REVIEW OF WillowWood School BY parent, Latha Raman
- Date of Review
March 09, 2022
Gr. 9 - Gr. 12
(5) Student Experience
My child was not thriving in the public school environment and needed additional help and attention. WillowWood School saw the potential in my child and provided all the help and assistance needed to succeed and now my child is well on the way to higher studies. My child and I are grateful for all the positive experiences in the past 4 years of high school and would recommend WillowWood School for anyone who needs that additional support to succeed. Homework Hubs, regular check-ins with parents, extracurricular activities, super friendly teachers and staff - too many good things to mention. My child likes to DJ and school had asked him to play the song of the day for quite some time until COVID struck. He would get ready for school with utmost enthusiasm which was so pleasant to see!
(5) School Leadership
Communication is key and the school is very good at it. Timely and quick to respond! There have been problems and the school reaches out very quickly and in detail. Arriving late to classes after lunch was not tolerated and we had to have a talk with our son. At every parent-teacher interview, we were made aware of where all he could improve along with what all he was good at or getting better at. We also have access to all the school curriculum and ongoing subjects in each semester and the assignments + progress.
WillowWood teachers are quite knowledgeable, feedback was constructive with notes on how to improve, some topics and some subjects were quite challenging for my son but the teachers are available to address any questions in class and after school during homework hubs. Children are assessed based on classwork, participation, projects, assignments, homework and tests. feedback is provided during parent-teacher meetings and any urgent issues are communicated using emails or messaging on the myparent app. Some of the assignments were tough but they require the student to do the research, write up an outline, get it reviewed with the teacher, then write the draft, get that reviewed, then write up the final product. Through this process, the student is quite well versed in the topic by the time they submit the assignment.
The high school academic program is the same as in public high schools. All level courses are available to choose from. Based on the child's strengths, courses are recommended by the teachers and the guidance counselor. There is an option to take non-credit courses in English and Math in grade 8 so that the child can catch up on those. TOSS teaches the child number of strategies to organize their work, use technology wisely. The co-op program is a great one for the child to actually experience a safe work environment. Placement is arranged by the school which is great! All mandatory courses are provided along with lots of elective courses to choose from. The Academic program has definitely prepared my son for post-secondary studies. He seems confident and excited for this next phase in life.
Lots of sports, crafts, music activities were available during lunch and after school. There are also summer camps available. There is a school band and there are school sports teams. There are homework hubs 4 days a week after school and depending on the child's homework and assignment requirements they can attend them. Homework hubs were conducted online even during COVID and children are encouraged to attend.
My child was very comfortable right from the beginning at this school and has made many friends over the years. In the school, you can see that there are many international students and many local ones. The student mix is extremely diverse and we were very happy to see that. Many times my son and his friends have arranged after-school or weekend meet-ups at malls or each other's house or gone out for dinners which was good to see. It was a bit tough for the kids not seeing each other during COVID as they needed that social interaction and missed it very much. Overall the general atmosphere in the school and student body, size, feel and spirit was perfect for my son.
(5) School Life
My child loves going to school at WillowWood, couldn't wait for schools to reopen after COVID. He likes the lunch options in the cafeteria, likes to play basketball, likes to discuss music and social media with his friends and teachers. Teachers are seen having engaging conversations with students which is unlike most public high schools. As for the question of how could WillowWood school improve the quality of life of its students, WillowWood needs to just continue what they're doing! Also going out for walks, lunches with his schoolmates is something he really looks forward to. He did summer school 2 summers and also did summer camp the summer prior to joining grade 9. All these experiences have been very positive overall and he is thankful to the school.
The parent council had organized many activities we were able to participate in. We got to meet a lot of other parents at school events. Pre-COVID we were able to participate in person but during COVID, the activities were conducted virtually on zoom and it was not as much fun, unfortunately. School barbeque dinners and potlucks were something to look forward to. There were also some 'parents only' entertainment events as well but we were unable to attend due to other commitments. Parents are encouraged to be involved in school life and always welcomed. There were many opportunities but unfortunately due to our busy work life, we couldn't really take advantage of them all the time. Also, the communication to parents during COVID was regular and in detail so we were always kept well informed about the protocols the school was following with was awesome!
(5) School Location
The school is in a great location in North York. Children go for walks in the neighbourhood or to the plaza nearby to buy lunch. It is in a very vibrant area of North York. You can see them all go in groups to the shops, bus stops. Eventually, my son started taking the bus to and from school and loved the independence.
After our initial discussions and interview with the high school Vice Principal, our child was then called in to spend a day at WillowWood in his grade before being granted admission. We got to understand the school from our child's perspective and at the same time, the school got to understand our child's abilities and outlook. I think this method was quite good and effective. After that one day at WillowWood our son couldn't wait to see if he was given admission. Buying a uniform and preparing for this school was all fun for him. The application forms were many and the process did take time, but overall it was all very necessary. No complaints there. Andy was always available to answer our numerous questions patiently.
(5) University placement and counselling
The college & university application process was initiated quite early and we had adequate time to make our choices. Students were encouraged all through high school to start thinking about what they wanted to do after their high school diploma. During the grade 12 orientation session, we were given all the timelines for the college & university admissions and we started the school year being well informed. We are encouraged to contact the guidance counsellor if we have any questions. The school provides lots of support throughout the process and did the initial OCAS admission applications with our son in the room and with us on zoom. Extremely happy to say that our child got admission into his first choice of a post-secondary program. Many thanks to WillowWood for their support and guidance.