Monday, December 1, 2014

Secord Firsts: Athiya Parveen on Volunteerism

Hello, Secordians! Welcome to the first in a series of blog posts that we'll be sharing on the first of every month telling the stories of Secord Firsts.  Today, for our inaugural post we are lucky to have Secord Parent Athiya Parveen share her experience with volunteering for the first time.  We're sure you'll enjoy!

We're looking forward to hearing about your children's first field trip, first homework, first time reading a book on their own and more, all from your point of view.

If you're interested in sharing your Secord First with the community email us at secord (dot) council (at) gmail (dot) com.  Please address your email to the attention of Tracey Nolan.


I am assuming that either you are reading this blog between your coffee break at the office or switching tabs while working from home or enjoying some "me" time while your angel faced preschooler is taking his/her mid morning nap or probably stranded on one or the other mode of transport so will try to capture this enriching experience in a nutshell.

The autumn of 2011 was the year the beat of Secord was changing as volunteer involvement was beginning to gain momentum due to the fact that nutrition program had begin to take its due place and also that Secord had a newly appointed enthusiastic Vice Principal interested to know her community through the parents and volunteers.

From left, Ryerson nursing students Christina Pulla, Stephanie Siddall and Yemi Demeke get ready t dish out a hot lunch and fruit-slice dessert at Secord Elementary School.
PHOTO: Andrew Hudson via Beach Metro

I enrolled myself to volunteer in the ESL program with the concerned teaching staff and also to perform clerical tasks in the administration. Altogether, I was assigned 5 students from grade 3 and grade 2. The mornings were spent reading books one on one until pick up time of the Kindergartens since my daughter who had just entered the mysterious labyrinth of the education system had to be picked up. Yeah, I know those were the less tormenting glorious days (or maybe not) for 5 year olds when they were home.

Having been brought up in a teaching atmosphere, I had an exposure to the working of the little minds and so jumped in at the opportunity of giving to the community of students. I miss those mornings when each began with the ubiquitous national anthem where with each anthem, I felt more CANADIAN than ever. Another motivating factor to continue volunteering was to be at the receiving end of the extinct characteristics of warmth, passion and unconditional welcome of a few of the teaching staff at Secord surpassing all boundaries of any sort. The lively chitchat with the teachers one has while taking the students back and forth from their classrooms to the ESL room and the indigenous group of parents one meets, connects and cherishes some of them for life are all experiences that can never be replaced and acquired elsewhere.

As it was a one on one program, the ESL students would feel comfortable to share their thoughts and feelings about various issues not limited to school scenario alone but also other matters revolving in their vulnerable world. It was a bond not too strong and yet neither fragile that it could be shrugged off and forgotten. One gets enlightened from situations such as these and starts to look at things from the other side of the table.

I continue to go on class trips and am a member of a couple of committees and hopefully if time permits, would surely contribute again on a regular basis and humbly appreciate the efforts and perseverance of all those involved in making Secord a place where all Voices are Heard!!!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Port-a-pac Update: Oct 22 meeting with facilities and next steps

On October 22nd, there was a meeting at Secord Elementary attended by the School Council, concerned parents, our Trustee Sheila Cary-Meaghar,  Superintendent Vicki Branco, and TDSB Facilities representatives, engineers, and an outside contractor.

They reported on the repairs made so far to the Port-a-pac and the mould tests that were conducted earlier in the year. All findings show that the Port-a-pac meets TDSB Health and Safety standards, and is thus safe. 

We do however, have continued concerns as these tests were conducted before the water damaged discovered on Friday Oct. 17 and there are still active leaks are occurring.

The solution from the TDSB to our Port-a-pack problems seems to be a complete roof repair, to begin this week. This is an expensive option to repair portables that we would much rather see replaced with a permanent structure.

Regardless of repairs and tests, we do not feel the ports-pac is a safe or acceptable long-term facility for school staff and our students. We want to know that our appeal for a replacement structure has been heard. We are tired of waiting for the TDSB to prioritize our school's needs. Actions must be taken, decisions need to be made.

Some parents pulled their children out of school 
on Friday October 24th in protest over the continued inaction. We are beyond frustrated by this continuing situation, and tired of being stuck in the middle of this fight between the Province and the TDSB....

We want the failing porta-pac at Secord Elementary School replaced with a bricks-and-mortar building that will not only accommodate the already over-capacity student population, but allow room for growth as the community's wishes for Secord to transition to a K-8 school are honoured.

We plan to attend and to speak to this goal at the Wednesday November 5th meeting of the facilities and Operations committee at the TDSB building at 5050 Yonge Street. Please join us at this meeting so we can show the TDSB how important this is to our community.

Repairs will not make Secord's Porta-pac safe, please e-mail your concerns to: (Superintendent) (Trustee) (MPP) (Minister of Education)

Monday, October 20, 2014

2014 Port-a-Pac update: Roof Leaks and Water Damage

The 2014-2015 school year opened with the discovery of water damage to our aging port-a-pac yet again. Over the years this port-a-pac has required many expensive repairs to the roof and structure. Now there are health and safety concerns: mould.
Secord Elementary, port-a-pac water damage, September 2014
Mould was found in the porta-pacs on the first day of school. The leaks were patched, and visible areas  were treated, however more evidence of leaks has been found in the weeks since. Another heavy rainfall in Toronto on October 16th resulted in yet more water damage, and the mould that can result could quickly become a major health issue to staff and students. Permanent change needs to happen, and yet we wait for action.Secord Elementary, port-a-pac water damage, October 16th, 2014
In 2012, in the hopes of replacing our aging port-a-pac with a permanent structure,  we consulted and worked with our community to complete the DA Morrison Pupil Accommodation Review: Secord would become a K-8 school, Parkside would close, their students joining DA Morrison which would become a K-8 school with French Immersion.

However, since that time, nothing has happened. No more plans have been made, nothing has moved forward at the TDSB, and no one will prioritize Secord's place in future funding plans. Our school communities have been stuck in limbo, our port-a-pac continues to deteriorate, and there is no current path forward.

The reality is, we need to stop spending our limited funds on temporary band-aid repairs to our port-a-pac, and invest in a much needed and overdue permanent facility. The health of our staff and students requires action, we need a proper addition.

The most common health problems associated with exposure to mould are:

  • Eye, nose and throat irritation
  • Runny nose, sinus congestion
  • Frequent cold symptoms
  • Increased asthma attacks
  • Increased or new allergic reactions
We want the failing porta-pac at Secord Elementary School replaced with a bricks-and-mortar building that will not only accommodate the current, already over capacity, student population, but allow room for growth as the community's wishes for Secord to transition to a K-8 school are honoured.

Repairs will not make Secord's Porta-pac safe, please e-mail your concerns to: (Superintendent) (Trustee) (MPP) (Minister of Education)