Woodbridge, ON | Grades 9 - 12 | Shortlist
All four of our children have attended TD Christian. Each of them has different interests, and each of them was able to be involved in activities that they enjoyed and that challenged them. Our children participated in sports teams, drama, robotics, and music. The varied ways that courses were presented provided opportunities for their different learning styles. Environmental block, physics block, and internship block were courses where learning involved hands on and practical activities. Each of our children were part of the earth and space science course as students, and three of them as TA's. The Algonquin trip continues to be one of their great memories. In addition, the service trips at the beginning of grade 9 and in grade 11, as well as the Belize service trip, helped them widen their understanding and view of the world.
The leadership team at the school is made up of a group of dedicated and diligent administrators. They work hard to communicate events and news from the school. They are welcoming to everyone who comes to the school, and get to know members of the school community by name. It is obvious that they care deeply about the students in the student body, even asking about how they are doing after they have graduated. Throughout the preparations and planning for classes during the lockdowns due to Covid-19, they showed resourcefulness, care for the students, and communicated very effectively and regularly. In our experiences with issues of discipline, we have found that they make sure that all parties are treated fairly, that the truth is found, and that parents and students are included in the process.
In our experience, the teachers are enthusiastic about their subject areas. There is ample time in classes for student work to be done, and teachers are available to demonstrate, explain, and answer questions. Teachers offer multiple types of assignments so that students can use their strengths as they learn. For example, in physics, hands-on activities such as building and working with robots and racetracks which demonstrated real-life applications of physics concepts. We have seen teachers make themselves available outside of school time for extra help studying. Teacher comments on assignments and in report cards have been encouraging when deserved, and when warranted, honest and constructive criticism was offered in a way that encouraged our children to work to improve. Teachers are very approachable for both students and parents, through electronic means and in-person.
Three of our four children have graduated from TD Christian, and we have seen that they were well-prepared to succeed in university. Each of them developed good academic work habits, and had a solid academic foundation from their high school courses. Our children did well in school, though they were not "straight A" students. The academic program at TD Christian encourages excellence, but also encourages each student to develop their gifts and personality according to their abilities. We found that our children learned well and were well-prepared for life after high school. Each of them was able to take a range of courses so that they were challenged in what they learned. They were able to meet requirements for the courses they wanted to take in university.
Our children were participants in a range of the extra-curricular activities at the school. Among the 4 of them, they were involved in Robotics, Improv, Choir, Band, Theatre performances, Basketball, Volleyball, Track, Leadership team. It makes life busy, but it is worth it. Our children were able to build team work and leadership skills through these activities, and they had a lot of fun.
The class sizes are small enough that students are able to know most of the other students. This also leads to friendships across grades. We have really appreciated the school's homeroom system. Our children were able to get to know students in different grades through this, and also have been able to develop longer term relationships with students and teachers because of the stability. Homeroom competitions are a highlight. Student-led activities like the homeroom competitions, the Walk for Life, and fund-raisers for missions trips have encouraged both friendly competition and cooperation. Our children have been encouraged by classmates and teammates, as well as providing encouragement for friends and teammates. We are pleased to see them develop a capacity to care for others through the caring atmosphere that they have experienced.
Our children have all enjoyed their time at TD Christian. They have made good friends. Because of the small size of the school, there is more of an opportunity to be a part of teams and groups. It may seem that there is less of a range of things to choose from, but when you are one of a small number of people on a team or in a group, you can play a larger role. We have especially appreciated the relationships our children developed with some of the teachers. The number of alumni that come back to visit the school and the teachers and remain involved in the school, is proof that it is a place where many students thrive. We see the truth of the phrase "It takes a village to raise a child" and are happy to count some of the teachers at TD Christian as part of the village for our children.
The teachers and administrators at TD Christian get to know parents by name, and we are always made to feel welcome. Parents are expected to get involved at the school. We are required to contribute a minimum number of volunteer hours each year. Activities range from driving for sports, offering feedback on student presentations, working on fund raising activities, or cleaning and maintenance work at the school. The school board is made up of parents, as well as past parents and alumni. School membership meetings often include discussions where parent input is solicited, in order to gather information for board planning and vision. All of these activities contribute to the strong school community and provide plenty of opportunities to get to know other parents and families.
When we applied to send our children to the school, the interview process was inclusive of us as parents and our oldest son. The tour of the building was designed to show us the building, but also classroom and teaching style, and student life. We were able to see the atmosphere of the school, and the relationships between students and teachers. We found that the staff at the time were willing to take the time that we needed, and to answer all of our questions. Things have changed in the process since then, but the welcome has not changed. If I were to give advice to people starting on the process, it would be: don't be afraid to ask any questions that you need to, and involve your children in the process.
The guidance counsellors that worked with our children were knowledgeable about programs that were available and would fit with their interests. They gave good advice to our children as they tried to decide whether to take a gap year, or head right to university. One of our children made a big change in direction partway through high school, and the counselor was able to provide him with a number of programs to consider. There are helpful communications from the guidance department in every school newsletter, including summer job opportunities, scholarship information, and college and university tour information. The school hosts a post-secondary school fair in the fall. Each year, the school organizes an information evening for parents of senior students. I have found this to be a helpful evening for parents and students to ask questions and begin the process of planning for post-secondary education.
The school is in a residential neighbourhood, but there are stores and restaurants within walking distance. Students are required to stay at school all day when they are in grade 9, but after that they can leave at lunch time. Many students enjoy going across the road to Nino's at lunch. Lunch is short, but there is time to get to a few places on Highway 7.