Program Revisions for 2019-2020

Look for Website Updates though out January, 2019

 

Increased flexibility, lower fees and more central location, and an even stronger focus on girls mental health…

The best part of teaching and working with youth is learning. I’ve learned a tremendous amount this year about what works really well for our students’ needs, what parents are specifically searching for, and what needs to be changed. There is a definite need for a school like Odyssey Heights School for Girls, but we need to:

  • make our school geographically and financially more accessible for more families, and

  • focus on the population of girls that most need the alternative programming that Odyssey Heights School offers

  • focus and refine the elements that work (such as equestrian activities)

  • replace things that haven’t worked or are confusing, with policies, structures, and rules that improve the success and experience for all students.

Thus, 2019-2020 will see the following changes:

  • We are moving downtown and will be inside Alliance-Français at 24 Spadina Road - within a 3 minute walk of both the Yonge/University/Spadina and the Bloor subway lines.

    • A maximum 30-45 minute TTC commute from most of Toronto and Vaughn Centre.

    • Walking distance and/or a 5-10 minute TTC trip to so many cultural and educational resources including: the ROM, Toronto Reference Library, Bata Shoe Museum, JCC, University of Toronto, Hot Docs Theatre, Bata Shoe Museum, Yoga & Fitness studios, National Ballet of Canada performances, and more

  • Lower fees - especially the one time new student fees like the enrolment fee and eliminating the back to school shopping fee.

    • Lower fees mean that Odyssey Heights is more affordable for more families.

    • Part-time options for homeschooling families, students in intensive mental-health care, or pre-professional dancers and high performance athletes.

  • Four terms per year with July being optional:

    • Fall (September to December)

    • Winter (January to March Break)

    • Spring (March Break to June)

    • Summer (July) - optional

    • **Fall, Winter, and Spring terms have a 4-5 day mid-term holiday weekend (November, Family Day, Easter)

  • Two credits per term in Fall, Winter, and Spring, plus year-long French credit

    • This keeps students focused and doesn’t spread coursework over the longer winter and March Break holidays.

  • Two overnight OE3 trips per term included in tuition (still a month of trips)

  • One Project or Going Out (POGO) week per term:

    • Multimedia & Graphic Arts in Fall, Coding in Winter, Environment & Culture Day in Spring

  • Stronger focus on French:

    • 3 hours/week Alliance-Français FSL classes using the French Ministry of Education curriculum, with the option to work on the DELF diploma for teens.

    • Grade 9 Ontario French credit - Year long course

    • Optional after school private, semi-private, and group French courses though Alliance-Français.

  • Physical Education & Fitness

    • Increased focus on outdoor cardio activities and mindfulness. Approximately 10-12 weeks each of Nordic Walking, outdoor ice skating, and rock climbing on Monday mornings.

    • An average of 2 Friday POGO (Project Or Going Out) days a month in equestrian activities: lessons, trail rides, farm trips, equine therapy.

      • (Remember that there are holidays and over night trips, so some months there are only 3 Fridays that are school days - and only 2 in March and June.)

  • Two year instead of three year age groupings in learning communities: Middle School (ages 12-13/grades 7 & 8), Senior I (ages 13-15/grades 9 & 10), Senior II (ages 16-17/grades 11 & 12).

    • As a Montessori school multi-age Learning Communities are a core part of the culture as it provides a more supportive family-like culture and an opportunity for younger students learning from older role models and leadership for older students.

    • However, being responsive to the comments and suggestions meeting the needs of prospective students and their families is also vitally important.

    • Families have been concerned with their daughters having peers their own age.

    • The Ontario curriculum is not designed on the research proven 3 year age stages of development.

  • All credit courses will be online through the Independent Learning Centre. This creative alternative to “regular” in person courses was recommended by our wonderful Ministry of Education inspector as it provides the following benefits for our student population:

    • Students who miss a significant number of days/classes due to mental health will no longer be at risk of not meeting the required 110 hours of instruction per credit course.

    • Odyssey Heights teachers can focus on guiding and coaching students while the ILC online teachers do the lesson planning, prepare the course material, do the marking and exams, and prepare the academic report cards.

    • Students can start at Odyssey Heights at any time during the school year and still work on secondary school credits.

    • Students can work at their own pace. Gifted students can work at an accelerated pace, while those needing more time can continue to work on a course into the next term without receiving an incomplete on their report card.

    • Students can work at home in the evenings and weekends if they want to. (I was quite surprised that some students wanted the flexibility to take some work home - without it being required homework.)

    • As the credit courses are provided by the Independent Learning Centre the Ministry of Education doesn’t charge Odyssey Heights School the fees associated with offering credit courses. This saves thousands of dollars a year, hundreds of hours of staff work time, and is helping us reduce our tuition fees.

  • A BOYD (Bring Your Own Device) program that allows students the choice of a MacBook and basic 6th generation + iPad and Apple Pencil, or an iPad Pro with a keyboard and Apple Pencil. This is instead of purchasing through school fees

    • Families want the option for their daughters to use iPads and/or newer MacBooks, that they already own.

    • Some families would prefer to purchase iPads through their cell phone providers or finance iPads and/or MacBooks through Apple to spread the cost into monthly payments.

  • Students may choose their own outdoor gear including gear they/their families already own (as long as it meets certain requirements).

    • This helps reduce fees for families that already own winter sleeping bags, hiking packs, etc, and more choice for colours and features for our girls.

  • Weekly Schedule Highlights

    • (The weekly timetable will be posted online the day that our exact new school location is announced):

      • 10:30am to 4:25pm Monday to Thursday

        • This allows students to avoid the morning rush hour, and get 9 hours of sleep even if they fall asleep at midnight.

        • Girls were getting tired with the 9:55-5:30pm work days.

      • Start and end times vary on Fridays depending on the field trip location/traffic.

      • Monday Mornings 10:30-12:30 - Outdoor/Adventure Fitness: Nordic Walking, Ice Skating, Indoor Rock Climbing.

      • French 2x/week

      • Mindfulness/yoga 2x/week

      • One day a week at the Toronto Reference Library

      • One afternoon a week at the ROM

      • POGO Days moved from Wednesdays to Fridays so girls can sleep in the day after a longer active day: Equestrian, Day Hikes, Nature and Science Field Trips,

  • Student Planned POGO Days:

    • With the new student council activity fund, girls can organize their own POGO Day activities at least once a term.

    • The options are endless - especially being in the Yonge and Bloor area - ceramic painting, art parties, musicals, glass blowing, sailing lessons, harbour cruises, paddle boarding, Toronto Zoo, escape room, dance workshops, opera, AGO, Niagara Falls, ballet performances, rock climbing, golfing/mini-golfing, tennis lessons, bowling, movie nights, HotDocs, and more.

  • A New Part-Time/Reduced Attendance Option.

    • Students attend either 4 mornings a week and the Friday POGO days, or Friday, plus 3 of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.

    • Part-time students go on the first and last OE3 overnight trips each year. (Additional trips are a possibility if space is available.)

    • This is an excellent option for students who have been home schooled and still want that option part-time, or for busy student athletes and pre-professional dancers.

    • Girls who miss one or more days/part days a week for therapy and medical appointments may opt for part-time attendance to have regular days/times outside of scheduled school time for appointments.

    • Tuition is approximately 75% of the full-time fee. (Other fees remain the same.)

  • The out of province/international year end trips are now student planned (with extensive guidance from school staff).

    • Students gain more planning, research, math/financial, and communication skills, while making each trip truly their own.

    • Students receive a per student budget from school funds, and have the option to fundraise.

    • As the trips will be student planned the first one will be in 2020-2021 to Alberta.

  • All girls must be receiving mental health care during the school year. Academic success for all students in a community requires teamwork.

    • FAQ: Why is this a requirement? The behaviours of students not accessing mental health supports proved very disruptive to all students, had an extremely negative effect on learning and attendance for all girls this year, and delayed starting horseback riding in fall 2018 due to safety concerns.

    • For girls without depression, anxiety, or other ongoing mental health needs this is simply seeing a counsellor or therapist once a month.

      • Adolescence is a time of great change and an increased need for emotional support. Seeing a counsellor or therapist helps avoid mental illness and/or identifies it early. Counsellors also support teens in developing strong communication, interpersonal, and intra-personal skills that will improve their success in post-secondary school and beyond.

    • Students with depression, anxiety, and/or other mental health needs must (at a minimum) be seeing a mental health professional at least twice a month* during the school year, and a psychiatrist once a term (or provide proof of being on a psychiatrist’s waitlist.

      • They must also provide a recent (within two years) psychoeducational assessment and full documentation of all mental health supports.

      • Note: To ensure the health, safety, and academic progress of all students, parents of students with school refusal, attendance issues, and those in crisis may be required to provide proof of more frequent and/or intensive care.

    • Students may access free, no health card required, immediate walk-in mental health supports at one of the two Skylark Health walk-in clinic locations near Eglinton and Wellesley Stations.

    • In addition, in school or at home nursing services (including mental health & nutrition) may be available through School Support Health Services (SSHS).

    • To ensure both the physical and emotional safety of all our students, staff, and community partners, temporary or long-term alternative attendance and/or private support (EA) arrangements will be made for girls at risk of harming themselves or others during the school day and/or while on school trips. In addition, proof of being under a doctor’s care or at a minimum of being on a waitlist is an admissions requirement for all students with anxiety, depression, ADHD/ADD, and other mental health issues.

    • A detailed mental health medical policy will be available in spring 2019.