Without doubt the single most appreciated part of TDCH is the teachers' personal and individualized attention to each student. They care about the kids as people, and show them the respect that they are trying to engender in them by listening to their views and appreciating their individuality. When my daughter realized that her previous public school had not prepared her for the level of math education that was required at TDCH, her math teacher took the time after school and at lunch to quickly bring her up to speed. She was very concerned as Math is her best subject, and she was afraid that she would fall behind. Her teacher's encouragement and patience with her anxiety was duly responsible for her A+ results at the end of the year.
The administration is very involved and connected with the students. Communication is open and abundant, and there are many opportunities to easily approach the admin with issues or concerns. The Principal's spirituality is very encouraging to the students, and his relationship with them is friendly and respectful. As the coach of the girls' soccer team, one of the vice-principals is very connected to the students and takes good care of them.
The teachers are without doubt, definitely passionate about their subjects! Their enthusiasm is contagious, and my daughter responds very positively to their attitudes. My child is a high achiever, and I feel that she is encouraged to exceed her own limitations and supported in her desire to do her best work. The teachers relate to the kids with their own personal experiences on a regular basis, establishing a connection that allows the children to see them as "real people". All of my daughter's teachers have interacted with her from a place of personal and individual concern for her success. She feels that they really care about her and want her to succeed. They are all available to listen to her concerns about a subject matter, and how she can improve.
The academic program both meets and fulfills my expectations for my daughter's preparation for post-secondary education. While it is not a school which focuses only on academic excellence alone, the climate of the school allows for a high achiever to excel and perform at a level of which she can be proud. She has the opportunities to work beyond the basic curriculum, if she desires, for example, an advanced Cayley math program is available to her. The school performs at a higher level than she experienced in her last grade, and the course material is more intense when compared to that of her friends' work at public high schools. I feel that the more in-depth study that is presented will prepare her for University and beyond that.
I feel that some of the extra-curricular activities usual in a high school setting are lacking at TDCH. Activities such as Student Government, Public speaking, Spelling competitions etc. are not offered and would be a welcome addition. More varied sports opportunities would also be welcome. Many of the after-school clubs and groups that other high schools offer could and should be considered.
The general student body seems to operate better than expected in a high school situation. The practice of having a mixed-grade Home Room class encourages the younger students to interact with the Seniors, making them less intimidating. When entering Grade Nine, my daughter found it very advantageous to be well-acquainted with students in the other grades. The orienteering was made much smoother when she could ask for help from an older student that she had already met. The yearly practice of an overnight service trip early in the school year makes an excellent opportunity for the kids to get to know each other quickly and intensely, and I truly believe it is what fosters the relationships among the students of kindness and care for one another.
While my daughter does love the atmosphere at TDCH, she feels that it is lacking organized social opportunities for the students to be able to interact. Because the students' home bases are so geographically widespread, they don't readily have opportunities to socialize outside of the classroom. Their lunch period is also short. A 20 minute period does not allow for that social interaction and relaxation break that the children need. A Christian lifestyle and attitudes of kindness and concern for each other is very evident at TDCH and in contrast to other schools, TDCH encourages the children to be very supportive and caring with each other.
Parent interaction is extremely well encouraged at the school. Parents are invited and notified of all events occurring. The volunteer hours allow for some involvement in the school's maintenance and upkeep. While we have not become Members, I believe that the opportunity to become more involved in the school's life is available in this way. I think that a greater sense of community could be fostered by having more opportunities for the parents to meet in a social setting. For example, apart from the "Back in the Groove meeting", parent social activities like BBQs, Golf tournaments, Fund-raising Dinners/Dances would all improve the parent community. Because of the wide geographic range of the students, this opportunity allows us to feel more connected to the school, our kids and their friends.
The location, while somewhat isolated, is accessible. There seem to be places that mobile students could go, off-campus. On the occasion when there have been after-school functions like the Christmas concert or the Talent Show, my daughter and her friends were able to go to the small cafe across the street from the school for dinner.
The admission process is wonderfully stress-free and easy. The staff are fabulous at introducing all of the aspects of the school and took all the time I needed to see if it was the right fit for my daughter. We were in contact with the Admissions Officer several times during our inquiries and he was very patient and understanding of our daughter's needs where high school was concerned. He was able to identify her interests and advise her of aspects of the school that she would find interesting. He took time to introduce her to some of the teachers and to some of the students from her areas of interest and her home town. The discussion of her personal concerns and desires for her high school years was key to making her feel like TD was the right choice for her.