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Climate Change Chat (Parent Ed), March Break Daycare Camp, Parent Dance, Black History Month, Call f

The Nursery class takes advantage of a spring-like day in Winter to have a fire drill practice!

Topics covered in this post:

  1. Climate Coffee Chat - Parent Education Event

  2. March Break Daycare Camp

  3. Parent Dance - Huge success!

  4. Black History Month

  5. Join the Daycare Board

  6. Letter from PA President

  7. Upcoming February Events

  8. Upcoming March Events


1. Climate Coffee Chat: Engaging Families in Preparing JICS Students for the Future

Monday, March 2 8:30am - 9:30am &

Thursday, April 2 8:30am - 9:30am

Room 120

Are you curious about what your child is learning at school about Indigenous Education, Natural Laws, and how this is shaping a more responsible and effective way for us all to view climate change? Do you have questions to ask or ideas to share?

Please join Lab School Educators and Grade 5 Parent Doug Anderson for FREE COFFEE and a conversation about how Indigenous, climate, and sustainability education are unfolding at JICS. Our intent for this “coffee chat” is to think strategically about how we can build more active engagement on these urgent and important issues with a core parent group (grandparents are also welcome) in a way that adds value, rather than being another item in an onerous list of tasks. Over time, our hope is to create opportunities for families to get together at the school in enjoyable ways to form a community around what our kids are learning. Doug Anderson, Indigenous scholar and co-author of Natural Curiosity, has offered his time to support this core group with organizing and communicating with school staff and families on the possibilities and challenges, with a focus on how JICS leads in these areas as a lab school, and with how events involving the wider school community are shared.

Sign-up HERE to join one or both of these coffee chats. Drop-ins also welcome!


2. March Break Daycare Camp


3. Parent Dance - A huge success!

On Friday, February 21, JICS parents and staff danced the night away for a great cause – the Patrick Harvie Arts Fund. Details about how much money was raised will be announced soon but, in the meantime, the teacher committee is excited and moving quickly on researching spectacular new artists to work with our students. The event was wonderfully designed as a welcoming and terrifically fun event that strengthened our community and built new friendships! I would like to acknowledge the amazing members of the Planning Committee for all your hard work. Thank you:

  • Ramona and Vik – for your leadership and for generously offering your beautiful home

  • Carol – for your leadership and wisdom

  • Deepta – for the PA support, set-up of the website and ongoing advice

  • Kate- for organizing the raffle and collecting payment onsite

  • Hasina – for keeping us “accountable”

  • Lisa and Josh – for your donation of white wine

  • Andrew and Shawna – for the Raptors tickets

  • David – for being our celebrity mixologist


4. Black History Month

Each year in February, Canadians are invited to participate in Black History Month festivities and events that honour the legacy of Black Canadians, past and present.

You will have heard from your child’s classroom teacher about some of the ways we will celebrate, and continue to learn, about Black History Month. We are organizing a school-wide assembly to celebrate Black history on March 5 with Sandra Whiting.

We thought you might also be interested to know how other grades and specialty classes are contributing to our learning in developmentally appropriate ways. As always what unfolds in our classrooms is responsive to the children, their current interests, knowledge and developmental readiness.

Here is some information on Black History Month drawn from the Government of Canada website

  • Nursery

  • Nursery teacher, Kenisha and Nursery student, Emilia’s family have been sharing with the class. Kenisha is sharing some stories about growing up in Grenada and Emilia’s family is sharing some information about Kenya (where her mom grew up).

  • Books and oral stories have been shared that highlight communities, characters, and traditions. By reading a variety of books, the children will make connections and develop an appreciation for diverse experiences.

  • Junior Kindergarten

  • The children read the book, Viola Desmond Won't Be Budged. Some of the students knew about Viola and her story. The class had a great discussion about the importance of what Viola’s action. One child expressed, "We can sit wherever we want now in the movie theater".

  • Together with the SK students, the JKs learned from two JICS parents who were invited for a celebration. They watched a video of Black Canadians and learned about Gordon Parks.

  • JKs listened to a book, Malaika's Costume, about Carnival and explored with some costumes.

  • Senior Kindergarten

  • Continuing a practice of intentionally selecting books and stories that represent a rich diversity of voice, experience, and main characters of colour, in February we make those selections more explicit to the children, highlighting Black Canadians’ contributions to our communities and culture.

  • We have integrated African creation and sky stories into our astronomy unit.

  • We hosted a Black History Month Celebration for the two kindergarten classes – parents from our K community were invited to come and share books, information, and personal stories.

  • Another JICS parent and staff member, Kenisha joined us to read and tell stories of her childhood growing up in Grenada and life when first arriving in Toronto.

  • Grade 1

  • The students have been reading stories that celebrate the achievements and contributions of African-Americans to North American culture. The Grade 1s thank families for coming in and sharing their stories, important parts of their culture, and significant moments in history that help to frame the children’s understanding of Black history. Following the children’s knowledge and interest, the Grade 1 students continue to weave stories and poems into conversations that help to extend and deepen their understanding.

  • Grade 2

  • The children have been learning about famous African-Canadian figures that have made a positive impact in our world. In particular, the students had rich discussions and shared wonderful comments about the stories of Viola Desmond and that of Oscar Peterson. We then began to investigate what the Underground Railroad was and how it impacted African-Americans and Canadians. Through picture books, music, videos, and discussions, the Grade Twos have come to express their appreciation for the actions of these significant black figures and how they made a difference for African-Canadian people.

  • Grade 3

  • The class has taken a deep interest in Black History Month. In early discussions, the class shared their knowledge and experiences of Black History Month and shared questions they had. Students showed interest in the history of Africa so we took some time to explore timelines going back to 3500 BCE. The class took a look at the changing populations in different parts of Africa and the impacts of European landing. A part of Africa's history has also been explored through reading a biography of Nelson Mandela. The students have been very engaged in discussing many aspects of his life and his role in ending apartheid. Furthermore, the class has done some work on poetry and has been (and will be) inspired by many different songs, verses, and poems of notable Black artists such as Maya Angelou, Common, and Tupac. Students discussed the deeper meaning behind some of these artists' works and will create their own pieces with attention to the passion, emotion, and messages that these artists' works possessed.

  • Grade 4

  • The class is spending significant time during the month of February in studies related to Black History Month. They are focusing on why Black History Month is so important, why it is critical to learn about Black History, as well as the important past and current achievements and contributions of African Americans to North American culture. They are discussing how history is recorded and how power can influence who is recognized and honoured. The students are learning about key topics in this area of study including the Atlantic Slave Trade, the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, and the Civil Rights Movement. As always what unfolds in the classroom is responsive to the children, their current interests, knowledge and developmental readiness. The Grade 4 students have been introduced to many important individuals along the way through discussion, media, and story, including artists, scientists, athletes, writers, politicians, activists and many more. Discussions and stories have provided strong opportunities to learn about discrimination, resilience and great achievement.

  • Grade 5

  • The Grade 5 students visited the Aga Khan Museum for a tour of the exhibit “Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture, and Exchange Across Medieval Saharan Africa” and a workshop by Lego artist Ekow Nimako, “Building Black: Civilizations”. They attended “Victorian Black Press,” an interactive program at historic Mackenzie House. Each child is currently researching and preparing an oral presentation about a famous Black Canadian.

  • Grade 6

  • Grade 6 students read and analyzed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s influential Letter From S Birmingham Jail, and complemented their reading with learning the outlines and ideas of the civil rights movement. They created posters with their favourite quotes and reflections on the letter.

  • Students read and listened to several biographies of black women and men who may not be as well known, but who have made significant contributions to history both in Canada and the United States.

  • Every day this month has begun in Grade 6 with music by African Canadian and African American artists, and we paid particularly close attention to the music and lyrics of the song Glory by Common and John Legend. Students analyzed and reflected on the metaphors and statements in Common’s rap verses.

  • Finally, the Grade 6s are currently working on an integrated art and classroom project creating giant portraits of Black figures and accompanying biographies to be displayed around the school in the weeks to come. Each pair of students has chosen an inspiring Black person to research and portray, and we are busily working on our bigger-than-life-size artworks.

  • Drama

  • The Drama Program has been celebrating Black History Month through storytelling, games, skits, monologues, and tableaux, focusing on the achievements of Black Canadians and African Americans in the arts, education, science, and sports. The students have been examining the achievements of those who fought for emancipation and Civil Rights.

  • Library

  • In the JICS Library, we have spent this month celebrating the Diversity of Black Identity. All the classes heard various books read aloud, and group discussions ranged from human rights, to intersectionality of identity, to family traditions and trickster tales. All were shared in a context of culture, history, strength, and honouring truths. Check out our booklist for titles you may want to add to your family library, or borrow from a library!

  • Full, Full, Full of Love by Trish Cooke

  • The New Small Person by Lauren Child

  • He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands by Kadir Nelson

  • Little Melba and her Big Trombone by Katheryn Russell-Brown

  • Africville by Shauntay Grant

  • The Children of Africville by Christine Welldon

  • Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry

  • Crown: Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes

  • Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 by Helaine Becker

  • When I Get Older: The Story Behind 'Wavin’ Flag' by K’naan

  • The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

  • Out Of Wonder: poems celebrating poets by Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth (excerpts)

  • Freedom over me: Eleven Slaves, their lives and dreams brought to life by Ashley Bryan (excerpts)

  • Underground by Shane W. Evans

  • Brer Rabbit and Friends by Karima Amin

  • Fry Bread by Kevin Noble Maillard

  • Heart and Soul: the Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson (excerpts)

  • Art

  • In the Art Studio, the children have enjoyed the life stories of artists Faith Ringgold, Augusta Savage, Jean Michel Basquiat, and Jacob Lawrence. The children have focussed on what inspired them to become artists and the impact their art has had in the world.

  • Primary Music

  • The children have been learning songs from West Africa, “Kye Kye Kule” (traditional Ghanaian call-and-response) and “Funga Alafia” (Nigerian welcome song). The older classes have learned two African American spirituals, and several clapping and movement songs based on jazz traditions, including “Step Back Baby”, “Down in the Valley”, and a jazz version of “Head and Shoulders’.

  • Junior Music

  • The Music classes in Grades 1 – 6 have been discussing how music from Africa influenced and created a new African American music, from hollars, to work songs, gospel to blues and jazz. Each class played the blues progression on the ukulele or listened as Russell played. The students explored blues scale and how to swing a rhythm.

  • Physical Education

  • In coordination with Kuumba, Toronto’s longest running celebration of Black History Month, the Grade 6 class took part in a special Harbourfront Program: Carnival Dances. In our half day Carnival Dances program, the students explored Afro-Caribbean dances and their role in celebration.


5. Call for New Parents to Join Daycare Board

The Daycare Board is looking for new members. The Board of Directors role is to support the Daycare Supervisor in providing quality childcare, while ensuring fiscal responsibility. The Board meets once a month for 1.5 hours and childcare is provided. Workload between meetings is low. Should you be interested, or have any questions, please contact any Board member in person, or via


6. Letter from PA President

Hello Families

February has been a busy month! Thanks to all the parents who contributed to classroom activities this month, including many who have been leading Black History Month activities.

Earlier this month, we had a PA meeting where all parents were welcome. It was a full house and we covered several topics. The presentation and minutes of the meeting can be found here.

The PA Meeting was followed by a Parent Ed event - Dr. Marlene Scardamalia talked about how our children contribute to Knowledge Building Research: Becoming Creators, Not Just Users of Knowledge.

It was also fabulous to see so many parents at Math Morning and the Patrick Harvie Arts Fundraiser last week too!

Mark your calendars - Our Next PA Meeting is on April 20th 6-8pm.

Kind regards,



7. Upcoming February Events (Black History Month):

Wed 26 - Fri 28 – Richard attending National Association of Independent Schools in Philadelphia


8. Upcoming March Events (Read-athon Month):

Mon 2 – Parent Ed: Climate Coffee Chat. 8:30am-9:30am. JICS Rm 120. Register

Wed 4 – Last day of Wednesday Afternoon Program-Winter Term

Thurs 5 – OISE Dean’s Advisory Board for the Lab School Meeting with parent reps Nadia Thomas and Hasina Lookman; alumni parents Fred Cassano and Grant McCutcheon.

Mon 9 - Fri 13 – March Break (week 1) School closed. Daycare open. Register

Mon 16 - Fri 20 – March Break (week 2) School and Daycare closed.

Mon 23 – Spring Term begins. Daycare opens at 8:00am; School opens at 8:45am

Tues 24 – Parent Education Event: Robbie Case Memorial Lecture with Dr. Herb Ginsberg, Columbia U. 6:00pm Register

Wed 25 – First day of Wednesday Afternoon Program-Spring Term

Thurs 26 – School-wide lice check, courtesy of the JICS Parents’ Association

Thurs 26 – Parent Education Event: Robbie Case Memorial Lecture with Dr. Doug Clements, University of Denver 6:00pm Register

Tues 31 – Grade 6 & Grade 7 Reunion “Pizza Night” to learn about transitioning to new school 3:30-5:30pm


Pink Shirt Day (Wednesday, February 26) at JICS


Primary kids can skate!!!




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