The Environment includes the physical space and the traditions we have originated and maintained that define the daily experience. Take a tour of the space through some photos.
Meetings: There are two general meetings – kids meet almost every day to discuss in-school concerns, while parents meet once per month to take care of school business that most children are not interested in (although they are always welcome to participate). A chair and minute-taker volunteer at each meeting (chair and separator at the kid meeting), and decisions are made by consensus. Adults at the children’s meeting must wait their turn to speak like everyone else. Everyone is expected to be attentive to others who are speaking. If you talk loudly to your neighbour, the Separator will ask you to move.
Committees: ALPHA’s governance structure operates through consensus and committees, whereby small groups of community members are organically formed to deal with the various aspects of school organization. Ultimate decision-making power rests with a consensus of all members present at general meetings. All members are strongly encouraged to sign-up for one or more committees, as this is the main method of achieving ALPHA’s strength and continued success!
Field trips: We try to find as many opportunities to take the kids outside the school as possible. Again, some are long-standing traditions (like camping and the recreational outings), and others are organized as opportunities become available.
Potlucks and picnics: Folks at ALPHA like to get together now and then for purely social get-togethers. Traditionally, parents organize two potlucks at the school: one just before we break for winter holidays, and one at the end of the year for graduation. A welcome picnic is usually held in a park a few weeks after school begins in September. During the warm months, soccer is enjoyed every Wednesday after school in a nearby park.
Bazaar: One of the largest fund-raising events of the year – usually held for an entire day in November – includes a silent auction, rummage sale, kids’ games, food cafe, etc.
“Committee” – conflict resolution: One of the oldest ALPHA traditions, we turn to Committee when we can’t resolve a conflict by talking it through together. A panel of students listens to each story, and make suggestions towards an acceptable resolution or restitution. Anyone in the school, adult or child, may be called to Committee if the problem cannot be worked out amongst them. Problem Solving – “Calling Committee”. Through example, children gain skills in resolving their problems themselves through talk and negotiation.
Physical activity outings: An arrangement with Scadding Court Community Center provides kids at ALPHA with regular swimming lessons and gym time for physical games that require more space.
Special days: Every year, the kids organize several unique and special days. Past examples include wacky hair day, backwards day, pirate day, beach day, 70s day, and many other weirdly amusing themes.
Brant Street Daycare: Offered to students of the school in the afternoon and evening. In order to provide a “seamless day” to Kindergarten students, the daycare, although separate from the school, is integrated with ALPHA’s learning environment and shares many resources with the school.
Camping: Two camping trips are organized in the last month of every school year: one for the entire community, including parents, and another for only the big kids and their teachers. Traditionally, preferred locations tend to be the local conservation areas just outside of Toronto.
|A tall man with a big grin, Steve spends his time working primarily with the big kids. He enjoys games and living on the Island. He’s taught every grade except 12, and taught in England and Quebec. He offers an awesome musical program and his banjo often helps Alphibians get through the day.|
|Emily works with the little kids upstairs all day. Before life as a teacher, she was a community educator in New York City and Toronto for over a decade. Emily is a mother, whole foods lover, cyclist and gardener.|
|Charo teaches core French to the downstairs kids every morning, although she was actually born in Spain! She fusses over fine details in her arts, crafts, and cooking – that’s why she’s so good at all of them. Charo has funky purplish-reddish hair and makes the best crêpes anywhere on the planet.|
|John, Chief Caretaker|
|The busiest, most hardworking, most diligent, and most congenial caretaker in the Board. He lives in a secret lair in the basement near the boilers.|