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First Day of School, Letter from the PA, & All Parent September Social

Topics covered in this post:


1. The First Day of School

With just a handful of nights left, we stand on the cusp of an exciting new school year, beginning on Tuesday, September 5. The atmosphere is charged with a tangible enthusiasm and eagerness as we gear up to greet our students once again. Today, we extended a warm welcome to the new students joining us in Junior Kindergarten to Grade 6 during their visit. Our heartfelt appreciation goes out to the exceptional JICS Parent Community and the dedicated Class Representatives for reaching out and fostering connections with these new families.

A gentle reminder: Dismissal on Wednesday, September 6 is at noon, owing to the upcoming launch of the Wednesday Afternoon Program on September 13. Should you have inquiries related to the afternoon of September 6 and you're a part of our Daycare program, Anne Marie is at your service to provide assistance. The rhythm of full-day classes will be reinstated on Thursday and Friday. Guidelines for drop-off and pick-up procedures for each grade level can be readily accessed in the Parent Handbook.

It may be prudent to remind the children in advance that the playground is still under construction (until November) and that we will continue to use the space in front of the school and the driveway as our temporary playground.


2. 5 Keys to Smoother School Drop-Offs by JICS Social Worker, Ellie

1. Share your calm. Give yourself extra time to take care of your own morning routine, so you are available and can focus on your child.  

2. Let your child know the plan. In a calm moment, let your child know what the routine will be: "I'm going to drop you off, you will play/learn at school. Grandma will pick you up and then I will come home, and we will all have pizza together." 

3. Validate their feelings to help soothe. "It makes sense that you are nervous." It is not our job as parents to "fix" their feelings but to accompany their upset with tenderness. Validating their feelings can be a pathway to calming.  

4. Develop a short and sweet goodbye ritual. Generally, a quick goodbye is best and after one hug (or fist bump), turn around and leave. Don't go back or linger if your child is crying.  You are communicating to your child that they are safe at school, you trust their teacher, and you have confidence in their ability to cope.Sneaking away when your child is not looking does not help as they need to know they can trust you.  

5. Be kind to yourself. This is a new year, children have a range of responses to drop-off, and finding the right routine will take some practice. Reach out to your child's teacher, or the school or to me  ( if you need support.  We are here. ​


3. Letter from Megan, President of the JICS Parents' Association

Hello JICS Community,

My name is Megan Pearson and I am fortunate to be the incoming President for our Parents’

Association (PA). On behalf of the “executive” team, I would like to welcome you to what is shaping up to be another beautiful year at the JICS Lab School. And, an especially warm welcome to the families who are new to our community; we are so happy you are joining us. 

I assure you that I will be more succinct in forthcoming messages, but as we return to another year together, there is a lot to cover. If you are inclined to skim, may I gently insist that you skim the bolded sentences (please).

As the PA, it is our work to support JICS, its public purpose, and its teachers and staff in continuing to create a safe and thriving learning community for our children. In this vein, we strive to be responsive to the needs of our various community members and to ensure the alignment of our goals with those of the school. While we do have an “executive” team who works collaboratively with the Lab School’s leadership team, we are all an equal part of the Parents’ Association, and there are many ways to contribute, if you are able.

Through various initiatives and events, this year we will focus on:

  • Continuing to build a collaborative, responsive, and engaging community that is equitable and diverse

  • Continuing our support of, and collaboration in diversity, equity, and inclusivity initiatives

  • Working in concert with community members to support JICS, as it prepares to recognize its centenary year 2025!

I think it is worth noting that our tuition fees go toward the general operations of the school. It is only through financial contributions to the PA that we can enrich the school with purchases like school yard play equipment, musical instruments, software and electronics and babysitting services during school events. This year, to further our equity, diversity, and inclusion work, and to better uphold our efforts to realize an economically diverse JICS community, the PA will be exploring new models of fundraising that are inclusive of all families. We value all definitions of wealth and means of contributing, and we are excited to work together to build a great year of programming at JICS! Next week’s message will have more information on how you can support the PA.

In the meantime, you can register here for our first social of the season! Mark your calendars for September 19th, 6 – 8pm in the JICS auditorium. Fully catered, and complete with a beautiful (and complimentary) selection of adult drinks, it’s sure to be a great way to (re)connect! Register here for complimentary babysitting at the school. The children will be provided with a pizza dinner.

Finally, thank you in advance for your efforts to help us enjoy another wonderful year together. A special thank you to our classroom representatives as well, as you are an integral part in helping our community in all our efforts.

We are still in need of:

  • 2 classroom representatives for the Grade 1 class

  • 1 parent to represent the Grade 5 half of Robins’ 4/5 class.

  • 1 additional Volunteers Coordinator.

AND, to our incoming nursery families, please consider being a classroom representative. The time commitment is minimal, your support is monumental, and it is a great way to get to know the group!

If you are interested in any of the above roles, I am happy to give you more information. Please email me. I look forward to hearing from you so that we can fill these spaces in support of one another.

Welcome back and see you soon!




For more information about the PA, please visit The website will soon be updated to reflect our most current team of volunteers and means of contribution.


4. Snacks

Nursery, JK, and SK participate in a healthy and nutritious nut-free snack program, administered by the child’s teacher every morning, beginning September 5.

For Grades 1 to 6, students are invited to bring a healthy, nut-free, snack from home or order from The Lunch Mom which will begin their snack delivery service on Monday, September 11.


5. Teacher Professional Development

The Graduating Class of 2021 left a legacy through their thoughtful and generous contribution to the JICS Endowment Fund. This contribution aimed at bolstering our commitment to equity and anti-racism efforts by enlisting the expertise of relevant expert speakers, professional development training, curriculum development workshops, parent education events, and the development and dissemination of equity-related education research in accordance with the Lab School's public mandate. A commemorative plaque of the gift, proudly displayed in the first-floor courtyard/gym hallway, serves as a constant reminder of JICS Lab School's dedication to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI), while also inspiring the potential for future graduating classes to follow suit with similar meaningful gifts.

Since its inception in 2021, this legacy gift has been instrumental in supporting our partnership with Rabia Khokhar. A distinguished educator within the Toronto District School Board, Rabia is also an esteemed freelance education and equity consultant. Her contributions have been invaluable, including engaging presentations to both the JICS faculty and parents. These include professional development (PD) sessions such as "From Kindness to Anti-Racism: Centering Identity and Critical Consciousness for Effective Teaching" during our PD week in August 2021, "Stories Can Change the World: Utilizing Narratives to Counter Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Bias" on the November 2021 PD Day, and the enlightening discussion on "Heroes: Bridging Theory and Practice Across Grades and Specialties" as part of the August 2022 PD week. The Parents’ Association also invited Rabia to present to JICS parents about “Building Inclusive and Equitable Bookshelves.”

Continuing this momentum, the 2021 Legacy Gift facilitated a transformative workshop led by Dr. Andrew B. Campbell, renowned as "Dr. ABC" from OISE/UofT, on August 30. The workshop titled “Culturally Relevant and Responsive Education (CRRP): Preparation, Planning, Pedagogy, and Practice,” redefined our understanding of CRRP. Dr. ABC challenged the prevalent school practice in which CRRP merely serves as an add-on to fulfill mandated EDI requirements. Instead, he emphasized that CRRP needs to permeate an educator's core disposition, shaping their planning, preparation, and teaching practices. Through engaging with Dr. ABC's insights, we delved into the principles of culturally relevant and responsive pedagogy, cultivating innovative strategies to anchor notions of equity and belonging firmly within our school's ethos. We are excited to continue our learning of CRRP and we extend our heartfelt gratitude to the Class of 2021 for their enduring contribution and their pivotal role in enriching our approach to education.


6. Our Public Purpose: Exciting Partnership Opportunities

1. Japan-OECD Bilateral Agreement Framework: Project Infinity Summer Workshop in West of Japan at Kobe Shinwa University on 27 August, 2023

In the Spring of 2023, Richard Messina (Principal) and Carol Stephenson (SK Teacher) were invited to join a discussion group supporting an Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Kobe-Shinwa University initiative assisting the newly mandated use of Inquiry-base teaching in Japanese schools. As an exemplar of an Inquiry process from which key concepts could be gleaned and emulated across all grades, Carol’s work with the SKs and rocket design this past Spring was chosen to anchor a two-day workshop for Japanese educators. A lively conversation followed Carol’s online presentation, with participation and closing remarks from Richard and our principal emeritus Elizabeth Morley. We look forward to seeing how this unique collaboration unfolds.

2. SSHRC Partnership Engage Grant between JICS and YAAACE

In partnership with the Youth Association for Academics, Athletics, and Character Education (YAAACE), The Robertson Program for Inquiry-based Teaching in Math and Science, Dr. Zack Hawes, and Lab School Teachers Michael Martins (Phys Ed) and Walker Kitchens (Grade 2), will design, implement, and evaluate an approach to mathematics teaching and learning built on children and youth’s interest in basketball. YAAACE is a Black-led, non-profit community organization whose principal mission is to improve the lives of the children and youth living in Toronto’s Jane and Finch community.  The central aim of the proposed partnership is to use basketball to improve the teaching and learning of mathematics. More specifically, this project endorses and will implement a culturally relevant, strength- and interest-based approach to learning, using basketball as the medium to increase children’s access, understanding, and overall attitude towards mathematics.  

This project has received a SSHRC Partnership Engage Grant and will begin in September 2023. 


7. Wednesday Afternoon Program (Grades 1-6)

For those who have registered, please note that cheques (payable to The University of Toronto. cheque memo: Wed Afternoon Program) are due to Shama, School Office Administrator, by Friday, September 8 to complete registration.


8. Upcoming Events

Fri 1 – Deadline for tuition balance payment

Mon 4 – Labour Day

Tues 5 – First Day of School and First Day of Daycare

Fri 8 – Deadline for Wed Afternoon Program payment

Mon 11 – Hot Lunch Program begins for registered students

Mon 11 to Wed 13 – Grade 6 trip to Muskoka Woods

Wed 13 – Wednesday Afternoon Program (Gr 1-6) begins for registered students

Thur 14 – School-wide lice check. Thank you to the Parents’ Association!

Fri 15 – Rosh Hashanah (begins at sunset)

Mon 18 – Photo Day (details coming soon)

Tues 19 – JICS PA “All Parents & Teachers” September Social in gym, 6:00-8:00 PM - Register here

Fri 22 – Terry Fox Run JK to Gr 6 (details coming soon)

Mon 25 – Yom Kippur

Wed 27 – Rowan’s Law Day (Concussion Awareness)

Wed 27 – Curriculum Night 6:00-9:00pm (details coming soon)

Fri 29 – Orange Shirt Day Assembly






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