REVIEW OF The York School BY parent, Danielle Carroll
- Date of Review
October 06, 2020
Gr. 9 - 12
(5) Student Experience
Our son’s journey at SMCS began at open house where he was immediately taken in by the spirit, culture and atmosphere during the school’s presentation. We recall the excitement of receiving a personalized acceptance message from a departing Grade 12 student congratulating and welcoming our son into the SMCS community. During his first week at school, his grade was whisked away to a retreat where friendships and bonds began to form. Since that time, he has not looked back, his social interactions and personal connections with his teachers, administration, and peers has been nothing but positive and memorable. He has immersed himself in diversified co-curricular programming ranging from inter-varsity athletics to student wellness and leadership opportunities, all while balancing his academic pursuits with the support of his Guidance and Learning Enrichment Centre teachers. The care and support of every teacher at SMCS has allowed our son to feel comfortable when challenged with difficult tasks. He has developed strong knowledge, discipline, and goodness in his character and continues to be curious about everything that surrounds him. We could not have selected a better place for our son to learn and develop.
(5) School Leadership
The entire SMCS school administration has done a terrific job to pivot, adapt and re-invent itself quickly during our pandemic health crisis. We appreciate all the communications sent out along with the personal reach-outs from various staff, which includes his student wellness teacher, individual subject teachers and the school’s dean and spiritual lead. The level of student engagement and creativity at SMCS ceases to amaze us even during this time of crisis, every staff member has remained committed at their post to improve, develop and answer our questions while continuing to educate our sons in thoughtful and meaningful way.
Our son since day one has known his boundaries and what is expected of him from both the school and his teachers. Each faculty member has not only responded quickly to any concerns we may have but, has provided additional time to assist our son overcome the smallest struggles he faced during this school year. His teachers not only connected him with upper-year students to act as both mentor and tutor, but also set aside time outside of class to perform one on one connected learning and review. His teachers were very proactive in contacting us with both challenges and positive news from within the classroom. His teachers made his learning objectives fun and inspiring. This allow our son to grasp key concepts not just through textbooks, but also through teacher lead anecdotal experience.
SMCS uses a deep learning pedagogy which is based on four key areas of learning and assessment – Knowledge and Understanding; Thinking and Inquiry; Communication; and lastly Application. SMCS has responded extremely well to the pandemic by providing an adaptive hybrid learning model. The overall in-class learning is very robust and integrates the use of technology in every subject studied prior to our health crisis, during and immediately following. His teachers have encouraged collaboration and knowledge sharing among his peers. This has allowed our son to pick up on different methods to problem-solving. Where we believe the school can improve upon is through placing more emphasis on developing strong writing skills in all subject areas. The preparation for his future is in his ability to communicate succinctly orally and through written content. If he can communicate grammatically correctly, we know this will enable him to succeed in all avenues he chooses to pursue.
SMCS offers over 50 athletic teams with 20 different sports offered. In addition, there are also 60 clubs and activities for students to actively participate in. The level of both inter-school varsity sports and intramural activities has something fun for everyone to do regardless of skill or level of competition. SMCS is focused on developing the whole student through mentorship, community service and extracurricular activities.
There are just under 1000 students that currently attend SMCS starting from grades 7 to 12. The atmosphere is so alive from the moment one steps foot onto the school’s beautiful sprawling eleven-acre campus near the heart of downtown Toronto. The School’s student leadership team, Wellness ambassadors and home form teachers create an atmosphere that our son has absorbed through every spore of his body. As he says routinely to us, he now “bleeds blue” alongside his brothers from St. Mike’s. He feels connected as do we from the “Daily Blue” announcements which are televised and archived through the School’s on-line platform “EDSBY”, so that every student and parent can learn about upcoming events, daily school news and highlights from the school’s extra-curricular teams. Various events such as “Homecoming” and “Spirit Week” are just a fraction of what that boys celebrate and come together as group throughout the year.
(5) School Life
Perhaps the most difficult period for our son has been during the lockdown due to the pandemic. Being away from the school building, his friends and teachers has been very difficult. He misses the social interaction and personal connections especially with his teachers and school administration. He also longs to participate in the plethora of extra-curricular activities having competed during the winter in both Varsity Swimming and Alpine skiing and was looking forward to playing Varsity Tennis in the spring when the school switched to online learning due to the Provincial lockdown back in March. The fact that we do not have to wake him up to get him energized for school is something we owe a debt of gratitude to the school for providing such a positive, healthy and encouraging learning environment.
The parents of boys who attend SMCS are so connected to the school through a virtuoso of offerings beginning with the SMCSPA (St. Michael’s College School Parent Association) where the opportunities to meet other boys’ families while participating in both social and community based educational programming comes to live. Mothers and Fathers of Boys at St. Mike’s enjoy their own separate events annually at the “Mother & Son Brunch" and "Father & Son BBQ”. In addition, the annual fundraising Gala hosted by the SMSCPA allows all families to participate in a spectacular semi-formal event. Parents and the community can also attend parent talks, student-led theatrical and musical performances at the SMCS Centre for the Arts, which houses seating of up to 440 patrons. Parents whom we have spoken to always highlight how nice it is to be integrated into the school through various events which speaks to how important the school value family.
(5) School Location
SMCS is centrally located near the heart of downtown Toronto and just steps away from a TTC subway and streetcar stop. It is also conveniently found within the Forest Hill community which has many nearby shops and cultural food offerings. The location of the school is in a prominent part of the City and has many amenities to enjoy.
We found the admissions process to be very transparent and inviting. From the online registration process to mark our interest, and throughout has been a delight and pleasure. The admissions team were prompt and responsive to every question we had and helped guide us through reconciling our financial means if successful. The invitations to each event were always earmarked to fit into our schedule by providing multiple dates and times. Organized online timetables were provided to better assist parents and prospective students with obtaining information necessary for assessment. Prospective students were also invited to attend a full day along side a current student at St. Michael’s College School to get a sense of what school life would look like should they wish to enroll. Parents were also invited to a talk by the School’s administrative team to provide a glimpse into the life of a student at the school.
(5) University placement and counselling
Although our son is only in Grade 10, we believe the school has all the necessary support arms to allow our son to choose his school with ample time and information. SMCS routinely hosts open houses with a variety of post-secondary institutions right on campus. The boys have the benefit of Universities courting them within the comfort of their own building. Our son’s personal guidance counselor will no doubt help guide him to where his passion resides. SMCS has a 100% University acceptance rate with over 89% of its graduates on the honour roll or as an Ontario Scholar. We have no doubt our son is well supported at his school because they foster a culture of inclusion, openness and care that our son has responded to through empathy and compassion throughout.