Our son attended TBC for grades 9-12 and liked it so much that he stayed an extra year (also known as a "victory lap"). He is a December baby and did not feel that he was ready to start university at 17. The fact that he was even considering university is a tribute to TBC, as our son had a hard time with school in the early years and was not brimming with confidence when he started high school at TBC. I think what he liked best (and what we appreciated most) about TBC was the incredible flexibility that the school provided to allow our son to work and to thrive at his own pace so that he could build his confidence and hone his academic skills. He graduated from TBC as an Ontario Scholar, received early offers of admission from all of the universities he applied to, and ultimately went to his first choice of university on an academic scholarship.
The school is very responsive to parents. It's a place where parents are frequently asked for input and will probably feel that they have been heard. The environment at the school is positive and upbeat; the school is oriented toward helping students succeed. We did not encounter any problems at the school, nor did our son have any discipline issues. I am confident, however, that any such problems or issues would have been handled appropriately. We had regular communications with the school throughout his time there and were consulted on all significant decisions affecting our son.
All of our son's teachers were excellent. They cared about our son and worked hard to provide him with positive experiences. The small class sizes are a real plus at TBC, as a typical class only has three or four students and never more than six. On a few occasions, our son was the only student in a particular class, which allowed for excellent one-on-one instruction. One of the nice things about TBC is that students and parents have a lot of input into which courses are offered at the school. Obviously, all of the required courses for university are covered, but other courses are readily available if a student expresses an interest. For our son, this meant that he could indulge his passion for creative writing while preparing for university admission in the sciences.
The school is academically oriented and is suitable for students who wish to attend university. All of the necessary university-level courses are offered at appropriate times, and our son received plenty of guidance regarding post-secondary options that might interest him. That being said, I think the school would also work well for a kid who is not university bound but wants a solid high school education before heading to college or other options. All of the teachers that we encountered were passionate about their subject areas, and our son had good experiences with all of them. The academic culture is more collegial than cutthroat, with lots of individualized instruction where needed. Our son did well in almost all of his classes and had multiple offers to choose from when he went to university.
Given the small size of the school, it is not really possible to offer the full range of extracurricular activities that would be available at a typical high school. However, there were some wonderful school trips that our son participated in, including a train trip to Quebec City during his final year that was probably the highlight of his high school experience.
The student body is small, typically around a dozen or so students during the years that our son attended TBC. Grades range from 7-12; our son started in grade 9, and most of his classmates were in the grade 9-12 range. Our son made lots of friends at TBC, and he got along well with all of his classmates and teachers. One of the advantages of a smaller school is that it is less likely to split up into warring cliques. Given the small student body, we never had to worry that our son would fall through the cracks or get into trouble when nobody was looking. This is not the kind of school where your kid will be invisible; everyone knows everyone, and it would be hard to fly under the radar.
Our son loved being a student at TBC. He always looked forward to the start of the school year, and missed his friends and teachers when school was out. He loved that the school was small, that he knew everyone there, and that he had a lot of flexibility to pursue his interests. He also appreciated (as did we) the school's intimate setting in a beautiful old century home in Ancaster. The school has a homey feel, and there are some wonderful nooks and crannies where kids can study and socialize. Since everyone shares the same space, there are lots of opportunities for students and faculty to mingle. The school provided exactly the sort of environment that our son needed and wanted, both academically and socially.
We liked the TBC community. We especially appreciated the frequent parent-teacher meetings, where we were invited to sit down with our son, his teachers, and the school principal to discuss our son's progress and to map out next steps, always thinking at least a couple of semesters ahead. We felt that the school listened to our input, and that our son's needs were being met as he progressed academically. Given that TBC is a small school, contact with other parents was mostly informal, although we were invited to a couple of meetings to obtain input from the parents as a group regarding school direction and policy (for example, there was a parent meeting to discuss the use of cell phones in school). Overall, the school struck a good balance in keeping parents involved, without placing undue burdens on parents or ignoring their input.
The school is located in a semi-rural area on Garner Road West in Ancaster. The school is housed in a beautiful old century home, and the grounds are fairly spacious for a school of its size, with a large front lawn and side yard. There is a small strip plaza within easy walking distance of the school, where our son would sometimes go with his friends for pizza. There is a catholic high school behind the school, and a cemetery across the road.
The admissions process is informal and low-stress. For us, it started with a meeting with the school principal to get a feel for the school and what it might offer our son, who was looking for a high school that was smaller and more personal than the large public high schools we had visited. After this initial meeting, we met again with the principal, this time with our son. At that meeting, we arranged for our son to attend some classes to get a feel for the school and to meet some current students. He had a wonderful time attending classes, and told us that he wanted to attend TBC. We completed the paperwork shortly thereafter, and he started at TBC the following fall, entering in grade 9.
Discussions about university started early in our son's time at TBC. At parent meetings, we discussed our son's interests, strengths, and weaknesses, all with a view toward finding the best post-secondary options. Our son also had the opportunity to discuss career paths and interests with his principal and teachers as he progressed through high school. All students at TBC have the opportunity to attend the Ontario Universities' Fair in Toronto. Our son enjoyed these school field trips, which helped him to narrow down both the programs he was interested in and the universities that would be a good fit for him. With TBC's help, our son completed his university applications well before the deadline. He received early offers of admission from all of the schools he applied to, most with academic scholarships. He ultimately went to his first choice of university and is now in his second year.