My daughter thrives on the individualized attention she gets at AVRO. Individualized programming is what Avro excels at. She also developed a great deal of confidence by the teaching staff who truly cares about her. They care about not just her academic success but also her emotional and social well-being. There were many opportunities to listen and be listened to both by staff and other students in the school. These opportunities were both scheduled and spontaneous. The insights of the staff helped my daughter to better understand herself and thus help her navigate social and academic situations. My daughter is not always self-motivated, and the staff never gave up on creatively finding ways to motivate her in an extremely positive and supportive way.
The school provided excellent response to all questions and concerns - both my husband AND my daughter's concerns. They seemed to do an excellent job in keeping a balance between resolving parent concerns and fostering a positive attitude with students. They provided personal attention to my daughter when it was needed and fostered independence in her when that was more appropriate. I think that the ability of both Jason and David to listen to all of our concerns was unparalleled.
My daughter loved the learning at the school. She was challenged at her level. I think even more importantly, her teachers cared about her success. With each success in learning, a confidence was built. Each teacher strived to find the key to success. They knew the curriculum well enough to be able to be flexible in its' delivery to spark an interest in my daughter. Core subjects were taught in the first quadramester which left the 3 other terms much more flexible in choice and delivery. When there wasn't an expertise to teach a subject of interest to my daughter, the administration provided an expert in the field (like in art). My daughter was able to reach her maximum potential because she liked the teachers and their approach.
My daughter gained the independent skills needed for further learning. Here again, the strength of Avro is providing programming based on the needs and interests of the student. A highly motivated, independent learning style student has the flexibility to delve deep into a content area. A student who needs more supervision and support would find it at Avro as well. A student who is unmotivated to learn would find a caring staff to help them understand first that they are accepted and capable, and then that whatever interests they do have, are a window into their learning. The teachers are not only knowledgable, but have the ability to communicate that knowledge in a way to be understood. Testing methods are also somewhat flexible, depending on the learning style of the student.
The opportunities were there. No matter what the interest of the student, the staff endeavored to provide the program and expertise. Everything from teaching entrepreneurship to allowing development of skills in building repair and maintenance, to providing an outside artist to teach art, and providing a gym membership to practice skills in the gym. Whatever the interest, programming can be provided.
The school puts in a great effort into positive group interaction and a supportive dynamic. Everything from weekly meetings with the entire school body, to individual counseling where needed. The school is small, with a very diverse student population. This is the reason that individual needs are able to be met. The idea of supporting the student community in the individual differences is something that was not only provided, it was also promoted amongst the students. That is, there was a real emphasis in having students recognize each others differences and be supportive of each other. At the same time there was also plenty of time for individualized attention and space to work independently. My daughter didn't fit in in the regular school system. She certainly did at Avro.
My daughter was always warmly welcomed by the staff and most students. When she began at the school she noticed and appreciated the welcoming approach. Weekly meetings brought all students together, and regular out trips also helped build community. I would say that the only criticism I might have is the smallish student population, which limits the choice of friendships. I think by the time my daughter had spent 2 years in the school, she was ready to broaden her social life. Although, it was this very tight and small community that made her comfortable there in the first place. Students were involved, through the weekly meetings, in helping to make decisions on some aspects of running the school, which was another way of enhancing inclusiveness.
I enjoyed as much involvement as I wanted at the school, which was unfortunately not very much. Any time i needed information there was always a quick reply. If there was ever a need to discuss academic, social or emotional issues, it was easy to get an appointment to come in to speak to staff. I always felt welcomed by the staff and students when I was in the school. It might have been interesting to have community events involving parents. I think this would be an interesting initiative to start. I am sure that if this was something that a parent was interested in, it could happen in the future. A charitable fundraiser would also be an interesting initiative that could be done.
Great trips and excursions offered. There were opportunities for outdoor education trips to promote skills and community bonding, as well as cultural trips, and sometimes even community walks. We live in the neighbourhood, but, students seemed to come from around the greater toronto area. Being able to walk to school was a fantastic bonus for us, but it was also interesting to meet others outside of the neighbourhood.
The staff listened carefully to the needs of our daughter. The program was built on her needs and strengths. We shared academic, social and emotional strengths and weaknesses. My suggestion is that you are completely honest about your child's strengths and weaknesses. Share stories about the successes and failures at their previous schools. The more honest you are, the better the programming and support your child will receive. Trust the administration. Allow your child to test it out for a day and see how it feels. Allow them to talk privately with staff to gain trust and comfort. You will be pleasantly welcomed and respected by everyone at Avro and so will your child. This part of the process was such a relief after other schools trying to make our daughter fit into their mould.