REVIEW OF The Study Academy BY parent, Helen Rendl
- Date of Review
October 17, 2023
- Child 1
Gr. 6 - Gr. 8 (Male, Current Day Student)
- Child 2
Gr. 6 - Gr. 9 (Male, Current Day Student)
(4.5) Student Experience
My son has had a transformative experience while at The Study Academy's Lower School. The small size of the school was especially important during COVID and the years that followed, both for social growth and to catch up with learning. My son has gained immense confidence while at the school, and small class size, low student-to-teacher ratio and focus on social dynamics at The Study are directly responsible for this. Teachers and staff help to nurture our kids' interests and incorporate them into their school work to engage them in learning. Teachers and administration will engage and collaborate with both students and parents to help solve any problem areas. Social-emotional learning and general learning strategies are explicitly taught from early grades, which contributes to the school's uniqueness. In all, my son is very happy and engaged at school.
(4) School Leadership
Bryan Levy-Young, Founder and Dean of Admissions at the Lower School, is a visionary when it comes to supporting the needs of bright kids with learning challenges. He helps to set the tone for the school which is further supported by excellent staff and administration and teaching. There is a very positive atmosphere among students at the school, with issues being addressed promptly by staff. While there is some room for improvement in parent communication, I have always found staff to be responsive and accessible when I've reached out.
As with every school, the quality of instruction is reflective of the quality of teachers and on the whole, the teaching is excellent. There are a number of senior teachers who have been with the school for a long time and they deeply understand the needs of our kids and how to support them. Teachers choose to teach at The Study because of their interest in supporting kids with learning needs, which generally makes them very empathetic and kind to students. All work is managed through Google Classroom, which enables students to track their work and parents to easily track student's progress. I have always found teachers to be approachable and receptive to my concerns and questions, however, more proactive communication with parents about our kids' progress would be appreciated.
The Study follows the academic curriculum set out by the Ministry of Education but uses some flexibility in the way content is delivered to appeal to different profiles of students. There is direct learning support for kids with reading or executive functioning challenges, and they also provide exceptionally bright kids the opportunity to learn at a higher grade level. The school does not typically assign homework in the Lower School but does offer Study Hall from 3:30 - 4:00 p.m., 4 days per week. Students are also able to select an elective each term to match their personal interests. The Study does not sell itself as being the most rigorous or academically competitive school in Toronto, but it does engage students with the opportunity to learn ahead and complete enrichments. The school also offers a number of academic awards each year.
Given the small size of the school, there is a surprisingly large number of extracurricular options for students both a break, lunchtime and after school. There are no extra fees for participating in these extracurriculars, which include team sports, karate, Pawsitively Pets, Dungeons and Dragons, Minecraft, art and more. There is no extra charge to participate in after-school programs, even when an outside provider has been brought in. There is a wide variety of programs to meet the needs and interests of most students.
The Study Academy is a small school for bright kids who need extra academic or social support. The small size of the school and high student/teacher ratio means that staff knows every child well, and kids get to know each other well too. In general, children feel supported and I saw my son's confidence grow during his time at the school. He also formed some good friendships while at the school. There are times when some children at the school may become dysregulated (for which teachers/staff have many strategies) during class or recess, but this is to be expected given the profiles of some of the students and the focus on inclusion. The school generally does not admit kids with known behavioral issues and if bullying/behavior does arise, it gets addressed by staff. In all, there is a good sense of community at the school.
(4.5) School Life
Being at The Study has been a very positive experience for my son overall. He likes the small size of the school because of the personal attention he gets, as well as the sense of community among students and staff. He feels supported and safe, which is the opposite of how he felt at our local public school. It has never been a struggle to get him to school and most days he is very happy emerging from school. Currently, the school does not have a great outdoor space, although there is a plan in place to add an outdoor recreation area. Students typically walk to one of the local parks to enjoy time outside. The school does offer clubs to help build school community, and four times a year Lower School students compete in The Study Cup.
One area of improvement for the school is the development of a strong parent community. It seems challenging to get to know other parents well, although there is a new parent council in place and some efforts such as WhatsApp parent groups set up by grade. There are few, if any, opportunities to volunteer at the school during school hours to support kids in the classroom or to chaperone field trips. The school does host a parent cocktail reception at the beginning of the year, but there seems to be a mixed level of interest among parents. The school also sends out a weekly parent newsletter to update parents on school activities. For a small school, I was hoping for a higher level of parent engagement.
(4.5) School Location
Being close to Yonge and Davisville makes The Study Academy very accessible by the TTC (bus and subway), which is great to help prompt independence in our kids. With their parent's permission, older kids are also allowed to leave school property to grab lunch on Yonge Street. There is lots of street parking around the school as well as a paid parking lot. The Lower/Middle School is in a church building, and the Upper School is located on Yonge St., across the road.
I'm not sure whether the admissions process has changed at all since our entry, but the process was fairly standard: fill out an application, complete an interview with Bryan (who can generally sense whether the school would be a good fit for the child), followed by a half-day and a full-day school visit. The school visit allowed the child to sit in on classes and get a feel for both classmates and the school in general. Once we expressed our interest in having our child attend the school, it did take several weeks before learning whether he was accepted or not, which was a bit frustrating. Communication with prospective parents can be improved upon, but unlike some schools, there is not a separate admissions office and a lot of the process is down to one administrator.