February 11, 2014 Dear Friends of Willowdale Schools, Hope this

February 11, 2014
Dear Friends of Willowdale Schools,
Hope this finds you enjoying the marshmallow world that we’re living in (and if you haven’t encountered
that song at school yet, you likely will sooner or later. It’s a lovely one  ). There is lots below
(including two events tonight!) for both learning and fun. Do hope you’ll be able to take advantage of
these opportunities. In addition, I’ve also included some news from our board, ward and area.
Getting Ready for Kindergarten
This week, the TDSB has begun registration for junior and senior kindergarten. This year, the
aim is to have all kindergartens as full-day programs. If you’re curious about what that means or
are wondering how you can help your child get ready for starting in kindergarten or want to learn
more about what is done nowadays in kindergarten, go to:
Today, February 11th from 8:00 to 9:00 p.m., you can join in a web chat and ask whatever you’d
like to ask about kindergarten. On that date at that time, you can go to
http://www.tdsb.on.ca/AboutUs/TDSBtalks.aspx to join the chat session.
How to Talk about the “Tough Stuff”
Sarah Cannon, Executive Director of Parents for Children's Mental Health (PCMH) will talk
about talking with your teens about mental health. She will be presenting tonight, February 11th,
7:30-9:00 p.m., Room 215 at North Toronto Collegiate
Sarah was awarded the YWCA's Woman of Distinction Award for her work in children's mental
health and her efforts to eradicate the stigma that surrounds children, youth and their families who
are touched by mental health issues. Sarah sits on the Child and Youth Advisory Committee to
the Mental Health Commission of Canada and serves as an advisory member to the Ontario
Provincial Centre of Excellence.
This special event is brought to you by the North Toronto School (Parent) Council and is
extending the invitation to other parents in the ward.
Budget Sessions
As previously announced, the TDSB is holding a number of sessions to go over this year’s budget
situation with any who are interested. I was present at one session last Saturday (Feb. 1) at 5050 Yonge
Street and will be attending another session this week on Thursday, February 13th from 7 to 9 p.m. I
will be holding this session jointly with Trustee Harout Manougian. The session will take place at
Georges Vanier Secondary School, 3000 Don Mills Road. If you would like to find out more about the
budget, but cannot make this session, you are also welcome to attend any of the following sessions:
February 18th, 7 to 9 p.m. at Islington Junior Middle School, 44 Cordova Ave., Toronto
February 18th, 7 to 9 p.m. at Lawrence Park Collegiate Institute, 125 Chatsworth Dr., Toronto
February 20th, 7 to 9 p.m. at the TDSB East Office, 140 Borough Drive, Scarborough
February 20th, 7 to 9 p.m. at Terraview-Willowfield Public School, 95 Pachino Blvd. Scarborough
It’s Coming! Help is Here!
Our annual information fair, Help is Here in just under 2 weeks away. Once again, we are assembling a
large number of TDSB, community and government agencies, programs and services for Willowdale’s
children, youth and families. Co-sponsored by me, by MP Chungsen Leung and by MPP David Zimmer
and with participation from Councillor John Filion, all levels of government will be represented. Come
and find out about job and volunteer opportunities, mental health supports, education supports, parks and
recreation programs, library programs, after-school programs, international language programs, and
much, much more. The fair will be held at Earl Haig Secondary School, 100 Princess Avenue, from 11
a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, February, 22nd. NEW THIS YEAR: We will be holding a special session
from noon to 1:30 p.m. to help people understand how public education works in Ontario. Please
let us know at mari.rutka@tdsb.on.ca or at 416-397-3061 if you are interested in attending this special
session. If you need an interpreter in another language or if you need childcare, please let us know by
noon (12 p.m.) this Friday, February 14th. Information for the fair is available in English, Arabic,
Chinese, Farsi, Korean, Russian and Tagalog at:
Special Education Information Night
We are planning to hold an information and discussion night for Special Education in the TDSB on
Tuesday, March 18th from 7 to 9 p.m. at Drewry Secondary School, 70 Drewry Avenue. We will have
our TDSB special education experts there to explain about what is available to students in the TDSB and
how students with special education needs of all sorts can be supported. Special Education covers
programs designed to support students with special physical or learning needs, including students who are
gifted. Come learn about classroom integration, Individual Education Plans (IEPs), Identification,
Placement and Review Committees (IPRCs), home schooling, assistive technology and more and provide
feedback to our system on your own experiences. Please let me know (mari.rutka@tdsb.on.ca) if you will
need childcare or interpretation that evening.
Special Collection at the Library
The North York Central Library has assembled a special reference collection for young people with
disabilities. It will be available to the public after February 27th and includes many books for and about
children and teens with special needs. This public library branch is located at 5120 Yonge Street and is
wheelchair accessible from the Beecroft entrance.
No School
Just to remind you that there are a few days coming up when there will be no school for students:
Monday, February 17th, is Family Day
Friday, March 7th is a board-wide Professional Activity Day (for staff, so students don’t go to school).
March 10th to 14th is March Break
Audits and Accountability
The final report on the audit requested last year by Director Quan and by the Chair of the Accountability
Committee, Liz Moyer, is now available on the TDSB website:
Already at the time of the audit and since then, the Director and trustees have continued in efforts to make
changes that will bring increased accountability and transparency to Board business.
Here are some of the things that are being changed and improved:
Facility Services
Increased scrutiny on utility consumption billings (smart meter data versus invoices)
Reductions in construction trades, maintenance trades and caretaking overtime
Expense audits including p-cards and overage analysis in caretaking supplies
Bundled roofing work using new lighter designs to accommodate solar panels (significant savings
over 3 years)
Business Services
Implementation of Funds Management – implementation of a budget tool that allows Principals
and Managers to effectively manage their budgets and improve controls on discretionary
Accounts Payable Automation – implementation of a document management and invoice
automation solution to streamline the annual processing of invoices
Employee Services
Piloting implementation of SAP/Employee Self-Serve/Management Self-Serve allowing
employees to view personal information such as sick leave, pay stubs, T4s; changes to personal
information can be done on-line
Reduction of subscriptions to services such as Cision clipping services and music services for
video productions
Centralizing assignment and service requests, resulting in controls in place for overtime and
mileage costs
Children and Youth Mental Health
The TDSB has just launched a major children and youth mental health initiative. The goal is to create a
culture across the board in which mental health and well-being are an integral part of every student’s
experience. On the 28th of January, TDSB participated with Bell Canada and Kids Help Phone for Let’s
Talk Day – an opportunity for students and staff in all schools to talk about healthy minds, schools and
relationships. The same day, Director Donna Quan launched a four-year strategic plan called Healthy
Schools, Healthy Relationships: Children and Youth Mental Health and Well-Being. There are five key
 100% of school staff will receive professional development and training on the foundations of
mental health
 All schools will establish “Mental Health Teams” that will be responsible for facilitating student
mental health and well-being in their schools
 The number of secondary schools engaged in anti-stigma initiatives will be increased by 50% by
June 2014
 Mental health partnerships with other institutions, levels of government and agencies will be
expanded and strengthened to better support students and staff
 Parent engagement and on-going communication between home and school on mental health and
well-being will be further enhanced and supported.
TEOF Raises Nutrition Funds
I had the pleasure and privilege of attending the Toronto Educational Opportunity Fund’s (TEOF’s) Lunar
New Year dinner last Friday. This organization of concerned citizens and educators has been holding
fundraising events for several decades in order to support the needs of Toronto public school
students. This year, TEOF raised over $100,000, which will be used to support nutrition programs and
parenting centres in inner city schools in the Greater Toronto Area. Congratulations to the organizers for
their generous and successful efforts.
Winter Walk Day
A number of Willowdale schools, including Cameron, Churchill, Cummer Valley, Elkhorn, Finch, and
R.J. Lang, participated in this year’s Winter Walk Day on February 5th. As Principal Yamamoto at R.J.
Lang put it, it’s “a great time to remind school communities that walking is a physical activity that can
take place during all four seasons of the year . . . an opportunity for (students) to socialize with friends
and increase awareness of daily and seasonal changes in their community.” Canada - Embrace the place!
Google Star
Cindy Tang, a TDSB secondary student at Dr. Norman Bethune Collegiate Institute, recently won the
regional final for Ontario for a Google home page design. If she makes it to the Canada-wide level and
wins, her design would be featured on the google.ca home page for a day and she and her school would be
able to get up to $20,000 in prizes. Check out (and vote) on Cindy’s design at:
(and start thinking about what you might do!)
Korean Parent Support Group
A parent support group for Korean speakers will be held from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday,
February 12th at R.J. Lang Elementary and Middle School in Room 108A. The school is located at 227
Drewry Avenue (there’s a long driveway into the building, which is set back from the street). Please
contact (647) 999-6012 if you need more information.
Walk/Cycle/Move Consultation Findings
At our last ward meeting, we had Pauline Craig speak to us about the city’s recent survey of Willowdale’s
active transportation needs in the North York Yonge-Sheppard corridor. The findings of that survey will
be presented at a meeting at the North York Civic Centre in the Menbers’ Lounge from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
on February 13th. This city-sponsored Toronto Public Health survey looked at what could be done to
improve opportunities for local residents to be able to engage in physical activity and walk, cycle or use
other active forms of transportation in their neighbourhood. For more information, please go to
High Performing Athletes Information Night
If you know students who are high performing athletes who would like the flexibility of a school program
that would fit around their training, please attend an information evening at St. Andrew’s Junior High
School, 131 Fenn Avenue (near York Mills and Bayview) on Thursday, February 20th at 6:30 p.m. St.
Andrew’s is a TDSB school that has a program meant to support athletes striving for both academic and
athletic excellence. The program is for students from grades 5 to 8 who compete at the provincial,
national or international levels in their sport. For further information, please attend the session or contact
Michael.howlett@tdsb.on.ca or call 416-395-3090.
African Heritage Month
February is African Heritage Month across Canada. At TDSB schools, it is a time for staff and students
to learn about and celebrate the contributions of Canadians whose origins stem from the African Diaspora
and who have enriched our province and our country in many, many ways. Let me know what your
school is doing this month. I’d love to hear about it.
CNIB Library Partners Program
The TDSB has a partnership with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB). It is for students
who have difficulty reading standard print formats because of learning disabilities or visual
challenges. Through the partnership, students have free access to over 85,000 titles in the CNIB’s library
collection. To use the library, you must fill out an on-line registration form at
www.cnib.ca/selfregistration. You must also have a public library card. For more information, contact
partnersprogram@cnib.ca or call 1-800-563-2642 ext. 7055.
Council Chair Reminder
Just a reminder that school councils are invited to send their chair or one designated member each to the
Parent Involvement Advisory Committee’s annual School Council Appreciation and Information
Evening, Thursday, February 20th from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Montecassino Banquet Hall, 3710 Chesswood
Drive. To register to attend, please send an e-mail to outreach@tdsb.on.ca and indicate your full name,
the name of your school and council, your council position, contact number, dietary restrictions and need
for child minding or interpretation. If you register and then need to cancel, please call (416) 397-3529.
March Break Camps – Focus on Youth
The TDSB will be running Focus on Youth camps to support students in inner city
neighbourhoods. TDSB students who are 16 years and older as of June 30th, 2014 can apply now for
interviews for jobs with these camps and also may want to apply for positions with the summer programs
that are run. For more information, go to:
2013-14 Premier's Awards for Accepting Schools
The Premier's Awards for Accepting Schools recognize exceptional and innovative work being done in
schools to create a safe and accepting school environment. Nominations are now open! Download
a nomination form and start your submission today. The nomination deadline is February 21, 2014. For
more information, go to:
OTIP Teaching Awards
The Ontario Teachers Insurance Plan (OTIP) and the Ontario Teachers’ Federation (OTF) sponsor awards
for special teachers who have had a positive impact on their students. These awards recognize excellence
in public education teaching and the nomination deadline is March 31, 2014. There are awards for
elementary teachers, secondary teachers and teachers who are “beginning” and have taught for less than
five years. Anyone is free to make a nomination. For more information, go to:
Zion Schoolhouse & Everything Paper
Playing with paper is the focus of a special Family Day event at the Zion Schoolhouse, 1091 Finch
Avenue East (near Leslie). From 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on February 17th, “everything paper and popup” will be explored and kids and their adults will get to try out making all kinds of paper crafts from
silhouettes to pop-up books to paper dolls, optical toys and more. For further information, contact (416)
395-7432 or go to http://www.toronto.ca/museum-events.
Keeping You in Stitches
Gibson House, 5172 Yonge Street, will be hosting afternoons for those who like to knit and crochet in the
parlour of this historic home from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. starting on Sunday, February 23rd and then each
following Sunday until April 27th. All ages and skill levels welcomed. You can bring along a project or
get help trying a pattern there. They also have a community quilt group that meets Thursday evenings in
February from 6 to 8 p.m. For more information, call (416) 395-7432.
JVS Job Fairs
A local employment agency, JVS, will be holding 2 job fairs this month. On Thursday, February 13th,
from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., they will be hosting a Home Depot Job Fair at their Scarborough office, 2868
Ellesmere Road. On Wednesday, February 26th, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., they will be hosting a
medical and healthcare job fair at the same location. You can call (416) 286-0505 or go to
http://www.jvstoronto.org for more information.
Ontario Owls & Other Feathered Friends
Our province is home to several kinds of owls, some of the most beautiful and majestic birds in the world.
Great Grey owls and Long-eared owls and others can be seen in many parts of the province. Here is some
information from the winter issue of ON Nature regarding opportunities to go owl-spotting:
University of Guelph Arboretum will be holding "owl prowls" this month. Go
to: www.uoguelph.ca/arboretum/ or call 519-824-4120 x 52113 for more information.
Toronto and Region's Kortright Centre for Conservation holds owl prowls as well. Go
to www.kortright.org or call 905-832-2289 for more information. (Also a good place to go for learning
about maple syrup, or "sugaring off," next month).
The Centre for Urban Ecology at Humber Arboretum will hold owl prowls until the beginning of
March. For information, go to: www.humberarboretum.on.ca or call 416-675-5009.
If you're really keen, you might want to find out about volunteering to help with the Ontario Nocturnal
Owl Survey being done in April by Bird Studies Canada. See www.birdscanada.org/volunteer/onowls or
call 888-448-2473 x 124.
Nearer to home, you can also help out with the 17th annual Great Backyard Bird Count. It starts this
Friday, February 14th and runs to February 17th. See what you can spot in your backyard. As written
about in the Toronto Star last Sunday (Feb. 9th), this is a joint project of the National Audubon Society,
Bird Studies Canada and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. For more information, go to:
Do feel free to contact me at any time should you have questions, concerns or suggestions about
educational matters. Do also let me know if there are events or news that you think would be good to
share with TDSB students and their families. You can contact me at mari.rutka@tdsb.on.ca or call the
trustees’ office at (416) 397-3061.
Have a lovely week and a Happy Valentine’s Day!
Mari Rutka
Toronto District School Board
Trustee, Ward 12, Willowdale
(416) 395-8411 or
(416) 397-3061