Hi, friends. I wanted to take a few minutes today to update you about some of the amazing new things we’ve launched at The Academy this year. It’s a huge part of who we are today and will be tomorrow.

Admittedly, The Academy was one of the best kept secrets on the Toronto education scene for years. Part of the reason is that we’re a relatively small school. But our success in working with high school students with learning disabilities really has been world-class.

For those unfamiliar with the school, we have helped our students to succeed both within our walls and beyond.

But we do much more than that.  Adolescent research has summarized 40 specific developmental assets that can increase a student’s life success. At The Academy we strive to increase and support the development in these assets and thus student resilience.  A look into just a few of these assets can show the impact of The Academy on students’ non-academic growth:

We understood that the best way for a lot more people to know about who we are and what we do was to do broad school outreach, both in person and through technology. So we’ve done this in both ways this year through several new programs:

TEDxYMCAAcademy: Yes, we have our own piece of the TEDx franchise! Created in the spirit of TED’s mission, “ideas worth spreading,” the TEDx program is designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level. We had our first even in October with the next one not far away in May. We will very soon be announcing that event.

The Academy Summer LD Institute: As we are a centre for excellence in LD teaching and learning in Toronto, it made perfect sense for us to host a two-day summer institute for teachers. You can learn more about the August 2012 event here: http://ldinstitute.eventbrite.com

Institute for Homeschooling Parents: We realized that many parents who are responsible for the homeschooling of their children face the same issues as teachers do. Yet they are a very under-served population, especially by schools. So we wanted to change that by offering a one-day event in September 2012. Details to soon follow.

LD Drop-In Events: The idea is that one evening a month, we host an open forum. Everyone is welcome and we share information and resources about LD, LD education, and much more. We also provide great coffee and treats!

Parent ED 2.0 Series: These new events happen regularly (every 6-8 weeks) and are a deep dive into a topic for prospective and current parents. Like all of our events, it’s open to anyone in the community who is interested in attending. Our next event in this series is in two weeks, at 7pm on Monday, March 26th. The topic is: Parental Engagement: Solutions-Focused Parent-Teacher Interviews.

Series for Guidance and Special Education Teachers: We had our first event in this new series last weekend and are planning our next one. There has been significant demand to run these as online professional development events so that a larger group of educators can join in. So we’ll try that, as well as the idea of going into another school, running a PD session there, at the same time as live streaming it. Out next event is at 8pm on March 20th. Look for details soon on our website.

Our Teachers in the Community: This one isn’t new, but our teachers have excelled this year at sharing their expertise in the larger community of teachers and learners. A perfect example in Nicole’s and Zareh’s Teaching Games for Understanding work, which you can see here.

New School Video: We’ve had amazing feedback on our new school video – huge thanks to all who were involved in the making of it. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s on the landing page of our site at www.ymcaacademy.org

Our Website and Social Media: We’ve ramped up to a daily, if not hourly, presence on Twitter and Facebook. Through social media, we’re much better able to connect with constituents and make our mark as a leading school in the LD space not only in Toronto but the world. We have spent a lot of time making our website not only highly functional but dynamic. Every brand’s website is their window to and from the world. We understand this and are working hard to make it the place you’ll want return frequently.

And there’s much more in the works. We’re also very open to suggestions! Our home at the new Education Centre at the Central Y is a beautiful and highly functional space. If you have a suggestion for an event or series, please let us know!

Thank you very much for your time today. I look forward to seeing you here at school soon.

Dr. Don Adams,
Head of School

Mar. 5th, 2012 – What Have We Been Up To?