Topics covered in this post:
Grade 6 Graduation Live Stream
Conversation with Richard/Chriss
Daycare Summer Camp - Cancelled
Lesson on Peaceful Protest, Resistance, and Activism by Krista
Indigenous History Month
COVID Kindness Campaign
Watercolour paint set
Family Zoom-bilee Video
Public Purpose – Inspiring Others
JICS Has Got Talent!
Pick-Up of Student Material/Belongings
Principal Contract Renewal
Summer Communications and Holiday Wishes
Upcoming June Events
1. Grade 6 Graduation
Congratulations Grade 6 Class of 2020! For the first time in JICS history, the Grade 6 Graduation was live-streamed for the entire JICS student and family community to observe.
Thank you to all those involved in making this happen: Grade 6 Teacher and Grad Play Junior Editor, Ben Peebles; Tech Wizard, Live Stream Producer and Grad Play Head Editor, Nick Song; Grad Play Script Writer and Director, Sarah Murray; Grad Play Junior Editor, Jess Costello; Grad Play Junior Editor and Grad Sign Designer, Tory McCracken; Diploma Producers, Krista Spence and Nancy Boudreau; Grad Sign Producer, Paige Lancaster; Diploma Distributors and Graduation Committee Members, Richard Messina and Chriss Bogert; Graduation Committee Member, Tara Rousseau.
Another huge CONGRATULATIONS to our amazing graduates!
2. Conversation with Richard/Chriss
If you missed the “Coffee and Conversation” yesterday morning, here is the video. Richard and Chriss share information about planning for the 2020-2021 school year and what September may look like. They will host another Parent Information Evening in July and/or early August as they are still waiting on essential information from the Ministry of Education and Ontario Public Health. They invite parent emails with questions throughout the summer.
3. DayCare Summer Camp – Cancelled
The Daycare will not be operating its camp this June. The Daycare looks forward to studying the recently released “Operational Guidance During COVID-19 Outbreak Child Care Re-Opening” document by the Ministry of Education and working with the Lab School to re-open safely in September.
4. Pride Month
June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month! This year we were sad to not be able to have our regular assembly with the children, but we invited children to all wear RAINBOW colours on Wednesday, June 9th during their morning Zoom calls to celebrate the beginning of Pride month and signify us all being part of one big team for our Virtual Games/Challenge Day.
In early February this year, author Robin Stevenson visited JICS to speak with the Grade 5s and 6s about the lives of Activists and her book called ‘Kid Activists’. She spoke with the Grade 4s about her book called ‘Ghosts Journey’, which is a story of a gay couple and their cat, Ghost, living in a country where they were not safe, as same-sex relationships were outlawed. They escaped through support from the ‘Rainbow Railroad’ and are now living and thriving in Canada.
Some of the students wrote a SWAY about her, which you can view here.
In two 2019 publications of the Nation Arts Education Association (NAEA) News, JICS Art Teacher, Tara Rousseau was the author of a column about recommended LGBTQ+ themed books for educators. Read Tara’s columns here:
Here are a few of many books used in the JICS library in the theme of PRIDE:
Pride celebrating diversity and community - Robin Stevenson
Stonewall - a building, an uprising, a revolution - Rob Sanders
Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights - Rob Sanders
This Day in June - Gayle E. Pitman
Pride: The story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag - Rob Sanders
Ghost’s Journey - A Refugee Story - Robin Stevenson
Love, Z - Jessie Sima
Queer, there, and everywhere: 23 people who changed the world - Sarah Prager
Donovan’s Big Day – Lesléa Newman
Gay and Lesbian History for Kids - Jerome Pohlen
Here are some suggestions for explaining Pride month to children:
Be direct, but keep it simple. You can’t talk about LGBTQ+ Pride Month without first talking about what LGBTQ+ means. You can explain simply, for example, that being gay/lesbian is when a man loves a man, or when a woman loves a woman. Or that being transgender is when you are born biologically one gender, but you identify or feel like a different gender.
Be honest. Your children may have questions, and it’s important to answer them honestly, but without giving more information that they are ready for. Let their questions guide the conversation. For example, you might answer the question “Why can’t all LGBTQ+ people marry whom they love?” with “Because some people are taught that being LGBTQ+ is wrong. But we believe that being LGBTQ+ is perfectly fine and everyone has the right to love anyone else.”
Provide factual information. Let them know that in Canada, it used to be against the law for a woman to marry a woman or a man to marry a man, but the law changed so that everyone has the right to marry the person they love, whether it’s a man or a woman. It’s also important to share that gender and sexual identity are not “choices” that people make but simply who they are.
Be clear about why we have Pride month. When explaining why we have Pride month, don’t shy away from the talking about discrimination and bullying. Tell children that sometimes LGBTQ+ people have been treated unfairly or unkindly. June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month, which is when many people all over Canada, the US, and the UK show in different ways that they are either proud of being part of and/or support the LGBTQ+ community. But really being LBGTQ+ is something we should celebrate all year round.
Be open. Being open means promoting an attitude of inclusion and kindness. It also means keeping the conversation going, and letting children know they can come to you anytime they have questions. It’s important for all of us to provide a safe and non-judgmental space for children to share their thoughts and feelings.
Talking about LGBTQ+ Pride with children is a vital step to open everyone’s hearts and minds and promote a safer, more inclusive world.
Happy LGBTQ+ Pride Month!
“Pride is a celebration of diversity, equality, and freedom-and everyone is welcome to enjoy it."
Quote from Robin Stevenson's excellent book, Pride p. 33
5. Lesson on Peaceful Protest, Resistance and Activism by Krista
Teacher-Librarian, Krista Spence created a lesson for Grades 4-6 students this term recognizing the various events that are a focus right now and in June – National Indigenous History Month, Pride Month, and the current events regarding Black Lives Matter. Krista reads aloud a book called ‘Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights’, and uses a critical literacy approach to unpack it as she reads it aloud. View the lesson here.
6. Indigenous History Month
Dear JICS Community,
We recognize the month of June is designated by the Canadian Government as a month to honour the history, heritage and diversity of Indigenous peoples in Canada. It is also an opportunity to recognize the strength of present-day Indigenous peoples in Canada.
In this letter I will be sharing examples of my work honouring Indigenous peoples and knowledge in the Library. It is important to note that this work is happening in various ways in many classes in the school. At JICS, we prioritize authentic voices, sharing truths about Canada’s history from Indigenous perspectives, and developing an understanding of each person’s roles and responsibilities moving forward through relationship, reciprocity and action. It takes a lot of care, a lot of learning, a lot of listening, and a lot of time to teach these things. And it should. This is not my lived experience. I’m not Indigenous. But as a Canadian, and someone who has 200 children come through our library each week, it is an important part of my responsibility to make sure that this relationship, this way the country has of working, is known.
If, at the end of their time at JICS, we have children who honour story and know how to listen, have an understanding of complexity of identity, have developed a critical lens for recorded history, for established structures, for media, for people of power, who then have the confidence and bravery to voice these and draw injustices and wisdoms out into the light, and have built strong relationships based on these truths, then the future will be less likely to harm and less likely to perpetuate the underlying, cloaked structures of colonialism and racism.
Dr. Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair (Anishinaabe) said in a talk this past Tuesday, to educators:
Give people possibilities for viewing the future. See what that future is, and once you see it, change the lessons you create, the content, the way you behave. How is it then that you are going to act differently going forward? Perform real reparations for the wrongs we have experienced. Bring people together to enact that future together in a positive way so we can understand being a part of this community is for everyone to face one another and build the future together.” (June 9, Presenting online as part of the DSSB Indigenous Education ‘In Conversation With… ‘Series)
This poster describes the work being done in the Library and includes recommended picture books and resources for adults.
This important work did not stop because of COVID, it just changed shape a little. I used footage and videos from all over Turtle Island to bring even more stories to students, and to connect them with Indigenous perspectives as well as the land around JICS. For example, Grade 5 students recently reviewed ‘Future History’ (a Canadian Screen-Award winning series streaming on CBC GEM) featuring authentic voices presenting on the diverse experiences of being Indigenous in Canada. ‘Episode One: Origin Stories: Where do I begin?’ The following are some Grade 5 student reflections:
“I was surprised and happy to see (Anishinaabe storyteller/knowledge keeper) Isaac Murdoch in the video because he came to our school. When he came to JICS he talked about his life. In the video, he talked about how Indigenous cultures are coming back to life. Sarain Fox was interesting to me because she was really helping Kris to find his culture”.
“I like how they tell their own story. I will definitely watch more of them. I will also tell my parents about it”.
“At school we learned about how residential schools made the Indigenous kids feel bad about themselves and their culture. This is exactly what happened to Kris' grandmother. She was made to feel bad about the fact that she was Indigenous and didn't want to tell her family about her culture. Because of that Kris lost his culture and did not know who he really was until he was in his late 20s”.
“This film is about indigenous peoples trying to get their culture back and how they are doing it. They do it by trying to find artifacts of the ancestors and writing down Origin Stories not just for kids who don't know about their culture but also young adults. Sarain Fox's way of living her culture is by asking ancestors and listening to stories…I love how Sarain and her dad go to thank the turtle who agreed to carry the world on its back”.
Another example of some of the learning from earlier in the year is when the Grade 3s reflected on the importance of reciprocity. We have planted many medicines in the gardens around JICS, and are developing relationships with the plants, learning about what they do at different times of year, and how to care for them. After planting seeds of one of the sacred medicines, Tobacco, tending to the plants, harvesting them, washing them, drying them, and then crumbling them and separating the stems from the leaves to prepare them for use with Indigenous guests, students reflected on the importance of reciprocity. Here is one voice.
Elder Annie (Kishkwanakwad) Smith St. George (Algonquin) shared a Teaching for Summer Solstice at the Wabano Center at the beginning of May. She said that Mother Earth is getting a break right now, with less pollution, less movement of people, and more opportunities for nature to flourish. This gives us all a chance to re-think our priorities and practices.
In determining how we move forward as a school, we look forward to continuing our collaboration with Doug Anderson, parent, Indigenous educator, and author of the Indigenous lens of Natural Curiosity 2, as well as other First Nations, Métis, and Inuit JICS Community members, Elders, teachers, and artists who are working beside us. We are so grateful to Doug, and to all of our teachers, who continuously give us the opportunity to learn and to build a new way forward together through relationship, reciprocity, and action.
Krista Spence | Teacher-Librarian, Technology Integrator
7. The JICS COVID Kindness Campaign