REVIEW OF Trinity College School BY parent, Candace Pickering
- Date of Review
March 08, 2021
Gr. 7 - 8
(5) Student Experience
I have twin boys in the Junior School at TCS. They started at TCS in Grade 7, coming from a wonderful public school. As a parent, I worried about the transition but from day one, my kids have loved TCS. What my sons appreciate the most about Trinity College School is how much they feel "seen" by the staff. This is accomplished by smaller class sizes, dedicated homeroom time, open discussions with all the children about their interests, pastimes, vacation plans, etc. My sons are very sporty and love the unique daily schedule which allows for multiple recesses, gym class and co-curriculars (intramural activities). They will often come very proud to report how many hours they spent outdoors in a day. It is wonderful to balance class time with outdoor time.
(4.5) School Leadership
I have had only positive encounters with the school administration. My impression of Trinity College School leadership and administration is that it is a well-oiled machine. There are many departments that have sufficient and experienced staff ensuring the school runs at the high level expected. The communication is excellent from weekly parent newsletters which arrived in my inbox every Thursday and Friday (Junior School specific). The teachers are always available to meet with parents. The administration replies in a very rapid and thorough manner. My sons have ample time during the day to meet with their teachers one on one if need be and the teachers are always available via email or other online platforms outside of school hours.
I am very impressed with the teaching at TCS. The school has obviously taken great care in choosing/matching the right teachers for the right subjects. There is such a multidimensional approach to learning. For example, a science project may include: a real-world example reading assignment (let's say about water pollution) followed by outdoor experiments (pond study) and a presentation completed in flip grid with video editing. So in a simple science topic, my children are learning about current events, field study and technology skills all while studying water, for example. In Social Studies my children learned about Canadian history by acting out mock trials of historical figures. My boys were so engaged and excited about this activity because of the manner it was being taught. Academically, my children are being monitored, supported, and encouraged all at once. Teacher feedback is instant and thorough. There is a real team approach amongst the staff to make sure all the students are supported.
In my experience with having children in Grade 7 and 8, I have only positive feedback on the academic program at Trinity College School. Coming from a public school, my kids had an adjustment period to the organizational skills and study habits needed to keep pace but the teachers supported them through that and it was a quick adjustment. During the past 12 months, I have been very impressed with how the school and teachers pivoted to online teaching and tweaked their teaching methods to stay up to speed with the curriculum. I do not feel like my children fell behind during this year of challenges due to COVID-related restrictions. Academically, I believe my children are very well prepared for high school - both in content, knowledge, work habits and study skills.
This is an area where TCS goes above and beyond. As mentioned above, my children LOVE the amount of activity that occurs during a school day. For the Junior School students, the schedule is such that no 2 academic classes are back to back. The children have either lunch, recess or co-curriculars in between classes. The athletic program is fantastic - both competitive and intramural. There is something for every level. My sons love competitive sports and love that the TCS season includes travel for games. There are also opportunities for drama, art club, yoga, bike club, etc, etc. Every 6 weeks the Junior School students choose a new co-curricular activity. It is a great way to be active, enjoy a hobby, learn a new skill, all while interacting with other students in the Junior School. Great for building a sense of community while having fun!
The Junior School has very small class sizes. This has massive benefits in many areas. One downside is that my children were at a large, public school before starting at TCS and they sometimes miss having a large social group to play with at recess. That will change in Grade 9 when the enrollment grows to over 100 students. For now, my children have made wonderful friends. The students are diverse in interests, backgrounds and abilities. The teachers make an effort to ensure the children are feeling supported socially as well as academically, and this meant a lot to me as a parent. In the Senior School, there is a "house" system which will provide other opportunities for students of different ages to bond in friendly competition and fun activities.
(5) School Life
At this time I can only review School Life from the perspective of a Junior School, day student parent. The Senior School offers boarding and I believe that to be a significant part of the overall culture of the school. My boys do love going to TCS. They appreciate that it is a privilege to be exposed to such dynamic teachers, multicultural friends, opportunities to enhance learning with travel, guest speakers, etc. From my boys' point of view, they love the meals served for lunch, they love the facilities (swimming pool, hockey rink, multiple gyms, etc) and they feel cared for by the teaching staff. It is March 2021 and I must comment on the superb job TCS did/is doing to ensure the high quality of learning during Covid related restrictions. Not only through the flexibility of being online/in-person each day but also offering co-curriculars online and engaging the students outside of classwork.
The community of TCS students, parents and alumni was a huge draw for our family when deciding to send our children to TCS. My brother is an alumnus of TCS and it is a meaningful part of his identity. For current parents, there is the opportunity to volunteer with the Parent Guild, attend Guild workshops, social activities, work in the school store, etc. Pre-covid, parents are welcome on campus for teacher visits, sporting events, theatre productions and awards ceremonies. One of my favourite TCS traditions is the running of the Oxford Cup (oldest footrace in North America) which is an event for Alumni and students and parents to race around the beautiful campus. In the fall, homecoming is called Bear Fair and it is a blast for students and alumni too.
(5) School Location
As anyone in my generation would understand - TCS is "Dead Poets Society" in real life. The grounds and buildings of the school are awe-inspiring. The rich history is preserved. The landscaping is immaculate. The chapel, the dining hall, the hidden passages...it is all magical. You can't not fall in love with the campus of TCS. The campus sits up on a hill in the town of Port Hope. It is very easy to access off of Hwy 401. It feels like its own oasis yet is still very close to the quaint downtown. In regular times, high school students have the ability to walk downtown to get pizza or Starbucks with their friends. Normally, there is very little reason to leave the campus but if students wish to, it is a safe and friendly neighbourhood that surrounds the campus.
We had a long relationship with the admissions department as sending our children to TCS has been a long-term dream of ours. I believe my boys were only 4-years-old on our first tour of the campus! What worked well for us is getting to know one admissions staff and building a relationship with her. Adrienne Ross was our contact and we got to know each other very well over the years. The admissions process was very smooth. Information was sent out many months in advance and the instructions were clear. At the time we applied for our children, the software had a small glitch with twins (same address/same birthday) which we were warned of ahead of time and we were told how to manage it step by step so it wasn't an issue at all. The admissions staff were also very upfront with financial assistance and scholarship opportunities. Results of both of these were clear and quick, not leaving anyone in limbo.