Ministry of Education
Provincial and Demonstration Schools Branch

Director’s Newsletter – June 2019

Date: June 24, 2019 | Categories: provincial and demonstration schools branch | Tags: newsletter

Message from the PDSB Senior Team – Executive Director Dr. June Rogers, Superintendent Ginette Faubert, Superintendent Jeanne Leonard

Incredibly another school year is coming to a close. It’s been a year of change, growth and adjustment for us all. Change really is the only constant in this world.

The school year is coming to an end, but for our students it really is another beginning.  Our graduates, on the cusp of their future, proudly walk across the stage toward post-secondary, career or other pathways while at the same time we begin welcoming many new students and families to our schools. It is an end and a beginning all at the same time.

More than any other time of the year, it’s this time when we reflect on the incredible work that we have the privilege to do each and every day for our students, their families and for our schools. PDSB continues to grow and showcase to the province and internationally what centers 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. We also recognize our parents and guardians. The work you do in supporting our students, staff and schools is appreciated and acknowledged.

We encourage you also to reflect while this year is still fresh in your mind. As we reflect we need to think about how we all are tireless champions for our students, families and schools.

We would like to congratulate our students on another wonderful year and for those students leaving us this year, we wish you every success as you embark on your future adventures.

We wish you all a safe and enjoyable summer!

Provincial and Demonstration Schools Branch

Amethyst Demonstration School and Residence

Principal: Sean Gregory
Acting Residence Manager: Sherry Eacrett

Spring has been an extremely productive and busy time for the students and staff at Amethyst Demonstration School.  Students, families and school teams have been involved in transition meetings to plan for success in September as well as preparations for our grade 6 and grade 9 EQAO assessments. This year’s Education Week activities included a family BBQ, silent auction, classroom open-house, community information event and our annual Amethyst Square Foot Show (student art gallery).

Amethyst Residence put together the 2nd Annual Square Foot Art Show.  Each student came up with a plan and executed their ideas into beautiful 12×12” art pieces that can be bid on in a silent auction running throughout the month.  The art show is an opportunity to showcase a piece of art from each student and to allow students to create and experiment with different art media.  It gives students an opportunity to try something new and experience working together to create something bigger.

Figure 1: Presentation of the Amethyst Square Foot Show displaying student artwork
Figure 1: Presentation of the Amethyst Square Foot Show displaying student artwork

The annual Spring BBQ for families and friends of Amethyst is always a successful event that builds and fosters a sense of community here at Amethyst. At the BBQ, we had food and outdoor games and activities available for family and friends. Education Week at Amethyst is a great opportunity to celebrate the hard work that our students have put in this year, and to reflect upon the good memories had throughout the year with staff, students, and family.

The involvement and engagement of our families and community members has been most impressive and the Amethyst staff are extremely grateful for the ongoing support.

Centre Jules-Léger (CJL) Provincial School

Acting Principal: Jean-François Boulanger

Centre Jules-Léger had the opportunity to visit the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. The students enjoyed the visit and have expressed how fortunate they are to be close to several museums. Thank you to the staff members for organizing and supervising such great visits.

Students from grades 4 to 6 had a chance to perform the “3 Little Pigs” in langue des signes Québécoise (LSQ). They even went to perform at Video Relay Service (VRS) Canada! They had a great time and they enjoyed playing their roles.

Figure 6: Students performing the 3 Little Pigs
Figure 6: Students performing the 3 Little Pigs

Centre Jules-Léger (CJL) Demonstration School

Principal: Manon Provost

At CJL, we believe that each student has his or her own voice. Three times a year, a special event called “Après-midi des auteurs” is organized.  It is an activity that promotes writing and freedom of expression.  Each student writes an essay on the topic of his or her choice. In class, various strategies are used to teach students how to revise and edit their essays, including using different computer applications. Once the students have written their essay, they read it or have someone read it on their behalf at the “L’après-midi des Auteurs” event. Parents, families and school and residence staff are all invited to this event. Eight students from each class read their essays in front of the attendees and the attendees have an opportunity to provide constructive feedback on each student’s essay. Following the event, the attendees and students meet in the cafeteria to show appreciation to the students for their efforts.

Figure 7: Student presenting her essay at “Après-midi des auteurs”
Figure 7: Student presenting her essay at “Après-midi des auteurs”

Centre Jules-Léger (CJL), Residence Program

Residence Manager: Richard Gosselin

On May 2, 2019, CJL residence students participated in the “Cleaning the Capital” Event!  We are proud of our contribution in making the neighborhood park a cleaner and greener space.

Figure 8: CJL residence students and staff participating in the “Cleaning the Capital” event
Figure 8: CJL residence students and staff participating in the “Cleaning the Capital” event

Ernest C. Drury School for the Deaf

Principal: Cindy Smith

As part of this year’s Education Week events, EC Drury (ECD) School for the Deaf welcomed Chris Vollum, a social media expert, to the school. His work with students focuses on how to create and manage authentic, compelling, and sustainable content with social media. He presented to the secondary students in the morning, and the elementary students in the afternoon.

Figure 9: Chris Vollum, social media expert, presenting to ECD students
Figure 9: Chris Vollum, social media expert, presenting to ECD students

Chris shared with us some ways to use social media to support our values, by keeping in mind that everything we post or share is a reflection of us, our beliefs and interests. He shared some stories with us about how some students have used their social media accounts to achieve their goals, including being noticed by post-secondary schools and being offered admission or even scholarships because their posts were in line with the school’s values. He challenged us to use social media not for ‘likes’ or to brag, but to add value to our lives. Some of the tips he gave us include:

  • Use social media to show how you are unique. What are you trying to tell the world about yourself?
  • Use social media to make people think. What new perspectives can you share with others?
  • Use social media to demonstrate gratitude, empathy, and kindness. How can you positively impact others?

Chris highlighted advice provided by Scott Frost, head football coach at the University of Nebraska, “A piece of advice for you – what you put on social media is your résumé to the world.”

Chris’s presentation provided some discussion starters that our staff can continue to expand on in class, as part of our ongoing efforts to help our students develop strong 21st century learning skills and competencies, and a positive digital footprint. Chris also presented to parents the same evening, with a goal of helping parents better support their children in this digital age. He gave parents a different way of seeing how they can guide their children in keeping their social media content in line with their goals. Many thanks to our School Advisory Council for funding these presentations for our school community!

Chris is a widely-recognized educator on numerous social platforms including Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Snapchat. More information about Chris Vollum and his work can be found at: www.cmvsocialmedia.com.

Ernest C. Drury School for the Deaf, Residence Program

Residence Manager: Lisa Morden

For Education Week, EC Drury students attended different presentations and participatory workshops with Trillium students, including:

  • Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention Services presentation on healthy relationships
  • Alcohol, Drug Assessment, Prevention and Treatment services presentation on addiction awareness for drugs, alcohol and cannabis
  • Presentation on social media and its impact on mental health
  • Workshop on developing skills through art (acrylic paint medium)
Figure 10: Student’s artwork
Figure 10: Student’s artwork

Robarts School for the Deaf

Principal: Linda Wall

For Education Week, Robarts organized a series of exciting events and presentations.

Birds of prey – A falconer visited our school with his young birds – an owl, a hawk and a young bald eagle. He shared some facts about the birds. The hawk flew across the room a few times and every student had a chance to have the hawk sit on their arms for a few minutes.

The kindergarten students gave a science presentation on Simple Machines, and did a drama presentation on the butterfly life cycle!

Wissam Constantin, a Deaf Scientist, who hopes to become a doctor someday, came and talked with the older students about DNA and its role in human development.

Natasha Bacchi, a Deaf Olympic athlete, engaged students in a few physical activities to get them up and moving!

Figure 15: Deaf Olympic athlete engages students in some physical activities
Figure 15: Deaf Olympic athlete engages students in some physical activities

In celebration of Education Week, the students also enjoyed ice cream treats and popcorn provided by the School Council. A big thank you to the School Council!

Figure 16: A Robarts student and teacher are delivering popcorn treats
Figure 16: A Robarts student and teacher are delivering popcorn treats

Sagonaska Demonstration School

Principal: Tina MacCauley-Gray

During the months of April and May, Sagonaska has been focusing on the theme of “Transitions Back to Home Schools”.  In light of the upcoming year-end, students and their families are presented with multiple opportunities to gain knowledge of different pathways available for students, how they can use their skills from Sagonaska in their home schools, how to advocate successfully and most importantly how to continue to build their literacy and technology skills!  In addition to the transition meetings, students attended two additional special events: “Future Build” and the transition conference.

Building their Futures – Students in Grades 7-10 participated in ‘Future Build’ in Ottawa.  This tradeshow presents multiple hands-on opportunities for students to explore the many careers in skilled trades. In addition to hands-on activities, students had the opportunity to explore the use of technology in actual jobs for example, through virtual reality in the construction field. Students were then able to connect their own learning to actual jobs.

Figure 17: Students exploring the skilled trades
Figure 17: Students exploring the skilled trades

Transition Conference – Students and their families had an opportunity to rotate through three different workshops, all on the theme of “Transition Back to Home Schools”. Former students and teachers from Sagonaska discussed their experiences of ‘life after Sag’. In addition, current staff discussed technology, reading and self-advocacy skills.

Figure 18: Students discussing their experiences of “life after Sag”
Figure 18: Students discussing their experiences of “life after Sag”

Sagonaska Demonstration School, Residence Program

Residence Manager: Ian Flynn

This spring, Sagonaska (SAG) residences participated in various activities. The pictures below show the Grade 7/8 intermediate program assembling picnic tables for our beautiful campus. Our girls’ program visited the Sager conservation area on a recent trip and the senior/intermediate program ventured to Kingston to attempt to get out of an escape room. Both students and staff thoroughly enjoyed working together to escape!

Sir James Whitney School for the Deaf

Principal: Janice Drake

Education Week at Sir James Whitney (SJW) School for the Deaf was focused on the “Game of Life”. The “Game of Life” is a game that simulates a person’s travels through his or her life, and attempts to mirror life events many people go through from going to college, raising a family, buying a home, working and retiring. The intent of the game is to have the most assets at the end of the game. Assets are earned primarily by working and earning tokens with dollar amounts on them. This game allowed students to use their financial literacy and critical thinking skills and provided a good snapshot of life after school. Building on the financial literacy component of the game, students created a budget based on a fictional scenario related to one’s credit score, one’s salary, and one’s household of individuals.

Every month, SJW organizes a Terrific Kids assembly where students are presented with an award for good citizenship. Special local guest, John Tinney, an athlete in the Special Olympics was invited to this month’s assembly. He won two Gold and two Silver medals in swimming at both the 2018 National Games and 2018 Provincial Games. John Tinney shared his experience at the Special Olympics and was an inspiration to the SJW swim team.

Student led-conferences are organized annually which focus on students’ accomplishments and performances and allow students to set goals for their future learning. The student-led conferences replace the traditional parent-teacher conferences, giving the student ownership over presenting his or her work and setting goals for future growth. The student-led conference was a huge success with positive feedback from students, parents and school board representatives.

Figure 24: Student presenting his work at the student-led conference
Figure 24: Student presenting his work at the student-led conference

In May, we hosted a Wolf Pack Challenge Event called “Laugh Olympics”.  Staff and students were divided into their wolf pack teams to compete in a fun-filled afternoon of hilarious activities.

Figure 25: Students participating in an activity at the Laugh Olympics
Figure 25: Students participating in an activity at the Laugh Olympics

Sir James Whitney School for the Deaf, Residence Program

Residence Manager: Ian Flynn

This spring was the third consecutive year for producing maple syrup from the maple trees at SJW.  We collected approximately 7000 litres of sap, making it our biggest production yet.

Figure 26: Maple syrup from maple trees in SJW
Figure 26: Maple syrup from maple trees in SJW

We have been running an after-school program on Thursdays that included residence and day students of various ages. The program is designed to provide both physical and team-building activities. Some examples of activities have included an obstacle course, a relay race, and various games.  In addition to benefiting the residence students, the after-school program provides day students with the opportunity to socialize with peers outside of regular school hours.

Figure 27: Students participating in physical activities
Figure 27: Students participating in physical activities

Mike Cyr from Silent Voice visited SJW to provide sports clinics to students, including basketball for elementary and flag football for secondary.

Four staff from the residence and school attended the Toronto Mayfest on May 10 and 11, 2019 to represent “Flag football SJW”. We showcased students’ work, displayed photos, and provided information about SJW.  SJW is the place to be and we are anticipating more memorable days between now and the commencement of summer holidays!

Figure 28: Students playing flag football
Figure 28: Students playing flag football

Trillium Demonstration School

Principal: Desiree Smith

For Education Week, Trillium School launched its community garden. Using discarded, recycled and donated materials such as shipping pallets, students built raised planting beds.

Figure 29: Students building raised planting beds
Figure 29: Students building raised planting beds

Students attended a presentation on digital identity and safety entitled “Binary Tattoo”; and Trillium parents attended their own workshop that same evening. Students also participated in the “Me to We – We Walk For Water Challenge”. A walk through the community took place, raising the awareness on the importance of everyone’s right to clean water. Funds were also raised with a student-driven mini bake sale.

Trillium Demonstration School, Residence Program

Residence Manager: Lisa Morden

For Education Week, Trillium residence students attended different presentations and participatory workshops with residence students from ECD, including:

  • Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention Services presentation on healthy relationships
  • Alcohol, Drug Assessment, Prevention and Treatment services presentation on addiction awareness for drugs, alcohol and cannabis
  • Presentation on social media and its impact on mental health
  • Workshop on developing skills through art (acrylic paint medium)

W. Ross Macdonald School and Residence Program

Principal: Dan Maggiacomo
Residence Manager: Emily Ricker

Education Week at the W. Ross Macdonald School (WRMS) included many amazing activities.  The week started off with a visit by a police officer. Officer Hung from the Metro Toronto Police Department gave a presentation about police dogs. The hard working K9 in the picture below is Tyson.  Tyson worked in airports as an explosive detection dog.

Figure 30: WRMS students with Police Officer Hung and Tyson, a police dog
Figure 30: WRMS students with Police Officer Hung and Tyson, a police dog

We also had a group “Egg drop competition” where each group was given the same material to build a parachute for their egg.  The team that protected their egg from breaking when dropped would win the competition.  None of the eggs made it, but everyone had a chance to have fun while learning during this Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) activity!

Figure 31: Students participating in the “Egg drop competition”
Figure 31: Students participating in the “Egg drop competition”

Deafblind students at WRMS have been exploring science and conducting weekly science inquiries and experiments.  The students have created homemade volcanoes, explored magnets and buoyancy, among many other things. Two students recently completed a “Tornado In a Bottle” science experiment where they used water, dish soap, two (2) empty plastic pop bottles, a metal ring, and glitter (so the tornado and funnel can be seen more easily).  When the students attached the two plastic bottles together, placing the metal ring in the middle, it created a tornado in the bottle.  This stirred up a lot of excitement with the students and stirred up some interesting conversations about science.

Figure 32: Student conducting a science experiment called “Tornado in a Bottle”
Figure 32: Student conducting a science experiment called “Tornado in a Bottle”

WRMS students are participating in a weekly book club and recently read the book “A Boy Called Bat”. It is a story about a young boy with autism who gets an unlikely pet skunk.  The story is teaching inclusion, and that even though someone may have a disability they can still care for something else.

Figure 33: Picture of the book “A boy called Bat”
Figure 33: Picture of the book “A boy called Bat”

As with teenagers these days, technology is number one with the students at WRMS. Technology has opened a whole new world of communication for our students from accessible software, talking video cameras that attach to eyewear and GPS units for travel. Sometimes this world can become very overwhelming and that is why the WRMS Tech club was started in Senior Residence. Students learn and discuss the newest technology, apps and devices. For example, they learned how to use Google Home to make phone calls, find recipes and read ingredient lists and instructions, set alarms, play games, create stories, find directions and much more.

Figure 34: WRMS student learning to use a new device
Figure 34: WRMS student learning to use a new device

The students also share information and discuss safety on the internet. This year they made a small video about life in residence. These are exciting, constantly changing times and the Tech Club has helped these young people navigate through them.

Resource Services, Deaf/Hard of Hearing Program

Principal: Julia Robinson

The PDSB’s Play and Learning Centre (PALC) program fosters a transparent space where children and families can feel comfort, support and security as they journey through their early years. Exploration, play and inquiry are the foundations for our emergent curriculum. This is created from the children’s interests and what challenges them, and teacher assessments which lead to supported learning experiences. Our teachers consider themselves as co-learners who ultimately support student and parent engagement, freedom of expression, sense of belonging and well-being.

The PALCs are located at the EC Drury School for the Deaf in Milton and Robarts School for the Deaf in London. On April 23, 2019, the third PALC held its grand opening event in Belleville at the Sir James Whitney School for the Deaf.

Families and children enjoyed the many activities at the grand opening, including planting seeds, colouring Spring themed pictures and enjoying cake and juice together.

This opening could not have happened without the help of the key external partners, PDSB support staff, the coordinating team, the teachers from the London, Milton and Belleville sites, and the interpreters. It was truly a collaborative effort!

Contact Us

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

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

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