A New School Year: August 2016

Welcome to a new school year at TFS. Though our families have yet to arrive, already a heightened sense of energy, activity and anticipation has permeated the classrooms, hallways and campuses. Part of this is due to the renovations and improvements, scheduled for a September completion, but if you were to ask any of the staff now back from summer vacation, their answer would be how keenly we are looking forward to the students’ return.

The autumnal term will bring with it delights in new learning and old traditions, each to be honoured and celebrated. But before we turn to this new school year, I would like to provide you with a summation of accomplishments, from our most recent graduates to our younger students.

Commemorating our students’ success

In May, the staff of TFS, including myself, had the opportunity to see our Class of 2016 graduate. It was a deeply moving and satisfying experience; while we miss them already, we know they are ideally positioned to take on the exciting challenges awaiting them at university and beyond.

This wonderful group of young citizens collectively gave 8,300 hours to service in our community, amassed $2 million in scholarship funds, much of that awarded based on grades, and all were named as Ontario Scholars, with averages of 80% or greater. Eighty-one percent of them achieved averages of or above 90% and 70% received a grade of five or above (out of seven) on their Higher Level IB diploma courses, giving them advanced standing in those courses at university. We are so proud of them.

June saw our Level II students write the Diplôme nationale du Brevet, with 89% receiving commendations from the Ministry of National Education of France on their results. We look forward to seeing them receive their diplomas this autumn.

During the past spring term, students in Grades 2, 5 and 7 participated in the Canadian Tests of Basic Skills. While these results are not used in report cards, they do give the school information on the strength of our program in relation to schools across the country.

In reading, language skills and mathematics, our results were consistently in the 99th percentile. We are very proud of our students, as their strong skills are reflected in these impressive results, both as individuals and as a school.

The culmination of our campaign

While Soaring Beyond: The Campaign for TFS may have come to its historic conclusion (surpassing our $9 million goal to reach $10.2 million), the legacy of our community's generosity will continue to make an important and lasting impact for years to come.

The finishing touches are being put into place on La p'tite école's Learning Forum, completed along with a renovation of the entire lower floor.

An astounding amount of construction has also been accomplished on the new Learning Forum at the Senior School, and we are eagerly awaiting its completion in January 2017. To see all four Learning Forums inhabited by our students and in full use will be very gratifying.

I am also truly thrilled to announce that the recipient of the Okwuosa Family Scholarship, our first formal scholarship student, will join our community of learners this September. What has long been an informal but core principle of TFS started by our founders, giving the opportunity of an exceptional education to bright and talented students whose families could not otherwise send their children to TFS, is now fixed in the official life of the school and we are very happy to see it there.

Introducing new programs

As a living entity, TFS seeks to continually improve and make more meaningful the education it provides to its students. This is why we are introducing two new programs this autumn to all branches of the school.

A program of mentorship will be initiated at the beginning of the school year. This will take on different forms at each branch, as is age-appropriate, but a constant of the program will be assigning a dedicated teacher as a mentor to a designated group of students.

The second program, devised to better instil all-round development in our students' lives, incorporates something we are calling societies, along with assemblies, into the school schedule. Societies will be overseen by staff and, though tailored for each branch, will allow students to challenge themselves and stretch, as they explore areas of possible interest, such as music, sports or debating, that they may not have considered beforehand.

Welcoming new leaders

After a thorough and far-reaching search, we are pleased to announce that the new leadership role of Deputy Head, Teaching and Learning, will be filled by Khalid El-Metaal. Mr. El-Metaal is an inspiring and dedicated educator with 22 years of experience, who is coming to TFS from the Modern English School in Cairo, Egypt, where he was Deputy Head and previously Head of Modern Foreign Languages. He has also taught at four schools in the UK, including Canterbury Steiner School, where he was Head of the Upper School after first being Head of French. He is fluent in French, English and Arabic.

Currently a doctoral candidate in education at the University of Bath, UK, Mr. El-Metaal also holds a master's in education, a post-graduate certificate in French- and English-language education, and a degree in European economics.

In this role, Mr. El-Metaal will work with the Principals and Curriculum Directors to continually improve both the teaching and learning across all branches.

I am pleased to let you know that, along with Mr. El-Metaal, we will welcome Olga Rubino as our Senior School’s new Director of Curriculum and Professional Development. Ms. Rubino comes to us from York University, where she was the Course Director for French, Spanish and Italian at the Faculty of Education. Joining Ms. Rubino as a fellow curriculum leader will be a familiar face – Zein Odeh, who will take on the role of Director of Curriculum for the PYP.  Ms. Odeh will work alongside Martine Côté, Director of Primary Studies.

Returning to TFS is Gilles Galipeau, as the Senior School’s Director of Athletics. We are very happy to see him back on home turf, after his stint in Australia.

Please extend a warm welcome to our leaders new to TFS, and congratulate our dedicated staff on their new leadership roles.

Gathering our community

As with our students, we always strive to better connect with all members of our community, most especially staff and parents. We have long held a tradition of honouring an iconic Canadian each September, namely Terry Fox, and have recently included a community barbeque and a home opening soccer game.

This school year, the Community Engagement team has re-envisioned this day as TFS Community Day, bringing all parts together under the banner of TFS members as citizens. This festive day will take place on Friday, September 23, and we will unveil more details as the date approaches.

More closely in the near future is my inaugural Address to the Community, on Thursday, September 8. I look forward to greeting each of you, as I have the privilege of presenting our deepened vision, mission and values for many school years yet to come. 

In the meantime, I wish you a most enjoyable remainder of the summer season.


Dr. Josep L. González
Head of School