REVIEW OF Westmont Montessori School BY parent, Marc Manieri
- Date of Review
July 28, 2022
Gr. 6 - Gr. 7
(4.5) Student Experience
We have 2 children at Westmont Montessori, 6th and 7th grade, ages 11 and 13, respectfully. The children absolutely love this school. We just relocated from the States (Orlando, FL). This was a brand new school for the girls and we can all say that Westmont has welcomed the girls in a very thoughtful way and they have made great friends with great kids quite quickly. This is what they appreciate the most: being at a school with like-minded kids who are open-minded and love learning, as well as being at a school where they get to express themselves authentically and be celebrated and encouraged for their unique gifts, talents, interests and personalities. The teachers have been phenomenal and do a great job listening to our kids' needs and meeting them where they're at while challenging them at the same time. We have been involved with the PAC and the school Board and feel inspired to be a part of shaping the future of Westmont. Their high school 2.0 vision and curriculum are game changers.
(4.5) School Leadership
My experience of school leadership is that they are committed to and invested in continuing to improve the school and its curriculum and overall student and family experience. I have found them to be open to feedback and they take action on suggestions. Leaders are always visible; they are outside every morning, welcoming students. They know students' first names and work hard to develop a relationship with students and parents. Communication is steady and improving. They have a lot on their plate and can get overwhelmed at times but this is something they are working on and solving for.
We have found the teachers to be highly invested in students and our kids. They communicate via email often. They are always accessible. Our oldest is a 7th grader and she came into the school during a very dynamic age for seventh-grade girls. Like all kids her age, she is learning how to navigate social interactions and dynamics and friendships, including how to handle conflict and manage her emotions and communicate effectively. The teachers and counselors have been instrumental in helping and guiding her. They meet with her and other friends regularly when necessary; they check in. They communicate what's happening without violating the confidences of the students. I find the teachers to be astute in their leadership and are also open to feedback.
Both students have been challenged academically this year. Coming from a different school in a different country (USA) with different curriculums we were intentional to know what was being taught to both of our daughters. My wife and I put our trust in the school and they did a great job. At times, earlier on in the year my youngest (6th) shared that she was not as challenged; that was easily rectified. She shared her experience with the teachers and they readily created custom assignments and lessons that challenged her. Especially in math. For our seventh-grader, the middle school curriculum focuses more on social engagement and soft skills like learning how to communicate effectively and how to navigate social dynamics. We really appreciated this. Of course, she had her daily academic work across the typical subjects - math, history, science, reading, grammar, music, art, and physical education. But the middle school program is intentionally curated to teach and challenge students around effective communication and leadership in a social setting. We feel this sets them up for real-world success.
Westmont offers lots of extracurriculars proactively but also welcomes any new programming that is of interest to any number of students and seeks to create a structure for it. Track and field, chess, various music classes, soccer, coding, ping pong, cross country, basketball. These were offered. But they also created small offerings, led by volunteers or parents, when students requested new programming that didn't already exist. They welcome it.
The school goes from early years through high school, all on the same campus which I find to be really unique and really quite cool. Daily kids of all ages and age spans are playing together on the field - middle schoolers and upper elementary kids, high schoolers with primaries, and so on. It's really neat to observe this dynamic. There are approximately 150 students in the entire student body and beyond continuing to build out the high school program, the intention is to keep the size intimate, maxing out around 200. Montessori has a wonderful framework of bringing students across multiple grades into the same classroom and as a result, sets up the student body for acceptance and engagement of one another at all age levels. Westmont's student body is no exception.
(4.5) School Life
Both girls have really enjoyed their Westmont experience. Specifically, my seventh-grader appreciates the opportunity to have a say in how daily school life goes. For example, middle schoolers desired the ability to go off campus during certain breaks during the day and this was created with the teachers and administration. While off campus, my daughter desired the ability to listen to music; she put together a presentation on why this would be of value to students, and what the concerns of the administration might be and then presented it to her classroom, teachers and administration. They deliberated and approved it. There is a lot of outdoor time at Westmont. The motto here is: "there is no bad weather, just inappropriate clothing." The school is also creating alliances and partnerships with the community at large as well as with other local schools to create more social opportunities, something that is important to older students. This is a work in progress.
The community is where the magic is. In my first year of Westmont I have come to know many families and what I experience is a collection of thoughtful, conscious parents who are intentional about their parenting. Sure, we all have our quirks and uniqueness and idiosyncrasies, but I can honestly say that all that I've met and spent time with are people who are invested in the school and their kids and creating a friendly, inviting environment. I recently attended our closing ceremony - the last day of school where we host a "moving up" event - where the entire school and community gather on the big field and come together to acknowledge and support all the kids moving from one class up to the next (from early years to lower elementary, lower to upper, upper to middle school, middle to high school). It was such a moving and inspiring event and the community closeness was really felt. I also recently attended our first high school graduation for a student who has been in the Westmont school since third grade. What a beautiful celebration of a thoughtful journey. I couldn't be happier with the community!
(5) School Location
We LOVE the location. That's one of the reasons we chose the school. It backs up to provincial land and forest and trails that lead to Witty's Lagoon which empties into Juan De Luca straight, Pacific Ocean. It is a beautiful beach and an awesome location. The school is located in a less busy township of Metchosin. There is very little building and construction and it is surrounded by farms and fields and forest and ocean.
Admissions was a seamless experience. We interviewed the school in the spring of 2021 while we were still living in Florida. In fact, we had to choose a school without ever stepping a foot on campus or meeting the administration face to face. We were living in Florida and we couldn't travel across the border into Canada. Magnus gave us a virtual tour of the in and outside of the school and the campus; we had several conversations with teachers and other administrators and they really helped us get clear on whether or not this school aligned for us and our family based on our values and goals for our 2 daughters. What I appreciated most was the administrators took an approach of helping us determine what was best for us; they never tried to sell us on the school.