REVIEW OF The Sacred Heart School of Montreal BY parent, Dania Szanajda
- Date of Review
May 22, 2020
Gr. 7 - 7
(4) Student Experience
The SHS of Montreal has been an incredible experience for my daughter. As parents of a special needs' child, we were quite concerned with our fit. Turns out that the staff has surpassed all of our expectations and succeeded in helping my daughter feel welcome, and appreciated. Above all, loved for who she is. Love is abundant at Sacred Heart, in the forms the student requires. I regularly congratulate staff on the warm atmosphere and extraordinary teaching staff who perform above and beyond the call of regular teaching duty. They are positive, inclusive and encourage performance. Teachers are approachable, candid, and work with families in the best interest of the child. Keeping in mind high-school students may experience a plethora of issues outside the academic realm, the staff on-hand works closely together to address and anticipate issues, behind the scenes, as well as directly with the students.
(4.5) School Leadership
SHS demonstrates leadership at its best. Staff is positive, approachable and efficient. Given the small student population, every student is recognized as an individual and celebrated as such. Unlike other schools our daughter had previously attended, Sacred Heart senior administration works closely with staff and parents to best understand students and bring about the best of every student. Communication is open and honest, with real respect between parties. Mr. O'Donnell, the current headmaster has proven himself to be a man of integrity and compassion. In addition, Ms. Maloni, along with Ms. Rath work closely with their girls, as though our daughters were their own.
Having worked with my daughter, I have been absolutely impressed. Teachers diligently prepare lectures, with thought-provoking assignments, which requires research, as well as reflection. Sacred Heart students are continuously encouraged to present assignments on-time, reflecting quality results. Small class numbers enable teachers to focus on students on a personal level, giving them the opportunity to understand each student's strengths and weaknesses, to support the girls to become strong women. Support staff is readily available to assist students, in cases where the student requires additional information, strategies, and inspiration to get the assignment(s) completed. Communication flows regularly, tailored to the student's needs, with staff responding effectively. The Sacred Heart education my daughter is currently receiving is far more inclusive, and challenging, albeit traditional than the public system has demonstrated in the past.
The Academics are challenging, but not impossible. Students who are hand-selected to participate in the program must first perform an entrance exam, as well as an in-person interview with senior staff. Expectations are set from the first meeting, with regular feedback provided. The academic program is based on MEES guidelines, with enriched content. Student assignments are introduced with clear guidelines, and acceptable timelines for completion. In the event, assignments are not clear, teachers along with support is available to guide the student towards successful completion. Sacred Heart students have a safe place to cultivate their interests, develop their potential, and are continuously encouraged by staff and administrators. Its small classrooms are both a strength and weakness, keeping in mind the social reality of the level of education.
The Sacred Heart School offers its girls a plethora of choices. Teachers and support staff work together to offer students extracurricular activities, either introducing new venues to explore, or bringing opportunity to continue to perfect skills in ongoing interests. Students can partake in activities ranging from art, robotics, entrepreneurship as well as many types of sports. Many activities are scheduled during different times of the academic year, allowing students to try out various activities, depending on interest and the current workload.
The Sacred Heart School prides itself as a small school, with a big heart. As parents, invitations to the school are always welcome to celebrate our daughters' progress and development. Students are respectful and eager to assist. Students are close, working together as a close-knit family, celebrating together in success, and grieving in losses. Many staff members are alumni, returning to the fold, continuing with the tradition of excellence and Sacred Heart values. `My daughter had transferred from another former all-girls' school, with glowing comments, relating the differences in the two institutions. As parents, we believe that the school's relatively small numbers, enable staff to keep the environment positive and respectful.
(4.5) School Life
Student life is good, if not extraordinary. Our daughter loves the school, so as parents, we love it too. Administration and staff have created a positive, welcoming atmosphere, working closely with every individual student, to understand her, to help her become the best person she can become. Every student is provided with the enriched curriculum, and countless opportunities to discover who she is, as well as the person she aspires to become. We also appreciate the open-door policy administration offers for the kids to walk through as needed. Many staff members take personal interests in students and may work with the family to better understand your daughter, to help her flourish. If the family accepts these goodwill gestures, she will never feel unaccompanied on her journey through high school.
The Sacred Heart School is quite involved, by requiring its students to participate in volunteering activities in different realms, as part of the academic requirements. With this requirement, the school demonstrates the importance of supporting persons outside of her immediate circle, and family; for persons who may contribute to her success indirectly, or directly. Or for those, who wished they could. Parents are invited to partake in volunteering at the school during various events, to demonstrate appreciation for teaching and support staff, as well as provide mentoring in some extracurricular activities. The school also prides itself on an excellent Parents' Guild, which prepares fundraising activities to support programs within the school. Parental support is welcome during select activities, which is understandable, given the educational level.
(4) School Location
The Sacred Heart School is located near the heart of downtown Montreal in a beautiful historical building with antiques decorating the building. The school hosts boarding students in dormitories and is self-contained. Students must stay within the grounds during school hours unless they enrolled in senior grades. Students can either be dropped off by car, however, it is readily accessible by public transport.
The admissions process, is similar to other institutions, however, it on a more personal level. Our family met with senior administrative staff and interviewed to understand if there was a fit between the school and our family. Expectations were discussed, as well as the curriculum. Additionally, our daughter was invited to complete an entrance exam, as well as other assessments. The process was warmly conducted with positivity, respect, and optimism. Our family transferred our daughter from a previous institution, providing a benchmark for the experience. Senior administration members were patient, working with us, to determine whether our daughter could fit into the organization. We were blessed with the positive outcome, and are grateful that she was accepted to be adopted into the Sacred Heart School family.