How private school can make financial sense

How private school can make financial sense

Two Toronto families discover a way to enrich their children’s learning journey at Hudson College

When considering educational options for their children, parents tend to view independent schools as being out of reach.

But two families discovered they could provide the opportunity for their kids to learn at Toronto private school Hudson College in a way that worked for their budgets.

Here, they share about the decision to switch their children from the public system to the co-ed, non-denominational Kindergarten to Grade 12 school, and why the move was the right choice for their children.

Tara Hendela and her daughter, Sky

Up until Grade 2, Sky was a thriving student at her local junior public school. Her mom, Tara Hendela, says she was a happy child with close friends who enjoyed learning. But that all changed the following year, when the Covid-19 pandemic began adversely affecting the quality of Sky’s education.

Lessons became less dynamic as teachers struggled to deliver engaging classes online. When schools reopened, students returned with academic gaps and socio-emotional declines that teachers struggled to manage. Meanwhile, large class sizes didn’t allow for much individual attention. Over the next three years, Sky’s math and reading marks began to suffer, which impacted her self-esteem.

“Someone who was once the most bright, confident kid became quiet, down on herself and unenthusiastic about school,” Hendela recalls. “It was a huge red flag.”

Hendela began exploring private education as a way to help Sky catch up academically and restore her self-confidence. “I assumed that financially, it would have been a real stretch for me to send Sky to private school,” Hendela says. “As a single parent, I didn’t know how I could swing it.”

Hendela says her perspective shifted when, upon referrals from friends with kids at Hudson, she connected with the school and discovered its tuition was more affordable than she thought—in fact, in some ways, it would be a financially sensible move.

“When I added up the cost of tutors, extracurricular activities and clothes instead of uniforms, I was shocked. The difference in cost actually wasn’t that big,” Hendela says. “This became about values and priorities, and Sky’s health and wellbeing rather than money.”

Sky is now completing Grade 6 at Hudson, and she is once again thriving. Hendela says the school’s combination of rigorous academics, inclusive community and focus on character education, along with relatively smaller classes and ideal blend of digital and conventional learning technologies, has helped Sky recover her school spirit and love of learning. She has made new friends and is enjoying participating in cooking club and music club. Hendela says she appreciates how Sky’s teacher shares a homework calendar and sends daily emails about the classroom activities.

“Hudson College really was a lifeline for Sky, and for me as a parent. The cost is nothing for the peace of mind of knowing she is in a dynamic, supportive and safe place where she feels valued,” Hendela says. “The culture is one of support, growth and progress at Hudson that allows students to be themselves, and motivates them to be their best self.”

Hudson College students, Sky (left) and Ismail (right).

Ibrahim Mohammed and Sahar Zarrien and their son Ismail

The journey to Hudson College was different for Ismail, who moved from India to Toronto last January with his younger brother and parents, Ibrahim Mohammed and Sahar Zarrien.

At first, Ismail worked remotely to complete the Grade 5 curriculum of the private school he had attended in India, where the school year finishes in March. That April, Ibrahim and Sahar enrolled Ismail in Grade 6 at their neighbourhood public school. They quickly encountered challenges: little information shared about Ismail’s daily learning activities, and limited opportunities to communicate with his teacher—both of which made it difficult for them to help Ismail stay on track.

“We lacked the predictability of what was going to be taught the next day, so we could not help him prepare,” Zarrien says. “The other issue was, there were a lot of students in the class, so the one-to-one connection with the teacher was not very well established.”

Zarrien and Mohammed observed Ismail start to lose interest in his studies, and worried he would fall behind. Hudson was on a list of top Toronto private schools they had researched. Last June, they approached the school with their academic concerns and goals for Ismail. They said they were met with welcoming, helpful admissions staff who advised which Grade 6 academic topics Ismail should review that summer to prepare for Grade 7 at Hudson.

Mohammed says in addition to supporting Ismail’s smooth entry to Hudson, the school was also sensitive to their concerns about the cost of tuition, and worked with their budget by offering a scholarship and more flexible payment plans.

“They were able to help us out,” Mohammed says. “We also dropped some of our extra expenses so that we could prioritize getting Ismail the right education.”

Five months into Grade 7, Ismail is always excited to complete his schoolwork, his parents report, and is earning mostly As on projects and tests. They say he is benefitting from a rigorous pedagogical approach that emphasizes different types of assessment across subjects to gauge individual skill levels and build mastery. They appreciate the smaller class sizes, regular interaction with the teacher about upcoming assignments, and how modern educational technologies are integrated into teaching and learning. They are also happy to see Ismail’s enthusiasm for learning to play the clarinet.

“Ismail’s success and joy to learn gives us the feeling that we have made the right choice in switching to Hudson,” Sahar says. “We are finding a lot of value in the education Hudson is providing and how it is preparing Ismail for the future.”