REVIEW OF WillowWood School BY parent, Mary Yuan
- Date of Review
March 09, 2022
Gr. 9 - Gr. 12
(4.5) Student Experience
Our daughter came to WillowWood in Grade 9 after attending Toronto public schools since kindergarten. She had trouble fitting in with other kids up until then, came to WillowWood with low self-esteem and high social anxiety, and was somewhat scarred from sporadic incidents of bullying. WillowWood was instrumental in helping her with a smooth transition and developing strong and positive friendships that have strengthened over time. Our daughter is graduating this year with an appreciation for the friendships she has developed, a deep fondness for her teachers, and a renewed sense of direction as she moves forward. Our daughter has communicated with us on a regular basis that she is pleased about making the move to WillowWood after completing grade 8 at our local Junior High School.
(4.5) School Leadership
Our experience has been that the school administration at WillowWood has a strong, positive and proactive role in dealing with issues that come up and helping students deal with conflicts that arise. Our daughter feels comfortable approaching school leadership directly and appreciates the support that she feels she receives. There is regular ongoing communication with parents on both an informal and formal basis that really help both the student and parents feel comfortable. The few incidents that my daughter has been involved with since starting at WillowWood in grade 9 have all been resolved quickly.
We are very pleased with the level of teaching support that our daughter has received while attending WillowWood. Our overall experience at WillowWood is that the teachers are deeply engaged in their teaching roles, and regularly endeavour to understand individual kids' learning styles and needs. Class sizes tend to be quite small, which facilitates teachers being able to communicate directly with students on an individual basis. The Homework Club that is held after school provides an opportunity for kids to work with the teachers directly to help solidify their learning and successfully move forward on homework and school assignments. Our daughter's assessments of her teachers have always been positive, and in particular, she is very proud of her ability to achieve success in math and science subjects that she has struggled with in the past. The teaching at WillowWood has had a dramatic positive impact on our daughter's self-esteem.
The academic programming at WillowWood encompasses the core programming that is required, as well as other courses that may be of interest to students. If there is a course that a student has a deep interest in, the school encourages students and parents to approach the administration and discuss it with them. Subject to minimum attendance requirements, the school will do its best to offer a course if there is sufficient interest. All of our academic programming needs have been met, and we are very pleased with the course offerings. Overall, the school fosters a very positive academic culture through both formal and informal interactions between students and teachers. Our daughter is currently in grade 12, and we are pleased with the level of discussion that is taking place in terms of expectations for post-secondary.
WillowWood is a small school, which from an academic perspective, is very positive! Core extracurriculars such as basketball and volleyball are offered each year. In addition, the school tries to meet the needs and interests of students. This year our daughter participated in a music club after school which she greatly enjoyed. Similar to academics, students and parents are encouraged to approach school administration if there is something of interest to them that they would like to see offered.
WillowWood is a small school with a positive spirit. Since starting at WillowWood in Grade 9, our daughter has continued to be involved at a much higher level than she has in the past. This year she became involved with Student Council. She has taken part in the yearly school musical and has enjoyed it immensely. Unfortunately with COVID restrictions, participation in school events has been greatly impacted for all students in the past year or so. But we found overall that there is a very positive spirit at the school. We are pleased to see the positive participation of our daughter in school events, extracurriculars. Credit has to be given to school administration for creating an environment where kids look for opportunities to get involved.
(4) School Life
Our daughter started at WillowWood in Grade 9. It required a transition for her from being in the public school environment where she was with many of the same kids from Kindergarten to Grade 8, to a new school where she did not know anybody going in. While the public school environment was not extremely positive for her, she did struggle with leaving all of the kids behind as she moved to a new school. While we did encounter some resistance during her Grade 9 year, she began to successfully transition to WillowWood through the development of positive friendships, and with the support of her teachers and the school administration. Our daughter has been very happy going to WillowWood, and looks forward to going to school each day.
What stands out for us at WillowWood is the level of connection between the school administration and both students and parents, on a regular ongoing basis. Parents will get to know school administration quickly through both formal and informal communications. Our experience has been that we quickly felt comfortable approaching the administration (including teachers) directly, and any questions or issues that may have had were quickly talked about and resolved. Parents can become as involved as they like. There is no negative pressure if you don't become formally involved. There is a parent council for example, that meets on a regular basis. Parents are always welcomed in school environments. Overall, we have found it to be a positive, inclusive environment that is welcoming to both parents and students.
(4) School Location
The school is located on Scarsdale Road. There are several schools that are located close by, on the same street. The school is close to Longos Plaza that is located at York Mills Road and Leslie. Depending on the grade, and parental permissions, there is an opportunity for older kids to leave the school at lunch, for example. We live quite close to the school, so for us, the location of the school is ideal.
Because we have 3 kids that have attended different private schools, we have experience with the admissions process at several private schools in Toronto. Some have been more formal than others. We found the admissions process at WillowWood, overall to be quite welcoming. While there is a testing component, they did their best to make our daughter feel comfortable. We were pleased that it included 1/2 a day at the school so our daughter could get an idea of what the school environment was like, and to experience a couple of lessons in the classroom. It helped with the decision to enroll our daughter at the school. We also felt that the school really worked to understand our daughter's learning needs, and facilitated an open discussion on the learning environment at WillowWood.
(4.5) University placement and counselling
The University application process has been a very positive one. The school worked directly with our daughter to help her feel that she was managing the process. At the same time, there was detailed information to parents that was communicated to ensure that they were aware of the process. It also gave parents an opportunity to answer any questions that they may have. We were impressed with how well equipped our daughter became in terms of her ability to research options, understand admission requirements, and zero in on schools and programs that would be of interest to her. Overall, it has been extremely positive. As parents, we felt we were able to oversee our daughter's choices but did not feel a need to become involved at a micro-level. Very helpful!