Thriver and The YMCA Academy

ThriverTM Inc. ( is a technology-based company with offices in Toronto and Windsor, Ontario. Thriver™ is a new online learning platform designed to help parents become effectively involved in the cognitive development of their children. While the platform can help any child, it is particularly helpful for children who are experiencing difficulty in school.  The YMCA Academy is excited to be taking part in an innovative research project with Thriver™. The technology that is developing will help our teachers understand how the students learn and may provide them with new information that could be used to inform instructional changes in the classroom. We are always looking for ways to provide instruction for our students, and this technology may provide options for delivering differentiated support to a broader YMCA community in a highly engaging format.

Thoughts about our Parent Social

Last evening, we held our annual Parent Social event.  It gives us an opportunity to thank our new and returning families, as well as to introduce ourselves to some prospective families who are considering The Academy for their children.  We are thankful that all have placed, or are considering placing, such trust in us for the care of their children!

The evening was very gratifying for the staff of The Academy — as we hear from satisfied families about their past issues with systems of education, and about their present satisfaction with the work we are doing with them.  And indeed, we have a remarkable team here supporting their children both inside and outside of the classroom.

For us, the evening is important in that it helps us to foster a more inclusive team approach to the care of our students.  We do have incredible supports here, but when the families are actively added to the team, the prospects for a successful high school experience are increased greatly.  Moreover, our Parent Social gives us the chance to consider strategic questions and options for The Academy.  In light of this, we are forming a Parent Council, who, we hope, will continue to engage the parents, students and staff of The Academy in continuing the evolution of the school.  If you are interested in becoming part of the parent council, give me a call at the school!

Don Adams: Head of School

A Great Start!

In this, our eleventh year, The YMCA Academy continues its evolutionary process in becoming Toronto’s finest school for students who learn differently.  I use the word “evolutionary” deliberately, for the school, which was founded on very sound educational principles, has organically grown over time, adjusting its personnel and practices as warranted by the needs of our ever-changing group of students.

 A very good friend of The Academy, Aron Solomon, taught me a great deal about what it means to run an amazing school.  For Aron, boasting that a school produces “well rounded individuals” is merely repeating a cliche, and is true of almost all schools.  Ontario curriculum demands that students master 4 courses in English, 3 in Mathematics, 2 in Sciences, 1 in Art, 1 in Physical Education, and so on.  By the very nature of the Ontario Secondary School Diploma, students are “well rounded.”  For Aron, a school attains greatness when it consistently identifies and supports a student’s passions.

 Each year, a new and wonderful group of students adds many unique gifts and talents to the community, and we try to be responsive to their passions as well as their needs.  Thus, we enhance our focus on student supports and accommodations, but all within an environment that focuses on students assets rather than disabilities.

 This is all made possible by an amazing group of dedicated faculty and staff, in an environment where collaboration and support are the norm, not the exception.

 If you are interested in having a look at what we do, please don’t hesitate to call and visit!  We’re always ready for a tour.

 Don Adams, Head of School

Aug. 19th, 2013 – Summer Preparations

With summer half over, it seems a good time to bring everyone up-to-date on what we’ve been doing at The YMCA Academy, and changes you can expect for the new academic year.

When we start in September, there will be some small but noticeable changes to some of our office assignments, as we reorganize for a more efficient use of space.  These changes will involve the office beside the front desk, as well as the three offices in the admin area.

More important changes involve Academy staff.  Julie Barrett, Nicole Klement and Mitchell Curci will not be with the Academy at the start of the next term and we wish them all well in their future endeavours. We are delighted that Todd Harrison and Rein Tammemagi will be part of the team welcoming students this September.

Since Julie Barrett handled much of the financial and admissions contract work, she is a familiar face to you all and her general organizational acumen will be difficult to replace. Nicole Klement, has accepted a position of responsibility at Havergal College and while I’m thrilled for her, I’m also very sorry to lose her wisdom and support at the school.  If there are any questions, please contact me directly as I will be overseeing the admissions duties at the school.

As part of our staff changes, I am pleased to announce that Susan Couprie has accepted a newly-created role of Teacher/Special Education Supervisor.  Susan’s expertise in the area of special education is well respected, and she will forge ahead with work around IEPs, accommodations, assistive technologies and so on in support of student learning and teacher development.

Similarly, Kaili Glennon has accepted a newly-created role of Teacher/Guidance Supervisor.  Kaili’s experience in running our co-operative education program, as well as her mentorship background, are important qualifications for this position.  She will be responsible for student transitions to post secondary or workplace situations in addition to continuing to teach and run co-op.

We have hired two familiar faces to full time teaching positions.  Todd Harrison returns to The Academy after a year away at Greenwood College School.  Todd previously spent a year volunteering at our school, so we know he will be a great asset.

Rein Tammemagi, who taught here on a part-time basis last year, and who is also a long-time volunteer at the school, has also accepted a full-time position as a teacher at the school.  We’re glad to have Rein back in an expanded role!

With new teachers, comes new expertise, and our timetable has more variety than ever.  We’re looking forward to classes which are interesting for the students and faculty alike!  As always, each student’s individual learning needs will be met in every class.

Looking forward to seeing everyone in the new academic year!

Don Adams, Head of School

July 25th, 2013 – Summer Update

Torrential storms and heat waves — Toronto’s summer of 2013 has been anything but calm!  Around The Academy, there’s a quiet intensity as we tour new and prospective families through the school and the Central YMCA, and as we dust up the school for the new year.

This is a time of renewal for teachers and staff, as they sharpen their skills through additional qualifications courses, as they plan their new courses for the year, and, most important, as they take well-earned time off to be with friends and family.

As I look back over the past academic year, I celebrate the amazing successes with our students.  But as I look back at my summer update from a year ago, I also realize that things in the world of Toronto education have not changed for the better.  This is what I wrote a year ago:

Ontario and Toronto have become very challenging places to actually have your child receive the learning disability services they are entitled to under the law. As you may remember from the recent People for Education report and the many media stories that followed, it can take, literally, years for children to receive the services they need if they attend a public school in Ontario.

As I meet with families this summer, it’s easy to determine that the same issues continue unabated.

If you want to see what education for students with LDs can look like, please come in for a visit.  I’m in for the summer, and would love to show you around the school.


Phone: 416-928-0124 ext 31401

Don Adams, Head of School