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Messages from the PA, Library, & Grade 4/5, Re-enrolment Info, JICS PD & Dissemination, and a Video

Topics covered in this post:


1. Message from JICS Parents’ Association

Dear JICS Parents,

Thank you very much for your generous support for the PA so far this year. With your contributions to date, we are well on our way (88%) to our goal of $23,800. If you have not yet contributed and would like to do so, please CLICK HERE.

Infographic for Corporate Giving Campaign

These funds are critical to supporting important community initiatives, such as recent parent education events as well as social events (including the upcoming Grade 6 graduation!).

If your employer has a corporate giving program, you can also contribute using the information in the poster. Any funds above $5600 will be contributed to JICS Tuition Support.

Happy holidays to all,

The Parents’ Association


2. Message from Teacher-Librarian, Krista

Dear JICS Families,

It is a tradition to run a little JICS Library fundraiser leading up to the holiday season. This year, we are excited to be pairing up with the fantastic social justice oriented ‘Another Story Bookshop’, to run a virtual bookfair.

Make your purchases by December 18 through the following link, using the code JICS22 in the promo box.

Link to fundraising page >> CLICK HERE

The books (that are in stock), will be delivered to JICS before the last day of school, December 20.

Our school will receive 20% of all orders to purchase some of their amazing titles for our library.

Thanks for your ongoing support of the JICS Library!



3. Message from Zoe’s Grade 4/5 Class

Dear JICS Families,

The Grade 4/5s in Zoe’s class have come up with the idea to create a project called Operation Donation! We are going to collect donations for the Christie Refugee Welcome Centre. This is a place where refugees from all over the world can come when they move to Canada to feel safe and included and supported.

The centre needs the following items:

  • New toys for babies, toddlers and kids over 12

  • New winter gear

  • New books

  • Diapers (size 4-6)

  • Grocery gift cards

We are hoping that JICS families will donate as much as they can to this important cause.

Please bring donations to the front reception by Friday, December 16th.

Operation Donation is a go!

Thank you!

Zoe’s Grade 4/5 Class


4. Re-enrolment for 2023-2024

Re-enrolment forms will be emailed today for the 2023-2024 school year. The form and the non-refundable $5000 deposit are due in the office by Wednesday, January 18, 2023.

Please take the time to review the JICS values, philosophy, and mission before making your decision to re-enrol. Also, please note that the Admission Team will begin to fill vacant spots beginning January 19, 2023.


5. Health and Safety; Updated Provincial Screening

The Government of Ontario’s School and Child Care Screening Tool has been updated to align with recent recommendations from the Chief Medical Officer of Health. We have been asked to share this tool to help parents. At this time, the JICS Lab School is NOT requiring parents to submit the results of the screening.


6. Festivals of Lights – JICS Holiday Sing-along

Tuesday, December 20, 9:00-10:00am

We are planning a special last school morning of 2022. We are inviting parents/caregivers to join the children on Tuesday, December 20 in the school auditorium.

Music teachers, Suzanne and Russell, will lead us in a community sing-along! (Lyrics will be provided.) Together, we will sing songs representing the diversity of celebrations (Diwali, Hanukkah, Christmas, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa) that take place during this time of year.


7. Yaldā Night

Wednesday, December 21

Yaldā Night or Chelle Night is a Persian festival celebrated on the winter solstice. This corresponds to the night of December 20/21. The longest and darkest night of the year is a time when friends and family gather to eat, drink and read poetry (especially Divan-e Hafez) and the Shahnameh until well after midnight. Fruits and nuts are eaten, and pomegranates and watermelons are particularly significant. The red colour in these fruits symbolizes the crimson hues of dawn and glow of life.

We are always working to educate ourselves about the beautiful diversity that exists in the world to create respectful and accurate learning experiences for the children. We invite parents to enrich our learning by sharing your Persian identity with us now, or at any time in the year.


8. Hot Lunch Program

The JICS page is set up for next term’s hot lunch order with The Lunch Mom (January 9 to March 31). Sign up here!


9. Teacher Professional Development

In order to provide exemplary learning to the 200 JICS children, effectively mentor teacher-candidates, fulfill our public purpose, and continue to learn and deepen our understanding of child development and pedagogy, teachers and staff engage in self-directed professional development. These are learning opportunities that are in addition to those provided to all teachers/staff collectively such as last week’s PD Day.

Here are some examples:

  • Krista Spence attended “Aki Kinomaagewinan: Engaging Educators and Youth in Indigenous Land-Based Learning” through Natural Curiosity and in partnership with ENAGB. This program is for educators who wish to deepen their own inquiry into the ecology of Natural Curiosity – growing a learning environment where educators and students experience themselves in relationship with the Land and each other in community. This fully outdoors offering took place at the Humber River teaching lodge with a group of Indigenous youth from ENAGB.

  • Suzanne Schwenger attended a two-day workshop called 'What's in a Song: Unpacking the Songs that We Teach", offered through Oscar Peterson School of Music, by Kim Friesen-Wiens. The workshop explored background information on the origins of potentially problematic songs whose origins conveyed harmful messages about groups in society, racialized and Indigenous communities. The workshop encouraged discussion about these songs and created a collective database about potentially problematic songs.

  • The JICS faculty took part in a workshop by Rabia Khokhar, award-winning TDSB teacher and equity consultant, analyzing the concept of Heroes in the context of thinking about local/global positionalities, critically considering how we ‘frame’ stories, looking for opportunities of collaboration, and cross curriculum mapping.

  • JICS staff visited the Humber River with Doug Anderson. Doug is an alumni parent, co-author of Natural Curiosity 2nd Edition, and a wonderful Indigenous scholar and educator who has been teaching the JICS students outside in the land over the last few years, in the school’s courtyard, on the UofT campus, and by the Humber River.

  • Ellie Lathrop participated in Roots of Empathy training.

  • Krista Spence attended the Center for Leadership and Diversity third-annual School International Conference

  • Ben Peebles and Krista Spence attended the National Council of Teachers of English Conference (NCTE) in Anaheim, California. A conference by literacy educators, for literacy educators. (November)

  • JICS staff participated in a Forest Therapy Workshop with Ben Porchuk in the JICS courtyard. Ben Porchuk has over two decades of experience in wildlife biology and ecology, non-profit management, environmental consulting, and sustainable living. He is a highly experienced practitioner on ecological systems recovery and is a strong agent for restoring urban ecology to greater resiliency.

  • JICS staff took part in a tour with Ken Montague of “As We Rise: Photography from the Black Atlantic” at the University College Art Centre (UofT).


10. Serving our Public Purpose; JICS Dissemination

Since the school’s inception in 1925, we have made a noted contribution to understanding of strong educational practices in elementary schools and teacher education throughout the world.

The following are some recent examples of our dissemination.

  • Chriss Bogert is co-chairing with Elizabeth Morley, Principal Emerita, the International Association of Laboratory Schools (IALS). 2023 Annual Conference, which will take place at JICS in April 2023.

  • Chriss Bogert continues to serve on the board for the International Association of Lab Schools (IALS) Chriss has been chairing an IALS Research Collaboration, which is culminating in a special edition of the IALS journal for member schools’ research on pandemic learning, to be published in December 2022.

  • Krista Spence and Norah L’Esperance are involved for the third year in a research project titled “Designing and implementing environmental inquiry strategies in urban early years programs in Canada to support healthy development and environmental awareness.” (April 1, 2020 – April 28, 2023). This project is a collaboration between educators and researchers from George Brown College, The Learning Enrichment Foundation, and JICS’s Natural Curiosity who are conducting the research project, Designing and Implementing Environmental Inquiry Strategies in Early Years Programs. The project is focused on nature-based learning, including Indigenous perspectives on learning with and from the land, for children aged 2-6 years in childcare and kindergarten classrooms in the Greater Toronto Area.

  • Suzanne Schwenger is volunteering on Saturday mornings with the Early Childhood Smart Start program for young children, age 0-6 years.

  • Tara Rousseau was a conference planner and presenter at the National Art Education Association’s National Leadership Conference in Park City, Utah (July 2022). Tara presented with Ray Yang (NAEA’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Director) on the topic of difficult conversations that are necessary for educators in this polarized world.

  • Natural Curiosity Virtual Summer Institute took place August 16–17. A professional learning offering for educators who wish to deepen their own inquiry into the ecology of natural curiosity.

  • Natural Curiosity and Richard Messina presented at “Leading Forward Together” – Ontario Principals’ Council’s Annual Conference in August.

  • Natural Curiosity Workshop for Ottawa Catholic School Board, K-12 educators.

  • Richard Messina is a panel member and presented at the LabSchoolsEurope Conference in Bielefeld University, Germany “Researching Schools: Building research and practice at laboratory and university schools” (Sept 2022). The panel discussion was on “Bridging Research and Practice in Laboratory and University Schools” and had representation from Bielefeld University, University of Cambridge, and Brno. At a separate session, Richard presented about the exemplary work and research of the JICS Lab School to European educators and researchers from 15 countries.

  • Tara Rousseau presented at The Emergence Conference, hosted by CSEA (Canadian Society for Education through Art) and OAEA (Ontario Art Education Association) in Ottawa, Ontario. The theme of the conference was “Reshaping the Future of the World through Art” (October 2022). The title Tara’s presentation was “The Transformative Power of GSAs in the Elementary Art Room.”

  • Dr. Huang Yao and Dr. Wu Ying-Tien (National Chengchi University, Taiwan) visit JICS.

  • Krista Spence contributed to an article for the Robertson Program, “7 Ways to Observe Snow & Ice with your Students” by Zachary Pedersen.

  • Krista Spence and Ben Peebles participated in research with Dr. Jennifer Wemigwans (Assistant Professor Adult Education and Community Development program, OISE/U of T) exploring the development and use of Thanksgiving Address and Land Acknowledgements at the JICS Lab School.

  • Natural Curiosity are the Keynote Speakers at the Environmental Education Association of Indiana’s annual conference. Presentation title; “Past/Present/Future through the Lens of Indigenous Sustainability.”

  • Natural Curiosity delivered a workshop in collaboration with York Region District School Board (YRDSB) titled “Ethical Leadership through the Arts and Environmental Justice.”

  • Natural Curiosity presented at “Connecting with Communities: Educating for Climate Justice in School Communities,” TDSB/OISE’s annual Conference in Environmental & Sustainability Education.


11. Video of the Week at JICS

“The Best Part of JICS” by the Fall Interns

Last Friday, was the last day of the Fall Internship of the MA students placed in the JK to Gr 6 classes. We thanked the Interns for their contributions to learning of the JICS students and we were gifted with a spectacular video at the assembly. We invite you to view it here.


12. Photos of the Week at JICS


13. Upcoming December Events

Sun 18 – Hannukah begins (Dec 18 to 26)

Mon 19 to Fri 23 – Term 1 Report Card distribution (Nursery to Grade 6)

Tues 20 – Last day of Fall Term. School ends at 3:30pm. Daycare open until 6:00pm Tues 20 – “Festivals of Light” Holiday Sing-along with parents. More details coming soon

Wed 21 – University of Toronto closed. School and Daycare closed. Winter Holidays begin. Wed 21 – Yaldā Night

Sun 25 – Christmas Day

Mon 26 – Kwanzaa begins (Dec 26 to Jan 1)


14. Upcoming January Events

Mon 9 – Winter Term begins. Daycare opens at 8:00. School opens at 8:45. Wed 18 – Re-enrolment form and non-refundable deposit due for 2023-2024

Wed 18 – Information Session for invited Nursery applicants

Tues 24 – Meeting for Parents of BIPOC Children at JICS (registration info coming soon)

Fri 27 – International Holocaust Remembrance Day




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