* Student’s name has been changed for privacy.
Sandra* immigrated to Canada in June 2018 to rejoin her mother from whom she had been separated for over three years. A grade four student in the Toronto District School Board, Sandra refused to attend class, refused to communicate in English, got into fights with her classmates and had frequent outbursts of anger.
On September 27th, after she ran away again from school, the vice-principal found Sandra a short distance away and brought her back. In order to keep Sandra safe, the principal, vice-principal, and Sandra’s family members agreed to meet to discuss strategies to gain her trust and to help her feel safe and comfortable at school.
It was at that point that the principal solicited the help of the Welcoming Communities team in supporting Sandra and other newcomer students adjust to school.
The Newcomer Program Facilitators used art activities to engage Sandra’s interest and to provide a creative outlet for her emotions. The activities helped her to relax and build trust. They encouraged Sandra’s parent to provide reassurances to her daughter that she would return to collect her at dismissal. Two mentors from the Welcoming Communities program at the school were selected to form a friendship with Sandra. Slowly, Sandra began to show signs of trust. For the first time since her arrival, she was smiling. She became more comfortable with the facilitators and began to speak in English. She was reintroduced into her classroom and, before long became an active participant in class discussions and activities.
Today Sandra is a happy, well-adjusted child who no longer displays acts of aggression or poses a safety risk.
TDSB Newcomer Services – Welcoming Communities is a structured mentorship program for new Canadian students in TDSB elementary schools, middle schools and secondary schools.
Working alongside our program staff, and a peer helper, newcomer students participate in a variety of group activities designed to help ease some of the transitional challenges faced when settling into Canadian culture.
Activities may include: homework clubs, English conversation circles, sports and recreational activities, table tennis lessons, a reading buddy program, steel pan drums lessons, field trips, and a culturally-based culinary program.