June 3, 2015
To: Parents of children attending Josyf Cardinal Slipyj, St Demetrius and St Josaphat schools, Member Organizations, Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Toronto (UCC-Toronto), Ukrainian Canadian School Board, Toronto Ukrainian Canadian Community
Dear parents and community members, We are delighted to share this communication with you as an update to the Full Day Kindergarten (FDK) program at the three Eastern Rite Catholic schools within the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB). We are aware there has been some uncertainty and apprehension among parents and community members about the status of Ukrainian language instruction as our schools continue to align to the FDK model.
On June 2 we held a very successful meeting to map out the future of kindergarten programs. The meeting included representatives of the TCDSB, UCC-Toronto, principals, clergy, parents, and elected officials. At this meeting, the TCDSB acknowledged the rich history of Eastern Rite Schools as a valued partner of the TCDSB for over 40 years, and reinforced its continued support of the importance of Ukrainian language instruction within the framework of an Eastern Rite Catholic education. The TCDSB also reiterated the importance of adhering to guidelines set by Ontario’s Ministry of Education (MoE).
Community representatives reviewed the history of the Eastern Rite Catholic schools, specifically the 40+ year full-day kindergarten tradition and the legacy of consistent top tier performance in EQAO test results. A very important component was the feedback that was shared from parents and the community overall regarding the importance of ½-day Ukrainian language instruction as an integral part of the kindergarten program at the Eastern Rite Schools.
A model was proposed that both fulfills the MoE’s FDK requirements as well as meets the community’s needs for continued ½ day Ukrainian language instruction. Children will spend a half day with an English teacher/ECE team, and the other half day with a Ukrainian teacher/ECE team. We also agreed on the importance of having kindergarten teachers and ECEs that are very familiar with Eastern Rite Catholic traditions and have a fluency in the Ukrainian language. Recognizing that there will be some changes required at the individual school level, the principals will develop a transition plan until the proposed model can be fully realized.
A team will be selected to develop a Ukrainian Language FDK Resource document which will act as a companion document to the MoE’s FDK curriculum. This document will draw from best practices in Ukrainian kindergarten instruction here in Ontario, as well as in other provinces across Canada and even in Ukraine. A committee of qualified Ukrainian kindergarten experts will work on this over the summer and the goal is to have a first draft ready for the school year commencing in September 2015.
We would like to extend our sincere thanks to everyone who contributed towards arriving at this mutually agreeable solution.
Angela Gauthier, Director of Education, TCDSB
Taras Bahriy, President, UCC Toronto
Ann Andrachuk, Trustee Ward 2 Chair, TCDSB
Orest Sklierenko, Chair, Ukrainian Education Committee, UCC Toronto