Monthly Archives: February 2015

Winter Term Update

Fabric Of The Nation

Image_001As much of our country shivered through record setting temperatures over a Valentines / Family Day Weekend, the warmth of our national fabric embraced us in a mid-winter hug. On February 15th, our country’s beautiful and much admired flag celebrated fifty years of symbolizing a land and people respected and envied around the globe. Whether you were skiing, hiking, playing shinny, shovelling or relaxing by the fire, there were many reasons to celebrate the season that so defines our land. Dominating our calendar, literally and metaphorically, the oft times mythical narrative of winter seems a birthright most Canadians at least stoically accept if they can’t fully embrace! Somehow our flag seems to fly highest over the backdrop of an eternal winter blue sky. In the scene’s background … an endless horizon framing snow draped forests and the gleaming ice of frozen ponds and rivers at the flanks of glacier capped peaks.

Last week our sr. students and staff enjoyed a wonderful visit to Camp Wanakita in Haliburton, where they celebrated winter…outdoors where it can be most appreciated. Snowshoe hikes, cross country skiing and evening campfires with hot chocolate on the shores of a frozen lake are a wonderful way to appreciate the beauty of a season most of us hope our children will learn to love. We need them to take time to discover the joys of standing under silent pines bathed in moonlight and learn with amazement how the creatures of the boreal forest adapt to life in an environment so beautiful yet unforgiving. Identifying tracks through the snow and recognizing the birds and animals of the Haliburton/ Algonquin highlands is a delight for the senses and stimulates the power of observation. While at Wanakita, our students also enjoyed an evening workshop illuminating First Nation culture led by long time friend of Dearcroft/West Wind, Doug Pawis an Anishnabe (Ojibway) elder.

As famed Canadian wildlife artist Robert Bateman has stated, today’s youth need to spend more time outside immersed in nature, connecting to the environment and building life skills… benefitting from the confidence such opportunities provide. Iconic advocates of outdoor environmental education including Dr. David Suzuki and American author Richard Louv (who coined the term Nature Deficit Disorder), have long warned us that adolescents need such a connection with the earth in order to develop productive and healthy adult behaviours.


For over twenty years we have run a very ambitious Winter Trip program in the month of February rotating among destinations in Ontario and Quebec. From winter camping in Temagami or a snowbound Algonquin Park to skating on the Rideau Canal… ces’t l’hiver! From admiring stunning ice sculptures in the shadows of our Parliament buildings during winterlude… to marveling at Quebec City‘s frozen ramparts and dogsledding on trails flanking the mighty St. Lawrence, there’s no place more magnificent than Canada in winter.

As mentioned previously, this year we’ve been learning more about the historic and contemporary role of Canada’s First Nation communities in the cultural narrative of our country. In addition to the evening led by Doug Pawis at Camp Wanakita, we’ve been involved with exciting initiatives such as helping organize the visit to Oakville earlier this month by award winning Canadian author Joseph Boyden, author of The Orenda, Three Day Road and Through Black Spruce. In a world screaming for peace, tolerance and constructive dialogue (important values and skills we strive to instill in our students), we were thrilled to have a voice as powerful and thought provoking as Joseph Boyden visit our community. Through workshops, book readings and lectures attended by members of our staff and Dearcroft parents, we are now positioned to join the conversation and be a part of the dialogue affecting an important aspect of Canada’s future. Native rights, mental health and wellness environmental awareness and stewardship of our natural resources are all important aspects of curriculum development under the umbrella of Canadian cultural studies.

Image_004In closing, I’d like to share some observations by Ron MacLean, a long time supporter and wonderful friend who joined us for Joseph Boyden’s visit. I encourage you to read the link (below) to his Hockey Day In Canada blog penned this week from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, home of another Canadian icon, Sidney Crosby.­‐of-­‐nova-­‐scotia-­‐music-­‐hockey-­‐happiness/

With Ron MacLean, Joseph Boyden and Appleby College Principal, Innes van Nostrand & family at the Appleby Chapel for The Orenda, book reading event : Feb. 4/2015
With Ron MacLean, Joseph Boyden and Appleby College Principal, Innes van Nostrand & family at the Appleby Chapel for The Orenda, book reading event : Feb. 4/2015

In addition to Ron’s insight regarding the power of Joseph Boyden’s words, it seems fitting to end with the theme of winter… where when skating on a frozen pond with friends, anything seems possible and all is good! Whether or not you play shinny or appreciate the joys of hockey in its purest form… outdoors on natural ice, I’m sure you’ll enjoy these further observations from a remarkable Canadian. As I’m sure you’ll agree, it is with great eloquence that Ron elaborates upon themes from the very fabric of our nation… themes we are so privileged to discuss. All the while in a country that embraces us with the warmth of decency, respect, community and eternal hope for a bold and bright future under our beautifully welcoming and inclusive flag.

To borrow a uniquely Canadian Olympian phrase…We Are Winter!

To that I’ll add… we are blessed!

Gord Phippen, Director


Fall Term Underway

Dear Parents,

Dearcroft Montessori Directors, Gordon Phippen, Lynda Phippen, Director's Letter
Directors: Gordon Phippen, B.Sc., AMS and Lynda Phippen, B.A., AMI, AMS

With the Fall Term now well underway, and many exciting initiatives keeping us very busy at school, the weeks are dropping off the calendar as quickly as the leaves off the trees!

Last week we were thrilled by a fantastic turnout at our annual Fall Festival.

Thanks to those of you able to attend.  A highlight for many was enjoying the ‘delicious deliberations’ of the Jr. High chili cook-off contest!  It was also great watching the younger kids burn off some serious energy in the bouncy castle and have their faces painted while they waited for their clown crafted balloon creations!  Set amidst a lovely autumn backdrop beneath the canopy of fall leaves in our back playground, the Fall Festival was a great chance to visit… re-connecting or meeting new friends.  Special thanks also to former Dearcroft dad, Don Allen (owner of Jubilee Fruit Market) for the generous donation of the beautiful box of harvest fresh apples.  All in all, Fall Festival was a great way to enjoy the fleeting days of the season.  Thanks to our staff and senior students for their assistance in preparing for the event and to all of you for making it such a great success.

Speaking of seasonal celebrations, we’re now planning our next party…

A Magical Christmas… our seasonal holiday gathering, coming your way in December.

This year we’re incorporating some fresh ideas and a new format, so please circle the date on your calendar … Friday, December 5th.  Please plan to join us and invite friends & family!

At our first planning meeting, several parent volunteers and many of our staff worked on establishing some committees and we look forward to unveiling the details of this event soon!  The proceeds from this year’s A Magical Christmas will be donated to the United Way and the numerous worthwhile charities under its community umbrella.

In addition to the many in-class lessons and learning opportunities the children have participated in, our elementary students have enjoyed field trips to the African Lion Safari and Crawford Lake on the Niagara Escarpment to study fresh water resources/ecology and First Nation history at the Iroquois village and longhouse.  Next week, our senior students will experience Group Of Seven art and the works of Tom Thomson as well as the extensive Inuit/First Nation collection at the beautiful McMichael Gallery in Kleinburg.  Truly one of our country’s greatest cultural destinations, the McMichael Gallery is a Canadian treasure.  If you are interested in joining us for this trip (Wed. Oct 29th), you’d be most welcome to come along.  The McMichael collection is world class and if you haven’t seen it… please consider joining our group!  Pls. call the office if interested.

This year we have initiated a highly focused and ambitious art study component throughout the school.  Led by Mrs. Shipton, we are expanding our art program by developing new opportunities and innovative extensions to our curriculum.

Some activities will include gallery visits, guest speakers and exhibitions of student art both on and off our campus.  You may recall our ‘Celebration Of Art & Biodiversity’ evening held at Dearcoft last May.  This event featured catered food and drink, music and beautiful works of art inspired by nature and the biodiversity on our campus.  Assisting us last year was Dearcroft dad and local artist, Bert Jackson.  Actively involved in Oakville’s art community, Bert is a painter, sculptor, tattoo artist and graphic designer.  During a number of workshops over the course of the year, he helped our senior students create wonderful 3-D models and sculptures that drew rave reviews.  Totally engaging the enthusiasm and creativity of our students, Bert has become an… ‘artist in residence’, of sorts here at Dearcroft!

His art lessons are greatly anticipated by Dearcroft students of all ages as he is working this year with a range of classes from Pre-school to Jr. High. Watch for more of Bert’s art and creative additions to our campus in future weeks.

Before entirely leaving the topic of art, there will be an interesting musical, Colours In The Storm coming to the Oakville Centre, (Nov 6-8 and Nov. 12-15), based on the life and vision of one of Canada’s most iconic figures, legendary artist Tom Thomson.  In addition to featuring Dearcroft mom, Jane Pokou, performing in the chorus, Colours in The Storm profiles Thomson’s short but prolific career painting the Canadian wilderness prior to his mysterious drowning in Algonquin Park’s Canoe Lake in July of 1917.  The enigmatic mystery of Thomson’s tragically premature death and his legacy of hauntingly beautiful landscapes (many hanging in the McMichael Gallery) has inspired many books, films and art exhibitions.  In an effort to honour his memory, the subsequent formation of The Group Of Seven by his grief stricken painting colleagues led to a monumental body of combined works, revolutionizing Canadian art.  Widely considered Thomson’s most important work, The West Wind (AGO collection in Toronto) actually inspired the name of our Jr. High program and logo!

For more information on ordering tickets for Colours In The Storm, the award winning musical by Jim Betts, please contact the Oakville Centre box office:

(905) 489-7784

In closing, as you may know, on Saturday, October 25th we will be hosting an OIS (Oakville Independent Schools) Open House from 10 a.m. -2:00 p.m.

If you know any families you feel would be interested in Dearcroft, please encourage them to attend.  We always appreciate referrals from you, our parents, as word of mouth is a very significant factor in how we meet new families.  Last week we attended the Our Kids School Expo at the Oakville Conference Centre, where we met many new potential families.

In fact we may have first met you through this annual marketing event that we attend every October!  We are of course also more than happy to also arrange for visits and schedule tours for those interested, outside of Open House dates.  We encourage you to let other people know this and are always grateful for such introductions!

In this regard, as an introduction/overview of our school community… we are sending you an email link to a Dearcroft school video produced over the past year.  It was produced by Dearcroft graduate, Laura Bowker, (Bowker Resolutions) an accomplished photographer and filmmaker who attended film school in NYC and works locally.  Laura also does film workshops with our Jr. High students and is a great advocate for the development of creativity in youth through film and multi-media study.  If you have a chance to view Laura’s video, we hope you’ll find it helpful.  Let us know what you think?!  Increasingly, in addition to an improved website, we plan to document what makes Dearcroft/West Wind the special community it is, so we can all share links to it through networks of technology and social media.  In short, our greatest asset has always been the people and combined strengths within our entire school family.  By working together enthusiastically, great initiatives can and have been accomplished!

After a week like we’ve just had, highlighted by the tragically disturbing events in Ottawa, it’s important for us all to be thankful.  We are very lucky.  We live in a great place and share a great school community with nearly half a century of wonderful traditions.  We have our families, each other and a remarkable degree of freedom.  So much so that we so often take it for granted.  I look forward to seeing you at upcoming school events and on behalf of our entire staff, thank you for your dedication and commitment to our combined efforts.  We truly appreciate your support and the privilege of working with your children.


Gord Phippen, Director

Valentine’s Day Celebrations & Save the Children Donation

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we are asking all the children to wear something red or pink and bring a donation for Save the Children Canada on Thursday, February 12th. For the Extended Day and Elementary children instead of uniform, they may wear casual attire on this day with the Valentine’s theme in mind. We are asking for a maximum contribution of $5.00 per child which will be donated to Save the Children Canada, to help needy children in communities all around the world. For each contribution a heart will be placed on the Valentine Tree. For more information on this charity, please visit their website at

Gord Phippen