A New Era.

Academy Logo

We have taken a momentous step! As of June 30, 2018, YMCA Academy was incorporated as a charity separate from the YMCA of Greater Toronto.

There are many reasons for this!

  • We have been established for more than 15 years, and we believe the time is right to provide YMCA Academy with a higher profile and independent identity.
  • We believe this will help us build awareness about the Academy as an independent school for students with learning challenges and learning differences.
  • It will facilitate the recruitment of students.
  • It will assist with garnering financial support for the school.

While our greater independence is important, it is also important to recognize that the support of the YMCA of Greater Toronto has been, and will continue to be, of fundamental importance to our school. We will continue to have access to these supports moving forward.

Frequently asked Questions:

Why did the YMCA of Greater Toronto incorporate YMCA Academy as a separate charitable corporation?

  • With more than 15 years of success behind the YMCA Academy, the YMCA of Greater Toronto considered it time to foster a higher profile and independent identity for the school.
  • To help facilitate enrolment and teacher recruitment
  • To help garner financial support based on the unique stories of YMCA Academy
  • To more clearly align with independent schools in Ontario
  • To differentiate the school program from youth support programs offered by the YMCA of Greater Toronto

Will YMCA Academy continue to be a charity? Will I be able to make charitable donations directly to YMCA Academy?

  • YMCA Academy will be an independent charity, with a unique Charitable Registration Number. Donations can be made directly to YMCA Academy, or directed donations can be made through the YMCA of Greater Toronto.

Will the school still have a Board of Directors?

  • The school will have a board of directors, who will be members of the Board of Directors of the YMCA of Greater Toronto.

How will the school experience change for my child?

  • There will be no change – your child will continue to experience the same high standard of education at the YMCA Academy, with access to the same range of YMCA of Greater Toronto facilities and programs we presently enjoy.

How will the teachers and staff of YMCA Academy be affected by this change in status?

  • The Head of School, teachers, and staff of YMCA Academy will remain as employees of the YMCA of Greater Toronto, seconded to YMCA Academy.

How will this affect my tuition and other fees?

  • There will be no direct effect on tuition and fees. As in past years, families can expect incremental increases in tuition on a yearly basis.

How will this affect the status of YMCA Academy as a Ministry of Education-inspected independent school?

  • The Academy will continue to be inspected by the Ontario Ministry of Education bi-annually.

Open House: Saturday April 29th

YMCA Academy students with a teacher

Our Spring 2017 Open House, happening on Saturday, April 29th from 11am until 2pm, is the perfect opportunity to discover The YMCA Academy. We invite you to tour our school, meet our teachers and staff, and learn about how we support our students’ academic and personal success through special education integration, health and fitness, technology, experiential learning, and mindfulness practices.

We’re proud of the difference The YMCA Academy makes in the lives of our students. Here’s what the parents of our current students are saying about our program:

“My son was anxiety ridden and terrified about attending high school. I have noticed a huge improvement in his confidence since he started at The YMCA Academy. He enjoys attending school for the first time ever in his school career.”

“[The teachers] really understand children with learning disabilities. Compassionate caring teachers who really go the extra mile for their students. Willing to work with parents to get our children on track so they can succeed both academically and socially. Can’t say enough positive things about the school and its teachers! They really care about the kids. It’s not just a job to them, it’s a passion. Every school should share the same philosophy! It’s about the kids and helping them succeed in life!”

The YMCA Academy is located at 15 Breadalbane Street in downtown Toronto. Find out more about our Spring 2017 open house here.

Colombia: Travelling to Rionegro Town

Sunday, April 2 was my day off of work, but by no means was I idly sitting in my room. To my delight, we travelled to a small town called Carmen which is known for ceramics. As many of you know I am a potter and as you can imagine, this town was the perfect place for me to spend some time. Everywhere you looked, pottery is used.

Lamp Posts
Yes, there are plates, tiles and even bowls decorating the buildings
Yes, there are plates, tiles and even bowls decorating the buildings

If you take a close look at the pillar in the middle of the town square, you will see from bottom to top the history of ceramics.
If you take a close look at the pillar in the middle of the town square, you will see from bottom to top the history of ceramics.  The brown at the bottom represents the earth all the way to the blue at the top which represent the sky.  If you look closely, you will also see plates embedded into the structure.

I also travelled to Rionegro Town. We visited the house called Casa de la Convención, where the constitution of 1863 was signed, and we were allowed to touch the table that was used.   We learned about the culture that was emerging at the time and how the people used printing presses to communicate.

Cabinet that held the letters and numbers for the printing press
Cabinet that held the letters and numbers for the printing press
Close up of one of the drawers with letters in them
Close up of one of the drawers with letters in them
The table at the far end of the room was used to sign the constitution
The table at the far end of the room was used to sign the constitution

This is the box that carried the constitution and all the notes that were taken during the writing of it.

This is the box that carried the constitution and all the notes that were taken during the writing of it.  Notice that there are 3 key holes.  Three different people each had one key to ensure that nothing was tampered with.

During these times, communicating with your significant other before marriage was carried out through a special window in the homes where one person sat on inside one side of the wall and the other was outside the house.  Only holding hands was allowed!!!

The seat on the inside of the house if you were communicating with your significant other.
The seat on the inside of the house if you were communicating with your significant other.

And we finished up the day at Tutucan which is on the outskirts of Rionegro.  It “is a replica of a typical paisa town with a church, park, mill, taverns, coffee farm and livestock. The site features ‘locals’ who animate the streets. It also has restaurants serving local Antioquia dishes.”

A day at Tutucan which is on the outskirts of Rionegro

Colombia: Visiting the Soleira School

Last Tuesday and Wednesday (March 28 & 29), I was immersed in the Soleira school, which is a private school in Medellin, for two days.  I was kindly welcomed by Paula, an English teacher, into 5 of her classes — which quickly turned into a cultural exchange.  There seemed to be no topic that was off the table.  We talked about school systems, weather, politics, transgender issues, same sex marriage, prostitution, drugs, to name a few.  The senior classes’ ability to speak and listen in English was exceptional.  There is no doubt in my mind that they are receiving an exceptional education in the areas of language and social issues.

The school itself is beautiful.  It is nestled on the side of a mountain and the property stretches out forever.  There is a path that circles the property that is used by “the best teachers” according to the two senior students that took me and Francisco (my friend, interpreter and former staff and volunteer with the YMCA).  They told me of their philosophy teacher who, after teaching them, will take them to contemplate what they have learned.  There are gardens, natural forested areas, statues, and a manmade pool system for the young children to play in.

The school gets its water from the runoff from the mountain, so after a heavy rain late last week, the pipes were overwhelmed and needed to be fixed.  We had no running water for one day, but it was easily fixed and fully functional the next day.

Alexandra Castrillon

Tuesday night was the farewell ceremony for Alexandra Castrillon (now former Director of the YMCA) and the welcome to Carlos Augusto (new Director).  This was both a joyous and sad occasion.  Alexandra spoke to each staff member publicly and told everyone what she valued in them and then each staff member shared with Carlos about themselves and welcomed him into his new position. It was an emotional time for all and I was honored to represent the YMCA of Greater Toronto.

On Friday night I participated in a conversation club at the YMCA.  The devotion of the club to come out to practice their speaking and listening skills was inspiring.  There were some beginners and some quite accomplished youths and adults.  Some loved English and others openly told me they hated it, yet there they were practicing it anyways on a Friday night.

Saturday was a busy day as I started the day again participating in a YMCA English group.  This time it was with 7-10 year old children.  They made me welcome signs, we sang “Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes” and I taught them the song “There was a farmer had a dog and Bingo was his name-o!”  I also had an opportunity to briefly chat with the parents of these children, who were meeting in another room, to learn about the brain development associated with learning a second language.  I thought that these two programs running simultaneously at the YMCA was a great idea.  Although most of the parents knew little English, they wanted to give their children encouragement and the hope for greater opportunities that learning English would give them as Medellin works towards becoming a multilingual community.

I was quickly whisked away from the YMCA to visit one of the YMCA’s university prep classes.  Although the class was almost over, I had the opportunity to try out one of the questions and I got it right!!!  This was a relief because I wasn’t 100% confident in my answer as it was being translated to me.

That is all for now.

Youth Exchange Silent Auction

Items on Sale during Silent Auction for the Youth Exchange Canada

Last week, with the help of parents, YMCA Health and Fitness staff, and student volunteers, the YMCA Academy held a silent auction to fundraise for the Canada Youth Exchange program. This year the tables were overflowing with generously donated items from family, friends and local businesses. From handmade scarves, pottery and artwork to concert and theatre tickets to a signed Raptors jersey and Toronto Maple Leafs tickets, there was something for everyone! With this one day auction we exceeded our fundraising goal and brought in over $2300 for this year’s exchange!

The Canada Youth Exchange program is a Government of Canada initiative that helps Canadian youth connect with one another, experience the diversity of Canada’s communities, languages and cultures, and get involved in the future of the country. We are fortunate to have been twinned with a group from Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, who we will be hosting at the end of April. Thanks to all of our fundraising efforts and support from the community we are now able to go ahead with our wish list of activities and ensure that our guests have a truly amazing Toronto experience!

Thanks again to all those involved in the silent auction and stay tuned to find out exactly how the money is spent when we recap the exchange experience.