School Spotlight: The Study - A chat with The Study’s Elementary School Director, Amanda Liste

In 1915, a young Englishwoman named Margaret Gascoigne opened a school for six students in the study of her home. In 1960, The Study moved to its present location in Westmount. In addition to its founder, eight dynamic women have led The Study, including the current Head of School, Nancy Lewis Sweer.

Today, the school guides each Study girl towards reaching her fullest potential by fostering fine scholarship, instilling the love of learning, and developing well-rounded leadership qualities in a global-minded, diverse environment where both the individual and the community are valued. Here’s what Elementary School Director Amanda Liste had to say about student life at The Study.

Tell us a bit about the school.

There are lots of clubs, and every teacher has their passion and creates clubs based on their interests. Some are more academic in nature, including robotics and leadership, and others are for pure enjoyment like yoga, mandela, relaxed activities where the girls can have some downtime, which certainly has an impact with all they’re doing. Roots and shoots is another popular environmental-based club involving planting and research into how we can help the environment.

How do you get the kids moving?

Physical Education is part of the curriculum but it only allows for so much so we go above and beyond: we have two recesses (morning and afternoon), and they can be unstructured or structured activities. Even on rainy days we might have dancing in the gym or another physical activity. We also take advantage of spaces in the community.

What do you offer for lunch?

We have a lunch program with a daily menu that changes every day. It’s an impressive spread and it’s included in school fees. Each day we have sandwich, soup and salad bar plus a different hot meal option (meat and vegetarian), desserts with healthy ingredients, and limited salt and fat. Our catering company is quite amazing. I eat downstairs every day with the girls. The chef always tries to spark their palate a little bit by also offering things they may not otherwise try.

How is technology used in the school?

Technology is a big thing. It’s so readily available and there are always so many new things that schools just grab at, but here, we don’t use it just for the sake of using or having it. As much as technology will play a role in education from here on in, it’s about what you do with it. Technology use starts in kindergarten with our iPad program, and it goes well beyond having just a Smart board and teachers using it when it’s convenient (for example, students are taught to code at all grade levels).

What sets The Study apart from other private schools?

We’re a kindergarten to 11 grade school for all girls, which is not common. We’re also a very old school (over 100 years), so a lot of what we do is rooted in tradition. But, at the same time, we’re always moving forward with all the technology and clubs. Within this environment, we give opportunities to the girls to develop their voice and their passion for learning in subjects that are sometimes underdeveloped in co-ed schools. We create a well-rounded environment where it’s okay to be focused on whatever you’re focused on. We also appeal to lots of different families because we don’t require students to have a Certificate of Eligibility for English Instruction, so we have a uniquely diversified student body of close to 400 girls.