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The York School:
The Our Kids Report > Reviews
Grades JK TO Gr. 12 — Toronto, ON (Map)


Roundtable Q&A Discussion About The York School (2020)

The York School alumni, current students, and parents shared their insights on the school’s culture, values, strengths, and weaknesses. Hear what Noah Godfrey, N/A, Heather Ursu had to say about the school.

Video Contents

Highlights from the Q&A discussion

Noah Godfrey — current parent

Noah has three children that currently attend the York School. He has two girls that are in Grade 4 and 6, and a boy in Grade 8. He credits the York school with supporting and teaching his children to explore their talents, take on leadership roles, and enjoy learning.

  • “So [York School] is coed, which was really important to us. Then when we looked around there, there really weren't many [schools] that were comparable to York school in terms of what was being offered, the quality of education, and real reputation in the city, and around the globe. So, for us at the time, it was York School or bust, it is really where we wanted to be.”
  • “I think we had [high] academic expectations, that we see. There are some good high expectations of the students, which I think is fantastic. I think we've been pleasantly surprised with the amount of coaching and support, and real love that the kids receive from their teachers, from the entire staff. Everyone knows their name. Everyone makes them feel like they're part of the family. You know, struggle is not shamed, but in some ways it's celebrated and they're taught to persevere.”
  • “I tell my kids every day that they are so unbelievably lucky to get up every morning and be able to walk into those doors into an environment that not only pushes them, but really supports them and helps them, helps them achieve and enjoy the journey of learning.”
  • “I think it feels like the school has behind the scenes, almost a fairy godmother for each kid, that's there to make sure that there's a way to help each kid, both where they're struggling, and where they excel. There's something very specifically targeted towards them. So, my son was also an assembly host in Grade 5, and I think they could see that he’s got a lot of energy, and that he loved it. So they really helped nurture that.”
  • “Nothing slips through the cracks if they see that there's a little bit of struggle or pain or discomfort around something, whether it's like something happening at recess, or a certain class that they're in, there's no cracks that [an issue] slips through. So, all of my kids, all three … have at times been in both those [situations] where something's happening because they're a kid, or they're a teenager, and they're growing up and they're struggling.”
  • “In first year, [my daughter] became an ambassador to the York School. This was a very big deal for her … . It was identified in the first couple weeks or the first week or two that she was at the school that this is something that would be a really good challenge and opportunity for her, and something that would actually help her shine. I'm eternally grateful for that kind of love and attention and support.”
  • “[My children] never say ‘I don't like school,’ and they never say, ‘I don't want to go to school.’ You know, I recall as a kid just being there a lot of times you're like, ‘oh, school's a pain.’ Or at the end of summer when you have to go back to school, I was like, ‘I really don't want this to end’, but they say they're excited to go back to school!”
  • “For them, [school] is not seen as a negative… . It's they're really excited about the chances that they're given. And yeah, sometimes it's tough and they get frustrated because of what's expected of them, but they see it as a very positive place, as a place that they want to be.”
  • “I equate the school to be like a coach ... one of those iconic coaches that you have in life, those people that push you to perform when you're on the court, or whatever the field of play is, but also see the entire you, the whole you and realize that as a coach that they need to coach the whole person and not just the player, if I'm making a sports analogy. So, I think the school is really focused on the [student] as a multifaceted person, and the fact that there's people on staff whose sole job is social, emotional learning. … There really is a focus on the entire kid and not just whether they can do their multiplication tables.”
  • “So there's a minimum that they want everyone to get to, but if you excel at something, there are opportunities within every even assignment to actually take what's expected, and go one step further.”

N/A — current parent

____ moved to Canada 10 years ago. She has two daughters that currently attend York School in Grades 3 and 5. She enjoys York School’s international community and open mindedness.

  • “There was really no competition for the York School because we were really looking for an IB school, because of our international backgrounds, both me and my husband. We moved to Canada about 10 years ago, and we were looking for an IB school that was coed and had all the way to Grade 12. So basically in the city, York School was more or less the only school that fit our criteria. We started asking around with my husband's colleagues, and we got extremely good feedback from them.”
  • “Everybody said the same thing, that York School is a great school. That's mainly the reason why we chose it as our number one ... what we wanted was an international community, that was very open minded, and that's exactly what we got at the school.”
  • “It was not entirely what I expected, because I was thinking of school in terms of, ‘Okay, we'll send our kids there, and then they'll go to school, and then they come back home.’ But actually no, the parent involvement and the parent engagement in the school is amazing.”
  • “There are so many activities in which parents can be hands-on—involved with the school that up to this day, really surprises me. The parent community that is surrounding it is, all I can just say that it's amazing. Every parent has very similar mindsets. We want what we want for our kids, and the support and the community, it's just a very great experience for us.”
  • “So we love the units of inquiry. It's an open-ended question, and the kids can do research, learn how to do research, and present their knowledge in different ways, and therefore, they actually learn how to learn. [The students] learn how to do research, and learn how to present their work at a very early age, and I think that's really impressive.”
  • “We can't find enough books for [my daughter] to read. So, that's great, and the second thing that is really great, is that the school has really boosted both of their self-confidence, and made them become more of a risk-taker, which I find really, really great.”
  • “I think my daughter’s [confidence] has happened over time, and it's not seen only in one aspect. It's seen in terms of the questions that they ask us. It's where you see it in terms of the food that they're willing to eat. We see different cultures, and different people that they're willing to approach, and say hi to, because my daughters were extremely shy when we started at the school. It's a slow progression, but we definitely see it.”
  • “My daughters just love it and they think school is the best place ever. They have lots of fun, and they enjoy it. They're really enjoying learning and chatting with their peers, and doing all sorts of stuff there.”
  • “For me, three words [that describe York School] ...  would be inclusive, adaptive, and engaging.”

Heather Ursu — current parent

Heather has a daughter that currently attends the York School as a Grade 6 student. Her other child attended York School for his early middle school years, before making the decision to attend boarding school in Hawaii for his high school education.

  • “[York School] has been accredited as an IB school for a long time, which means that the teachers deliver that program expertly, with a lot of experience behind them. I think that that is probably why we went IB, because we weren't sure we would be staying [in Canada]. We wanted to set the kids up so that their [international] moves would be seamless.”
  • “As far as [York School] exceeding our expectations, I have to say that it's probably the culture of the school that went beyond anything that we were expecting. I remember our son plays basketball, and he joined the basketball team in Grade 5. That team went on to play competitively in the D1 level, because the athletic director saw that they were a good team, and he wanted them to compete at the high level.”
  • “My daughter had so much information that she was gathering in preparation for an assembly [speech], she had this idea that she would like to just give little bits of information [to the school] every morning during morning announcements over the P.A. system. She took that idea, and went to her teacher, and they made it happen. I just find that it's just so empowering that you can be an out-of-the-box thinker. You can have an idea.”
  • “You may want to dive deeper into learning, and then everyone around you kind of rallies, the teachers and the staff rally to make it happen. I feel like for my daughter as a formative lesson, she's learned to advocate for herself. She feels the empowerment of learning, and the empowerment of taking a risk, and getting out of your comfort zone. This is not a kid who would have wanted to stand up in front of people before, and now she's emceeing at an assembly.”
  • “My son applied to a boarding school program, and because of his marks coming out of the IB middle year programme, he was guided into the honours program there, which will put him on an AP path at his school. So, because he has experience with the workload and academic rigour, he's prepared, and is able to handle the workload that he has now, as a ninth grade high schooler at a boarding school.”
  • “Both my kids entered [York School] in non-entry years … and both would say that it was a very welcoming and inclusive environment and culture. They've made deep friendships that they expect to have for a long time, and I think we all feel that even as parents, reflection is a really big part of everything that they do at the school.”
  • “I don't know if it’s specific to an IB curriculum or not, but we do reflections on everything after every assignment, test, field trip, experience, good and bad, there's a reflection piece. That took training for my kids, particularly my son. His reflections in the beginning would be one-word long, and when asked what he might be able to improve, he would tell you ‘nothing.’”
  • “They reflect because they've been practicing [reflecting]. They say, ‘I didn't know that I could do that. Look what I've done.’ They feel really proud to be part of the community, and for their accomplishments, because it is challenging. At the end they say, ‘I didn't know I was capable of that, and I've really grown.’ They have the ability to see that now. I think that's pretty special.”
  • “I think that the word [to describe York School] that jumps out to me is probably curious. I think that curiosity actually drives a lot at the school. I feel like the teachers approach learning themselves, as lifelong learners. I think curiosity just kind of drives the whole bus. I find it to be a very caring place. I think they care about our kids, and I think our kids learn to care about each other, and we care about our community, and the world at large.”
  • “[York School] makes us engage in community service. I think innovative is another word that I always come back to when I think about the school. It's a school that embraces technology, and embraces opportunity. I think the way that it innovates and it's able to adapt and change is a big part of its personality as a school.”
  • “I did have one child test as gifted, and then joined the IB curriculum. I know because of the application process for [my son] going to boarding school, is that it is a passport, having the International Baccalaureate as a framework. It becomes like a passport for what you might want to do next.”
  • “I know from reading in our communications, and things about it [from York School], that our students go far and wide, and that they have a lot of support at that level. I don't know how it compares to the gifted program, but I do know that the International Baccalaureate as a product is incredible, and it is universal. So it transfers. Admissions teams from other schools, whether you're graduating and going on to university, or college elsewhere, they recognize it. [The IB Programme] is very well regarded and respected.”
  • “You can expect rigour for your gifted child for sure, and they will not hit a ceiling because … you could think out of the box, but [at York School], there's just no box. It's really, truly a place where you can set your path, and there's a lot of people around you that will support that.”

More about The York School

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Key insights on The York School

Each school is different. The York School's Feature Review excerpts disclose its unique character. Based on discussions with the school's alumni, parents, students, and administrators, they reveal the school’s distinctive culture, community, and identity.

See key insights about The York School

Our Kids Feature Review

The 50-page review of The York School is part of our series of in-depth accounts of Canada's leading private schools. It provides a unique and objective perspective on the school's academics, programs, culture, and community.

  • York is the definition of an urban school, one that identifies with, reflects, and makes significant instructional use of the urban context.
  • The school's university counselling is a strength.
  • Its administration is adept and agile, as exemplified recently through its layered, detailed response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Read our in-depth review

Our Kids Feature Review video

Learn about The York School's unique and defining characteristics through this informative video.

Watch the review

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Alum, Leila Keshavjee (2021)

Watch our alum interview with Leila Keshavjee to learn about the unique experience of attending The York School.

Parent, Sonia Thomas (2022)

Watch our parent interview with Sonia Thomas to get the inside scoop on what it’s like to have a child attend The York School.

More written reviews


Parent, Heather Faralla (2022)

I have three boys at The York School and started four years ago with my eldest in Grade 9. He is now graduating this year and what a wonderful experience this has been – for our entire family. Aft...


Parent, Glenn Asano (2021)

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...


Alum, Lani Stern (2018)

The York School is a community that shaped me into the person that I am today. The list of opportunities is almost comical, to name some: band, choir, basketball, softball, volleyball, ultimate, chess...


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