Despite the Drummond Report calling for the cancellation of full-day kindergarten, the staff at Eastview Junior Public School are confident they will have full-day students in September.
Eastview has been deemed a Model School by the Toronto District School Board. As part of the Model School mandate, Eastview offers specialized programming like free eye exams and glasses, as well a daily healthy snack program.
It is this special communal relationship that has Colleen Andrews, the principal of Eastview, convinced that full-day kindergarten is essential to the development of young people.
“I am in favour of full-day kindergarten, especially in high needs schools and high needs communities,” Andrews said. “I think we need to level the playing field in regards to children who have a little more than others.”
Andrews has a unique perspective on the issue because she once taught at Lord Dufferin Junior and Senior Public School, which offered full-day kindergarten years before the official provincial implementation.
“We (Lord Dufferin) had full-day kindergarten because in the Regent Park area our mommies were still learning to be parents,” she said. “There were parenting centres that they could attend while we had the children in full-day programming.”
Eastview services a diverse population in Scarborough and offers a breakfast program and other after school activities. It is also one of the few elementary schools in Toronto to offer Ojibwa as well as French.
“We want to be seen as a community school, and a community hub here at Eastview.” Andrews added.
At this time, the Drummond Report is only a series of recommendations. Andrews says she has not heard anything from TDSB regarding the cancellation of full-day kindergarten, so the staff at Eastview remains ready to go in September.
Carolyn Esau, a kindergarten teacher at Eastview, is excited about full-day kindergarten and having more time to teach lessons.
“I am 100 per cent ready for full-day kindergarten. I really feel like having the whole day it will make such a difference,” she said. “ You can take all those things we teach now and try to fit into this little time and elaborate on all the big ideas.”
Esau, who has also taught Grade 4, enjoys the life lessons she gets to teach her younger students.
“You know that you’re teaching them everything they need to know for life. You write your name every day, and to know I’m the person that taught them that, is awesome,” Esau said with a proud grin.
The debate on the cost of full-day kindergarten may continue well into the spring, but it is obvious that at Eastview they believe it is non-negotiable.