Topics covered in this post:
Book Night: March 2, 7pm
chag Purim sameach
Toronto Public Health Letter for Parents
Black History Month
Parent Ed Feb 18: Addressing Racism & Anti-Black Racism - Thank you & Recording
Parent Ed March 25: Book and Ticket Event
Thank you JICS Parents
PHOTOS: Pink Shirt Day
PHOTOS: Outdoor Play
Upcoming February Events
Upcoming March Events
1. Book Night - a live stream family event
Tuesday, March 2nd at 7:00pm
Join us for our first virtual Book Night! Tune in at 7pm for an evening of stories and exciting surprises during this live stream event to help us kick-off the JICS read-a-thon for the month of March! We recommend setting up a device prior to 7pm with external speakers or by connecting it to a TV if possible to ensure everyone in your family can hear and see the entirety of this event.
You can view the live stream from our JICS YouTube page by clicking this link:
RSVP to receive email reminders with the live stream link!
2. chag Purim sameach
May this Purim bring fun, laughter and celebration to your life!
3. Toronto Public Health Letter to Parents
Please click below to read a letter to school communities from Toronto Public Health regarding COVID-19 variants of concern and updates to the TPH school screening tool. All of these changes have been reflected in the JICS Screening Form since our return to in-person learning.
4. School Closure
The UofT Snow Closure Info Line is no longer in service: 416-978-7669
The JICS Lab School is closed when the University of Toronto is closed due to inclement weather. Information about the status of UofT can be found here: https://www.utoronto.ca/campus-status
In the event that the Lab School is closed due to inclement weather, JICS parents will also be notified by email and on the JICS Twitter feed (www.JICSfamily.com) by 7:00am.
5. 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 holding a school-wide assembly to celebrate Black history on February 26 with storyteller 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 https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/campaigns/black-history-month.html
A well-loved book in Nursery West is Chris Raschka’s Charlie Parker Played Be Bop. The children all had fun listening to Charlie’s Parker’s music this month! We continue to share stories that feature black families and Black characters as protagonist, not only in February, but throughout the year.
We have been having Dance Parties in Nursery East! Some of the different beats and artists we have been listening to include calypso, Afro beats, soca, and old and new reggae - featuring Bob Marley, Marshal Montano, Kes the Band, Fuse ODG, and many more. We have focused on learning a dance from Ghana called Azonto. This dance involves a set of hand movements that either mimic everyday activities or are meant to amuse the audience. It began simply with one- and two-step movements but has evolved into a more complex dance, miming the ironing of clothes, washing up, driving, swimming, and other activities. We have also been reading some beautiful storybooks, such as The Snowy Day, I Love My Hair, and Jake Makes a World.
The JKs are celebrating and acknowledging Black History Month through story, music, and art. JKs have enjoyed many rich diverse picture books throughout the school year. One picture book in particular, Sulwe by Lupita Nyong'o, taught us to love ourselves no matter our skin tone. Another book, Hair Love was shared by a JK student and her dad.
JKs embraced Black Excellence through music and art. In partnership with Suzanne, JKs explored various sounds of music from the Caribbean and West Africa. They danced, listened and shared their feelings when dancing to soca, calypso and reggae. JKs engaged in the art form of two black artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Odili Donald Odita. We are excited to continue on this journey of embracing diversity.
We continue a practice of intentionally selecting books and stories that represent a rich diversity of voice, experience, and central characters of colour. In February we make those selections more explicit to the children, highlighting Black Canadians’ contributions to our communities and culture.
Throughout the year, we have looked beyond the Western/Euro-centric body of art and artists when looking for inspiration and excellence, to highlight the work of Black and other Artists of Colour.
We integrate African creation and sky stories into our astronomy unit alongside Norse and Greek myths and First Nations creation stories.
We have, and will continue to welcome parents and staff outside the SK to share their stories, experiences and ideas about the importance of Black History Month and what it means to them, via Zoom, continuing through March.
We have loved the focus on black creators, artists, singers and musicians shared in our Music and Drama classes, and regular listen to, dance, and explore their contributions during class time.
We make time and room for honest, age-appropriate conversations as they arise – such as when a child recently asked a visiting parent “Why do we celebrate Black History Month?”
Throughout the school year we have been exploring the power of words and have spent some time reading books about influential Black activists and authors who used their words to bring about change. Amanda Gorman’s The Hill We Climb, was a powerful timely example of how we can use our words and led to many rich discussions as we worked our way through the poem.
We have spent time unpacking questions the children have around who Martin Luther King Jr. was, what racism is and moving from questions to celebrations of our differences.
In connection with our Library program and exploration of books, we have spent time exploring various artists and styles of music – the children have particularly enjoyed listening to steel pan, calypso and soca.
We have used our challenge of reading 100 books for the 100 days of school to build in a rich array of books that highlight various voices, experiences, and characters.
In Grade Two, the children have been researching and celebrating famous Black heroes that have made a positive impact in our world. Through picture books, special guests, music, videos, and discussions, the Grade Twos shared questions about race, identity, and standing up for the rights of others. While online, we were so fortunate to have Eli and his mother Nicole share a reading of “Africville.” This was followed by a detailed interview by Eli with his grandfather about growing up in Canada and helping other Black-Canadian protect their rights. Rich discussions and reflections were sparked by such stories as the children were inspired by Viola Desmond, Oscar Peterson, Katherine Johnson, Misty Copeland, Katherine Dunham, Mae Jemison, and Trombone Shorty. As a classroom community we look forward to continuing our exploration and celebration of Black heroes in our community.
The class has celebrated Black History Month through exploring stories, poems, the work of Black artists, learning about ‘unheard’ voices of Black history and the Black community, and more. Our conversations began online in January after we listened to the inspiring words of Amanda Gorman’s The Hill We Climb. The children’s interpretations of the meaning behind her words gives much hope for the future and led to wonderful discussion about identity, light, and dark, and some of the issues facing society today. During Library, students have been learning about some of the “unheard”, less “famous” voices of Canadian Black History, such as Mary Ann Shadd, Willie O’Ree, and Devon Clunis. Through learning about the amazing things these Canadians have done, the students realized the significance of their contributions and the importance of acting as allies in broadcasting their voices. In Art, the students have interpreted art pieces from numerous black artists from the past and present, such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Horace Pippin, and Kara Walker. Students have used the art styles and techniques of these Black artists to inspire their own artwork. We also had the chance to learn about the rhythms of African drumming from master drummer Kwasi Dunyo! Stories such as Carter Reads the Newspaper, Sulwe, More Than Anything Else, and others have offered the children opportunities to discuss important ideas related to confidence, empowerment, fairness, and equality. We look forward to continuing our journey and learning more with each day.
We began our studies of Black History by discussing why it is critical to learn about this topic as well as learning about how history is recorded and how power can impact opportunity or who is recognized and honored.
This year we are focusing on Black Excellence. Our goal is to introduce the students to the achievements of Black people across a diverse range of professions.
To date we have explored stories, videos, art activities and of course, discussion.
The Grade 4s have learned about the following individuals thus far:
Alma Woodsey Thomas
The Williams Sisters
Fred Van Vleet
Black scientists, astronauts and mathematicians from NASA: Robert Satcher, Guion Bluford, Mae Jemison and Mary Jackson.
The Grade 5s are acknowledging and celebrating Black History Month with a focus on Black Excellence. They are exploring this theme through first person biographies, interviews and other relevant forms of media, with a focus on the Canadian experience. This week we have been learning about Black Canadian difference makers such as Devon Clunis, who was the first Black chief of police appointed in Canada. They have listened to and discussed books read aloud from the Little Leaders and Little Legends series. The children are working on a research project at home about a Black Canadian. They will share what they learn in an oral presentation to their classmates during the month of March.
Grade 6 students listened to and analyzed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech from the March on Washington, as well as Amanda Gorman’s poem from President Biden’s and Vice President Harris’ inauguration. They created posters with their favourite quotes and reflections on either of the pieces.
Students learned about many Black women and men who may not be as well known, but who have made significant contributions to history in Canada, the United States, and around the world. Students are compiling a biography of the person they chose into a “Big Book of Black History” that we will keep in our classroom.
Every day this month has begun with music by African Canadian and African American artists.
The Grade 6s are currently working on an integrated art and classroom project creating posters about major moments or inspiring figures in Black history. Each student has a large letter from the quote “BLACK HISTORY IS OUR HISTORY” and are designing it based on what or who they chose, along with a short writing piece describing it. These posters will be displayed around the school in the weeks to come!
The Grade 2 - 6 students explored the history of Black Theatre in Canada in three parts: The past, the present, and the future. We discussed the importance of expanding the representation of Black Canadian artists, and the need among Black Communities to see themselves reflected in the stories they watch.
In the JK - Grade 1 classes, we celebrated the music of Black artists from around the world and enjoyed some wonderful African folk tales.
Our library continues to build its collection of books celebrating the diversity of Black Identity. Check out our booklist for titles you may want to add to your family library:
‘I am Every Good Thing’ by Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James
‘Trombone Shorty’ by Troy ‘Trombone Shorty’ Andrews
‘An Apple for Harriet Tubman’ by Glennette Tilley Turner
‘The Story of Albert Jackson: Toronto’s First African Canadian Postal Worker’ by Pamela Jamieson and Gini Dickie
‘Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal’ by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
‘This is My Dream!’ Langston Hughes and Daniel Miyares
‘Who Was Rosa Parks?’ by Yona Zeldis McDonough
‘Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You’ by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
During Black History Month, the children in Nursery, JK and SK sang and moved to a Ghanaian African call-and-response song: Kye Kye Kule (Ghana) and also to Funga Alafia, written by Larocque Bey based on a traditional Fanga dance traditional to the Vai people of Liberia.
In collaboration with Marcia, the JK-SK children explored different types of music from the Caribbean. For 10 minutes each week, they listened and danced to Steel Pan, Reggae, Calypso and Socca. On February 22, they enjoyed a Zoom demonstration of Steel Pan by two local musicians: Trenyce Sweeney and Daryl Williams.
At the end of February, the JK-SKs listened to examples of Blues music and practiced an African-American children's clapping game called ‘Step Back Baby’.
Junior Music (Grades 1-6)
We have been exploring the contributions of many amazing musicians in celebration of Black History Month. Using audio recordings, videos, live music and musical notation to better understand these incredible artists. These musicians include Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Chuck Berry, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Robert Johnson, BB KIng, Muddy Waters, and Jimi Hendrix.
6. Parent Education Feb 18th
Addressing Racism and Anti-Black Racism: Building Capacity and Understanding as a Parent
A huge thank you to Dr. Belinda Longe for her informative and transformative presentation on February 18. Also, thanks to Casey, PA Exec - Parent Education, for making the arrangements. The PA Exec is interested in continuing to provide parent education about how to be an anti-racist and they would like to provide safe spaces for courageous conversations to happen in our community. Please contact the JICS Parents’ Association with your ideas: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you missed this talk, we highly recommend viewing the recording here.
7. Parent Education March 25th, 7:00pm
Book and Ticket Event: Gutter Child with author Jael Richardson
Join us for a night of Q&A with Jael Richardson, author and artistic director of the FOLD literary festival, the books columnist on CBC Radio’s q and an outspoken advocate on issues of diversity. Moderated by Harper Collins Editor and JICS Parent, Jennifer Lambert.
About Gutter Child:
A fierce and illuminating debut from FOLD founder Jael Richardson about a young woman who must find the courage to determine her own future and secure her freedom.
Set in an imagined world in which the most vulnerable are forced to buy their freedom by working off their debt to society, Gutter Child uncovers a nation divided into the privileged Mainland and the policed Gutter. In this world, Elimina Dubois is one of only 100 babies taken from the Gutter and raised in the land of opportunity as part of a social experiment led by the Mainland government.
But when her Mainland mother dies, Elimina finds herself all alone, a teenager forced into an unfamiliar life of servitude, unsure of who she is and where she belongs. Elimina is sent to an academy with new rules and expectations where she befriends Gutter children who are making their own way through the Gutter System in whatever ways they know how. When Elimina’s life takes another unexpected turn, she will discover that what she needs more than anything may not be the freedom she longs for after all.
Richardson’s Gutter Child reveals one young woman’s journey through a fractured world of heartbreaking disadvantages and shocking injustices. Elimina is a modern heroine in an altered but all too recognizable reality who must find the strength within herself to forge her future and defy a system that tries to shape her destiny.
About Jael Richardson:
Jael Richardson is the artistic director of the FOLD literary festival, the books columnist on CBC Radio’s q and an outspoken advocate on issues of diversity. She is the author of The Stone Thrower: A Daughter’s Lesson, a Father’s Life, a memoir based on her relationship with her father, CFL quarterback Chuck Ealey. The memoir received a CBC Bookie Award, an Arts Acclaim Award and a My People Award. A children’s edition was published by Groundwood Books. Her essay “Conception” is part of Room magazine’s first Women of Colour edition, and excerpts from her first play, my upside down black face, appear in the anthology T-Dot Griots: An Anthology of Toronto’s Black Storytellers. Jael Richardson received an MFA in creative writing from the University of Guelph. She lives in Brampton, Ontario.
The JICS Parents' Association has purchased five copies of Gutter Child for the school library. If a member of the community would like to attend but does not have the means to purchase a book/ticket, please contact Richard directly for a link to the event.
with the code "JICS Gutter Child event" to receive a ticket to the event.
8. Thank you to JICS Parents
The PA Exec, on behalf of all JICS parents, provided teachers and staff with a surprise breakfast treat on Monday morning (Feb 22). The food was delicious and with so much choice, there was something for everyone. There were also gift bags filled with pampering items such as bath bombs and moisturizers! We are so fortunate to work with such a caring community of parents.
9. PHOTOS: Pink Shirt Day (Anti-Bullying)
Recognized on Wednesday, February 24th
10. PHOTOS: Outdoor Play!
11. Upcoming February Events - Black History Month
Thurs 25 - Fri 26 – Purim
Fri 26 – Black History Month Assembly
Fri 26 – Friday Parent Information Post Talks NEW TIME: 10:00am (Zoom link)
12. Upcoming March Events
Tues 2 – JICS Book Night - a livestream family event 7:00pm
Fri 5 – Rescheduled March Break. School closed
Mon 8 – International Women's Day
Fri 12 – Rescheduled March Break. School closed
Fri 19 – Rescheduled March Break. School closed
Sun 21 – Nowruz, Persian New Year's Day
Thurs 25 – Parent Education Event:
Fri 26 – Rescheduled March Break. School closed
Sat 27 – Passover begins (evening)
Sun 28 & Mon 29 – First 2 days of Passover
Parent Information Post Talks 9:30 - 10:00am (Zoom link) will take place on Thursdays in March: