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Hawthorn School For Girls

101 Scarsdale Rd, North York, ON
20 reviews
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Hawthorn School For Girls, North York Reviews (20)

20 reviews
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
By Agent Daisy Johnson on Mar 02, 2022

By ROCIO VILLARREAL on Nov 25, 2020
Great school! My daughter is very happy!
By Coral Saint-Bernard on Oct 21, 2016
I moved to Hawthorn school for my grade 12 year. One of my favourite memories from that year was the Upper School's Christmas day. I loved eating cream puffs and drinking Tim Hortons hot chocolate while watching a great Christmas movie (White Christmas, 1954) with all the Upper School girls. Also, the Kris Kringle gift exchange was exciting, fun and the gifts were so creative. I really liked this Hawthorn tradition and I think it should continue.

Something I appreciated about Hawthorn that I didn't experience in my other schools was the blended learning. By this I mean that something that I had just learned about in my philosophy class would come up in my history class and again in my family studies class the next week. All my classes flowed so well together and all had connections to each other, and I think that is because all classes are more liberal arts-focused. I appreciated this emphasis in all my classes because everything seemed much more coherent.

Overall I grew as a student at Hawthorn, but also as a friend thanks to a few deep and good friendships I made in my last year of high school. I am very thankful for those friendships.
By Umber Gazelle on Aug 31, 2016
My daughter was unhappy at her old school hawthorn helped be the happy child I used to know
By Coquelicot Marten on Jun 07, 2016
My daughter had a visit and I sat down with the admissions officer and she was very nice and helpful.
Unfortunately after several years all staff and principal have changed.

The Admissions individual I have spoken to now is so unprofessional and seems like she flying by the seat of her pants. She never informed me of the schedule lunches testing etc. I had to ask all the questions this is unacceptable for an individual in the Admissions to not know what to do. We have visited several other schools and unfortunately first impressions are everything. I don't feel confident paying all the capital loan money, tuition to a school that the Admissions don't have it together.

We won't consider this school after all. I feel that the principal or directors should ensure individuals that work at school are experienced in the Admission process, so it doesn't look bad on the school.
By Happy Mom Grouse on Nov 14, 2014
"To assist parents in the integral education of their daughters to become free and responsible women who know and love the truth."

Just reviewing the above motto for Hawthorn gives evidence why the two low score reviews of two alumnae have been expressed in such an articulate manner. Both these graduates have been able to provide opinions that clearly attest to the respect they have for education as well as the view they each hold in regards to faith.

My four children have been exposed to the same issues (mentioned in the other reviews) of depression and emotional challenges among their peers at other schools as well. These are the very struggles that ALL teens have during the years of self discovery and adolescence. That is why an atmosphere of friendship and respect is essential for any learning environment

Being a parent of a girl who spent a short few(3) years at Hawthorn I feel very grateful for the friendships she made and continues to foster with people of all faiths. She only wishes we could have had her attend for her whole education. The experience of true friendship is one that Hawthorn gives at all levels, among teachers, parents, staff and students. To me the curriculum and credentials of the staff, although important are not the only means to create a healthy learning environment. In this age, more than ever, research and information is at the fingertips of anyone who wants to make discoveries about the world in which we live. Sifting through it all to discover truth is the REAL challenge.

Thank you to the staff, students and parents at Hawthorn for believing in one another and for equipping my daughter and each girl with the right criteria to seek and find the path that will lead them to make a positive contribution to our world by taking to heart the student motto "living the truth in charity".

By Copper Termite on Sep 30, 2013
Despite all the administration's stated hopes and best intentions, Hawthorn isn't immune from the same problems as any other school - cliques, teenage angst and drama. I don't fault the school for that - it's just the nature of teenage girls sometimes.

Unfortunately, the teachers and staff did more than their fair share to contribute to these problems. One of the main complaints I had while I attended is that there was (and apparently still is, according to reviews from recent students) an issue regarding favoritism towards the children of the founding families or those connected with Opus Dei. The favoritism actually doesn't end when one graduates, either. The number of those beloved alumna who go back to work / teach at the school is quite high.

This highlights another problem regarding a certain lack of professionalism from teachers. The biggest gripe being that not all the teachers were qualified or certified. While I was there, some teachers were barely out of university. For the amount of tuition that Hawthorn currently charges, it seems reasonable to expect that the majority of the teachers on staff would actually hold teaching degrees or credentials.

How would I sum up Hawthorn? An overpriced, dynastic homeschooling association consisting of well-intentioned, but generally underqualified teachers. Unfortunately good intentions aren't enough to make up for the lackluster academics and facilities that one would expect for the $16,000+ / year tuition + money they squeeze out of parents during fundraising activities + the $5,000 interest-free capital loan to the school each family is expected to cough up.

By Cherry Gila-monster on May 20, 2013
I attended Hawthorn for a number of years and found my time there to be a very enlightening experience. There were a number of positive experiences I had, but also a number of negative ones. Over the years, I had a few great teachers whom I felt generally cared about me and did not make me feel pressured to conform to their beliefs. However, I noticed that these teachers, who were not Catholic, were treated with less respect by the school, and were pressured to conform to the beliefs of the school. The other teachers I had either incorporated religion into their courses where it was not needed, or talked to me outside of class regarding religion. I had Catholic friends at the school who were excessively approached and pressured about joining into Opus Dei activities. I often got the feeling that I was being told that my religion was wrong and that I had to convert to Catholicism in order to live a good and moral life and go to Heaven. I have long since learned that this is not the case, and that it is perfectly fine for me to be a member of my religion. I understand that this a Catholic school, but I believe that the school should teach that it is okay to be who you are, and that being Catholic is not mandatory in life, as there are many good people who are non-Catholic. Despite this excessive Catholicism present in the school, there were positive aspects as well. For one thing, small class size allowed for me to ask my teachers lots of questions, and it allowed for participation in numerous extra-curricular activities. I am also interested as to why Hawthorn does not hire male teachers, if they may be equal to or better at teaching, when other Catholic all-girls schools do. I also think that the school should explore their options in terms of interacting with other private schools, through events like school plays or dances.
By andr18 on Mar 07, 2013
To the person waaayyy down at the bottom of this page: Thank you so much for posting that honest review of Hawthorn. I went to this school and had the exact same experience as you. Reading your review actually brought up a lot of painful memories for me. So many girls in my class were suicidal, depressed, angry, confused, and this was really upsetting to see.

The parent/volunteer commented that Hawthorn does not force their students to go to confession and mass, but they certainly did when I went there. We also were forced to go to meditation. The priest at the time would tell us things like, "each time you sin, you are nailing Jesus further to the cross and pushing his thorn crown into his head." This kind of stuff gave me nightmares for months. As a result of this "personal development" agenda, most of the girls I went to Hawthorn with came in Catholic but graduated confused and afraid.

I think you are absolutely accurate in describing the students as zombies. There was no joy at this school.

The administration chose favourites and if you weren't on that list, you certainly felt very aware of it. Except of course at fundraisers with your parents - then it was all smiles and warmth.

I had one teacher dislike me so much that she hid my assignments and told my parents I wasn't completing my work. This was in the year before going to university and my GPA sank as a result of this crazy teacher. This is serious stuff. I had been at this school for 6 years at the time, my parents had done everything to support and help the school, and the principal (also crazy) sided with the emotionally unstable teacher who had been there for 6 months.

As a parent, I can't imagine sending my child to a school where these sorts of things were considered the norm. I have no idea why this cult-school is still running. I tell everyone I know, that it was against all odds I succeed in University and in my career, because I had the worst middle & high school experience one could imagine.

I have a good idea that most of the positive reviews on this site are from children of the administration who either work at this school or who are part of the cult. It was nothing short of brainwashing that produced those positive sentiments about this dangerous institution.
Comment by alliestar on May 10, 2013
Certainly, a school providing a Catholic education will teach the Catholic faith and describe sin as something that goes against the efforts of Jesus dying on the cross. This does not make Hawthorn School a cult. The public Catholic schools teach the same thing.
It is important to distinguish a dislike for the Catholic religion from Hawthorn School itself.
In fact, Hawthorn is an accredited school that is part of the Conference of Independent Schools of Ontario, and our graduates have a 100% university acceptance rate - how would that be possible if this were not a great environment for learning? The school promotes structure, respect and order - which can certainly be interpreted negatively if they are not values you hold.
Comment by andr18 on Oct 25, 2013
From Hawthorn:

"Certainly, a school providing a Catholic education will teach the Catholic faith and describe sin as something that goes against the efforts of Jesus dying on the cross. This does not make Hawthorn School a cult. The public Catholic schools teach the same thing.
It is important to distinguish a dislike for the Catholic religion from Hawthorn School itself.
In fact, Hawthorn is an accredited school that is part of the Conference of Independent Schools of Ontario, and our graduates have a 100% university acceptance rate - how would that be possible if this were not a great environment for learning? The school promotes structure, respect and order - which can certainly be interpreted negatively if they are not values you hold."

It’s interesting you should assume I am not Catholic based on my review. I am a devout Catholic and have been all my life – DESPITE going to Hawthorn. I come from a long line of Catholics and thankfully I held onto my faith. Many of my friends who graduated from Hawthorn felt confused and sadly have subsequently ceased to practice. Therefore my review of the school has nothing to do with a “dislike for the Catholic religion” – nice try though.

I have many family members and friends who have worked for the Toronto Catholic School Board over the years and I feel certain that students at public Catholic schools were not made to sit in a dark chapel and given such gruesome/dark visuals regarding sin. We were 11 years old for goodness sake! Completely inappropriate. And that is just one of many warped things the school taught. We were also told it was a sin to be in a bathing suit around boys. Good thing my parents explained this was a very extreme and untrue – otherwise my summers at co-ed camp would have been pretty terrifying.

I got into one of the top universities in Canada and continued on to do a Masters and a PhD. I went to Hawthorn and hated it. Many of my friends from HSG also went to terrific universities and they had a horrible time at the school. The idea that Hawthorn has a 100% acceptance rate to universities because it's an enjoyable learning environment sadly holds no water.

It's clear you work at Hawthorn - and I'd just like to point out that your last line "The school promotes structure, respect and order - which can certainly be interpreted negatively if they are not values you hold." isn't a very Christian thing for you to say. How on earth would you know how I feel about structure, respect and order? What does that have to do with my review? It's Hawthorn's values of lies, extremism, and self-flagellation that I take issue with.

By Bazaar Falcon on Jan 07, 2013
I have been at the school for 3 years and left in grade 11. This school is VERY stressful and I was lucky to have ONE decent teacher out of 8. Most, especially the principal, are unprofessional and are two-faced with the parents. Don't put your child through this and pay thousands of dollars for a school like this. If you do then best of luck to you
Comment by alliestar on May 10, 2013
I am sorry your time at Hawthorn was a difficult one. Certainly high school is always a difficult time, both academically and emotionally. The school strives to provide support to students in the way of the advising program, did you take advantage of this while you were here? It is important to find teachers one can click with, however, it doesn't always happen. We do try to have a support system in place for our students.
By Ao Herring on Oct 23, 2012
The school is a perfect environment for learning as all other students are eager and motivated to learn. School encourages sports, and other extra curriculars along with academics. The teachers are very friendly and helpful, and always have a smile on their faces. The class sizes are small, which is a huge advantage as the teacher can concentrate on all students.
Comment by alliestar on May 10, 2013
It is wonderful to hear from students who have fond memories of their time at Hawthorn. Hawthorn wishes you all the best!
By Bazaar Flamingo on May 28, 2012
I've noticed all negative, honest opinions are being rated as not very helpful, i think that says something about how this school opperates
Comment by alliestar on May 10, 2013
Most of the negative comments are vague and emotionally charged - how can that be helpful to providing a realistic portrayal of an accredited, independent school that has been in successful operation for 25 years? These comments seem centered on tarnishing the school's reputation without evidence of truth - that is slander. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, that freedom does not extend to distorting the truth for personal vendettas.
Comment by schoolopinio on Sep 24, 2013
Maybe there is a reason that this many people have personal vendetta's and are therefore causing them to "slander" the school. I'm not justifying what they are saying is the right means of action to take, but i am trying to justify why they are saying the things they are in a reasonable manner. A lot of students HAVE/ARE having a bad time at Hawthorn and have previously been treated extremely badly. If you haven't noticed, not a lot of people have anything great to say about the school. Change needs to happen in everyones attitude at that school first and foremost. Although it is going through hardships, making it visible on the faces of the teachers does not help anyone or anything. I come from a fervent Catholic family and am one myself, and I completely understand the basis and values on which you are trying to run the school but I would never send my children to this school. Reason being simple. It would be a down right waste of my money. You guys are trying to sell your school on the basis of educating girls with strong values, but I can do that at home by taking my child to mass every morning before school and living a catholic lifestyle. I'm not saying its wrong to advertise your school this way but what I am saying is that, if thats all you have, for $15000 a year, from a business stand point its not at all worth it. Change needs to happen thats for sure, and it should start with kinder, gentle, and much more professional demeanours where everyone does things to the best of their ability. Improved facilities would also help, and staff that actually plan events, instead of placing the success of the year (especially of the upper school) in the hands of the student council. If things don't start changing, don't be afraid, shy or embarrassed to shut the school down (or at least the upper school). (I know facing the truth sometimes hurts, but taking the amount of money and not getting what its worth back in return does too).
By HawSchool on May 17, 2011
Hi, I left this graduated three years ago and this is my opinion as a student of the school:

Good Things:
1) VERY Small Classes
2) Good Friendships
3) Encouragement in Extra Curricular
4) Student Enthusiasm for Achieving

And as for the reasons I would would no recommend it:
1) A sense of unprofessionalism
2) Math, Science, and History departments are not very strong (upper school)
3) Not much course selection (upper school)
4) TOO many teachers that hold unnecessary positions
Comment by alliestar on May 10, 2013
While you rated the school on the low side, you made valid comments and your areas for improvement are things the school takes into consideration. As a small school, it is difficult to offer a wide variety of courses when there might be just 1 or 2 students interested in a specialty course. However, we certainly would like to offer more selection to students as the school grows. The school was started by a group of parents in the late 80s - as the school has become accredited and grows in age and prestige, so does the professionalism of the staff. Hawthorn thanks you for your comments and we wish you all the best in your future endeavors.
Comment by HawSchool on May 10, 2014
Yes, I did rate the school on the low side, for the reason that the negative aspects greatly outweigh the positive ones.
I appreciate that you've considered my opinion to be unbiased because thats what I aimed to convey. I never talked in depth about the negative elements of the school, because I think a lot of people have already done so, and it doesn't take an expert to point them out, but I certainly would not recommend this school due to its mediocracy... basically NOTHING the school offers will ever make one feel "WOW, that was money worth spent!" and if a parent does however feel that way simply over the "character education" that you guys offer, I'm sorry but any sane parent would tell you that they can offer that to there kids at home rather than having to pay $15 000+.

What you need to do is:
- in the upper school strengthen your academics! (STOP HIRING TEACHERS THAT ARE BARELY OUT OF UNI AND DON'T HAVE TEACHING DEGREES!)
- relax on your "character development" (if you consistently and STRICTLY impose your views, a child is bound to snap, pushing them - and there friends - to want to rebel and further themselves away from having any desire to want to understand why something is done the way it is)
- DON'T LIE! (this may seem self-explanatory, but however this golden rule was not always practiced in many departments within the school)
- THE TEACHERS ARE NOT ALWAYS RIGHT! (they may be right in terms of correcting a student, but when a parent get involved its a whole different scenario - the parent has clearly taken the time out of there busy work day to address a concern, so respect them and address there needs professionally, and learn to apologize when the mistake is on the schools behalf)
- DESIGNATE SPECIFIC JOBS and train them to be experts in what it is they are to do. (Every department seems to have there own rules; upper school, lower school, front desk) where the staff don't even know what there job actually is! everyone interferes into everyone else's business, assign SPECIFIC jobs, leaving no room for confusion and only room for efficiency)
By bhangrat on Feb 22, 2011
I attended Hawthorn through my high school years. It is a fantastic school for so many reasons:

1) small class size
2) Strong and well rounded academics
3) school encourages you to get involved in many different extra curricular activities (sports, drama, clubs, student council, volunteer work)
4) great staff which provide great role models for the students
5) Peers that come from families that also value education and character development that develop into lifetime friendships
6) Focus of the school on making you a better person in all aspects of life (character development)

Of course as a young high school student I dis-liked the school as it was only girls, it had strict rules, and tough academics. But as a senior high school student I started realizing that all the rules had a purpose and were actually for my own good. Now as an adult, I look back on my high school years at Hawthorn with much gratitude as I realize it was the foundation to my personal and professional growth and success that I have today.

Thank you to all the dedicated teachers, staff and parents that make Hawthorn School For Girls a real gem in Toronto. I would highly recommend it to any parent or student.
Comment by alliestar on May 10, 2013
The 6 points you mentioned above serve to describe exactly what Hawthorn is trying to achieve in education.
By Violet Peregrine-Falcon on Feb 09, 2011
our daughter attend Hawthorn for two years and we enjoyed her experience. The girls at Hawthorn are being raised to be respectful women who are learning to present themselves with class and dignity. We highly recommend this school. Our daughter attended the junior school and is in Public School now. But she will be back in her teenage years!
She not only was in a grade two level by the end of SK, but formed a respect for teachers that many kids in public school do not have.
Comment by alliestar on May 10, 2013
Thank you for your review - we wish your daughter all the best!
By CCH on Feb 05, 2011
I worked at Hawthorn for 3 years. It was a great experience. Students are eager to learn and motivated. It is nice to see them grow not only in academics but also in character development (Hawthorn has a one-on-one advising program for every student). The work environment is friendly and I definitely recommend this school to any teacher, parent or student looking for a school.
Comment by alliestar on May 10, 2013
Thank you for your kind words!
By Shatzzy on Feb 02, 2011
I have been a parent in the school for 6 years, and I have seen my children flourish. We are very satisfied with the education our children are receiving, because it is not only academically but also we see them grow in character. We, as a parents have the opportunity to have a very close communication with the teachers and other parents so we can all help to raise this girls into responsible and loving women.
Our children are very happy at Hawthorn, so happy that they want to stay longer at the end of the day, they have wonderful teachers that love them and care for every single girl in the class.
I know that we have made the right decision by having our children in Hawthorn and I highly recommend this school... it is a great place to start, and a wonderful place to stay.
Comment by alliestar on May 10, 2013
Thank you for choosing Hawthorn for your daughters and for your feedback.
By janne on Feb 01, 2011
I attended Hawthorn School for Girls for 9 years, from Grade 5 through to OAC/grade 13 at the time. It's really only after leaving Hawthorn that I realized how much I had been spared from the public school system; in what could have been very impressionable and difficult years, I am so thankful that I was given the chance to develop into the type of person that I wanted to be, not what other students - or teachers, for that matter - thought I should be.

This is a school for mature students and likewise parents; it's a school that is very serious about educating girls into being true women, adults that are equipped and willing to contribute to their families, their communities, and to greater society. Whether you're Catholic or not, Hawthorn takes the time to challenge students to think about higher elements in life. It rightly believes that education should be more than mathematics and literature; it also includes trying to better understand who we are as individuals, what our higher purpose might be, and what we can do more to be the greatest person possible.

Hawthorn School remains a gem in Toronto, a school that I highly recommend to parents and girls who are serious about becoming true achievers in the world.
By hawteacher on Jan 31, 2011
I worked at Hawthorn for 3 years(upper school). It was an experience I will never forget. The environment was friendly and I felt like going to work every morning. In general, students are eager to learn, which makes any teacher happy. I made many friendships (with both teachers and students) which I still keep after so many years. As far as I know, year after year, every graduating student was accepted in her program of choice in university. Many have told me how grateful they are for the preparation they received at Hawthorn both in academics and in character building.
By ClareLouise on Jan 31, 2011
I am grateful every day that I was able to attend Hawthorn School for Girls for highschool. I had wonderful experiences at Hawthorn. The education they gave me enabled me to complete my Chemical Engineering Degree. The support I got throughout my teenage years and the wonderful examples from the teachers showed me how to grow up into a woman. The friendships I formed during those years were lifelong in many cases.
By caca9 on Aug 16, 2010
I've been looking anywhere where I could write review (or warning) about this school...i set up an account on here just for this purpose.
I attended this school for three years only to be put through torture. Me, as well as others (with whom I am still friends with) experienced a period of our lives there where we felt depressed and angry. Those three fragile years where I should of been growing and sprouting as a beautiful young women were robbed from me.
This school lies. Apart from being money hungry they practice a type of Catholism called Opus Dei that practices inflicting pain on yourself in order to prove your love for God. Their unrealistic ways of teaching all revolved around how whatever we needed we should pray to God for. They forced me to attend confession, we had church every other day, and they would shove their opinion down your throat until you were scared into believing it. They didn't let you form into your own person...we all had to be the same. Everyone roamed the halls single filed as if we were zombies. There was no happiness or brightness to this school.
I once got suspended for calling a girl a 'vermon' and instead of sending me home they removed the ancient lockers and gave me a box cutter to scrub the rust that had formed over all the years. Also, all my graduation pictures I am wearing a Hawthorn gym shirt because I apparently should not show my shoulder if i don't want to be labelled a slut.
They do a really good job of fronting what they are all about, but i know for certain Im not the only one who felt this way. They caused me (and others) to be depressed, suicidal and confused about who i am and life.
Honestly gong there everyday really took it's toll and damaged me and my spirits.
They expect everyone to be their way and the same. If you have some sort of dilemma you must talk to your 'advisor' where they just tell you to pray and offer things up to God. They made us fast in grade seven and participate in things that you may not agree with.
Honestly, even if this review stops one person from going there I am happy.
It's awful waking up every morning knowing you have to go there,
dont put yourself or your kids through it.
I could write a million more things about how awful and fake this school is but i hope that this is enough for you to understand the pain and suffering this school delivers.
They are extremely hypocritical, money hungry and unrealistic.
For everyone's sake i wish this school would be shut down.
Still till this day even though it's been 8 years still i attended this "school" i still feel the negative and awful affects it happened.
Hope this helps, good luck !
Comment by AsiaJo on Jan 31, 2011
How unfortunate...I've had a great experience at Hawthorn!
Comment by Shatzzy on Feb 02, 2011
I volunteer a lot as a parent in the school, and I have never seen the girls sad or depressed, or walking as zombies. I see a happiness and respect (such a lost value in this days), which is very far from depression and zombie like.
Since there are girls of other religions, no one is forced in to any of the Catholic services unless the parents had asked for it.
Sorry to hear that Hawthorn school was not for you, but certainly it is been wonderful for us.
Comment by alliestar on May 10, 2013
I am sorry to hear your time at Hawthorn was not what you expected - however, I would like to clarify that all of the religious rites and services are optional -even for Catholic students. No one is forced to fast or pray or confess - these are all voluntary actions.
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