Important Announcement

Luke Coles, Principal at Blyth Academy Lawrence Park

 

Dear Blyth LP Families and Students,

I am writing to share some personal news today.

After just over ten years as the (very!) proud Founding Principal of Blyth Academy Lawrence Park, I will be moving on at the end of Term 3 to start a new adventure. While a passion for teaching and school leadership still burns, I am increasingly drawn to 1:1 coaching of youth/young adults as well as educational consulting, and I am excited to be launching those offerings soon.

Blyth Academy Lawrence Park opened its doors in September of 2010. We had about thirty students back then, and I was beyond excited to be handed the keys of something so limitless in its possibilities.

We grew, we adapted, and we thrived. We sought to be a school where instead of the usual few standout teachers connecting and impacting….ALL of our teachers would fit that bill, and what a joy it has been to share all those September to June school cycles with such extraordinary and passionate staff and faculty. On that note of team and faculty, Blyth Academy is excited to announce a merger of Blyth Academy Yorkville and Blyth Academy Lawrence Park into a single school starting in September 2021. The combined campus with our wonderful teams in place will operate out of our existing Lawrence Park facilities and under our Lawrence Park name. Taking over the Principal role for the combined campuses will be the current Principal of Blyth Yorkville, Michael Booth.

Michael is now in his tenth year as a Principal at Blyth Academy. He began his tenure as the first Principal of Blyth’s Mississauga campus, where he led the school through seven years of growth and ushered moves to the historic Cawthra and Adamson Estate buildings. For the past three years, Michael has served as the Principal of our Yorkville campus, and this year has assumed leadership of our virtual school, Orbit. A native of the Lawrence Park neighborhood, where he attended Blythwood Public school prior to his years at Upper Canada College, Michael is excited to return to the community. Prior to Blyth, Michael did his undergraduate work at McGill University, after which he inaugurated the Junior Master program at Upper Canada College, where he worked and lived for two years. The first half of his career was in academia, where Michael did graduate work and taught at New York University, Northwestern University, Indiana University and Loyola University – Chicago in film and media studies.

I look forward to several weeks of transition work with my friend and long-time colleague, and hope to stay in close touch with all things Blyth LP. You will be getting to know him soon!

With lots of reflection, I feel that our not-so-little school has defied the odds, growing relentlessly and at times explosively in a neighbourhood with so many respected schools. And of course there are all of those ‘firsts’ to look back on: first full-school assembly; first teams in volleyball, soccer, hockey, and basketball; first championship; first international trip; the first of so many of the Wildlife Photography and then Environmental Resource weeks at Algonquin Park’s Research Station; the Terry Fox Run; the first Model UN symposium; the first Foundations class and Temagami canoe trip; the first hosting of the city’s largest inter-school triathlon; the first MAD (Music/Art/Drama) Night; the first graduation ceremony; the smudging ceremony as we moved into our beautiful building; the first Blyth Lyfers graduating (students with us the whole way through Grades 9-12); the first environmental certification; the first (and last!) overnight Prison Experiment; the beehive and vegetable garden…on we could go. So many of those firsts are now counted-on annual milestones, and it will be exciting to see them carry on while others will be freshly added.

I am soaking in these last few weeks in our special school community, and remain available for anything that you all might need.

 

With warmest regards and plenty of mixed emotions,

Luke

 

Though our physical doors remain temporarily closed, the minds of our students stay open. Summer classes are continuing to meet on their regular daily schedules, in virtual classrooms with face-to-face instruction and peer interaction.  The Blyth Academy model of small class sizes, flexible scheduling and individualized approach have enabled us to remain faithful to our standards. Our commitment to ongoing and meaningful communication between school, teachers, students and families has been critical to this effort.

Although our students have transitioned into summer mode and COVID-19 restrictions have begun to loosen, we are looking ahead to what September will hold for our campuses and families.
We want to be clear - our preference and our priority is to get students back to our campuses, but we must ensure this is done in a safe and effective way. While we await official guidance from Public Health and the Ministry of Education, a "return to school" task force has been hard at work putting concrete operational plans in place for all likely scenarios. This includes a full return to campus with safeguards, a blended model of virtual and in-campus learning and the continuation of fully virtual classrooms. All scenarios will provide robust learning and live, daily instruction and interaction with teachers and peers. 
With ten campuses across Ontario, we realize that each one of our schools is a unique space and community. We will be implementing across-the-board policies on hand washing, facility cleaning and social distancing measures. Each school is also prepared to pivot individually based on the guidance of local health authorities and to best serve students and families. 
Our recent survey showed that over 80 per cent of Blyth Academy families are eager to return to campuses, and we are hard at work to prepare for this day. As September's scenario becomes clearer and more information becomes available, we will continue to communicate. 

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