Topics covered in this post:
First Day of School - Thursday, September 9
Letter from François, President of the JICS Parents' Association
COVID Safety Protocol Updates
Tuition Payment Delivery Schedule
Upcoming September Events
1. Rosh Hashanah
On September 6 to 8, the Jewish members of the JICS family will be celebrating the new year. Raise some noise! Wishing everyone a sweet new year.
2. First Day of School - Thursday, September 9
We are one week away from the start of the school year and there is a palpable energy and excitement in the air (purified!) and music (we had the piano tuned yesterday!) as we prepare to welcome the children. Today we had a visit of some of the new children (JK to Gr 6) who are joining our school. We thank the wonderful JICS Parent Community and Class Reps for connecting with the new families. We also have visits from the Nursery children who will begin the school in a staggered manner from September 9 to 16.
3. Letter from François, President of the JICS Parents' Association
Dear JICS parents, My name is François Tanguay-Renaud (preferred pronouns he/him), and I am the President of the JICS Parents’ Association (PA). I am the father of Yohan in grade 2 and, in my day job, a professor of law at Osgoode Hall Law School. I am writing to you today to welcome you warmly to this new academic year, as well as to our Parents’ Association, of which you are all members. No doubt, considering the evolving pandemic, the 2021-2022 academic year again promises to be one like no other. Yet, at the PA, we are committed to supporting the school and, chiefly, you as parents, in continuing to negotiate related challenges constructively. We are also committed to continuing to nurture the growth and health of our community, through several initiatives, some of which I will briefly discuss below. Your PA is currently headed by a spirited team that includes Megan Pearson (VP), Shawn Konopinsky (Treasurer), Communications Officers (Andrew Cain and Chloe Leon), and two Volunteers Coordinators (TBD). This team works in close concert with Richard and Chriss. The PA also supports a network of class representatives (two per class), whose role is to provide a more direct link between you and the PA, as well as to cultivate a sense of community in your class(es)—you should be hearing from them soon, if you haven’t already! Finally, this year’s PA features two Parents’ Education Coordinators (Julia O’Byrne and Kerry Thompson) who have keenly undertaken to organize a series of thought-provoking educative events for you, on issues of relevance to our community. At this early point, in any “normal” year, I would be inviting you to join me and others for a parents social gathering at the school. While it is our hope that such general gatherings will become possible later in the year (as more information about the course of the pandemic becomes available), we will not be hosting an in-person school-wide event this September. Instead, you will soon receive an invitation to an online “PA Meet & Greet”. Class reps will also be invited to think creatively about organizing safe social events for their respective classes (as some classes have already started to have), bearing in mind public health guidelines. This year, aside from funding regular lice checks(!) and supporting a plethora of cultural, educational, and fun activities at the school, one of your PA’s main objectives will be to bolster the ongoing conversation taking place at the school about how it can best realize its commitment to anti-racism, equity, diversity, and inclusion. Our focus will be on how this commitment can best be translated in and championed by the parent community. You will soon be receiving through your class reps a series of survey-style questions related to this issue, which will help orient our work. It is our hope that you will support us by responding promptly, and with an open mind and heart! Now, none of our work would be possible without you. As in previous years, we are asking all parents to pay a $25 PA membership fee, and encouraging you to make an additional suggested donation of $150. We would greatly appreciate it if you could take a moment to make your contributions in the coming week. While the amounts listed are those we deem necessary to carry out our mandate adequately, we do recognize that not all families are similarly situated. Thus, for those who, for whatever reason, do not feel comfortable with the suggested donation amount, you can opt to pay the $25 fee, and specify any donation amount that you feel comfortable in contributing. To make your contributions, please click on the following link: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/st-georges-schools-parents-association/events/2021-22-jics-pa-annual-membership-fee-donation/ While we are still some time away from United Way season, note also that you or your organization can contribute to the PA through the United Way, by directing your donations to the St. George’s School Parents’ Association, Charitable Registration #119175537-RR0001. The PA is also a registered charity with Benevity. If you wish to make a donation in this ways, please contact the PA Treasurer, Shawn Konopinsky (email@example.com). Finally, note that that another very important way of contributing to the school and the PA is in volunteering. As alluded to above, we are still looking for two Volunteer Coordinators, who will join our dynamic executive team. As such, these two individuals will participate in the PA’s ongoing planning and gain unique insight into the school in the process. Since in-person events are not yet on the agenda at the school, the workload of these Coordinators is likely to be quite reasonable this year. However, being ready to integrate parents in organized activities is an important part of what the PA does, and it is crucial that we fill these two positions promptly. If you are interested, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org! Have a fabulous back-to-school, and hopefully we soon get to say hi (from a reasonable distance!) at pick up and/or drop off :)
4. COVID Safety Protocol Updates
We are currently researching rapid screening systems and we are also awaiting the updated daily screening questionnaire information from Toronto Public Health to create our JICS Daily Screening form which each family will complete for each child, every morning. We will email parents as soon as this information becomes available along with updating the 2021-2022 Parent Handbook.
5. Professional Development
This week, all members of the JICS Lab School faculty and staff took part in a workshop entitled: From Kindness to Anti-Racism: Centering Identity and Critical Consciousness for Critical Teaching presented by Rabia Khokhar. Rabia Khokhar is a Teacher with the Toronto District School Board and a freelance education and equity consultant. She has presented workshops at the Ontario Libraries Association Super Conference, TVO Power Hour, KidLit4BlackLives Canadian Event and various Teacher Education Programs. Rabia Khokhar is the recipient of the Elementary Teacher’s Federation of Ontario’s 2021 Anti-Racist and Equity Activism Award. She shares her teaching and learning on her twitter platform @Rabia_Khokhar1 and her website www.rabiakhokhar.com.
Her workshop focused on identity, beginning with teachers/staff looking at their own identities and then at student identities to ensure that the JICS Lab School is an inclusive space where all students with their multiple and intersectional identities are reflected, represented, included, and seen through an asset-based lens. We explored how to bring equity theory to practice in every grade and specialty class. We benefitted tremendously from Rabia Khokhar’s experience as an elementary school teacher as she provided many tangible and relevant examples to inspire us. At the JICS Lab School, we believe that one of the main goals of schools is to help students become critically conscious members of their communities. We invite parents to suggest ways to help us create an inclusive environment in which all feel they equally belong.
This Fall, we have also purchased teacher copies of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer, which will be a PD reading for the staff this year. As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer asks questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. The JICS Lab School faculty/staff is committed to deepening our understanding of Indigenous knowledge as we continue our work with the JICS Natural Curiosity Program and former JICS parent Doug Anderson, connect with elders and Indigenous members of our community and beyond, and rethink/redesign our teaching practices to focus on an ecological consciousness that acknowledges and celebrates our reciprocal relationship with the environment. We highly recommend that JICS parents read this transformative book and we hope to have the opportunity this year to learn from it together. We purchased our copies from GoodMinds, a bookstore on the Six Nations of the Grand River in Brantford, and a First Nations family-owned business which specializes in Indigenous authors and resources. Our own publication of Natural Curiosity 2nd Edition is sold there and as a staff we visited GoodMinds during our November 2019 PD Day visit to Six Nations. As a lab school with a public purpose, we are working on creating a statement regarding our response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report to clearly communicate to our staff, parents and to the broader educational community our deep and ongoing commitment to bringing Indigenous knowledge into the heart of Canadian educational settings and curricula.
6. Tuition Payment Delivery Schedule
Shama, in the school office, will be accepting tuition cheques until Wednesday, September 8. The school office is open daily, 9:00-4:00pm. Parents must wear a mask when they enter the building. Thank you for your cooperation.
We wish everyone a relaxing Labour Day weekend!
The library is overflowing with brand-new books from Knowledge Bookstore, "an independent Afrocentric bookstore located in Brampton Ontario that sells African Canadian, African American, Caribbean and Children books"! Funds from our annual Read-A-Thon continue to help us expand our diversity of books for all ages in our library.
Thank you, Luis for creating a beautiful space for our school set of ukuleles to be stored and displayed. We can't wait to hear the children strumming again!
Upcoming September Events
Mon 6 – Labour Day, JICS building closed.
Mon 6 to Wed 8 - Rosh Hashanah
Thur 9 – First Day of School & Daycare
Thur 9 to Thur 16 – staggered start for Nursery
Mon 13 – Hot Lunch Program begins (The Lunch Mom)
Wed 15 to Thur 16 – Yom Kippur
Tues 21 – Photo Day
Fri 24 – Terry Fox Run Day
Sat 25 – Franco-Ontario Day
Tues 28 – Lice Check (Thank you, PA!)
Thur 30 – Orange Shirt Day