We’re Back!

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As we approach the two week mark of this school year, we are monitoring Ontario COVID-19 case numbers and public health advice in order to ensure the successful continued operation of our program. At the same time, I am happy to report that the school year has begun with much positivity and enthusiasm. While the sanitization, distance and masking protocols are obvious, most of us seem to be operating in ways that are approaching the old normal! With our already small class sizes, the ability to separate high school class cohorts, and our design of keeping the high school cohorts separate from the middle school, we have created a sense of safety at the same time as being able to offer comprehensive educational support for all.

As we move forward, we are further developing our support of remote only learners. This will involve some changes to our in-school classes, as we make them virtually available to students who choose to learn from home. I will have more to share on this soon.

In the meantime, we continue to refine the safe, sustainable model of learning we have in place to support all of our learners.

Year-end Retrospective

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Friday, March 6, 2020. The last day of school before March Break. While the signs of the pandemic were getting more ominous, few of us thought that we would not be in school until at least September. In these unprecedented times, we have asked a great deal of ourselves and others. We have shut down most businesses and services; we have isolated ourselves from all social relationships outside of immediate family; we have experienced fear and loss. Many of these restrictions are still in place as I write.

Simultaneously, we have seen, unmistakably, the signs of the continued mistreatment of racialized populations here and elsewhere. The continuing protests, the calls for justice and equal treatment under the law, have provoked many to consider what Dr. King said long ago — “justice delayed is justice denied”.

With protest and pandemic as a background, YMCA Academy has tried to provide our students and families with access to structure and support to keep their educational momentum going, to provide social opportunities for interaction with their peers, and to experience systems that are thoughtfully designed and considerate of their needs.

It is my hope that our students have learned that while some systems need change, some can be trusted to work towards their best interests. There is still refuge within structures designed and implemented for their care and support.

We hope we have provided such a refuge — a place for thoughtful discussion, impassioned expression, and positive social interactions.

We look forward to continuing this process in September.

Have a safe summer,

Don Adams
Head of School

Distance Learning @ YMCA Academy


For ten months each year, YMCA Academy provides vital, daily support for all aspects of our students’ lives. With the closure of all school facilities in Ontario due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the loss of such daily supports could negatively impact the lives of our students and their families. So, during March Break, Academy faculty and staff put a plan into place to continue offering its full range of supports while students remain safely at home. Each Academy course has an online presence. Here, students and teachers can continue to meet. With webcams and microphones, teachers deliver lessons, and students collaborate with their teachers and peers. Our Counsellor and Educational Assistant maintain their support of students in the same manner. We can even monitor physical activity while the gym remains unavailable. We were up and running immediately after March Break!

YMCA Academy and its students are able to move forward in their courses — with changes to be sure, but with little interruption. We are ready and able to continue the school year in this manner as long as is needed. We will be blogging about our experiences regularly, so stay tuned!

COVID-19 update: Temporary school closure


Dear Parents & Guardians,

As you might be aware, the Ministry of Education is closing all publicly-funded schools for the weeks following March Break as a precaution to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19. We think it is prudent for us to do so as well.

Therefore, YMCA Academy will be closed during the weeks of March 23-27, and March 30 – April 3. In order to support continued student learning, however, we are developing a strategy and schedule for students to continue classes through Google Classroom sites. Teachers will be available on their sites to support student learning, to give lessons, to assess, and to answer questions. We are presently developing the schedule for these online meetings.

I will communicate details about the plan as they are developed over the next few days. In the meantime, please stay safe and enjoy the rest of March Break.

Don Adams
Head of School

Academy partners with Digital Literacy + Coding pilot!

The YMCA Academy has always leveraged computer technology in the service of student learning. Laptop-based assistive technologies are at the heart of the supports we provide to a wide range of learning styles. Thus, when we had an opportunity to partner with the Brookfield Institute in their “Digital Literacy + Coding” pilot project“, we jumped at the chance.

The Academy has committed to running eight 12-week sessions to introduce youth in the GTA to the logic and practice of coding. We see this pilot as providing our students with additional expertise and knowledge that will be hugely important in the job markets they will face when they graduate. These sessions are free of charge, and laptops are provided.

By introducing Digital Literacy + Coding to a wide variety of youth, including youth who are underrepresented in this growing field, The Academy hopes to help shape the future.

The program will introduce youth to a variety of activities leading to a final project that each participant has chosen. They will be “remixing” websites, games, and other web-based applications to get a better understanding of how they work, and how elements of the code affect the final product.

The Digital Literacy + Coding pilot will focus on several languages, particularly HTML, CSS, and a brief introduction to JavaScript. These are the languages that are the backbone to complex and engaging web pages. This program is an excellent way to help youth begin the journey of sparking passion for STEM-related fields by learning the basics of the coding languages of the web.