Annual Report 2014-2015


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Giant Steps annual report 2014-2015

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ANNUAL REPORT 2014-2015 Giant Steps School 5460 Av. Connaught Montreal, Quebec H4V 1X7 514-935-1911 November 2015


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CONTENT 05 06 o7 08-09 14 15 15 16 16 17 18 19 24 25 26 30 32 President’s Message Director General’s Message Mission/Vision/Values Organizational Chart Pedogogical Services Elementary Program High School Program Computers and Adapted Technology Music Therapy Essential Skills Play and Social Skills Community School Inclusion Speech Therapy Occuptional Therapy Behviour Management Resource Centre Financial Results This document is available in alternative formats upon request.


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PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE It was another year of growth for our school. Our student population grew from 71 to 90. Each of these students were evaluated over the course of the year to develop a personalized educational plan to further their learning. In addition, our staff implemented a series of new projects and programs that complement the excellent pedagogical approach, services (speech therapy, occupational therapy, music therapy, etc.), and of course, inclusion. On behalf of the members of board of directors and staff of the Canadian Institute for Neurointegrative Development, I am very pleased to present the 2014-2015 annual report. The 2014-2015 school year was a year of exciting changes for Giant Steps. Our Director General, Mr. Nick Primiano, retired in December 2014, and we started 2015 by welcoming back an old friend, Seiun Thomas Henderson as our new director. His vision for the school and his knowledge of autism made him the ideal candidate to guide our school into future. Our wonderful team of students, dedicated professionals, parents and passionate volunteers are what makes this school special. Collectively, we are all collaborating to forward our school’s mission: to offer high quality innovative educational and therapeutic services to our students and to support the autism community. Nicholas Katalifos President of the Board of Directors 5


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DIRECTOR GENERAL’S MESSAGE It is with pleasure that I present the Giant Steps 2014-2015 annual report. It has been another rewarding year at Giant Steps. We continue to break down barriers to help individuals with autism spectrum disorders to be successful in school and beyond. It was also my first year as the school’s new Director General, starting in January. It is an honour and pleasure to be given the chance to steward this exceptional organization. In this Annual Report, we highlight the strides we’ve made in the past year in three areas, key to achieving our mission to offer innovative educational and therapeutic services to our students with autism spectrum disorders and support the Quebec autism community. We are continuously striving to become a leader in the development and provision of services supporting the education and success of people with autism. Innovative educational and therapeutic services We are constantly developing and improving the services we provide to our students and their families as well as to the community at large. We developed a number of innovative pedagogical projects, including a project to develop a self-directed learning project curriculum. We reviewed and our program and curriculum choices and updated our evaluation tools. We built and planted a student vegetable garden. Strong governance, strong organization In 2014-2015 we began the process to collaboratively develop a new strategic plan, with input from our board of directors, parents, staff and students. Along with a refreshed Mission and Vision statement and new core values, the new plan will come into effect in January 2016 and will provide clear direction and measureable outcomes to guide us over the next five years. Various staff and board committees were set-up or reformed to build projects, review and improve our services, and plan for the future. Building community Giant Step’s successes are the direct result of the support, commitment and enthusiasm of the community we have created. Together, we are putting Giant Steps in a position to thrive as a leader and change-maker in the sector during the next three to five years and beyond. We continue to build and expand unique partnerships resulting in new and better services for our students and our partners in the community. We worked with McGill University and Autism in Motion to present the annual Autism in Motion conference, this edition focusing on human diversity. We formalized a partnership with the city of Laval as we work together to make Laval Quebec’s first city to embark on an ``autism inclusive city`` project. We worked with the English Montreal School Board to launch a new pilot adult education project for the 2015-2016 school year. I want to thank our staff team for their dedication and caring, our Board of Directors for their leadership, and , and of course the students and families who trust us to help them work towards their goals and dreams. Thank you. Without you, there is no Giant Steps. Sincerely, Seiun Thomas Henderson 6


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ABOUT US Giant Steps Montreal, a not for profit organization and a private special education school, recognized in the public interest and subsidized (preschool and elementary sectors) by the Ministry of Education, Leisure and Sport of Quebec (MELS). Founded in 1981, the school welcomes students 4 to 21 years of age, French and English, presenting an autism spectrum disorder. In accordance with the Law on Public Instruction and Private Education, students are generally admitted in partnerships with the school boards through extraterritorial agreements. Those agreements are essential for high school level students. MISSION To offer specialized innovative educational and therapeutic services to our students and to support the Quebec autism community. VISION To be a leader and hub for the development and provision of services supporting the education and success of people with autism spectrum disorders. VALUES Giant Steps affirms the importance and necessity of providing equitable and appropriate opportunities for all people to learn and be successful. In order to always do our utmost to contribute to creating learning environments of mutual respect where diversity and strengths are nurtured and differences are respected, the following values will guide us: Diversity & Inclusion: We value diversity and unique contributions and foster a trusting, open and inclusive environment where each person is treated with respect. The inclusion of diverse learners promotes excellence in education and allows learners to achieve desired outcomes. We recognize that differences and diversity contribute to the richness of group learning environments. Community: Community is built and sustained by a climate of equity, fairness, safety and trust and the recognition of, and response to, the individual needs of its members. We are committed to working collaboratively with all stakeholders to ensure excellence in the area of autism and education. We believe that learning communities are strengthened by the mutual respect of the unique humanness and contributions of its members. Awareness: We are dedicated to increasing awareness of autism in the community by providing targeted educational programs and advocating for the needs of individuals on the spectrum. Our school contributes to the discovery and development of innovative educational and therapeutic services that support learning in autism via our transdisciplinary team of experts and through our research partnerships. Achievement: Access to facilities, services, resources, instruction, educational materials and the technology and information needed to succeed in and out of the classroom is foundational to building equitable and successful learning communities. By fostering strengths and supporting needs, we are committed to supporting the social and academic achievement of all of our students. 7


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2014-2015 ORGAN Administration Therapeutic Services Finance Department Financial Coordinator: Marie-Noelle Mondoux-Lemoine Financial Technician: Jean-Francois Guignard Occupational Therapists Dorothy Notkin Domenica Facchinello Valérie Godin Rosemary Maratta Speech Therapists Eric Beaupre Cecile Cerdan Eva-Maria Botos Vanessa Collicciani School Organization / Secretary School Organization Technician / Secretary Caterine Bitetto (Liane Bayard) Caterina Bitetto Administrative Technician Tracy Pennimpede 8


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IZATIONAL CHART Board of Directors Director General Nick Primiano (Seiun Thomas Henderson) Educational Services Resource Centre Pedagogical Director Inclusion Coordinators Kim Hewel Aida Zbinden Anna Chechile Magda Grzechowiak Coordinator Marla Cable Teachers Vanessa Lento Belinda Solomon Melissa Marcone Amanda Arcuri Iris Erdile Claudia Lazaro Lopez Vanessa Clarke Roxana Pandeli Deanna Casanova Educators Specialists Marianne Bechard Ross White Nadine Thiruchelvam Jenny Haines Maria-Niki Bartzakos Attendants 9


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33 Years of providing services to the autism community. Classrooms from elementary to high school levels 9 3:1 Student Ratios 10


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KEY FIGURES CLASS DISTRIBUTION BY LANGUAGE AND LEVEL 15.2% English high school students French high school students 15.2% 13.7% French elementary students 87 Sstudents registered 2014-2015 English elementary students 56% New students accepted 16 11


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PEDAGOGICAL SERVICES At the start of the 2014-2015 school year, we welcomed two new teachers as well as 20 new Anglophone and Francophone students to our Giant Steps family. Therefore, an increase in support for teachers followed, for the creation and update of Individualized Education Plans (IEP), Progress reports (first communication) and Report Cards. Since our restructuring last year, we have maintained our ratio of adults per class: one teacher as well as 2 to 3 educators/attendants per group of 10 students. This created the necessity to provide teachers with additional support in terms of teaching practices, as they had to learn a new way of functioning. The use of standardized tests and inventories to perform academic evaluations, especially on the new students, took place throughout the whole school year. It is also to be noted that during this year, the MELS has now become the MEESR (Ministère de l’Éducation, de l’Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche). Magda Grzechowiak, BA, BEd, MEd Director of Pedagogical Services Pedagogical Model To provide educational services that: • differentiate instruction and instructional materials to ensure accessibility and academic achievement • • • leverage educational technology promote self-determination and autonomy are strength-based and provide options to promote engagement 14


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PRESCHOOL / ELEMENTARY During the 2014-2015 school year, the elementary program at Giant Steps consisted of 7 classes, 5 English and 2 French, with students ranging from 4-12 years old. The preschool students (4-5 years old) followed the modified Quebec Education Program for preschool. The children learned through games, songs, arts & crafts, and simple academic tasks. The elementary students (6-11 years old) followed the Language for Life curriculum. The core academic classes include Language Arts, Mathematics and Social Studies (managing space, time, money and cultural realities in a functional manner). Social activities such as public library visits, field trips, shopping at a local grocery store, cooking and swimming at a community pool enriched the students` learning experience and allowed them to generalize their acquired knowledge in a variety of settings. Some children participated in the inclusion program; they were included two days a week in programming at their neighbourhood school while being accompanied by a Giant Steps educator. Extra activities were also offered during the school year, to promote socialization, independence and academic achievement. These activities included dances, field trips, a talent show, independent learning projects, shopping trips, and special interest clubs. Vanessa Lento Amanda Arcuri Melissa Marccone Belinda Solomon Iris Erdile HIGH SCHOOL During the 2014-2015 school year, the Steps Ahead program at Giant Steps had 2 classes, one English and one French and a third class that was mixed for a total of 20 students. The Secondary Cycle 1 students (12-15 years old) followed, the PACTE Program, which consisted of English/ Français, Mathematics, Geography, Health Education, Citizenship Education, Art, Science & Technology and Music. There were 6 Francophone and 3 Anglophone students in this program. The Secondary Cycle 2 students (16-21 years old) followed the CHALLENGES program, which consisted of English/ Français, Mathematics, Social Studies, Personal and Social Education (Home Life, Personal Growth, Transportation and Leisure time) as well as Preparing for the Job Market (Introduction to the World of Work and On-the-Job Work Placements). There were 6 Francophone students in this program. There we also many work placements that our students were placed in, including SEMAFO, Nazareth’s House, People’s Potato, Supermarche Mourelatos, Cameraroll Productions, and Saint-Willibrord Church. Roxanna Pandeli Kamila Tomaszewski 15



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