Small Business Month Member Spotlight: Jay Field, founder Tamarack West Outdoor School
By Alterna Team
October 07, 2022

Jay Field is the founder and Principal of Tamarack West Outdoor School, an independent elementary school offering programming for students from Junior Kindergarten through grade 8, located in Toronto, Ontario.  Tamarack focuses on providing a supportive and compassionate environment for students, teachers and families alike.

"We put a priority on experiential education both in and out of the classroom." says Jay when talking about what makes Tamarack different. "Our students spend a tremendous amount of time in the parks and woodlands of Toronto, and also take advantage of its fantastic public institutions – such as the Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the public libraries. Probably our biggest commitment is a teacher/student ratio that allows for consistent, positive and patient interaction."

The Tamarack West Outdoor School is a member of Alterna's award winning Microfinance program, which provides small loans to entrepreneurs to help them start or scale their business.  Jay applied for a microfinance loan with Alterna to invest in growth opportunities for the school.

"The microfinance loan from Alterna came at a time when we were growing in size faster than our revenue. One of the key aspects of Tamarack is our teacher/student ratio. At the time we applied for the loan, the increase in the number of students registering for our program merited hiring more teachers, but our revenue had yet to increase enough to completely support that extra hiring." explains Jay. "Rather than compromise the quality and possibly reputation of the school, we increased the staff size knowing it was just outside our budget. At the same time, we decided to make an investment in technology – laptops for research and iPads for robotics. Both of these investments (teachers and technology) required capital. The Alterna microloan gave us the necessary funds to make those investments. Investments that paid off instantly."

These investments have allowed students at Tamarack to continue to be outside of a traditional classroom without compromising the depth of learning, and have yielded a 95% returning student percentage in the school's senior program.

Mr. Field, also uses Alterna Savings as Tamarack West Outdoor School's primary banking and financial partner. "I would encourage businesses to make Alterna their primary bank. I moved my  business from one of the larger Canadian financial institutions after roughly four years and the difference was felt instantly. The Alterna Microfinance team are so supportive and helpful. Throughout the pandemic I had someone checking in with me regularly; directing me towards government loans and grants and offering support."

For more information on Alterna's Microfinance program, visit