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Review of: Toronto District Christian High School

Dan Evangelista - Parent    (Jun 25, 2019)

Student Experience

Prior to enrolling our son in TD, we had mixed views on whether we should enroll him in Christian private high school. We were worried that he would be sheltered from the challenges of the outside world. In the first week, his class went downtown Toronto to assist those in need. This was a memorable experience for him. That was only the beginning of his experience at TDCH. Our son loves the fact that he is asked to actively engage in student life. The entire school setting is designed to make him feel that he is in a safe space, which is so important for students. Overall, the entire experience has been positive for him. Our son values the friendships that are being formed and continually looks forward to his time at school.


School Leadership

When I think about school leadership and administration, I feel that they have a sense of personal ownership in the success of the students. This starts with the Board of Directors and extends to Mr. Groot as principal. His passion to see students success is contagious and extends to the staff. There are many examples on how the staff addresses issues, but I wanted to focus on one. A few weeks ago, the school decided to address the issue of substance abuse and specifically related to vaping. Mr. Groot used the opportunity to communicate in multiple ways. First, the leadership spoke to it at the weekly assembly and then, sent a very lengthy communication that not only spoke to the consequences, but also made everyone aware of help that can be sought, both in school and the community. This was a prime example of handling a societal issue head on.


School Location

I love the location of this school. There is an amazing bakery called Nino D’Aversa right across the street. They actually serve one of the best wood-oven pizzas in the Greater Toronto Area. You can see them from the front entrance to the school. This spot also has amazing homemade gelato for dessert. Although TD also has a great cafeteria with assortment of foods, this bakery spot does make it easy to venture out for a quick bite at lunch time.


Admissions

I was very surprised on how easy the admission process was. VP Pattie Schuurman in the office went above and beyond to respond to all of our questions. We started with the application form which not only included the typical items (i.e. name, address etc,), but had questions on getting to know my child. There was an in-person interview with the Principal and Vice Principal as well. Our son was very nervous going into it, but they knew exactly how to make him comfortable. The communication was always clear as to what forms were expected along with when. The school would follow up by phone or email to see how we were progressing and if we had any questions. We loved the open houses and they were definitely a positive way to make us feel welcome and assured of our choice.


Teaching

My son really enjoys the teaching at TDCH. These are men and women that truly take personal joy in seeing their students flourish. The teachers take much pride in their work and pour into the their students. With EDSBY as a communication tool, teachers are consistently available to their students. I always look forward to parent-teacher meetings as we always get very personal feedback on our son's progress. During my son's grade 9 year, he had science, math, English and Physical Education. What I liked about the instruction is that the teachers actually make learning fun. They also follow-up when homework is behind and always offer grace if there is a struggle in understanding the work. Overall, I would say that I am very happy with the quality of the instruction from the teachers at TDCH.


Academics

The academic program at Toronto District Christian High School is very unique in my view. I love how they teach in a way that actually prepares students for the world around them. A few examples come to mind. For one, they consistently incorporate a level of public speaking in their subjects which serves the purpose of getting the students comfortable with conveying messages to larger audiences. They other thing that I like is how the school incorporates varying methods in allowing students to progress. For example, the English course allowed students to choose between videos, essays. short stories and art. My son chose to create a video for his project and it ended up being shown at the weekly school assembly. Academics are top notch.


Extracurriculars

As the father of a boy who loves sports, TDCH provides multiple opportunities to try out and get involved in activities. They have soccer, basketball and Ultimate Frisbee to give a few examples. There is a great school spirit, so whether you are playing on the team or are simply a spectator you will love to get involved. One opportunity for improvement is that I find the boy's soccer season too short. I wished that it was longer than the current season which is only a couple of months long.


Students

Due to the smaller school size, it creates a more closer knit community. The grade 9s and grade 12s actually know each other. People connect with each other in the Friday assembly, school bus and cafeteria. The homeroom classes also include students from Grade 9-12 mixed which is a great way to integrate and make the kids feel like they are part of a family. I was volunteering during final exams last week and my son was able to tell me what some of the Grade 12s were involved in at the school. In this case, it was playing on the soccer team. At the start of grade 9, it was also very easy for my son to make friends and foster connections. He maintained his friendships from elementary school and also made many new friends.


School Life

My son likes going to TDCH for a few reasons and believe it or not, it starts with the bus ride. Given the choice, he would choose a longer route and bus just to spend more time with his friends. It is an enjoyable environment for him. There are lots of different areas in the school where my son and his friends can socialize. Some stay in the cafeteria will others will congregate in the library. In terms of improvements, that 's difficult to say. Perhaps a slightly longer lunch period to allow time for longer lunch clubs. As a new family, we didn't know what do expect, but the school made our entire family welcome. We became part of the school family very quickly.


Community

One of the things that first impressed me about TD was the ample ways that a parent could volunteer in the school. There is actually an expectation that every family volunteers at least 25 hours per year. This got my wife and I motivated to get involved in everything from a rummage sale to acting as a scribe during final exams. The school has a newsletter called "The Fridge Door" where they consistently publish opportunities for parents to get involved in the life of the school. Right from the first interview with the principal, the leadership encouraged us to participate in the life of the students throughout the school year. Lots of parents communicate with each other and offer car pooling to those who stay after school for extra curricular activities.


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