Rothesay, NB | Grades 6 - 12 | Shortlist
To say that my daughter's life was transformed by attending Rothesay Netherwood School is not an exaggeration. From the day she first toured campus until her graduation during the lockdowns of Covid-19, Grace felt she was a valued part of the school community. The fact that she immediately filled out her contact information to stay in touch with RNS as an alumnus is a testament to the connection she feels after just two years as a student. When Grace arrived on campus to move into her residence, she was greeted by name and made to feel part of her school family. Everyone was helpful, welcoming and friendly. Teachers who were always available for help and encouragement and truly interested in helping her become the best version of herself made the transition to an IB program more manageable in grade 11. The diversity of the student population was very exciting for my daughter. Learning about many different cultures and Countries happened very naturally during free time on campus. One of my daughter's favourite aspects of RNS was the emphasis on developing the "whole student". Academics, athletics, community service; every part of school life provides value to our children as is viewed as important at this school.
I definitely felt more informed and included as a parent when my child was boarding away from home at RNS than I did when she attended public school 15 km from our house! The Leadership at RNS radiates positivity and a "can do" attitude for all students to follow. These are people who obviously love their profession and are invested in the development of all students in their care. Students and parents are made aware of school rules and the implications for not following these rules. Discipline is fair, and meant as a learning experience rather than simply a punishment. Personal communication with school leaders is encouraged, and information for parents on the portal is always timely and accurate. Students receive timely feedback on activities, both academic and extracurricular. It was always a pleasure to read report cards and know from the comments that my daughter's teachers had a real understanding of her strengths, challenges and personality.
My child entered RNS in grade 11 having had a very poor education in grades 6 - 10. The teachers at RNS immediately recognized the challenges that Grace was facing in the IB program and were unbelievably supportive of her attempts to fill her learning deficits, excel academically and train as a competitive athlete. Her teachers were always available for help outside of regular class hours, they encouraged her, and they made her believe in herself and her abilities again. The quality of instruction is excellent at RNS. The teachers are passionate about the subject matter and encourage students to think critically and share ideas freely. Students are definitely continuously challenged in all aspects of their development at RNS. Their successes are celebrated by their peers and teachers; while failures are viewed as the first step to achieving success through hard work and determination.
With my child currently working on her first semester of university exclusively through online platforms; I can say with certainty that RNS prepares its graduates for life's next steps. An independent work ethic and the confidence to ask questions when needed are helping her succeed under very difficult circumstances. This would not be possible without the RNS experience. The IB program at RNS is rigorous, requiring students to become self-motivated in order to excel, but providing adequate help at every step for students to achieve their goals. Rothesay Netherwood School cultivates a culture that encourages every student to be the best version of themselves. There is the expectation that every student can succeed on their chosen path in life with the support of their peers and mentors. Hard work is expected and rewarded. I believe that being an IB world school is a notable strength for RNS, as this means the curriculum and its delivery is regularly reviewed by educators outside of the immediate school community. There is a diversity of subjects taught using a variety of methods for all learning styles.
RNS offers a wide variety of extracurricular activities for all interests and ability levels. A great example of this is the level of skating and hockey programs offered at the rink on the RNS campus. There is a learn to skate program for anyone, including International students from warmer climates, who has not had the opportunity to spend time on the ice, there are recreational hockey teams for students who enjoy the sport but do not necessarily want to pursue it intensely, and there is a preparatory team that excels and competes in Canada and down the Eastern Seaboard of the USA. One sport and a place for everyone interested. RNS provides mandatory extracurricular activity choices each term in a wide variety of sports and artistic activities that allow each student to reach their maximum potential, whatever the level of fun or competition desired. For a small school they are remarkably dedicated to each student whether learning an activity for the first time, or working for university athletic recruitment and scholarships. Every student is supported to become a multi-faceted individual who pursues his or her passions with guidance and purpose.
Our family's first impression of RNS was of a close-knit, happy family on the hill. As with all families, there are challenging moments, but overall students and staff are a smiling and inclusive group of people who welcome everyone. The dining hall seating requires students to rotate seating during meals with all grades during the course of the year, so younger/newer students are supported by older/more experienced peers in a relaxed setting. This, along with extracurricular activities, helps foster friendships outside of regular classroom interactions with students of a similar age. The school is relatively small, around 300 students in grades 6 to 12, and each individual is respected as an important member of the school family. Student who live in the same dorms become incredibly close. My daughter and her roommate (Canadian and Chinese) requested to remain together for grade 12, as they enjoyed the bond and respect they had developed as assigned roommates in grade 11. They were placed together as strangers by a Head of House who works very hard to match roommates who have enough in common to get along, but also have enough diversity to grow and learn from each other. When you visit the campus there are always groups of smiling students going about their day and greeting others by name as they pass. Not everyone chooses to be friends, but all are respected and valued as members of the school community.
My child can not say enough good things about her RNS experience! She truly loved her time on the Hill and proudly wears her RNS clothing on a regular basis, even as others are sporting clothes from the universities they are now attending. Even the events that were challenging for her, whether personal, academic or athletic are told to us objectively and with a positive learning outcome. She knows that life will always throw you challenges, but a community that believes in you and supports you makes everything easier. During the time between exams and graduation, my daughter voluntarily wrote thank you cards for the adults at RNS who had helped her along the way. It was humbling to see a 17-year-old put as much thought into thanking "her friend Mark, the dining hall cook" as her HL IB subject teachers. Appreciation and recognition for the way others help along the path to success, valuing everyone for what they bring to your life; these are the values RNS instills in students - I can't get her to write thank you's to the family for holiday gifts without nagging:) One of the most touching moments, for me as a mother, was watching Grace open a care package sent to her by RNS after graduation. She immediately put on a beautiful silver locket (one of many gifts inside) and proceeded to read aloud handwritten cards from her teachers congratulating her on her successes, telling her to be proud of herself, and encouraging her to come back to RNS and visit as she would be missed. Knowing that my child was supported and valued to that extent is a key reason I would recommend this school to others who are looking for an exceptional educational opportunity.
Parents are always encouraged to be involved in the RNS community to whatever extent they are interested or able. Having students from around the world means that some parents are unable to participate regularly, while someday student parents are very active volunteers. All parents are included in school communications at all times, regardless of geographic location. When I attended a school event or contributed supplies/donations to an activity, I was always thanked and made to feel appreciated for my involvement. Likewise, if I was unable to participate that was completely acceptable as well. RNS also meaningfully participates in the activities of the town of Rothesay. Students volunteer at many community activities and the school is regularly thanked for their contributions to the town. Character, Courage and Creativity; these aren't just words, they are traits your child will be encouraged to achieve at RNS!
RNS is a valued part of the broader community. The school grounds are a very safe and beautiful place, but community assets are also utilized on a regular basis in a well-supervised fashion. My daughter went to a local gym to receive a personalized fitness assessment and training plan as part of one of her extracurricular activities. She also went with the rowing team to the local rowing club for practices and competitions during the spring term. Older students are able to go "downtown" with a group of friends during free time, but there is always parental permission required through an online form. Students are well supervised, but encouraged to be members of the surrounding community as their maturity level dictates. RNS is located in one of the most beautiful and safest places in the world!!
Start early - as more people discover RNS I expect the waiting list will get longer!! We were encouraged to visit the campus and reach out with follow up questions when our daughter was considering RNS. She was paired up with two current students with similar interests for a day, and she was able to ask them (with no adults listening) any questions she had. No question was too small for an immediate and thoughtful response from the admissions team as I was filling out the application forms. I recall thinking that the application was really comprehensive, but knowing that the school was trying to be sure the student and RNS would be the right fit for each other. I like the rolling admissions process, so that whenever a family feels the time is right to start an application they can begin to get the documents together and allow lots of time to be ready for the next academic year.
This is definitely a strength of the RNS team! 100% university acceptance for RNS graduates. Beginning in grade 11, each student spends time with the guidance team. General interests and specific university programs are explored, to be sure students have the proper courses to apply for their chosen post-secondary program(s) and that the program is a good fit. If students are unsure of future plans, time is spent exploring various options. Before grade 11 is complete, course choices for grade 12 and university requirements for any potential programs are reviewed by students with the guidance counsellor, to be sure all options are available for post-secondary applications. In grade 12, the guidance team checks with each student to be sure they have met application deadlines and have all of the necessary documents. My daughter kept us informed at each step of the way, and I was impressed that so much time was devoted to each student's future success. She was encouraged to apply to her chosen program, even though the school had never had anyone apply before. They learned all about her program and celebrated with her when her early acceptance letter was received. Time was also devoted to helping grade 12 students apply for any scholarships for which they were interested and qualified. Proofreading applications and helping with copies of transcripts and letters of recommendation was always available upon request.