Roundtable Q&A Discussion About The Sterling Hall School (2021)
The Sterling Hall School alumni, current students, and parents shared their insights on the school’s culture, values, strengths, and weaknesses. Hear what Shelly, Nate, Jack had to say about the school.
Highlights from the Q&A discussion
Shelly — current parent
Shelly has two boys who attend Sterling Hall School. One of them is in Grade 3, and the other is in Grade 8. She was drawn to the school because of the confidence and passion the teachers have for educating young boys. Sterling Hall School challenges students academically, but also values physical activity as an important part of their student’s education. She appreciates that student mentorship is encouraged between different grades, which helps foster a sense of community and belonging for her sons.
- “When I visited the school, we actually lived quite far. We lived in Mississauga at the time, and I had visited a couple of schools, and I remembered an old colleague of mine mentioning Sterling Hall and being very happy with the school. So I called the school and went for a visit, even though I knew it was a little far, actually, quite far. I visited the school. I was very impressed with the confidence of the teachers, and the administration at [Sterling Hall School], and the passion they had for educating boys. Their hands-on learning, the guided reading program, and Singapore math groups.”
- “Both my boys are very different. They have different strengths, different areas where they need support. I have been very impressed that [Sterling Hall School] has really adapted to each boy. So they have exceeded our expectations in every way. When my boys have needed extension and extra enrichment, they have provided that, and when my boys have needed support in areas, they have provided that.”
- “[Sterling Hall School] has a really unique way of building confidence in kids from a young age. … I would say it's just when you have such a supportive community of teachers who really want you to do well and cheer for you.”
- “Sterling [Hall School] definitely, at least in my experience ... has a way of recruiting amazing teachers, developing amazing teachers, and retaining amazing teachers. I think really, it's the teachers that form a big part of the kids' experience. [Sterling Hall School] also picks great families, and great boys. I think for [my son], he loves all the extracurriculars, all the great clubs, and that's a big part of his experience.”
- “[My son] loved all the great overnight experiences and all the hands-on learning [at Sterling Hall School]. He really loves that [Sterling Hall School] has a community and culture of kindness, respect, inclusivity, and diversity. I think all of that just makes the kids feel like they belong, and they are very comfortable.”
- “Hearing [my son] talk about Pride week, hearing him talk about all of the First Nations issues that we've all been working through. … The way he can speak about it as a seven year old, so eloquently, just shocked me. It shows the confidence that the [Sterling Hall School] teachers give to these little kids, they really believe that they're ready to learn, and speak, and discuss, and understand these topics, and they really are.”
- “So the first [word I would use to describe Sterling Hall School] would be positive. … There's been some bumps, like with any child. I think with both my children there have always been bumps, but every single meeting I had at [Sterling Hall School] always started off positive. If I were to describe [Sterling Hall School] as a person, it would be a very positive person, very kind, and empathetic. … I think that the staff, the leaders, and everyone leads with kindness, and you feel that in the community of the school.”
- “[Sterling Hall School] is curious in the sense of always wanting to do better. I noticed that especially with the principal of the school, he's always curious about how we can do better? How can we do things differently? How can we learn about different things, and be curious in terms of different learning strategies? ... I think it's also developing that curiosity in our children for all different things.”
- “If you start to be firm with a child when you haven't built that relationship where they're comfortable with you, where they look up to you. ... That's not going to really achieve anything. I think [Sterling Hall School] leads with that kindness, and that welcoming, and making sure the kids feel like they belong, and they're comfortable, but when needed, there is firmness and also absolutely a challenge.”
- “There's no coddling, [Sterling Hall School] pushes [my kids]. We've just seen the Grade 7 curriculum, and we're very impressed with the level the boys are learning in math for sure. I can say it is at least one if not two grades ahead. Same thing with the science, and the language that they're doing. These boys are being pushed quite a bit.”
- “I think part of the culture at [Sterling Hall School] is the interaction between the different grades. I think as my boys get older, they love to mentor the younger ones ... and when they were young … they just loved the interaction with the older boys, and it meant so much to them. I feel like at each level, the boys are growing. Even at the Grade 2, Grade 3 level, they're being given an opportunity to help the younger kids.”
- “I remember when [my son] was told that he was now the oldest in his recess group. Therefore he has to be the bigger boy, looking after other [younger] boys. Even at [that age], he felt that responsibility, and was talking about it. ... That's really built into their thinking, and their curriculum at [Sterling Hall School]. It's so amazing to see.”
- “I think the school really steps up and meets your child where they are. It helps develop them, and helps each boy get to their full potential. Typically, I can be a very critical person, but really, the school has exceeded my expectations."
Nate — student
Nate has one son who is going into Grade 1. Nate appreciates how Sterling Hall School has made his son and the rest of his family feel included and welcomed into the community. The school has accommodated all of his son's unique learning needs, and helped foster a love of learning. Nate has noticed a boost in his son’s confidence, and believes that Sterling Hall School will teach him the skills he needs to achieve whatever he sets his mind to.
- “What I wasn't expecting was just that community-centric vibe of the school, because as a public school person, you kind of have an opinion of what a private school might be, especially a boy’s school as opposed to my daughter's school… But I didn't get that at all. [Sterling Hall School] felt very welcoming. All the teachers were genuinely excited to be there to teach our children. So that was really a big draw for us.”
- “[My son] was kind of a shy kid. … One of the big things we're looking for was him coming out of his shell, and having an environment to foster his personality, and we've definitely seen that at [Sterling Hall School]. He’s super confident, and wants to go to school. The Sterling Star program is a really good kind of a way for all the kids to recognize a form of achievement in themselves across so many different areas.”
- “[Students are] not really pigeonholed into being one type of person at [Sterling Hall School]. I think that as a four- and a five-year-old kid, it's important to get reinforcement, so that they know what they're doing is good, and to continue to do that. When I see him come home and say, ‘oh, you know, I got a star for leadership,’ I'm kind of surprised. So I think that's telling what the school is able to do for him, given where he was when he started.”
- “Social-emotional learning is something that wasn't around when I was in school, but it is super important, and I am definitely seeing the positive effects [of Sterling Hall School on my son]. .. He talks about overcoming things ... he knows how to address certain situations that, quite frankly, adults probably today still struggle with. I think the fact that he can talk about that as part of his everyday school experience, like it isn't anything special. That's pretty neat.”
- “[Three words to describe Sterling Hall School] are definitely confident, character-driven, and a leader. I don't just mean that in an aggressive type of way. It's a caring culture at [Sterling Hall School]. ... I see that across the school, not just in the students, but in the teachers, and the administration. Just the fact that you can walk into the building. … Most of the teachers and the principal, they know who you are, they know who your kid is.”
- “It's just an extra level of community at [Sterling Hall School]. So [it's great] when you see that, and you see that your kids are being raised that way. That's what I see in my [child]. He's confident. He knows through the Sterling Star program all the character traits that make for a good person. Whether he becomes a leader or not, it's not that important. [My son] has the tools, and has been taught at [Sterling Hall School] how to deal with so many different things at such a young age. I'm personally confident that he can do whatever he wants to do.”
- “[Another] advantage of [Sterling Hall School] is that if your child has interest in certain things, or really excels in certain things, [Sterling Hall School] can tailor [learning] for that child. For example, [my son] really likes numbers. To the point where even I'm impressed how he even got those things happening in his head.”
- “I thought that [the Sterling Hall School buddy system] was really neat. ... When you go to school, I think there's an apprehension to say hi to all the older boys. They're much bigger, and [you think] if they notice you, maybe it'll be in a negative way. I think in that inclusion from [Sterling Hall School], you have that feeling that really that all grades and all ages are really part of one big family.”
- “[The students at Sterling Hall School] look out for each other. Sometimes the before- and after-school programs can be difficult. ... But you see that the older kids help [the younger kids] out, and then they end up hanging out together in the after-school program. So, just because they're in a specific grade, they're able to see other kids, and they're in different houses, so when they have house events, they recognize, ‘oh, they're part of the same house’, and [students are] able to bond that way too.”
Jack — alum
Jack graduated from Sterling Hall School in Grade 8, and is now a Grade 10 student at UCC. Sterling Hall School helped Jack step out of his comfort zone and engage in opportunities he would not have had otherwise. He was welcomed immediately into the school community, and made many close bonds with his classmates. He believes that the school taught him leadership and collaboration skills that have carried over into his high school years.
- “Sterling [Hall School] provided me with good collaboration skills and leadership skills so I could go into an activity with people I had never met before, and bond with them right away. ... Maybe not even bond, but have the capability to lead the group, or follow along.”
- “When I look back on my time at Sterling [Hall School], I really appreciate how the teachers went out of their way to make sure my experience was the best at that school, and with every other boy. When I first came to [Sterling Hall School], my academics weren't there. I felt very behind. ... I came in Grade 5, and I had never taken French before. Math was not very good for me. The teachers went out of their way, and they told me to come in early in the morning for extra help.”
- “[Sterling Hall School teachers] sat down with me and explained everything to me. The one thing that really stood out to me at [Sterling Hall School], was when I got a piece of writing back or a math test, there was always feedback, and the feedback was perfect. It was very helpful. It was very detailed, I knew exactly where I went wrong and how I could improve. To me, that was a big part of taking my work to the next level in order to improve. I think all around just like the student-teacher connections were probably the highlight of my time at [Sterling Hall School].”
- “I think another thing that differentiates [Sterling Hall School] from other schools, is the trips that we go on, which really push some kids out of their comfort zones. For example, I went on an eight-day canoe trip, and that was not my thing. I've never been camping before, and it was not something I was looking forward to. ... The first night I went there I was like, ‘oh, my God, I'm going to hate this. It's terrible.’ [My teacher] was there guiding me along the whole trip, and we bonded on that trip, and to me, that was just amazing. I know I'm going to remember that for the rest of my life.”
- “I think what families would find most surprising about [Sterling Hall School] would be how the school is so welcoming. … When I came into school, every student and every teacher made sure that I felt welcomed, felt like they made me fit in. It's almost like I didn't have a choice. I was making friends from left and right, and I went in there so nervous, really nervous. It seemed like everyone had almost already bonded, and there was no room for me, but they made it happen, and that to me was very important.”
- “I remember New Boy's Day was pretty amazing. That was one day in the life of Sterling Hall School before your first year started. That was a good chance to start to get to know some of the boys, and have a feel for the school that way. You were kind of prepared, and that was nice. That was very helpful.”
- “There's a trip to Ecuador in Grade 8. If you're in Grade 7 or 8 at [Sterling Hall School], you go to Ecuador on a ‘Me to We’ trip. We helped build schools, we got to experience a different culture, and meet different communities. To me, that was life changing, just seeing how some other people live, and how fortunate I am.”
- “I tried a lot of language clubs and subject clubs at [Sterling Hall School] to try and improve my academics. I found that was very helpful, even though it wasn't my thing, I would go with my friends, have fun, and at the end, I would ultimately improve, which was good to see.”
- “I think one of the biggest differences I noticed in myself at [Sterling Hall School] is my level of independence. I think that comes from pushing myself out of my comfort zone. There was definitely still a level of guidance. It wasn't to an extent where I wasn't learning anything new. I think once you push out of your comfort zone, that's when you're really going to learn.”
- “A big thing for me was the [Sterling Hall School] Student Council as a Grade 5 and Grade 8 student. In Grade 8, since I was head boy, I actually got a chance to run the student council, and also see little kids run. It was very impressive to me to see that Junior Kindergarteners and Senior Kindergarteners had the potential to run a meeting seriously. The different grades were able to bond there, the Kindergarteners were able to meet Grade 5’s and Grade 8’s, and say ‘hi’ to them in the halls, and feel like they were part of the community and part of the school, which was really nice to see.”