Category Archives: master teacher

JICS: Outstanding Laboratory School of the Year Award

As many of the readers of this blog know, I (Clare) am the Director of the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study (JICS). It is an amazing place — Lab school, teacher education program, ICSand research centre. The Lab school has been given the Outstanding Laboratory School of the Year Award. A HUGE HUGE HUGE congratulations to our teachers and leadership team. I have looked at the list of lab schools in the association and there are some mighty prestigious schools in the group. And for our school to be given this award is truly an outstanding accomplishment.
Below is the press release done by the OISE Communications Team
OISE/UofT’s Laboratory School Named World’s Best in 2016

The International Association of Laboratory Schools (IALS) has named the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study (JICS) winner of the 2016 Outstanding Laboratory School Award.

Richard Messina, JICS principal, will accept the award in Puerto Rico on April 27, 2016, at the International Association of Laboratory Schools annual conference.

“The JICS school community is very excited about this award. It recognizes the hard work and creativity of our teachers, the involvement of our parents, and the guidance we receive from our scholars,” noted Messina.

Watch JICS in action: Password: kidscodingfinal

The Jackman ICS lab school, part of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and University of Toronto, is widely known for its innovative and integrated approach to applying the latest research evidence to ensuring leading edge teaching and learning.

A leader in education, the keys to its success are the partnerships among and between students, teachers, parents, and world-class professors from OISE and the University of Toronto.

For more information about the Outstanding Laboratory School of the Year Award, please visit:
For more on the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute for Child Study, please see attached for background details, or visit:

Media Contact Information:

Richard Messina, Principal, JICS: or 416-629-1018
Chriss Bogert, Vice-Principal, JICS: or 416-702-1093
Lindsey Craig, Media Relations Coordinator: or 416-458-2136

Voices of seriously ill children

One of my doctoral students (Katie Doering) works at Ronald McDonald House for serious ill children. She is an AMAZING classroom teacher. Her students were interviewed and these are views. Here is a link to the entire article.


A group of students facing serious illnesses had some advice for prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau on what he should make his top priorities once he takes office, including free medicine, longer maternity leave, and a wild animal for everyone who desires a pet.

The students, who were in Grades 4 through 8, take classes at Ronald McDonald House Charities Toronto School. They offered these responses and more, in a class exercise where they were asked to write a speech on what they would do if they were the prime minister of Canada.

The private school, located in downtown Toronto, is part of the Ronald McDonald House charity, which offers housing and services for families with ill children. The school is free for students to attend, as it is funded through donations, but it is not open to the public.

When these families require long-term medical care in downtown Toronto, the charity can offer them housing and schooling. In order to be eligible to receive these services, families must live a minimum of 55 kilometres away from the House, and must be referred by a hospital social worker.

The on-site school is unique in that it offers classes based on the Ontario curriculum for their children to attend, so that they don’t miss out on their learning while seeking treatment.

The school’s principal, Katie Doering, said the speech-writing exercise was part of a unit on government and democracy that happened to coincide with the federal election.

At the end of the unit, the students relied on everything they’d learned, and combined it with their own beliefs in a speech on what they’d do if they were the leader of Canada.

Some of the proposed changes were exactly what you might expect from children.

“I would make a machine that could make pets talk,” said Shivam.

But others showed that they were deeply in tune with the daily struggle of Canadians across the country.

“I would provide free medicine because it’s not your fault you got sick and need medicine,” said Aliviah Goode.

“Also, anyone under 85 should get free health care,” she added.

Aliviah’s sister Adaya recently had open-heart surgery.

“She’s doing good, she got discharged,” said Aliviah.

Aliviah also said that children should have access to “free school supplies.”

Nine-year-old Rayne Shim devoted part of her speech to asking for people to get their birthdays off from work, with pay.

But she too tackled the issue of universal pharmacare.

“I would give free medicine to everyone,” she said.

“Like, you don’t have to pay a lot of money for medicine because medicine can be really expensive,” she added.

Rayne’s sister is the middle of a battle with cancer.

Rayne said that the rich should also have to pay higher taxes, and advocated for a national daycare strategy.

“Maybe the daycare should be paid by the government because some parents can’t afford hundreds of dollars so kids can go to daycare,” she said.

Doering said the students’ speeches were telling of everything they learned about the responsibilities of government, but also of their own personal circumstances.

“It was a mixture of things we had talked about in class, but then they brought in their own ideas about things that were really relevant to them right now,” she said, noting that many talked about improving the healthcare system.

“And then of course we saw a lot of their personalities come out too,” she said, adding that there were specific requests for annual teddy bear picnics, as well as a statutory holiday once a month.

Here’s a further look at some of the students’ speeches:

“If I were prime minister, I would provide every family with a free healthcare plan because people can’t help it when they get sick,” 11-year-old cardiac patient Adaya wrote.

“I would also plan an annual teddy bear picnic, just for children! Children can bring their favourite teddy bear or stuffed animal and come to a beautiful meadow of flowers and have a lovely picnic. All food and blankets will be supplied!”

Her sister, Aliviah, said if she was prime minister, she would provide everyone with free medicine. Once that was done, she’d proceed to overhaul the education system and outlaw littering.

“I also have some personal ideas,” she wrote. “I think there should be a zoo in every city. My favourite rule would be that you can have a wild animal as a pet.”

Twelve-year-old Chayse, who is recovering from brain surgery, said if she were the country’s leader, she would build more affordable housing.

“Why you ask? Because I think people should have a nice place to stay and not have to stay outside on park benches or underground subway heaters,” she wrote.

Her younger sister, Jordan, said she would put more money into nursing homes and lower tuition for private schools. And, in an apparent nod to her sister, she said she’d create more schools for neurosurgery.

Up next on her ambitious agenda? More holidays.

“There would be a statutory holiday every month because sometimes you just need a break,” she wrote.

Doering said at the end of the unit, the students had the opportunity to read their speeches to their classmates and their families.

“They had a phenomenal time doing it,” she said. “It was very powerful to hear the messages that they had.”

With a report from CTV Toronto’s Natalie Johnson

Let’s Not Forget About the Teachers

I (Clare) read this tribute to teachers in the Huffington Post. Lindsay Henry got it right. If you have a minute please send to this a teacher you know – I know that I would not be where I am today if it not for the many teachers who cared about me and worked tirelessly. I bolded a few lines in Henry’s original text.

This One Is for the Teachers By: Lindsay Henry

It’s graduation season. A time where we focus our eyes and spotlights and applause on the students who successfully pushed through the exams, the essays, the sports games, the drama, to walk across a stage and receive that diploma. To graduate. Finally.


So we celebrate. We honor the graduates with parties and families and photos and cake. Lots of cake (preferably with heaps of frosting and rosettes and plastic graduation caps.) We write “Congratulations” on cards and give “How to Succeed in the Real World” books and write “Top 10 Things I Learned When…” blog posts. Of course the graduates deserve the praise and recognition and celebrations and cake and blog posts.

But this post isn’t for the students.

This one’s for the teachers.

This one is for the teachers who stand in front of the students every day, writing on white boards and planning lessons and doing all they can to prepare youth for the rest of their lives. This one’s for the teachers who are full of nerves and anxiety on that first day of class in the fall, then bittersweet sadness as they say goodbye in the spring. The Silent Heroes who put in the work day in and day out, sometimes viewed as the antagonist by the students for assigning those group projects, required readings, difficult tests.

But teachers face their own tests, too. So this one’s for them.

This one is for the teachers who made it through another year full of hurdles. The long days and worrisome nights, the frustrated parents, the conferences. The detentions. The decisions. The reviews. The observations.

This one’s for the teachers that blur the lines because you care so much for these students, as if they are an extension of your own family. The ones that make sure the kids have full bellies and open minds. The ones that are the only constant in some of their students’ lives, filling the void as a caretaker or pseudo parent. The ones that use their own money to pour back into the classroom with materials and books and supplies.

This one’s for the teachers that are so much more than teachers. The ones that are fighters, advocators, listeners, healers, all to reach one more.

This one is for the hard days. The days that are long and the nights are longer, your mind racing and running. The days where teachers feels unsure of themselves, the ones that go home and wonder if they are making a difference, if the lessons are sticking, if they should just pack up the apples on their desks and stop trying.

You matter. The lessons stick. Trust me.

My high school days are long behind me, but the lessons live on and those who taught me. So this one’s for them, too.

This one’s for Mrs. Kochendorfer, my first-grade teacher at Patterson Elementary in St. Charles, Michigan, who’s proud, grinning face is still etched in my memory when I read her “The Rainbow Fish,” just a shy 6-year-old back then with Keds shoes and blunt bangs.

This one’s for Miss Bell, with her huge heart and booming voice shouting throughout my high school hallways: “Practice abstinence!” We laughed with her and loved her because she laughed and loved us first.

This one’s for Mr. Brownlie, with his easy-going manner and button-down shirts and soft-spoken voice. He retired this year, and his dedication and love for his students poured back to him as his former students created a hard covered book thick with pages full stories of how he impacted their lives.

This one’s for the future teachers, the college students in classrooms of their own right now, balancing the act of being a teacher and a student, observing and soaking it all in so they are ready to change lives.

Because that’s what teachers do. They do more than teach. They shape us. They lead us….until we reach the finish line and throw our caps into the hair, grinning at the idea of the future, unsure of what’s next.

But teachers know what’s next: another school year. And so they begin another season of preparation and books and lessons and worries centered around fresh faces sitting in desks.

In this season of mortar caps and gold tassels, Dr. Seuss and “Oh The Places You Go!” lines are repeated as we stare at the backs of the graduates running forward into the so-called real world. But let’s pause for a moment and thank the teachers that helped get them to this point. Because without them — sorry Dr. Seuss — we wouldn’t have a lot of places to go. We would all be a little lost.

Congratulations, students. And congratulations, teachers. You did it. All of you

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