The York School is a community that shaped me into the person that I am today. The list of opportunities is almost comical, to name some: band, choir, basketball, softball, volleyball, ultimate, chess club, debate club, morning announcements, plays, musicals, student council, volunteering, outreach, exchange and so much more. My classmates and I had an opportunity to experience all that the school had to offer, in addition to the MYP and IB programs, challenge weeks and immersive laptop program.
Teachers were listened to, administrators were respected and there was very much an open door policy. Many considered the teachers to be their friends. Teachers would stay late daily for extra-curricular causes or just to make themselves available to talk. All were reasonable, kind people and there was an expectation to be honest and courteous. Not that it would happen often, but say for example a student skipped class to go an smoke (fooling nobody), I know of a circumstance where a teacher emailed a parent and followed up with a phone call the following day after no response. If I were a parent, that would be the ideal situation; don't isolate and scold my child, particularly not in front of others and notify me immediately so that I can discuss the gravity of the situation.
As with any profession, some teachers were better than others. Those that were passionate about their subjects, students and curriculum were naturally more engaging and had a greater affect on me. It's worth noting that those same teachers have gone on into managing roles, tenured careers and heads of their departments. Teachers were always, ALWAYS available. Assignments and instructions were posted online, teachers responded to emails, even at 8PM the night before a test. Excuses were actually heard and sometimes forgiven. Personally, relationships were formed that still exist today, ten years after graduation. student-teacher basketball games remain a highlight for me and some of the students, girls particularly, would sit in the cafeteria and have discussions over lunch/spare/coffee break sitting down one-on-one with a teacher to talk about school, life, gossip and what have you...
I wish that the school had been as progressive when I attended as it is today. Maker's labs, 3D printing, website building, graphic design, regular field trips and of course exceptional classroom teaching. Yes, some teachers stuck to the textbook, which is more physically draining than any activity, but on the whole, teachers were engaging and knew their stuff. Learning algebra on a white board is one thing, it's another to use humans in an interactive example. The student body were appropriately competitive. After all, these are the children of successful people that have learned a high work ethic that the school helps to nurture. That isn't to say that there isn't balance, I believe that I have alluded to that several times, but there's no question that the academics at the school are second to none.
Every day morning announcements. Monday basketball shout around at lunch, vocal coaching after school until 5:30PM. Tuesday morning basketball practice, Tuesday night play/musical rehearsal. Wednesday lunch band practice, night basketball game. Thursday night play/musical rehearsal. Friday night student-teacher basketball shoot around and pickup game. You can seriously be as involved as you want to be. The debate team, soccer team, organize a charity event, school dances and really anything that is of interest.
I don't know if there's an archetype, but I do know that I prefer that. Everybody was an individual and that was very much encouraged. People had different backgrounds, education, religious upbringings, grew up in different areas of the city and very much resembled Toronto's melting pot. People were nice to one another. They were accepting of different cultures. School assemblies teaching us about Diwali, Ramadan, Yom Kippur and Easter, you name it, we embraced it. This was the most incredible thing that I took from the school, coming from a secular Jewish school before attending York. Some people's families had less money, but subjectively and this is perhaps me crossing the line with my own opinions, but nobody was made to feel lesser or small as a result, which is in contrast to some of the all boys and girls schools that I have heard from friends that attended. Everyone was accepted.
Not like, LOVE. It was my outlet for my energy. Meeting people, forming relationships, challenging myself, learning new things and much more. Other students were happy, some would experience more stress than others over tests, papers, exams, but that can be chalked up to personality types, personal goals and areas of success.
Here I am, getting married in 17 days and four of my seven groomsmen attending TYS with me, the other three are my brothers! To add to that, I must have around two dozen in attendance. My favourite teacher, sorry everyone else, went on to become principle and I regularly call to check in with him, probably once a season. I have asked to take on the role of the head of the alumni, because I'd like to see greater involvement therein. Parents are widely included and with the early years programs, more than ever. My only point of contention is that I think alumni could have more support, engagement and interaction with current students and parents.
There isn't a better located school in this city. On Yonge St, off of St Clair Ave is almost unbelievable for a small private school. Students would go out for lunch regularly or walk around and many subwayed to and fro, with close proximity to St Clair Station and Summerhill Station.
I had an older brother already in attendance. My Mom set up the interview and I recall meeting with Mrs. Andrews, on her couch, talking about life, school, family, goals, sports and much more. There would be a formal entrance test that would follow, some weeks later, but I walked out confidently after being told that I was a great young man, with a bright future and was just the sort of student they were looking for (at twelve years old - gr7 entry year). I literally phoned my Mom to tell her how excited I was and to cancel my interview with UCC, as I had already made my decision.