Why Michelle started her own school

Michelle Gradish

Michelle Gradish and husband Mitch used to drive through Leaside long before they owned a home here to “pick out” what they wanted.

They were looking for a community where they could leave their car parked in the driveway on weekends and walk to buy groceries, go to restaurants and visit parks.

They found what they wanted on MacNaughton Rd. and enjoy the family focus in the neighbourhood. Shortly after moving in Mitch was so happy here he jumped in as a volunteer to co-chair the annual street fair.

A teacher with a specialty in special education, Michelle has always had a passion for physical activity outdoors. It was one of the main reasons behind setting up her own private school, Gradale Academy, 12 years ago.

Gradale operates out of two locations: Rosedale and the Brick Works area. In keeping with Michelle’s personal philosophy of how children learn best, the school emphasizes the importance of the outdoors in education, and what she describes as “the physical well-being of children in a creative way.”

One of her young boys is a student there. The other attends St. Anselm.

Any family in the area?

My sister lives nearby with her husband and two daughters, both attend my school at the Brick Works.

How did you end up founding a school?

My father was a principal and my mother was a teacher, so I guess you can say that teaching is in my bones. I really did have a dream for a school with an emphasis on the outdoors—and that has come true for me.

Just knowing that kids, including my own and my nieces, have the opportunity to learn and explore the great outdoors in the heart of the city has made my dreams and goals feel complete.

What do you like about the neighbourhood?

Everything we need we can get to on foot!

Favourite spots?

We love the restaurants like Vero Trattoria and Riz, because they are so welcoming and friendly, especially to our kids. The staff even recognized us when we walk by!

Anything you’d like to change?

How about more clothing stores on Bayview for young women?