As the 2022-2023 school year drew to a close, we had an opportunity to reflect and celebrate an MA-zing year. For some, like myself, it was a year of firsts. For those of you who have been part of this special community for some time, it was a year marked by renewal. More details about the school activities can be found in the Highlights section of this year’s report.
Opening the doors to friends, family and the broader community was a special chance for many to feel and experience the strength of the relationships and magic of this school.
Enrolment for 2022-2023 was strong and we welcomed many more new families to our community than we have in past years. We have seen a strong interest in admissions as well which is a testament to the incredible and world-class Montessori education offered right here in London. Not to mention, we also celebrated the 55th Anniversary of the school, marking an important milestone in the history and legacy of the school in the community.
The Board’s and school’s commitment to providing a world-class Montessori education – one that promotes academic excellence and prepares children and young adults to engage the world as active citizens and successful leaders – was reconfirmed in our new Strategic Direction – 2022-2027 that will guide us through to 2027. The Strategic Direction was developed through the active engagement of our community, including school leaders, educators, staff, volunteers and families. Like the Montessori Method itself, our school remains stable and focused, yet flexible and adaptive to the world that surrounds us. The Board and its members also remain committed to guiding direction by mindfully stewarding the school’s resources and strengthening our incredible Montessori Academy community.
This past year, Governor Wilma McIntyre and Past President Kevin Higgins completed their terms on the Board, and we are grateful for their diligent work to establish strong governance practices for the school. We are also grateful to longtime Community Member Suzanne Fratschko Elliot for her tenure on the Board, and the strategic guidance she provided as head of the Development committee, and most recently as Board President. Their legacy and impact have set a strong foundation for us all and we are very thankful for their contributions.
We also welcomed a new Governor, Kelly Wang, while appointing a new Executive Committee. We are so fortunate to have such dedicated and passionate contributors on our Board. Thank you to all Governors past and present. It is truly a privilege to serve among such a dedicated group of individuals. You can learn more about each of our Governors on the school’s website: Board of Governors – Montessori Academy of London | London, Ontario.
The board will continue to help steer the school, guided by the Strategic Priorities that were launched last winter. It is also time for the school to update its vision and mission statements to make sure they align with and reflect the direction of the school. The Board will also continue conversations started at its yearly retreat centred around sustainability and growth. Aligning on how to mindfully steward the school’s resources and strengthen our incredible Montessori Academy community for decades into the future.
As we plan for Governors term endings, we will be recruiting two new community members and one parent member to join the Board of Governors. Find the full details on the school website, and please share this opportunity with your networks.
To learn more about the Board, visit the Board of Governors page of this website: https://montessori.on.ca/about/board-of-governors/
I am filled with excitement at what this school year will present. Our enrolment continues to grow this year — with 348 students, which continues to provide us strong financial footing! This community continues to be vibrant, and the massive project to renew our Elementary space is almost complete! It’s a great time to be part of such an MA-zing community.
Melissa Sariffodeen, President
Montessori Academy of London Board of Governors
As of June 2023.
For a list of current Board members, please visit the school’s website: https://montessori.on.ca/about/board-of-governors/
The school community was thrilled to get back to ‘business as usual,’ in 2022-2023, with more classroom socials and school-wide gatherings. We were able to invite families back into our beautiful Montessori environments for numerous visits and events that included the Journey to Discovery, which takes parents on an abbreviated journey through our program – from Toddler to Junior High. Grandparents and special friends were invited into our classrooms for the first time since 2019! We also hosted several school-wide socials, bookending the school year with the Halloween Boo-ling Event at Palasad South, and our Annual Family & Friends event at Storybook in June.
We renewed our commitment to providing our students plenty of opportunity to be creative and perform with our assemblies, concerts, and performances that culminated with our musical, Annie Jr. at Wolf Performance Hall in May.
In Lower Elementary, we have enhanced our Outdoor Education program through a new collaboration with Circle R Ranch; through the three-year elementary cycle, the Lower El students will get the chance to spend time outdoors in Fall, Winter and Spring.
Why is outdoor education important?
The benefits of being outdoors are countless, and outdoor education and nature are integral to a traditional Montessori education. Dr. Maria Montessori emphasized the interconnectedness between humans and nature. “The land is where our roots are. The children must be taught to feel and live in harmony with the Earth.” She believed that nature supported the child’s physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development, and contemporary research supports her assertion.
Another reason for incorporating outdoor educational experiences across the elementary program is to support our students’ mental wellbeing. Being outside creates a natural break from all the media noise and distractions. We want to help create a habit for them to rekindle that feeling they get when outside and away from it all far beyond their time with us.
The school year was filled with bustling activity. We hosted several events to support fundraising initiatives, including our 55th Anniversary Gala in February, which supported the renewal of our 711 Elementary building and the Elementary Library. See our Development Update below for more on our Fundraising.
As we kicked off 2023-2024 we were busting at the seams with a record 347 students – our highest enrolment since 2013-2014! Lower El 1 very graciously squeezed into a smaller temporary classroom (the Elementary Music Room) as the renovations to 711 Waterloo trickled over into the school year. Creating intentional spaces for the students came to fruition this year, and the renewal of these spaces was well worth the wait.
Thanks to the generous donations raised through last year and at the Gala we’ve been able to make this significant investment in existing structures. And they look MA-zing!
In Junior High, we launched a new Media Studies program. Longtime JH Teacher Shawn Butler spent the summer developing a brand-new Communications and Media course and setting up a Digital Media Lab. The course will give students a hands-on opportunity to learn to create multiple forms of digital art including videos, audio, print and online content. These transferable skills will provide them with the tools needed to create projects for multiple academic subjects as they continue on their educational journey – and beyond.
The Physical Education program kicked off the intramural season, renewing everyone’s enthusiasm for our sports teams by unveiling our new name: The Montessori Trailblazers! The name was chosen because a trailblazer is an innovator in a particular field; one who thinks and sees differently; they have the courage to preserve, they believe in themselves and have a clear purpose – this is the essence of Dr. Maria Montessori and why we thought it was a perfect fit for our school’s team name! The teams have beautiful new uniforms, and we offered a Trailblazer Spirit Wear order in the fall for current families and alumni who want to show their school pride.
The 2023-2024 Fundraising planning includes a number of fun family-friendly events, and our annual appeal will support two initiatives: finishing touches at 711 Waterloo classrooms, offices and the Elementary Library; and the start of renovations to the Westmount Toddler playground.
It’s an Art Expo year! Every two years we celebrate the creativity of our students – from Casa through Junior High – with an exhibition and party. More details will be shared throughout the school year as we prepare for this exciting event.
Fiscal 2023 (July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023) saw our highest enrollment of students – 340 – in five years and the year was, in general, the first without any impacts due to COVID (no closures, but also no particular COVID funding from the government). One holdover from the pandemic was continued challenges securing construction materials and a lack of availability of tradespeople, which led to the decision to delay the full renovation of the Elementary spaces in our 711 Waterloo St. building to the 2023-2024 fiscal year and continue to invest those funds until required.
However, we did move ahead with a section of the project with the Elementary Kitchen at 711 Waterloo, allowing us to expand our lunch program at the Elementary level to five days per week. We also received new funding through federal grants from two separate funding streams, to upgrade entryways at 718 Waterloo with a ramp, which was completed in September 2023, and an elevator for 311 Oxford St., which will be installed in summer of 2024.
In March 2022, we started seeing very strong enrollment numbers for the 2023-2024 fiscal year; with the support from the Board, we decided to fully implement the salary grid we had created prior to the pandemic. While these increases will be seen in the next fiscal year, it is important to note that this decision was made and communicated to the staff before the end of the 2022-2023 fiscal year.
The school’s financial statements can be found by searching for “Montessori Academy of London” on the Canada Revenue Agency website’s List of Charities.
“No single act of generosity remains in isolation.
The ripples are many.” ― Sarah Winman
The 2022-2023 Year was our most successful fundraising year yet. Together, we raised $205,449 – far surpassing our $100,000 fundraising goal.
This year we focused on one major fundraising event to celebrate our 55thAnniversary with “The MA-Zing Circus Gala” in February. Families, alumni, friends, and community partners all joined us as we transformed the Hellenic Centre into a Circus, with special performances by the Academy Circus and 519 School of Hip Hop. Community Donors and Sponsorship raised over $20,000 to help us put on this majestic event. Thanks to the 300 people who attended, the event raised over $33,000 for renovations to our Elementary building. Our Lower Elementary building at 711 Waterloo St. was purchased in 1973 – 50 years ago! We are continuously making improvements and renewing our areas to ensure they remain productive learning environments for our students. It is thanks to donors like you, that these special projects can be completed.
We are making incredible progress towards our goal of our buildings being fully accessible. These recent projects are funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Enabling Accessibility Fund. Thanks to the fund, 718 Waterloo St. location now has a ramp and accessible doors. This project received a $37,836 grant from Government of Canada’s Enabling Accessibility Fund stream for Early Learning Childcare Centres in February 2022 and was completed in Fall 2023. We are excited to also announce we are grateful recipients of a $100,000 grant from the Government of Canada’s Enabling Accessibility Fund again this year. This funding will partially fund the installation of an elevator at our Oxford location. Watch for news and updates on this extensive elevator project in the coming year.
This coming year we’ll be fundraising to renew the Westmount location’s Toddler playground, and enhancing our new Media Studies program with equipment.
As a registered charity, Montessori Academy of London is committed to investing every dollar into our school and students’ experience. Your ongoing support makes an incredible difference as it allows us to augment our Montessori programs, improve our services and continue to create welcoming environments for our students for years to come.
We are so grateful to all of you. Please take a moment to view our donor listing, as we give thanks to everyone who has contributed to the many areas that make our school so special: https://montessori.on.ca/thank-you/