Contact Information for Teachers and Staff
To contact Academy staff by phone, call 416-928-0124 and enter the extension listed below. Teachers do not have extensions or voicemail. To connect with a teacher, enter extension “0” and speak with the front desk. Alternatively, email the teacher(s) with whom you’re trying to connect, and request a phone discussion.
Teacher / IT Infrastructure Manager
|Dayna Dann |
Head of School
Student Life Counsellor
Assistant Head of School (on leave)
|Luka Ilic |
About the Academy Team
The YMCA Academy teacher and staff team is made up of professionals with accreditation and experience in a wide variety of fields, within and beyond the realm of education. Passionate about helping young people, Academy teachers and staff work with families to tailor educational programs and to provide support in small group settings.
Brandon teaches History and English at the YMCA Academy, and leverages his community connections, creativity, and energy to bring cross-curricular learning opportunities and drama techniques to his classroom. Before obtaining his B. Ed. from OISE in 2012, Brandon obtained a B.A. in History from Brock University, where he minored in English Language and Literature. Brandon loves animals — his three dogs keep him very busy outside the classroom.
For more than 20 years Colleen has been a successful entrepreneur, consultant, and trainer in the IT industry. She has always been a believer in lifelong learning, and in the past decade earned a bachelor of Science in Physical and Environmental Geography from the University of Toronto, and a bachelor of Education from OISE. This allowed her to combine her passions for Geography, teaching, and technology, and become a member of the YMCA Academy teaching staff. Colleen is an avid outdoor enthusiast who spends much of her free time hiking, canoeing, camping, and snowshoeing in the wilderness.
Katie graduated from the University of Guelph with a B.Sc. in Biological Science and earned her B.Ed. at OISE. Upon graduating she moved to South Korea to teach ESL at a public elementary school. Her interest in teaching English language learners also led her to working at a summer camp for international youth and teaching at an international school in Toronto. Before joining the Academy, Katie also worked one on one with students at a private learning centre, teaching credit courses and tutoring students of all ages in many different subjects. Now at the Academy, Katie teaches Math and is enjoying discovering all of the unique ways her students learn. In her spare time, Katie loves experimenting in the kitchen and planning for her next travel destination.
MJ graduated from the Queen's University Concurrent Education program with a B.A. in Psychology, and a B.Ed. Upon graduation she moved to Bangkok, Thailand to teach special education at the International School of Bangkok. The YMCA has always been an integral part of MJ's life. She started attending YMCA overnight camps as a child and continued to be an active member of YMCA camps into adulthood. She worked for several summers at the Toronto Island YMCA Camp. MJ loves to travel and is an absolute food fanatic. She looks forward to beginning this new leg with the YMCA Academy!
Rein brings a wealth of environmental sustainability and outdoor education knowledge and experience to everything he does at The YMCA Academy. After receiving a joint honours B.Sc. in Environmental Science and Biology from Trent University, Rein began developing programming designed to inspire kids to lead healthier environmental lifestyles. While working as an outdoor educator at YMCA Cedar Glen Outdoor Centre, he met the staff and students of The YMCA Academy (who were visiting Cedar Glen on their annual overnight excursion). He was blown away by the Academy — students and staff alike — and soon began volunteering at the school. This experience inspired him to become a classroom teacher, and he obtained his B.Ed. from Trent University before returning to the Academy in the winter of 2013. Rein teaches a wide range of subjects, including Science (with a particular emphasis on Environmental Science), Food and Nutrition, and Healthy Active Living. He is an avid cyclist and appreciates every opportunity to reconnect with the natural world.
Zareh graduated from the University of Toronto with a bachelor degree in Physical Health and Education and earned his B.Ed. at OISE. Before pursuing a career in education, Zareh spent five years using his kinesiology degree in the fitness industry. Zareh has been teaching at the YMCA Academy since 2009. In his spare time, Zareh enjoys spending time with his wife, staying current with science news, and reading and gaming. Zareh currently teaches Science, Physical Education, and various other health-related courses.
Zoe teaches math and art at the YMCA Academy. She loves to work with and learn from youth, and builds strong relationships by infusing her lessons and classroom culture with empathy, compassion, mindfulness, and kindness. She joined the Academy team in 2017 after spending six years working at YMCA day and overnight camps, as well as three years as a nanny. Zoe obtained a B.A. in Political Science from the University of British Columbia, and a Masters in Child Study and Education from OISE in 2016. She loves being in the outdoors with friends (ideally, as close to the ocean as possible), and enjoys Thai food, live music, and buying plants that she can’t actually take care of — her miniature garden in the Academy staff room notwithstanding.
Head of School
Don has devoted his professional life to putting systems in place to support innovative and creative learning opportunities in single classes as a teacher, in academic departments as department head, and school-wide since November 2009 as Head of School here at The Academy. A married father of seven great children, in his spare time Don's interests are focused on English Literature with a special emphasis on Shakespeare, and on learning to play blues guitar.
Student Life Counsellor
Possessing a strong sense of justice and desire to actively contribute to positive outcomes for those in need, Jamie was drawn to law and for seven years she distinguished herself as a Paralegal. With that academic grounding and experience, Jamie recognized that there was greater work to be done on the frontlines through social work. As a graduate of the Social Service Worker program at Durham College, Jamie’s present work experience keenly focused on supporting clients both in clinical day and residential treatment programs to navigate their behavioural, developmental, social, emotional, and learning challenges and abilities. Additionally, Jamie’s commitment to EDI values drives her to proactively evaluate and identify opportunities to add greater value to her increasing BIPOC clients.
Assistant Head of School / Guidance Supervisor
Kaili joined the Academy in 2007. She is the school’s guidance supervisor, coordinator of the cooperative education program, as well as a classroom teacher. Kaili brings a wealth of experience and community connections, fostered through her Bachelor of Applied Science (Nutritional Science) with a minor in Community Development and Family Support from Ryerson University, as well as her B.Ed from UOIT. She is passionate about nature, mindfulness, design, food and nutrition, music and art, and fostering well-being, and works tirelessly to engage and empower Academy students.