Scholars’ Hall was officially founded in 1997. However Scholars’ Hall’s roots go back to September 1980.
In the 1980’s there was only St. Jude’s School. St. Jude’s was located on Phillip Street in Waterloo. St. Jude’s had grown for a decade and was well known in the Waterloo Region for its exceptional work with bright/gifted students who experience learning disabilities. During the 80’s the word spread that St. Jude’s was a school where discipline, respect for authority, great teaching and small classes of motivated students were the norm.
As the decade changed into the 90’s, more and more parents were approaching St. Jude’s School to register their children. Fred Gore, St. Jude’s director and founder, would ask the same question at each meeting – “What is your child’s learning disability?” More and more the parents would respond that their child had no learning difficulties – just the opposite – their child was not being challenged in the public system and they wanted to enroll in St. Jude’s School because they had heard that it was a school that expected each child to perform to their personal best level of achievement. Mr. Gore, for a number of years, sent these parents away (his reasoning was that St. Jude’s School was for those students who needed to be there not a school for those who would benefit from attending).
Mr. Gore’s accountant was not impressed. Continually his accountant would exclaim “You are running a business! These people want to pay a tuition to you! Change your business model and adapt to suit your market! (It was good advice)
So, after a few years of sending parents to other private schools, St. Jude’s School began accepting non-learning disabled students. By 1993 St. Jude’s population grew from 30 to 100. By 1995, in addition to the 100 attending students, there was a wait list of 75 students.
But alas, St. Jude’s School grew from wonderful class sizes of 6 to huge class sizes of 12. True, the students in St. Jude’s School were receiving a better education than in the publicly funded system but sadly approximately 1/3 of the students (those who needed St. Jude’s) were not receiving as good as they were getting when the classes were at 6.
As a result, Mr. Gore realized that he had two schools in one and began the search for a second location. After a number of years looking at closed public schools that were in rough shape, he found a nice piece of land in the Huron Business Park. On the property was and still is to this day, the largest, healthiest Elm tree in Ontario. Because the property is surrounded by protected environmental lands nothing can ever be built beside or behind. The property is easy to get to, with city transit stopping in front, and it is across the street from one of the largest Nature Parks in all of Waterloo Region.
The property was purchased. A school was designed and built. 75 of the 100 students in the Phillip St. location and 25 students from the wait list began classes in September of 2000 and the new location at 888 Trillium Drive, Kitchener was named Scholars’ Hall, a university preparatory school for first choice college and university acceptance. The 25 – 30 remaining students moved from the Phillip Street location to Weber and University in Waterloo. St. Jude’s School returned to its original focus of helping bright, learning disabled students turn their potential into achievement.
Enrollment grew at Scholars’ Hall for the next six years until the Great Recession. The recession was not kind to Scholars’ and may adjustments had to be made. In hindsight, those adjustments have made Scholars’ Hall into a much better school and business. Scholars’ Hall weathered the Great Recession and has continued to be very successful at providing the best continuous education, from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12, than any other private or publicly funded school.
As the recession waned, Scholars’ Hall invited St. Jude’s School to move into the building in 2009. Enrollment at Scholars’ Hall steadily recovered in the years following the recession. As the start of the 2013 school year, Scholars’ Hall’s enrollment reached and then exceeding pre-recession numbers. St. Jude’s School enrollment, on the other hand, being the only full-time day school for students with learning disabilities within 100 kilometers, stayed fully registered throughout the recession.
Scholars’ Hall began full day, full year Kindergarten 5 years before the it was introduced by the province. Scholars’ Hall’s Kindergarten implements a full academic curriculum which is totally opposite the public’s ‘Play’ curriculum. As a result, there is a Reserve List for the Scholars’ Junior Kindergarten that stretches for the next 3 or 4 years. A number of new parents have even placed their child on our Kindergarten Reserve List upon their birth. In a number of other grades as well, full enrollment is usually reached well before the commencement of each new school year.