get to know them.”
- “I think that the word sensitive would [describe] The London School if they were a person, because I don't think that [students] are told enough that it's okay to feel things differently from how other people might feel them. It's okay to have things go wrong and to feel things the way that you [feel]. The teachers at [The London School] and some of the older students we're really there for, not just me, but everybody else as well, to say that whatever you're feeling is okay.”
- “The thing that was so surprising for me about [The London School] ... is that [students] get a lot of freedom in their learning. When you have such a small class, the teachers can make the curriculum best fit the interests of most of the students that are in the class.”
- “[If] a class as a whole doesn't understand something, [the teachers at The London School]] can just go over it again. … We would all ask, and go over it again. That was something that I found really helpful, especially in hard academic courses, like science or math.”
- “I appreciated that with projects at [The London School], we were never really assigned a specific topic. We were always given the choice to figure out where our interests lay in the topic that was at hand. We were able to find out our own information, and do our own research on whatever interested us. … I also think that families might find the no assigned homework to be pretty surprising.”
- “The only way that there was homework at [The London School], is if you in some way or other [students] waste the time that we were allotted to do it in class. If you didn't finish it in class, it was for homework, but there was nothing that was ever like, ‘do this tonight for homework, this is assigned.’”
- “Bullying, or anything negative like that is not tolerated at [The London School], so [students do not] have to worry about something like that. I've met some of my closest friends at the school, and we're all still really close even after graduating. [New students at The London School should] try not to be shy, because I think that would be the only inhibitor in succeeding socially at the school.”
Meghan — alum
Meghan has one daughter that attended The London School for her Grade 11 and 12 years. She is now starting her first year at Lakehead University, working towards a bachelor of environmental science majoring in forestry. After struggling in the public school system, Meghan knew her daughter needed a change. She credits The London School with bringing her daughter out of her shell and engaging her in a love of learning. The school accepted her daughter for who she was, taught her that it is okay to be different and that her uniqueness was a strength rather than a weakness.
- “When [our daughter] was really struggling, the first appeal of The London School was the small class size. Large groups make her nervous, and she was kind of fading away in these large classrooms that had 30 to 35 kids. … She didn't know the teachers, they didn't know her. We saw that instantly change when she walked into [The London School’s] front door.”
- “It took [my daughter] probably two months to get used to the way [The London School] went, because it was just so not what she had done. Then [my daughter] would start saying things like, ‘when I come in the door of [The London School], I feel like I'm coming home.’ She was very comfortable, very quickly, which then relaxed her to the point where everything became extremely comfortable.”
- “I found it interesting, in September 2020, how many schools adopted almost the same platform as The London School was using, where they were doing one credit at a time. Other parents, when we would talk about the London school, would say, ‘oh, that's so weird that [students] have one class, and nothing [else] to worry about.’ But they get it done. … They saw how much better their kids were, how much more successful they were when they took away all the extra stuff.”
- “[Our daughter] was not impressed with what we were doing [sending her to The London School] We said to her, ‘we don't know what to do with you, and we're going to try this. In a year, if you don't like it, then that's fine. We'll find something else. We'll figure this out.’ After a year, she didn't even ask about going back [to public school]. … We're an hour drive in [to the school], and there’s an hour-long drive home every day. We don't work in London. So for us, it was a lifestyle adjustment for our whole family [for our daughter to go to The London School]. The whole family pitched in to get her there. I think once we saw how successful she was, how much she was enjoying it, and how happy she was, nothing else mattered anymore.”
- “What surprised us the most, is that we had a child who's never been overly engaged when it came to learning, who was suddenly learning and learning happily. I think she sometimes did not even realize what she was learning. She really opened up at [The London School]. [My daughter is a] really quiet kid. So that says a lot, when I'm saying she opened up. She just really seemed to find herself. … Because of where [the school is] located, she was exposed to a lot of things that she's never been exposed to before.”
- “I think [The London School] really opened [my daughter’s] eyes to the world. … She got to know all the students well. … I think it opened her eyes that it's okay to be an individual, to be unique. To not judge other people based on what you see, and to not expect to be judged yourself. [The London School] was always a really big part of that. I found at The London school that everyone was just allowed to be themselves, and it was accepted and encouraged.”
- “[Three words that would describe The London School] are open-minded, resilient, and kind.”
- “There's an expectation of tolerance and respect at [The London School]. When [my daughter] left The London School, she came out having learned that nothing is insurmountable. [She learned that] if you take some time, be persistent, stay focused, use your head, and ask for help when you need it, that you can do anything you set your mind to.”
- “With the co-op [program], [The London School] gave [my daughter] the freedom of ‘what do you want to do? Where can we find what you want to do? Let's go find it.’ It really just opened everything up.”
- “Everything surprised us [about The London School] because it was so opposite of what we had been used to, and that was a huge relief because what we had been used to wasn't working. I actually wish that I had found The London School for our older children because we see how much [our daughter] benefited from this type of education.”
- “School doesn't have to be horrible. High school doesn't have to be a horrible experience. It can be a rewarding, engaging experience, where you learn, and you are able to spread your wings and figure out what interests you. … The environment at [The London School] really pushes children to exceed their own expectations.”
- “I would say that ‘The London school is worth every Penny.’”