REVIEW OF The Priory School BY parent, Suzanne Csik
- Date of Review
February 07, 2018
Gr. K - 6
(5) Student Experience
Our son's experience at The Priory was outstanding from beginning to end. The Priory curriculum and culture provide a nurturing, inspiring and confidence-building environment. With each grade, from kindergarten to Grade 6, the teachers, principal and the administrative staff at the school ensured that all of the students felt safe and empowered to learn not only their subjects but also the art of public speaking, music through the school's band program, how to present in front of a class as well as the entire school, the importance of teamwork since they have collaborative events that involve the older students working with the younger students and the importance of sports. There is a lot to be impressed with at The Priory but for our family, the fact that the students are constantly engaged and introduced to new aspects of science, technology, art, community work and more, and that they want to go to the school everyday - was outstanding. It's hard to find a Priory student who wants to stay home from school!
(5) School Leadership
The Priory School's principal and administration excels at fairly and thoughtfully addressing any problems that may arise (and very few do) for the students at the school. No knee-jerk reactions here. When necessary, students are made to feel that they can safely and comfortably share their "versions" of any incidents and parents are consulted whenever necessary. Principal Tim Peters can be very proud of the fact that he is renowned for putting students first. He addresses any of his student body's needs and is an advocate for each student. Parents are always kept abreast of any troubling issues and are encouraged by the school to work with the principal and teachers to help students rectify any adverse situations. The school and its administration is greatly admired by the parent body for how judiciously it handles all student issues.
The Priory has exceptional teachers. We, along with other parents, were amazed at how every teacher worked extremely hard to learn what made each student tick. They would go to the trouble of making sure that in order for their students to absorb, be interested in and enjoy their subject matter, the students could use or integrate something that was of personal interest to them. Our son loved everything to do with trains and his teachers knew this and would encourage him to use, grow and show his knowledge as he was learning through the years. It is hard to capture how incredibly caring, passionate and genuinely interested the teachers are in seeing each student succeed to the best of his or her ability. The Priory's teachers - and the principal - exude a passion for what they do daily. This passion is also evident in the other personnel that make the school what it is. There is no one there that doesn't have the students' best interests at heart - also impressive is the fact that the principal will substitute teach. What a great way for him to see firsthand how a class is faring.
This is an easy question to answer. Our son started high school (grade 7) last year at LCC. He and 5 fellow Priory graduates started Gr. 7 by attending a 3-day sleep away camp (before the first week of school) so that all the students starting Gr. 7 could meet. Each student was placed in a cabin with 3 other students that they didn't previously know. I was there when all the campers were boarding the bus to start the trip. You could pick out the Priory graduates because they were so excited to embark on the trip. They had had years of overnight and multiple day trips away starting in an early grade. Their maturity, sense of confidence and enthusiasm were all the result of their Priory years. Regarding the academics, we knew the first term of Gr. 7 and now Gr. 8, that the Priory not only prepared our son well academically for LCC, they excelled at doing so. I'm trying to think of what we may have been disappointed in academically but I'm not coming up with any negatives. The Priory is known for having its Gr. 6 students being almost unanimously accepted at their first choice of high schools. Our son was accepted at all 3 of his choices. Although the teachers at the Priory work with their classes as whole, they also take the time to work with the individual students and any challenges they may be having.
While our son was at The Priory, the school did a great job of encouraging the students to be involved in different initiatives such as fundraising for charitable causes by holding bake sales, craft sales, etc. or joining the Student Council which helped impoverished families at Christmas by collecting for food baskets, etc. After-school activities, at the time, were handled by an external organization that would come into the school and provide instruction. My understanding was that the students enjoyed their activities. The chess program at the school is also impressively handled and all students at all levels of chess-playing are welcome. What is beautiful at The Priory is that if a parent, student or teacher has an idea to introduce an activity, initiative or outing, it is rare that the idea will not be thoroughly assessed and then implemented. The school's administration is most open to all kinds of creative ideas that will help the students, i.e. etiquette lessons, cooking lessons, a drama club with annual plays, history project competitions, "Shark Tank"-like competitions - there is something for every student.
When our son attended, there were approximately 168 students and this included the entire student body. Very small class sizes ensure that every student is well attended to and that the children are not only able to become friendly with their classmates, they are able to learn the names and interact with students from all grades. Our very favourite inter-grade activity is the "reading buddy" program where students from a higher grade will help to teach and practice reading to kindergarten students. It is fantastic and every Priory parent finds this program phenomenal. Overall, if there is a child or children that are not getting along with other students, all steps will be taken to resolve any issues. However, this is infrequent. The children are encouraged to befriend their classmates and other students in the different grades.
(5) School Life
The best example of how "school life" is at The Priory is best illustrated by the students NOT wanting to go home at the end of the day. The majority of parents are having to beg their children to leave the grounds. The students want to stay in the after-school program so that they can remain with their friends and engage in all kinds of activities including completing their homework assignments. If you are seeking a school with an administration and faculty that focuses on grooming a student to be kind, confident, advanced scholastically, technologically-savvy, excel socially, enjoy sports, be enriched by music, art and drama and be incredibly well prepared academically and socially for the high school years, The Priory is that school. I don't believe our son would be doing as well as he is in high school if he had not experienced the superb foundation the Priory offers to elementary students.
The beauty of The Priory School is that it is really a Priory Community. Each and every parent is welcome to be involved in helping to enhance not only their child's experience at the school but other children's as well. Parents automatically become members of the PPA (the Priory Parents Association) once their child is enrolled. In addition to this, parental involvement is encouraged so that the school and parents can work in partnership to ensure a wonderful elementary school experience. It is really up to a parent to decide how much he or she wants to be involved. The parent body is strong and is responsible for contributing to the strong caring culture of the school. Parental involvement is definitely welcomed at this school and your child's experience will be richer with your involvement.
(5) School Location
The school's location on The Boulevard behind the gates is one that is adored by parents and students alike. Students and teachers often walk to Mount Royal for different activities, graduating students and parents will walk to the Atwater Club for graduation parties, field trips are easy because of the school's central location but the actual grounds are fantastic for school activities such as races, skating, soccer, ping pong games, fairs, and more. The security of closed gates and ample space on the grounds including the playground are not only greatly appreciated by the children but by parents and teachers as well. Students only venture beyond the school grounds if they have a field trip such as visiting St. George's next door to see a school play or art exhibition.