Ottawa, ON | Grades NS - 8 | Shortlist
When I think back to my time at Bishop Hamilton Montessori School I have nothing but incredible memories. The quality of education paired with the supportive learning environment provided me full academic preparation for high school. As a student entering the International Baccalaureate program in high school, I was very confident in my mathematics, languages, sciences and arts. This made my transition very smooth and enjoyable. Apart from the academics, what stood out to me and made a lasting impression, was the emphasis that the school placed on developing leadership, social responsibility and instilling an endearing love for learning. This was not merely a preparation for future endeavors, but was imperative in shaping me to be the person I am today. It is during those years of life that a student needs guidance in those aspects of life and I felt that the directors and specialists just immersed themselves into providing that and more.
As a student, during my time at BHMS, I felt the leadership and administration were very connected with the school and its students. It was always a priority for them to create a school community and that was shown through their involvement with the students. For example, each term they created a newsletter for parents that featured the activities of the students and showcased what they have been doing. Being able to foster a community was really a priority and as a student, I felt like I was a part of that. Besides fostering a school community, as a student, I felt incredibly valued and respected by leadership and administration. Having the members of administration all know my name when I took a trip to the office to hand in an attendance form or take a band-aid shows how personable they were and how important students were to them. At each school-wide Worship, the director would shake every student's hand - often knowing all our names. This really made me feel valued as a student and connected to the leadership of the school.
At Bishop Hamilton there are Specialists and Directors. As a student, you spend time with the Directors, and take specialized courses with the Specialists such as science, French, music and religion. This was a really effective teaching system because each teacher was incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about the subject they were teaching. This really allowed for the class to go beyond just the basics. In fact, we often went a couple of grades beyond our level because of quality of knowledge and enthusiasm each teacher had for their students. A huge benefit to attending BHMS were the small class sizes. I spent a lot of time with my teachers which allowed for the education to become very individualized. My teachers really wanted to know my strengths, weaknesses, where I needed to improve, and how I could learn best. They invested a lot of time talking to me and my parents about how I was doing, what I could do better, and how they were going to make it happen. If there were problems that I was experiencing, my teachers could tell right away and would always spend extra time with me to resolve the problem - whether it was not understanding a concept, writing an essay or doing a math question. Having that immediate support was critical in being able to secure a solid foundation of education. However, not only were the teachers immersed in the teaching of academics in the classroom, they were really active in the community and in organizing enriching outside-of-the-classroom activities. These really helped me develop as a person - I learned how to work in teams effectively, take leadership and responsibility, the importance of giving-back and so much more. I truly believe that without my teachers at BHMS I could not have done these things. The whole experience was shaped by them and I think this is one of the things that sets BHMS apart from other schools.
Academically I was very prepared going into high school. As I was there for grade 7 and 8, the academics were really important to my parents and I as I wanted to enter the International Baccalaureate program (an international academic program, similar to AP). I always found myself being challenged and supported in a very productive way. In all of my classes were completing the curriculum of the year above us which was really helpful in preparation for high school. I would also say that academically our teachers really taught us how to learn effectively.