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

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.

Announcing our Grade 7 & 8 Program

Spring Open House Promo

As Head of School at The Academy, I get many opportunities to speak with the parents and guardians of prospective students. Each caregiver has a slightly different story to tell: of their child’s learning challenges, of the supports they might need, and of their previous experience in other schools. In every case, their stories speak of anticipation — their child is moving to a new educational environment, one which is rich in resources to support a wide variety of different learning challenges.

The supports we are able to offer, whether it be laptops available for each student, assistive technologies designed for their specific learning challenges, Certified teachers with Special Education qualifications, and/or our counselor on site, are impressive. The program is so well designed that families often comment to the effect that “we wish all this was available to us in earlier grades!” Such comments have caused us to re-examine our program in this connection.

We are very pleased to announce that we are, therefore, expanding The Academy program to Grades 7 and 8! Earlier introduction to the supports that will enable lifelong learning for each of our students is clearly something to be desired. We feel that we can successfully prepare students in Grades 7 and 8 for success throughout high school and beyond.

To learn more about our program, and to apply for admission, please join us on Saturday, April 28, 2018 from 11 am to 2 pm for our Open House!

2017 Graduation & End of Year Ceremony

Among the many amazing things about a YMCA Academy graduation, the one that stands out for me is the sense of shared celebration. We are members of a close and inclusive community of learners, who support one another socially and academically. Many of our students come to the school with little hope of success based on their experience within the education system; in their admissions interviews with me prior to enrolment, many of their parents and guardians express their sense of hopelessness for their children’s academic and life success.

So, the sense of celebration, of having achieved beyond their expectations, of heading off to new challenges well-equipped for success — this is what is behind the entirely positive vibe of the night! The fact that this was our largest graduating class to date only added to the energy of the evening.

Each member of The Academy is fully invested in the success of our students, and we all experience with them the sense of accomplishment and excitement for what comes next. That this is a shared experience is clear from every conversation I have that evening. It’s clear as well from what was shared on various social media.

Have a look here:

I am so proud of my youngest daughter Emma. In spite of all the challenges the world through at her, she persevered and…
Posted by Ben Mair on Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Such an amazing Graduation Evening last night. Many thanks to Don Adams, the teachers, and staff. YMCA Academy is a…
Posted by Jules Steele Clyde on Thursday, June 29, 2017

As we move into a new academic year, I keep the graduation in my mind as motivation. See you next year!

Check out more photos from this event on our Facebook page!

Leveling the Playing Field

YMCA Academy student using in-class assistive technology on a laptop.

On March 30, like students throughout Ontario, YMCA Academy students participated in the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT). Unlike a vast majority of them, however, Academy students make use of a full range of accommodations to enable them to write the test on an equal footing with all of their peers.

Because The Academy is a school for students who learn differently, there are many potential barriers to their access to the testing process. Students with dysgraphia, for example, can have extreme difficulty with writing or typing. Students with language-based learning disabilities can have difficulty reading text from a page. Others, by virtue of learning disabilities or learning style differences, cannot access test materials in ways common to most learners. Such students can be fully literate (and after all, the purpose of the OSSLT is to determine a basic literacy level for all Ontario Students), but would not appear to be so without accommodations.

What are the accommodations available to students for the OSSLT? Students have access to a wide array of supports. The test is made available in a variety of formats, including text to speech, large type and Braille versions. Laptops are available to access these formats. As well, students can use computers to compose their responses. According to their specific learning needs, students can type their responses, dictate them using speech to text software, or even have a person scribe their answers.

Students with processing speed issues can be given extra time to complete the OSSLT; those with attention issues can be given an individual or small group setting for their test. They are allowed periodic supervised breaks and the supervising adult can prompt them back to work as needed.

Students with learning style differences can be at a disadvantage if they are not appropriately supported. At The YMCA Academy, we ensure that the full range of supports is in place to give our students the best possible opportunity for success – on the OSSLT, in school, and beyond.