Wednesday, 14 May 2014

News from the Office - May 2014


It is hard to believe that we are in the month of May.  From the administrative side of the job, we are very busy preparing for the upcoming school year. Our staffing model was approved and will be shared with you in June. The staffing model is based on projected enrollment for our school. The numbers are sometimes accurate and sometimes way off!  Last year we experienced projections in Kindergarten that turned out to be inaccurate as we received 64 more children than anticipated.  This enrolment has left us with a space situation that will be felt throughout every grade for the next few years as we struggle to make space to accommodate the number of students and the Ministry caps of 20 students per class in the grades 1-3 primary classrooms.

This year the French Immersion Department has added more children to our Senior Kindergarten Early Immersion classes which will also create the need for another primary class in September 2015. As a result of these spacing issues, our planning department is working to accommodate our growing needs.  We will keep you informed of any solutions in the near future.  As a short-term solution, Unicorn Daycare will be vacating Room 11 for September 2014 to meet the needs of our school. All Kindergarten classes will be on the first floor as of September 2014. Room 29 which is currently a Kindergarten class will be a primary class. As a result of this change, we may have some construction to accommodate the needs of the Kindergartens on the first floor again this summer. Construction will be limited to Room 11 only.

April and May were quite eventful months here at Brown P.S. Our sports teams made it into the finals and city championships and our music and talent show performances were outstanding. We are very proud of our staff and students for their continued outstanding contributions to our school in athletics and the arts.

We look forward to a number of upcoming performances here at Brown for our students.

May 16 - Chinese Dance Performance all grades AM in the gym
May 21 - Little Red Theatre Play for our French Immersion students in the AM and English in the PM
June 4 - Song Sung Brown  (Please note date change from June 5th to the 4th)
June 17 - Kindergarten Tours  Available times for tours 9:30 am and 1:00 pm
June 19 - Grade 6 Graduation
June 23 - Drama Presentation: Canadian Author, David Bouchard will be visiting our school at the beginning of June as he had to cancel his May 12 appearance

No school on:
May 19 -Victoria Day
June 6 - PA Day

As mentioned, our staffing model for 2014-2015 has been approved by the Board. We are once again in a hiring position here at Brown as we continue to grow in population. The next few weeks will involve teachers being placed into teaching positions for next year and teachers accepting other opportunities through the Board’s vacancy process. We have a number of teachers returning from leaves and a number of teachers who will be leaving us as the other teachers return back to Brown.  There will be many changes once again next year and we look forward to the exciting opportunities that our staffing model and staffing will bring.

Our teachers are currently working on classroom placements for next year.  A lot of time and effort is made to ensure classes are made up according to our criteria.

Criteria for class placements:
  • Gender balance
  • Learning style of the child
  • Social compatibility/dynamics that may affect learning
  • Academic abilities
  • Sibling/twin requests for separation or not
  • Strengths and needs of the child
We spend several hours building our classrooms each year.  Our teachers are professionals who spend a great deal of time with our students. They work together collaboratively to make the proper decisions based on the criteria above. All teaching assignments and placements will remain confidential until the end of June once all the collective agreement procedures regarding postings are completed.

Parents who are not clear about the process or criteria are asked to contact the office and speak to the Principal or Vice-Principal. Our teachers are asked to remain professional and not disclose this information to parents until the end of the process. Room numbers for September 2014 will appear on your child’s report card at the end of the school year.  Teachers’ names will not appear on the report card due to possible personnel changes over the summer.

If you are moving before September, please let the main office know as soon as possible.  As we start planning for school organization for next year, we need to have enrolment data that is as accurate as possible since it affects staffing and class organization.

Picking up early
Occasionally, parents may need to withdraw their child early for appointments, etc.  If this is the case, kindly let the office staff know at the beginning of the day. Of course, it is even better if you can leave your child in school until the regular 3:30 dismissal. There are important end-of-day routines in classrooms with respect to agendas, homework, etc., and the best scenario is for all students to stay in class until the final bell.

We continue to experience parking and idling issues and remind parents about last month’s message. The private residence construction happening on Poplar Plains Rd. continues to create some traffic concerns for our community. Police and parking authority presence in the area will continue as we have parking issues in the morning and after school.  The Avenue Road driveway continues to be an issue with unauthorized cars parking in this narrow driveway which is only for Board personnel.

I would like to stress once again that the parking areas, particularly the staff parking lot and the Avenue Road parking lot are off limits except for authorized personnel. Cars will be tagged and towed. While I would like to thank parents for their co-operation regarding the Avenue Road driveway and the Staff Parking lot, we still have a few parents that may not be aware of our policies and remind them to please stay out of the Avenue Road driveway and staff parking lot area.  This includes our Day Care parents.

A number of students were being dropped off in the staff parking lot and left to walk alone through the parking lot. Other parents have been dropping their children off on Avenue Road holding up traffic. Others have been using the Avenue Road driveway which is off limits. These are all unsafe practices and must STOP.

We are fortunate to have a Kiss’N Ride Program here at Brown P.S and encourage parents to take advantage of this program.  Our school buses pick up and drop off students on Poplar Plains Road and we ask parents to be aware of the bus loading zone area.

We continue to encourage our students to wear appropriate clothing to school based on the weather forecast.  As the nicer weather approaches, we ask students to have their shoes on when outside in the school yard to prevent any accidents or infections.

Balls in backyards
On occasion balls fly into our neighbours’ backyards.  We are advising parents and students that if a ball ends up in the backyard of 17 Lynwood Avenue, DO NOT go knocking on this neighbours door. This neighbour does not want to be disturbed to retrieve balls.  We have made attempts to have the balls returned; however, we have not been successful in our attempts with this neighbour.

Our Grade 6 students had a wonderful time during their time in Montreal and Ottawa.  Many pictures and memories will be shared during graduation.  Thank you to all parents who dropped off and picked up their children in a timely manner.  Big Thanks to our teachers Angie Cosentino, Victor Daigneau, Arianna Silecky and Dino Stamatopoulos for accompanying our students on this school excursion.

Graduation will take place on Thursday June 19 at 1:15 PM.  We are looking forward to another red carpet event here at Brown P.S.  This year will include sibling photos.  More information will follow as we get closer to the date.

May 26 to June 6, 2014

The Ministry of Education conducts a province-wide assessment of all students in Grade 3 and Grade 6.  Students are assessed in the areas of math, reading and writing.  Please note that grade 3 French Immersion students only do the math portion of the EQAO testing.  The assessments will take place during the period from May 26 to June 6.  Please make every effort not to book appointments for your children in these grades during the testing days. Many of our students are currently practising many strategies for taking the test and learning from past tests. Parents interested in obtaining more information may do so. EQAO provides educators, parents and students with an abundance of easily accessible quality resources. The tools, guides and sample tests are free and can be obtained online by visiting

More information will be sent home to the parents of students in these grades as we move closer to the testing dates.

Last month I discussed the Toronto District School Board’s Safe and Caring Schools policies and procedures and our Safe Schools Code of Conduct here at Brown P.S.  We discussed what bullying is, the bully and strategies to deal with bullying behaviour.

This month we will address what to do if your child is being bullied. Let’s review what bullying is:

Bullying is typically a form of repeated, persistent and aggressive behaviour that is directed at an individual or individuals that is intended to cause (or should be known to cause) fear and distress and/or harm to another person’s body, feelings, self-esteem or reputation.  Bullying occurs in a context where there is a real or perceived power imbalance. (Ministry of Education’s Policy Program Memorandum No. 144, Bullying Prevention and Intervention, October 4, 2007)

Bullying is a dynamic of unhealthy interaction that can take many forms. It can be physical (e.g. hitting, pushing tripping), verbal (e.g. name calling, mocking, or making sexist, racist, or homophobic comments), or social (e.g. excluding others form a group, spreading gossip, or rumours). It may also occur through the use of technology (e.g. spreading rumours, images, or hurtful comments through the use of email, cellphones, text messaging, Internet website, or other technology)

What to do if your child is being bullied

1. Encourage your child to report bullying incidents to you.
  • Validate your child’s feelings by letting him or her know that it is normal to feel hurt, sad scared, angry etc.
  • Let your child know that he or she has made the right choice by reporting the incident(s) to you, and assure your child that he or she is not to blame.
  • Help your child be specific in describing bullying incidents: Who, What, Where, When.
  • Look for patterns or evidence of repeated bullying behaviours that are unfair and one-sided.
  • Look for signs such as fear of going to school, lack of friends, missing belongings and torn clothing, and increased fearfulness and anxiety.
2. Ask your child how he or she has tried to stop the bullying.  Coach your child in possible alternatives: avoidance is often the best strategy; play in a different place; play a different game; use humour - a simple silly one-liner; stay near a supervising adult when bullying is likely to occur; look for ways to find new friends.

3. Involve your child in social activities outside of school.
  • Support your child by encouraging him or her to extend invitations for friends to play at your home or to attend activities.  Developing your child’s special skills and confidence in the context of a positive social group can be very helpful.
4. Treat the school as your ally.
  • Share your child’s concerns and specific information around bullying incidents with appropriate school personnel.
  • Work with school staff to protect your child from possible retaliation.
  • Establish a plan with the school and your child for dealing with future bullying incidents.  Encourage your child to seek help and to report bullying incidents to someone he or she feels safe with at the school.
  • Volunteer time to help supervise on field trips, on the playground, or in the lunchroom.  Become an advocate for school-wide bullying prevention programs and policies.
5. Encourage your child to continue to talk with you about all bullying incidents.
  • Do not ignore your child’s report.
  • Do not advise your child to fight back physically. (Bullying lasts longer and becomes more severe when children fight back. Physical injuries often result and may involve suspensions and the police).
  • Do not confront the child that bullies. Report to the office - Principal or Vice-Principal.
  • Do not confront the family of the child who bullies. Report to the office -Principal or Vice-Principal.
Next month we will review what to do if your child is aggressive or bullies others.

Bullying is an issue that the TDSB takes very seriously. In 2013, the Board adopted comprehensive procedures aimed at establishing a framework to enable, support and maintain a positive school climate. To learn more please read our P.051 Caring and Safe Schools policy and our procedures PR 702: Progressive Discipline and Promoting Positive Student Behaviour and PR 703 Bullying Prevention and Intervention. Visit

What is Integrity?

“Have the courage to say no.  Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys for living your life with integrity.” ~ W. Clement Stone

A person of Integrity
-  is respectful
-  is responsible
-  is trustworthy
-  is dependable
-  is someone you can count on

When we talk about what integrity looks like at school,  we are talking about students who follow the school rules.  Students who obey the school code of conduct demonstrate integrity at school.

Integrity at home means:
- being a good role model to your siblings
- telling the truth
- doing your chores when you're supposed to

Integrity means doing things with your family and for your family.

Personal Integrity means doing the right thing  for yourself, not for anyone else. It’s about standing up for what you believe in, even if it is not supported by all of your friends; or if you are the only one who is taking that position. A person of integrity tells the truth and keeps their word. Doing the right thing and standing up for what you believe in - even if it’s not popular. Keeping your promises to family, friends, teachers and others.

Personal Integrity is... The ability to restrain or stop yourself from doing things even in tempting situations. If you have personal integrity, it means you do what’s right because it’s the right thing to do!

Parent/Caregiver Corner
Helping your Child Handle Cliques and Navigate the Social Jungle

Being “in” is every child’s dream, but being excluded is painful. There is nothing worse than eating lunch alone and not getting invited to parties and sleepovers. Cliques rule. Trying to get out of a clique can be just as difficult as trying to get in.

Unfortunately, as a parent you cannot assure your child that he/she will be included in the next exclusive gathering, nor can you save him/her from being snubbed. However, there are some things that you can say and do to help your child learn to navigate the social jungle, bounce back from rejection and learn to fit in.
  • Be empathetic. “I know how tough it must be to be excluded. Let’s figure out some things that we can do about it.”
  • Provide a balanced view. “Everyone does not hate you. What about your friend Sandra?” “You and Kevin were playing soccer at lunch – he’s a good friend.”
  • Don’t press too hard. “This is a tough topic. I’m here when you need me.” It can be humiliating for your child to confess this kind of rejection. Being available and supportive is a good first step. Your child may open up later.
  • Don’t knock the other kids. Yes, they are excluding and shunning your child, but criticizing them won’t help. Your child wants their friendship so don’t say: “Those kids are mean and stupid.” “Why would you want to be their friend anyway?”
  • Talk to teachers. The teacher is with your child all day and will have some insights that will be able to help you.
  • Start with one ally. One friend can be your child’s social entry card. Your child can start a one to one relationship with a child who is already in the group.
  • Help your child blend in. If this is truly a group of friends that your child wants to be with, superficial as it may seem to you, take a look at the group and then make a few suggestions to your child about how he/she can blend in.
  • Point him/her in a different direction. If one group rebuffs him/her, encourage him/her to make new friends that may be more appropriate.
  • Encourage special strengths. Help your child identify what is special and unique about him/her. This can increase his/her self-esteem and confidence making him/her more resilient to be able to handle the pressures of social jungle.
  • Help manage frustrations. This kind of rejection can be very traumatic so offer your child healthy outlets and strategies for coping – keep a journal, indulge in activities that can positively channel this frustration - sports, music, drama, creative writing.
  • Watch for downslide.  If you think that your child is having a hard time, be available.  Schedule time together.   Look for red flags such as poor grades, changes in eating habits, mood swings, anger or withdrawal.
  • Use the school as an ally.  Speak to the administration or the guidance counsellor.  If you are very worried, seek help from the school social worker.
TDSB and Children’s Mental Health  and Well-Being 
One in five students are impacted by a mental health needs and only one in six of those students get the help that they need. Children’s Mental Health and Well-Being matters to all of us as we continue to encourage healthy schools and healthy relationships. In the upcoming school year, we will be looking at school initiatives and strategies to help increase awareness of the signs of child and youth mental health needs, decreasing the stigma, and understanding the help that is available.

Students’ feel supported when positive relationships are developed with caring adults in their schools. These positive relationships improve the mental health and well-being of all students and help strengthen our schools.

We all have responsibility for the mental health and well-being of today’s youth. The TDSB Mental Health Strategy that has been developed is about bringing together as many partners as we can to challenge the stigma around mental health needs and create a strong support system for students and their families.

Our Director of Education, Donna Quan and senior staff are strong advocates for promoting awareness of Children’s Mental Health.  For further information go to: or
Thank you for your ongoing support.

The New Millennium Teen - Helping your child navigate challenging years in a challenging time

WHEN:   Wednesday, May 28, 2014
TIME:      5:30–7:30 pm
WHERE: Central Commercial Collegiate, Auditorium
                 570 Shaw Street Toronto   (416) 393-0030

WHO: Jennifer Kolari, MSW, RSW, author and founder of Connected Parenting is a therapist who has been helping children, teens and families get connected for 20 years.

TOPIC: With warmth and humor, this workshop will explore the delicate bond between teens and their parents. Parents will learn to balance empathy with limit setting to strengthen and deepen their relationships with their teens. Connected Parenting will offer parents effective strategies to avoid power struggles, help their teens make safe choices and instill in them confidence and resilience.   In this workshop, you will learn about some mental health issues youth might struggle with, how to spot the warning signs, and what you as a parent can do to support your teen.

Gina Christakis and  Norbert Costa
Principal                   Vice-Principal