Extreme Classroom Makeover: Collingwood edition

What do marshmallows, string and spaghetti have in common? They are tools to encourage creativity, collaboration and innovation. Mrs. Thomson’s business studies class at Collingwood Collegiate Institute (CCI) embodied this philosophy as a new, state-of-the-art classroom was unveiled on June 2.

Students were the lucky recipient of a brand new classroom, thanks to the Extreme Classroom Makeover Contest by Staples Business Advantage. The business studies class entered the contest, describing their school’s need to fill a bare bones classroom with furniture and accessories with the hopes of having it made into a collaborative learning environment to inspire creativity for continuous learning.

Staples Business Advantage, along with their vendor partners, made this vision a reality. They filled the classroom with everything from new desks and chairs, to school supplies and the latest learning accessories, amounting to $20,000 in new equipment and furniture.

“This room will be well used by thousands of students over the years to come,” said CCI Principal Charlene Scime in her welcome speech to students. “We intend this space to belong to all classes here at our school to facilitate student curiosity, dialogue, exploration of ideas and deep learning.”

“Physical spaces inspire how we learn and this room embodies 21st century learning,” said Donna Thomson, CCI Teacher. “Students had a vision for this room, and Staples Business Advantage made this happen. This room will facilitate inspiration and passion while developing cooperation, interaction and problem-solving skills in our students.”

It was truly magical to see the students’ reactions as they saw their new classroom for the first time. They were eagerly checking out the dry erase writing surfaces, adjustable furniture, emoji Post-It notepads, homemade ‘goop’ and more. Student Kate Wessel also created a video of the makeover project:

The students have dubbed this room “The Think Tank.” It will be used by various classes at CCI and also local Grade 8 elementary school classes for years to come as a place for students to create, think, innovate and collaborate.

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A big thank you the following people involved in the project:

  • Staples Business Advantage: Amanda Wedgewood, Marketing Specialist; Margaret Blake, Vice President of Merchandising and Purchasing; Scott D’Cunha, Vice President of Marketing, eCommerce & Communications; Mike Morris, Account Manager; and the entire Staples Business Advantage Team who selected CCI among the contest entries
  • Staples Business Advantage vendors, including Post-it, Scotch Brand, Safco, Ergotron, and Newell Office Products and their representatives for providing products and supplies
  • Chad Gilchrist and Garry Pattenden of Missed a Spot Painting, who donated the materials, time and expertise to put a fresh coat of paint on the classroom walls
  • Mr. Will Vancise, Art Teacher at CCI, who worked with Donna’s students to prepare the artwork for the new classroom
  • CCI Custodian Caron Giles, who helped prepare the room, and to Regional Operations Supervisor Jason Clatsoff who helped install the student art
  • Tim Newton of the Small Business Enterprise Centre and Brandon Houston, CEO of Switch Video, for sharing their time and entrepreneurial talent to mentor Thomson’s students throughout the semester
  • Mrs. Thomson and her students, who put in the heart and hard work to enter their school in the contest

Commit to Character: Responsibility

The SCDSB’s 10 values are a key part of our commitment to character education. We refer to our values as our character attributes. Each month our schools recognize and celebrate a different attribute. This month on the blog, we are highlighting ‘responsibility’.

Responsibility: We are accountable for our actions, and we follow through on commitments


Some examples of how we can show responsibility are:

  • completing chores/homework on time
  • following through on what you say you are going to do
  • taking responsibility for your mistakes
  • taking care of your belongings
  • if you borrow something, return it
  • always do your best
  • making smart choices (ex. eating healthy, wearing a helmet when riding a bike)

Some ways that students in our schools learn about and develop responsibility include:

  • discussing what responsibility looks like, feels like and sounds like
  • presenting an issue to the class and have them work together to design a plan that a responsible person or group could implement for a positive result

“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything but still I can do something.” – Edward Everett Hale

Learn more about character education in the SCDSB. 

Tec Beeton ES marks Canada 150 with Neema Children’s Choir, back bacon and Alanis Morissette

Over the next few weeks, as we approach Canada’s 150th birthday on July 1, we’re highlighting some of the Canada 150 celebrations at schools across the SCDSB.

On June 8, Tecumseth Beeton Elementary School held a community event to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary. It was an evening of Canadian activities, music and food, with local firefighters on hand to help with the cooking.

The over 250 attendees took part in totem pole chalk drawings, bean bag toss games and hockey. A playlist of Canadian musicians could be heard in the background as local fire fighters flipped back bacon and hot dogs on the grill.

Canadian artwork, facts and history filled the walls and halls of the school, including a map of Canada showing where Tec Beeton families have visited in Canada and what places still need to be explored.

At the end of the evening, the Neema Children’s Choir from Uganda, Africa performed. The Neema Children’s Choir is a group of students, aged 8 to 17, who come to Canada to raise awareness and funds for children in their country. Tec Beeton staff and students presented personalized t-shirts to each member of the choir to welcome them to the school.

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“We’re so proud to have shared our school spirit through this fun event celebrating Canada 150,” said Paula Marengeur, Teacher-Librarian, Tecumseth Beeton ES. “We raised enough to continue to sponsor our two Ugandan students from last year, Henry and Shadia, and we are hopeful that we have raised enough to sponsor a third child as our fundraising totals trickle in. Thank you to our school community for their generosity!”

Seeing the local community come together with those from far away truly encompassed what being Canadian means – welcoming the world.

A special thank you goes to the Tec Beeton School Council, Foodland, WD Potatoes, Horodynsky Farms and RBC bank for their support of this event.

Welcome to Holland, SCDSB

You may have seen the hashtag #SCDSBHolland used a few times on Twitter with photos of Special Education staff or heard mentions of SCDSB Holland around your office or school, but do you know what it’s really about? You will be amazed and inspired when you do.

Stephen McClelland, Principal, Special Education Services has implemented a special way of recognizing the needs of special education students and the staff that work so hard to support them. The ‘Welcome to Holland’ concept stems from the following video, which features a poem from Emily Perl Kingsley.

The video is shown at the beginning of every Special Education department meeting with the goal for all schools to embrace the ‘Holland’ concept: to embrace life’s unexplained detours. That being different than others is not only ok, but makes others learn to see the world differently and the beautiful things it offers.

“Our special education staff go above and beyond to support our students with special needs,” says McClelland. “The work that they do is very difficult at times, and it’s exhausting. At the end of the day, they don’t always see the successes they achieve or consider what they do to be extraordinary.”

Over the past year, there have been many stand-out moments within the department which they refer to as ‘golden buzzer’ (think America’s Got Talent) achievements. These include a blind student having a lead in a school theatre production and a student with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) participating in track and field for the first time. The schools and the staff in these cases are embracing Holland to the fullest degree.

To celebrate these achievements, Holland Awards are given out each month to recognize the staff who are so dedicated to students and the Holland initiative. The certificate includes a Holland lapel pin and the ‘Welcome to Holland’ poem on the back.

This past spring, each staff member in the Special Education department received a hand-written note from the management team to thank them for their hard work and dedication to ‘Holland’. Along with the note were two blank thank you cards for the staff members to pay it forward and give thanks to someone they would like to recognize for their hard work within SCDSB. They were also asked to take a photo of the experience and include the hashtag #SCDSBHolland.

To the staff in the Special Education department: we appreciate the work that you do, and we are inspired by the Holland initiative and the way you have embraced it. Thank you for paying it forward, recognizing the amazing work our staff across the SCDSB does and for taking us to ‘Holland’.

Stayner Collegiate Institute celebrates Canada 150

Over the next few weeks, as we approach Canada’s 150th birthday on July 1, we’re highlighting some of the Canada 150 celebrations at schools across the SCDSB.

A sea of red and white could be seen everywhere you looked around Stayner Collegiate Institute (SCI) on May 18 as they hosted A Canadian Celebration event for their students and Grade 7 and 8 students from Clearview Meadows E.S., Byng P.S., Nottawasaga Creemore P.S. and New Lowell P.S.

Students enjoyed a day filled with a wide variety of workshops, activities and games including crokinole and other Canadian board games, floor hockey, football, lawn bowling, maker spaces, butter tart baking, art activities and a Great Canadian Bake Sale.

The backdrop to the day’s events were the stunning gardens blooming with 2,150 red and white tulips offered to the school from Canada’s Garden Council in conjunction with Vesey’s Bulbs of PEI. SCI’s garden is one of 149 gardens planted across Canada linked to a flagship 150th Celebration Garden Promenade in Niagara Falls.

Take a peek into the day’s events in this video:

From the artwork on the walls, to the tulips blooming in the gardens and the smiling faces of students and staff enjoying the celebration, every detail of the event was truly special for all who attended and very Canadian, eh?

Gifts for our Tiny Teachers

Roots of Empathy Baby Celebration 2017

On May 29, the Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB) celebrated our sixth year of Roots of Empathy, a unique program that brings a Tiny Teacher – a baby in their first months of life – into elementary classrooms. The 2016-17 school year saw Roots of Empathy in almost 30 SCDSB schools, led by volunteers, SCDSB staff and Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) Public Health Nurses.

This year we celebrated the remarkable contributions of all of our Roots of Empathy instructors, families and babies with a picnic at the Education Centre. Hope Park, a volunteer instructor who has been facilitating the program in the SCDSB since 2012, was honoured for five years of service with the program. Director of Education Steve Blake and many SCDSB superintendents of education were in attendance to meet and thank our little ones and their families, and acknowledge the power of the program and the work of all of our Roots of Empathy Instructors.


Roots of Empathy is an international evidence-based program that started in Toronto. By observing the growth and development of the baby and the attachment between the baby and their parents, students in Roots programs learn to be more caring and empathic global citizens. Since 2000, the program has been evaluated in numerous independent research studies, which have shown that children who participate in the program demonstrate decreased aggression and increased social and emotional understanding, empathy, knowledge of parenting and pro-social behavior (e.g. sharing, helping and including). This program supports our board’s work to ensure equitable, inclusive, safe and caring schools.

For further information, please contact the Roots of Empathy key point persons for the SCDSB, Stephanie Ross and Denise Cole, at roots@scdsb.on.ca.

Bear Creek celebrates Canada 150

Over the next few weeks, as we approach Canada’s 150 birthday on July 1, we’re highlighting some of the Canada 150 celebrations at schools across the SCDSB.

If you walk through the halls of Bear Creek Secondary School, you’ll see a display case filled with 150 items representing Canada. From Tim Horton cups, Roots apparel, maple syrup and Inuit carvings, this display case capsules Canadian heritage.

Since the beginning of the year, Bear Creek has been celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary with some impressive projects!

One of the most extraordinary things the school has done is arrange an “Eat Together” event. Inspired by a President’s Choice commercial, over 60 participants gathered to share a meal in the front foyer of the school. The event was so successful that the organizers are considering hosting another Eat Together event in the fall to welcome Grade 9 students and their families to Bear Creek.

Some of the other projects include:

  • 150+ pounds of food donated to the food bank
  • $150 in Canadian Tire money donated to Jump Start
  • 150 pints of blood donated to Canadian Blood services
  • $150 raised from the Winter Ball, all proceeds going to Life Skills
  • 150 books written by Canadian authors read by staff and students
  • 150 bowls of soups prepared by cooking classes donated
  • 150 minutes of spin class completed by staff
  • 150 pillow cases made by fashion classes to be donated to Sick Kids
  • 150 pounds staff weight loss challenge
  • 150 coats donated to Barrie Out of the Cold
  • $150 raised for FNMI Grade 7/8 trip to Toronto
  • 150 blankets/food items donated to Humane Society

Bear Creek will continue their celebrations into December until Canada’s 150th year comes to an end.

Go Canada!