Ministry of Education
Provincial and Demonstration Schools Branch

Director’s Newsletter – June 2018

Date: June 25, 2018 | Categories: provincial and demonstration schools branch | Tags: newsletter

Message from the Executive Director – Dr. June Rogers

Hello Students, Staff, Parents and Guardians,

It is hard to believe that the 2017-2018 school year is drawing to a close. The school year seems to have passed too quickly, as though it was September only a few months ago. I continue to be impressed by the many accomplishments of the Provincial and Demonstration School Branch (PDSB).  One of my main priorities continues to be improving student achievement and well-being and I am proud of the hard work by our dedicated staff and students this year in meeting this priority.

This year would have not been as successful as it was without the support of a great team. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all of the PDSB students, the senior management team, administrators, managers, staff and families.  Education is a team approach and, in order to meet high standards and have positive learning experiences, support is needed from all members of the team including students, staff, parents and guardians.

The PDSB superintendents, administrators and senior management team have been involved in an exercise to develop the 2018-2021 Provincial and Demonstration Schools Branch draft Strategic Plan. This multi-year strategic plan is intended to set the direction for the PDSB for the next three years. The plan provides the framework by which the PDSB strives to reach the four renewed goals for education as outlined in Achieving Excellence – A Renewed Vision for Education in Ontario. In June I reached out to parents, guardians, staff and students soliciting feedback on the draft plan. Thank you to those who have provided input.

I am also proud of the outcome of the 2018 Deaf Children’s Festival which took place at Robarts School for the Deaf in May. I am sure students and families had the opportunity to create many great memories during this event as they participated in the various activities and workshops. Thank you to our team who helped to make this event a success.

We could not have completed this school year without the dedication and enthusiasm of our PDSB staff. I want to sincerely thank all of our employees for their dedication and for providing exciting and enriching programing which contributes to the success of our students.

I wish you all a safe and enjoyable summer!

Message from the Superintendent, Provincial and Demonstration Schools Branch – Ginette Faubert

Spring is here and we are completing another successful year at the Provincial and Demonstration Schools Branch! It has been a wonderful year filled with student successes in so many areas including academics, outdoor education, sports tournaments, school fun nights, family dinners and student-led conferences. Our students continue to make great strides in achieving their personal, social and educational goals. I would like to take this opportunity to express my utmost thanks to our dedicated residence and school staff and to recognize their tireless commitment to supporting our students.

There is so much to celebrate! I would like to highlight a few events in particular. We hosted the Deaf Children’s Festival in London and had wonderful participation from PDSB and local school boards. This event is a biennial, province-wide opportunity for fellowship, communication, interaction and enjoyment for all elementary Deaf students in Ontario.

As well, each year on May 31, 2018, we come together to celebrate W. Ross Macdonald School in Brantford and to highlight the successes of the past 145 years for the school and all the incredible skills our students have gained. This celebration is a wonderful opportunity to re-connect with past and present members of our school community.

Our French schools in Ottawa, Centre Jules-Léger, celebrated Education Week with an array of guests for career day who demonstrated a variety of career paths for our students.

I wish you all a happy, healthy and restful summer. For those students who will not be returning to our schools in September, I want to personally wish you all the very best for the next chapter in your lives. We look forward to welcoming continuing and new students in September!

Message from the Superintendent, Provincial and Demonstration Schools Branch – Jeanne Leonard

Incredibly another school year is coming to a close. It is one of my favorite times of the year where we see our graduates on the cusp of their future proudly walk across the stage toward post-secondary or career pathways while at the same time we begin welcoming the many new students and families to our schools. More than any other time of the year, this is when I reflect on the incredible work we have the privilege to do each and every day for our students and for our schools. Provincial and Demonstration Schools continue to grow and showcase to the province and internationally what centres of excellence we truly are in serving students who are Deaf, hard of hearing, blind, low vision, deafblind and students with severe learning disabilities. Applaud yourselves for the work that you do every day; whether you work in one of our schools, one of our residences, in the branch or the various departments that support our schools and students, you all contribute and matter and the work you do is appreciated and acknowledged. Parents and guardians also play an important role in the education of our students so thank you for your support this year.

I encourage you to reflect while this year is still fresh in your mind.  As I reflect I think about how we are endless champions for our students, families and schools. We continue to look for ways to serve our students better and also at the same time how we serve our pre-school children and families and the many students in the school boards across the province. We have introduced new programs throughout our system and another Play and Learning Center is about to open. We continue to spread the message that we have to remain as a critical educational choice for many students and their families in this province. That means we have to continue to be the best and continue to be a choice for families. So although the school year is ending, our work never ends. Though many of you will be off during the summer months, the wheels at PDSB will continue to turn and work will continue to be done to ensure our school is ready for our students and staff in September. I also know that many of our educators and staff will be enrolled in courses or participating in professional development opportunities over the summer months as I am. Thank you all for being life-long learners and modelling that for our students.

Enjoy the well-deserved summer break and come back to our students in September 2018 ready to impact another generation of students.  It is my honor and privilege to serve as Superintendent and I thank you all for your past and continued support. So whether you are finishing your first year of teaching, were new to PDSB this year, or are nearing retirement from the education system please remember that your work is valued and needed. You are the PDSB.

I look forward to continuing to work together with you to ensure that the Provincial and Demonstration Schools Branch remains vibrant and continues as a much needed option for the students we serve.

Staffing Updates – Administration

Karyn Bruneel, Principal of Amethyst Demonstration School has accepted a position with the Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board as Superintendent of Education effective August 13, 2018. Karyn joined PDSB in September 2016 as the Principal of Amethyst Demonstration School and her contribution is recognized by her many accomplishments within the school and branch. Karyn is dedicated to improving student achievement and well-being and she will be able to provide valuable insight and expertise as a Superintendent. Karyn has a wealth of knowledge including over 12 years of experience as a Principal and a strong interest in special education programming and special needs identification, play-based learning and student inquiry. We wish Karyn the best in her new position.

Sean Gregory will be joining the Provincial and Demonstration Schools Branch (PDSB) for the 2018-2019 school year as the Principal, Amethyst Demonstration School. Sean is currently the Principal of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School in Delaware, Ontario and has also served as an administrator for the St. Michael and St. Martin Catholic Elementary School communities. He has been employed by the London District Catholic School Board for twenty years and worked in a variety of schools, both urban and rural, as teacher, Student Program Support Teacher, Vice-Principal, and Principal. Sean attended the University of Western Ontario and has a Masters of Education (Educational Administration) from Charles Sturt University. He also has additional qualifications including a Specialist in Special Education (Learning Disabilities/Behaviour).   Please join me in welcoming Sean!

Provincial and Demonstration Schools Branch – Education Week

Each year in May, Ontario schools celebrate Education Week as an opportunity to highlight the great work that schools are doing.  This year Education Week took place between May 7-11, 2018 and the theme was Equity in Action! Provincial and Demonstration Schools offered a number of learning opportunities and events for students and their parents/guardians.

Amethyst Demonstration School

Principal: Karyn Bruneel

During Education Week, Amethyst School hosted a parent-student menu of workshops and Amethyst Residence hosted a wonderful BBQ and Open House on May 9, 2018. It was a great celebration of learning.

Amethyst’s Information and Communication Technology in Business (BTT 1O) class used a Makey Makey, a small invention kit, to create video game controllers and used a Makey Makey plus Scratch to create a “Welcome to Education Week” greeter! They also created a poster for each of the workshops that were being led by staff with support from students.

Families and students attended the workshops and then everyone celebrated together with a wonderful BBQ hosted by the Amethyst Residence. The food was delicious, the learning was great, and the community building was fantastic!

Residence Manager: Janet Smye

Amethyst Residence students showcased “The Square Foot Art” Gallery which turned out beautifully. Some of the students surprised the staff and themselves with the wonderful art work that they created. Families were delighted by the work and it certainly fit in with the Education Week activities and the celebration of Amethyst students.  The staff provided a great annual BBQ for all and family games were played outside in the summer like weather.

Amethyst’s Blue Art Class also provided a wonderful experience to be creative. The students really got in touch with their creative side with the help and guidance from a local artist.

Students and staff had the opportunity to participate in Gheppetto’s Shoe Factory which is a wonderful cooperative game that involved the designing, marketing, selling and manufacturing of designer (Geppetto’s) shoes.

Secondary students were involved in a volunteer experience at Ronald McDonald House.  The students baked for the families and children at the house and it was a truly moving experience.

Centre Jules-Léger (CJL)

Principal: Manon Provost, CJL Demonstration School

Acting Principal: Joël St-Louis, CJL Provincial School

Three teachers at Centre Jules-Léger Demonstration School—Ms. Lapierre, Mr. Goulet and Ms. Pouliot—organized a Career Day for the students. The event involved eight adults from the community coming to share information about their careers. Students had the opportunity to learn more about the following careers: Maintenance Foreman, Residential Educator, Chief of Staff to the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, Lighting Research Technician, Computer Consultant, Speech Language Pathologist, School Support and Adaptation Counsellor, and the Canadian Armed Forces.

Students from Centre Jules-Léger (CJL) Provincial School were also invited to participate in this event as part of “Career Day”.  The activity was held as part of “Creating Pathways to Success: An Education and Career/Life Planning Program for Ontario Schools, Policy and Program Requirements, Kindergarten to Grade 12.” Students had the opportunity to learn and ask questions about the potential career paths that were presented. CJL students dream of being involved in a number of careers including Veterinarian, Chef, Mechanical Engineer and Physiotherapist.

Afterward, Mr. Perry, a Demonstration School Teacher, led an interactive presentation about career choices. The main idea is to have a broad mindset so students can identify the field they would enjoy working in.

All of the students enjoyed the day and each had the opportunity to think about what career they would like to pursue while preparing for a future that will meet all their expectations. It was a day greatly appreciated by all the students.

Acting Residence Manager: Lucie Middlestead

Cleaning the Capital

On May 1, 2018, many students from Centre Jules-Léger participated in the “Cleaning the Capital” event!  The school is proud of this accomplishment which made the neighborhood around CJL cleaner and greener. Many positive comments were received from appreciative neighbors!

Cooking Activity

Why not learn how to marinate different ingredients like in the old days? Two groups of CJL students made their own marinated spicy green beans, dill pickles and cucumbers as part of the cooking activity “Ce soir, on popotte!” (Tonight, we are cooking!). The final results looked delicious.

Ernest. C. Drury School for the Deaf

Principal: Cindy Smith

In early May a group of young women from E. C. Drury Secondary School joined 900 other female students at the Skills Ontario Young Women’s Conference. The students had the opportunity to explore interactive career booths which promoted skills trades and technology for women. Students learned more about the following careers: electrical, construction, graphic design and plumbing. The participants were inspired to learn more about these great opportunities and are motivated to achieve their goals.

Students from E. C. Drury Elementary School were happy to participate in the 2018 Deaf Children’s Festival in London, Ontario. Students had a great time at the province-wide event which offered many events including Deaf performers, activity centres and entertainment.

Ernest C. Drury School for the Deaf, Residence Program/Trillium Demonstration School, Residence Program

Residence Manager: Lisa Morden

E. C. Drury and Trillium School residence students participated in a number of activities as part of the 2018 Education Week – Equity in Action. In early May students went to see the Famous People Players production, “A Little Like Magic” which was inspiring for all of the students!

Students have been involved in building life skills through cooking and baking. The students were proud of their most recent culinary creations. The Milton campus has a food garden where students are involved in growing food from seeds.

Students enjoyed having the opportunity to share their creative flair by participating in the residence paint night. The students also participated in outdoor activities including discovering and exploring while hiking and a very careful rescue and relocation back to the duck pond for one turtle who was investigating the residence gardens.

Robarts School for the Deaf

Principal: Linda Wall

Deaf Children’s Festival 2018 at Robarts School

Robarts School for the Deaf hosted the Deaf Children’s Festival (DCF) on May 15-16, 2018. The theme was “Opening Doors”. DCF is an event where doors of opportunity open as students from three of the provincial schools, as well as from local school boards, come together to celebrate ASL and Deaf Culture. Participants have the chance to explore all that is possible with new experiences, new role models, and new ideas for opportunities in the future.  This event has been held every biennial year by the Provincial and Demonstration Schools Branch.  Students met old and new friends and had fun together in a learning environment.

The logo for 2018 DCF was created by a Grade 8 student at Robarts. The key decorations were created collaboratively by staff and students.

The students learned about a number of future careers.  Guest presenters included a variety of Deaf professionals such as Deaf Chef Jeff Paulter, Marsha Ireland who taught students how to make corn husk dolls, IT Systems Officer Doug Vrantsidis who worked with students on using Virtual Reality goggles, Christine Roschaert who presented workshops on tactile communication, Hayley Hudson who showed ASL stories and retold well-known stories in ASL on video, and a group of Deaf actors who presented Cinderella in ASL using beautiful costumes and props.  A visit by a fire truck thrilled young children and snow-cones kept everyone cool on a hot day.

This event was truly a collaborative effort by staff, students, families and community members. Our School Council parents jumped right in with their support and we thank everyone for their support of this 12th biennial event!

Sagonaska Demonstration School

Principal: Tina MacCauley-Gray

Sagonaska students have been learning about the executive functioning of our brains and how we can learn to manage symptoms of stress and anxiety. As a culminating activity, the whole school visited the Ontario Science Centre ‎for a special presentation on The Science of Anxiety. Students clearly demonstrated their learning as they managed their anxiety and volunteered to participate in front of everyone. It was a successful learning curve for Sagonaska students!

Students participating in the Ontario Science Centre presentation
Students participating in the Ontario Science Centre presentation

Residence Manager: Ian Flynn

On May 9, 2018 Sagonaska Junior Boys visited the Belleville Police Station. The Junior Boys had the opportunity to tour the station and experience the vast roles and duties of a law enforcement officer.  This interactive tour included everything from the forensic unit to the fitness room used by the officers. The Belleville Police force has played an active participatory role in the past when several police officers volunteered their own time to take on the Sagonaska Dragons in a fun game of ball hockey. This community spirit will also be evident at the upcoming Recognition Day, when the first annual sportsmanship award will be given to a deserving Sagonaska student, sponsored by the Belleville Police Association.

Students visiting the Belleville Police Station
Students visiting the Belleville Police Station

Sir James Whitney School for the Deaf

Principal: Janice Drake

Sir James Whitney (SJW) School started Education Week by announcing the Equity in Action theme and a colouring/poster contest. SJW had a special guest story-teller Marilyn Kennedy, who read “We are All Wonders” to the primary junior students.  Students had the opportunity to participate in a “Diversity Chain” activity during which the students explored the ways they are the same and the ways they are different.

After watching the film “I Throw Like A Girl” (about Mo’ne Davis, the first girl to ever throw a no-hitter at the Little League World Series), Constable Pat Menard from the Prince Edward County OPP used his radar gun to capture the students’ pitching speeds.  Spoiler alert, no one was able to match Mo’ne’s 70 mph fastball.

Another activity that students participated in was the Passport to Equity Day. Staff held workshops for the students who visited different rooms in the school to gather stamps for their Equity in Action passports. Topics included: Equity in Zentangles, Authors for Action, A Mile in Someone Else’s Shoes, #WHYISIGN, and Inclusion/Exclusion. After a short game of food access and clean water stats, staff and students had good discussions on local and international food security issues, their causes, and possible solutions. Older students went much farther than ideas about donating to food banks and also discussed various reasons for scarcity or access including climate change and natural disaster, war, poverty, food waste, and even the impact of capitalist markets on food security. The group also discussed Canada’s own issues of water access (Indigenous communities) and the rate of hungry children in Belleville (over 30%).

The week wrapped up with former staff members Maureen MacKinnon and Ken Roberts who presented to the students about the history of communication methods used at SJW, and shared their experiences as teachers of one of the first bilingual-biliteracy classes at SJW.

Residence Manager: Ian Flynn

Spring has sprung and so have new opportunities for the students. Students have been busy participating in a number of activities including the annual beach volleyball tournament, which brings together SJW and Sagonaska students and staff for some friendly competition on the beautiful grounds, and wrapping up the maple syrup season after an impressive amount of tasty syrup was tapped, prepared, bottled and sold or donated.

Some of the students had the opportunity to participate in a babysitter’s course. The students were taught how to care for infants and children of a variety of ages. They enjoyed learning skills by engaging in hands-on activities and class discussions. The students who completed the course became qualified babysitters. Congratulations to all participants!

Last month the school had a very special visitor to the residence, Gaffer, a beautiful Deaf Doberman puppy, came with his owner and spent time with the students.  Staff and students learned about Gaffer’s friendly personality, how he is and will be trained, and how visually attentive he is.  The students had the chance to ask questions and interact with Gaffer.

Trillium Demonstration School

Principal: Desiree Smith

During the months of April and May, elementary and secondary students at Trillium Demonstration School experienced a memorable Milton Town Hall tour given by Mayor Gordon Krantz and Councillor Zeeshan Hamid of Ward 8. Students were engaged in a mock council meeting and learned about the Mayor, history of Town Hall, and the infrastructure of Milton.

As a part of Education week, students visited the Skills Ontario Competition at the Toronto Congress Centre. Students were inspired to pursue career paths while they interacted and participated in skill-based trades and demonstrations.

Trillium school was excited to learn that Jermaine Williams was chosen to join the Ministry’s Student Advisory Council! Jermaine also had an opportunity to participate in Parliament and delivered a speech addressing a bill at the Legislature.

In March 2018, students and staff from Trillium school had the opportunity to attend the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario Awareness Breakfast. The highlight for the students was meeting Rick Green from the Red Green show. Mr. Green spoke to the group about his severe ADHD and learning disability. The students enjoyed the great breakfast and the opportunity to attend the event.

W. Ross Macdonald School

Principal: Dan Maggiacomo

W. Ross Macdonald School (WRMS) is so excited to share the successes of some of the elementary students who are part of our Empower program.  Empower is a research-based, focused reading intervention to support literacy.  The program is based on more than 30 years of reading research. Empower Reading provides struggling readers with the skills necessary to become successful readers by teaching them various word identification skills and decoding strategies. The Empower program was developed through the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and enables students to work on strategies to improve their reading skills for an hour daily. The program includes explicit teaching of skills and knowledge necessary for decoding and comprehension of English text.  There is an emphasis on consolidation to help learners clarify and address any gaps and promote mastery.  There has been significant success with students in this program throughout the province and we are excited to see the results that our blind and low vision students have shown over the past few months!

Marisa Parker, WRMS’s Education Coordinator who is also a trained Empower instructor, asked the students to comment on “why they liked the program?”  Marisa noted “I was interested to hear one student was able to say that he understood exactly where he started (Level E ) and that he had moved up to Level N.  That’s a jump of two grade levels!”  She also noticed how flexible the students who are a part of the program were in their thinking and how students are using so many strategies now, not just sounding a word out. Empower is translated into Braille for students at WRMS.

Students participating in the Empower program
Students participating in the Empower program

On May 31, 2018, WRMS, in conjunction with the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired, held its first parent and professional conference, “It Takes a Village”.  Over 150 participants attended sessions which focused on working with children who are blind or low vision, including Orientation and Mobility, Independent Living Skills, Introductory Braille, Assistive Technology, Transitions, Concept Building, Basic Communication, etc. The keynote speaker, Dr. Kevin Stewart, Principal of the York Region District School Board Vision Program, began the day with an inspiring message about the importance of aligning with the interests of the students we serve, in school and beyond.  It was a great day of learning and connecting!

Residence Manager: Emily Ricker

During Education Week the Deafblind Residence Program at W. Ross Macdonald School invited grade 5 and 6 students from École Dufferin to visit and have a tour of the school.  Their visit included meeting and interacting with students, a session under simulation, and a game of goalball.  This letter from one of the École Dufferin students describes the experience at WRMS.

A letter from a student from École Dufferin
A letter from a student from École Dufferin

Contact Us

Dr. June Rogers
Executive Director, Provincial and Demonstration Schools Branch
(905) 878-2851 ext. 214
TTY: (905) 878-7195 ext. 214

Ginette Faubert
Superintendent, Provincial and Demonstration Schools Branch
(905) 878-2851 ext. 237
TTY: (905) 878-7195

Jeanne Leonard
Superintendent, Provincial and Demonstration Schools Branch
(905) 878-2851 ext. 213
TTY: (905) 878-7195 ext. 213