Without hesitation, both our children (Gr. 8 and 11) cite their teachers at the school as being the experience they appreciate most at York. Enthusiastic, passionate and encouraging are the words that best describe our children’s teachers and this has been the case each of the five years we have been associated with the school. This positive attitude permeates throughout the school and this “feeling” contributes to the overall experience. Although they do not mention this, as parents we feel our children benefit from the inclusive environment that the school works hard to foster, and at no time have we sensed our children felt they did not belong. Other than the disappointment of not having gym class daily or having to wear a uniform (which has been relatively relaxed over the years), our children are happy to attend class each day.
The school leadership and administration stand out for two reasons: they do exactly what they say they are going to do, and they communicate with parents on a regular and consistent basis. The school uses multiple channels (weekly videos, The Flash newsletter, email, etc.) that we have come to depend upon to ensure we always feel connected with the school. There are regular "parent connect" calls where representatives of the leadership team make themselves available and collect feedback from the parent community and it is gratifying to see changes taking place in the school that are a result of these productive sessions.
As mentioned previously, the teachers we have encountered have all been enthusiastic, passionate and encouraging. We have been extremely happy with the quality of teaching and attribute it to the fact that the teachers really make an effort to be outstanding. Even though there are regularly scheduled times for extra help, the teachers also offer one-on-ones to our children when particular topics or perhaps a poor test result warrant a deeper dive to figure out where mistakes have been made. Everybody is keen to offer support and roll up their sleeves when required. Conversely, one of the reasons we were interested to join the school was the fact that at our prior school we felt our children were not being challenged as much since the teachers were more focused on helping those that were challenged with the current material rather than working to find more challenging work for others who were ahead.
We feel the academic program at the school is rigorous and this was a key reason we selected the school. The school has unparalleled experience delivering the full International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme and our children started the Primary Years Programme overseas and it was a benefit to be able to return to Canada and continue in the same academic program but on the other side of the world. We have confidence that the school is preparing our children for life "Beyond York" as the counseling office likes to promote. We feel very fortunate to be able to access the knowledge and experience of the counselling office and they play a key role they play in helping us navigate the options available for our children upon graduation.
There is an abundance of clubs, sports and other groups available for students to participate in at York. Our sons have played basketball, soccer, volleyball, and badminton with the school teams and enjoy the competition very much (victories against Crescent and UCC were highlights of this year's middle school volleyball effort!). One shortcoming of the sports program is due to being a smaller and coed school. Some of the larger schools field two or three teams based on ability and York typically fields one.
There are about 750 students at the school. Because it is split across two physical campuses and there are distinct areas for the middle school and the senior school in the 1320 building, the school never feels overwhelming or intimidating for our children because of its size. One of our son's Grade 11 class only has three students! We like the fact that each of our children claims they know every student in their grade and we as parents also felt pretty comfortable since we know most students and even several of the parents in each child's class (at least by face). As a result of this relative intimacy, each cohort is a fairly close group, supportive of each other, proud of who they are and what they hope to accomplish.
Both our children are happy to attend The York School. We feel it offers a high-quality program that is recognized internationally. Equally important is the fact that our children (and ourselves) have met NEW FRIENDS and are fully immersed in the school community and life. As a parent, we appreciate the proactive effort the school takes to solicit feedback from us (both virtually and in-person) and to ensure the school-home link remains strong so that students received consistent messaging. We also appreciate the school's focus on "wellness" and have a dedicated team that is always mindful of the students' mental health. The combination of the well-regarded IB Programme, happy students, inspiring teachers, engaged leadership, strong board, and involved parents all contribute to the overall quality of student life.
Parents are absolutely welcome to be involved in the life of the school. When we joined the school five years ago, the first thing we did was to volunteer as a "class parent". This was a simple but effective way to get involved and meet members of the community. There are teams of class parents for every grade. Assisted by the school, class parents keep grade-specific communication flowing to the parents as well as coordinate various events where parents can engage amongst themselves or the administration. Some recent social events include: morning hikes, book club, virtual cocktails and regular parent connects briefings. There is also the YPA (York Parent's Association) which hosts several events each year including some interesting speakers relevant to issues we as parents are dealing with.
The location of the school is a tremendous advantage (in our opinion) for both commuters as well as for access to the city in general. Our children are able to get to school "on their own" using the TTC and this is a major benefit for us as parents. They are able to ride a single bus for 15 minutes then walk the 5 minutes to the 1320 campus each for an easy commute. Being able to easily get to school and home by themselves is a huge relief. Our kids can attend practice, or decide to stay with friends for a few minutes after class without a dependency on us.