REVIEW OF WillowWood School BY parent, Karen Snowdon-Steacy
- Date of Review
October 24, 2018
Gr. 5 - 8
(5) Student Experience
My child loves WillowWood and feels very safe at the school. She describes the day to day feeling as if she is with her family. She has been given the encouragement to explore her creative gifts and her sports ability through the annual holiday happening, the annual play production, the various sports teams and the special art projects. She participates by talking about current events and has been experiencing the impact of giving back during the 30 Hour famine event. She has had so many opportunities to try new things and to build her leadership skills that she now exudes a great confidence in herself and now believes she is academically capable of handling her school work. She loves to go to school every day and share experiences with us at home.
(5) School Leadership
The School Leadership has always listened and been available to help with any issues or concerns that we have had. We know that we can contact them and talk to someone very quickly to discuss things and we feel confident with the actions that have been taken to address those issues. We have multiple ways of getting in contact and are encouraged to raise matters immediately. We have direct access and feel that matters have been handled with fairness and in a thoughtful manner.
We are very pleased with the quality of the teachers at WillowWood. Every one of them has taken the time to get to know our child and has provided emotional and academic support at a very personal level. Each teacher has been able to identify and address our child's unique learning style. Not only do they give her the push that she needs to achieve, they have instilled a belief in her own ability to the point where she has set much higher goals for herself each year. The parent teacher meetings are informative and have given us the ability to provide home support in conjunction and in alignment with the curriculum and the ongoing challenges in our child's learning. We have been kept fully informed so that we do not experience 'surprises' at the end of the year. Not only are the classroom teachers impressive but also the gym and music teachers who are so enthusiastic.
The focus of the academics is based on the learning needs and styles of many differing students and uses different pods to ensure that the students are working at a level that they can achieve without feeling overwhelmed. This method has made a huge difference for our child who struggled without this kind of support. There is no stigma for the students as the school environment allows for each child's differences and for their own personal progress at their own personal pace. This is the real reason that our child has progressed academically and is gaining in her academic ability. In addition, the focus on the exam taking process which starts in lower school has prepared her for the rigors of high school where exams will taken on more importance and would be more stressful if the skills had not already been developed.
The variety of extracurriculars at WillowWood is amazing for such a small school. Our child excels in the arts and sports and this school has a huge array of opportunities to participate. From sports teams that compete against other small schools, to a golf club and a bowling club - the school does the utmost to ensure children of differing abilities can participate in a fun and healthy pastime. The annual play production is a highlight and allows for students to perform but also to participate in back of house roles and set creation.
This student body is very unique and is made up of many special students. The level of talent in the arts is displayed at school events, but also the level of inclusiveness. Students are in a very safe environment to deal with issues with a really close connection to the teachers and leadership. The classes are small and the students get to know each other very well and are generally supportive of each other. It is an environment where the students learn about the different needs of each student. When issues come up, the support of the faculty is one of the best things about WillowWood - they know the students, their understand their issues and they are there to support and provide guidance on how to cope and relate.
(5) School Life
Our child loves to go to school every day and missed it during the summer months. The school has so many special events and unique supports for students that she feels very comfortable and excited by the prospect of each school day. The school has spirit weeks, celebrates holidays, takes fantastic class trips, offers leadership opportunities and has introduced her to meditation, yoga, mindfulness, current events, sparks and an amazing music program. As each year progresses, the students are given more and more responsibility for their learning and their attitude and behavior but the support and ability to connect with these students, makes the school a very special and safe environment. The value of respecting others is taught as is the value of respecting yourself.
The parent community is very diverse and very involved and concerned about their child(ren). The parent council offers a great opportunity to get involved but there are multiple events for parents to come to the school including the annual Parent's Night Out Wine and Cheese event and the Curriculum night BBQ. Although there are many times parent's are invited, my child discourages me from coming because it is her special place to be independent from her parents. Parents are invited to class outings, encouraged to provide transportation and to attend sports events and are treated to performances during the holiday happening and annual play productions. The leadership takes the time to get to know the parents on a personal level and provides times and events for the families to get to know each other.
(5) School Location
The school is located in an area with a number of other private schools which means there is a lot of activity in the neighbourhood during the day. It is also close enough to restaurants, both fast food and sit down spots and retail shopping for older students to be able to leave the school grounds during lunch period. It is centrally located near transit.
The admissions process is very easy at WillowWood with the most important aspect being that the student is the right fit for the school. We liked the opportunity to meet and discuss our child's needs with the leadership before considering the school. Also, a very big advantage was having our child attend the school for one-half of a school day to see if it was comfortable and the right environment for her. The school leadership takes a very thoughtful approach to admitting students and also provides assistance in understanding how each child's learning should be accommodated. They provide recommendations and ensure the proper support is in place before accepting students. It was very helpful to have the full understanding of the classroom and the teacher before admission.