All posts by Gord Phippen

Gord Phippen

About Gord Phippen

Gord and his wife Lynda are the Owners and Directors of Dearcroft/West Wind Montessori School. Gord holds a B.Sc. from Dalhousie University in Halifax and an A.M.S Elementary Teaching Degree from CMTE, NY. From 1992-95 he served as Chairman of CCMA (Canadian Council Of Montessori Administrators) and he is a CCMA trained Montessori Consultant.

Director’s Letter Fall 2021

Director's Letter Fall 2021

Dear Parents,

Although it has certainly been a challenging and very busy start to our new school year, at the same time it has been a wonderfully happy and smooth transition.  It's been a very special time welcoming back all our classes to campus after the prolonged period our elementary students and staff spent learning from home.  To those on our team who spent months teaching remotely last year, and indeed to all of our staff… we're so appreciative of your resilience, creativity and commitment.  Your remarkable leadership and resolve.  Indeed, EVERYONE… including students and parents… you have all been truly amazing!

Although the challenges presented by the past 18 months have been exhausting for all of us, like a Dickensian paradox… it has seemed the best of times and the worst of times.  A tale not of two cities, but of two extremes… the polarity and pain of Covid's impact and the incredible energy and hope embodied by our collective determination to overcome adversity… our shared commitment to emerge from the struggle.  Despite the overwhelming nature of the pandemic, we have learned so much about the importance of cooperation, compassion, and the power of kindness.  We have discovered strengths we didn't know we possessed and cultivated new interests and skills that will serve us well as we emerge into a future we all have a chance to shape together.

One aspect of pivoting to adapt to Covid's realities has been embracing something we can all enjoy.  Spending time outdoors, immersed in nature and enjoying the subtle but powerful rhythms we had perhaps all but taken for granted.  The beautifully full and radiant harvest moon we've just enjoyed as we all prepare to welcome a new season, reminds us of the incredibly restorative power of our planet and the healing, timeless rhythms of nature.  The natural world we need to do everything we can to protect.  Throughout the pandemic, access to fresh air, natural spaces and the beauty of our surroundings has brought a level of comfort to all.

With the arrival of the Autumnal Equinox, as the leaves change colour and the delights of the crisp fall air usher in the promise of a new harvest, we can all be thankful for the blessings of a new season.  The blessings of living in a free and inclusive land… a globally respected and decent country… where we have choice and opportunity.

At Dearcroft we have always considered a primary responsibility of our work to be the creation of a kind and caring environment.  A place where we can gather and work together in a peaceful and supportive community.  A community of kindness.  As the fall semester continues to unfold, we have already enjoyed the return of some of our longest running traditions including last week's wonderful Terry Fox Run for cancer research.  Many thanks to Mrs. Picone and all our staff for carrying on this wonderful tradition on campus.  An event we have held for nearly 35 years.  To host Terry's Run is always a very special honour as we remember the courage and vision of one of Canada's greatest heroes.

Additionally, as we revisit our past and look forward to the future, one of our countrys greatest lessons and subsequent opportunities for growth, lies at the root of addressing the tragedy of Canada's Residential Schools.  It is a special time of reflection as we pursue a path to shared healing alongside the generations of First Nation families affected by this dark chapter in our shared history.  For many years, Dearcroft has been a leader at incorporating First Nations history and indigenous teachings within our curriculum.  As part of this ongoing commitment and as we further acknowledge the truth and reconciliation journey, we are very pleased to welcome our good friend Doug Pawis (an Anishnabe elder from Shawanaga First Nation) back to Dearcroft on September 30th, Canada's inaugural National Truth and Reconciliation Day.  We look forward to Doug's visit as he shares his story and the timeless wisdom of First Nations teachings.  As you know, we encourage all to wear orange on September 30th in solidarity and acknowledgement of those children lost… in honouring the importance of this dialogue and ongoing journey.

The most important aspect of our journey ahead lies in supporting each other and recognizing the path we're on together.  Global events, particularly over the period of our shared Covid journey have only magnified the importance of courage, cooperation, conviction, and faith in the future.  Changes are rapid and many of the progressive developments in science, technology and education are leading us to a brighter path.  As we begin our 54th year of operation at Dearcroft, there is much to celebrate and of course, countless exciting opportunities for learning and sharing.  We wish everyone a truly wonderful year ahead.  Be well, stay strong and enjoy the journey.

Gord Phippen

2019: Reflecting on Another Eventful Year

Dear Parents,

Dearcroft Montessori, Director's Message

Reflecting upon yet another eventful year on our campus, following last year’s very exciting 50th anniversary year, there are many aspects of Dearcroft’s traditions that we continue to embrace and build upon.  Since mid-way through our fifth decade, we have steadily developed into a comprehensive Toddler to Grade 8 program.  We have pursued the development of academic space and teaching teams to serve the needs of families looking for a best practices, authentic Montessori experience for children, 18 month to 14 years of age.  Our students are guided by wonderfully dedicated teachers who enjoy working together to create harmonious and productive classrooms.  Learning environments where children are inspired and challenged.  A great sign of a successful school is the atmosphere one encounters upon walking in the front doors.  When visitors come to see our classes they are always amazed by the warmth of the atmosphere, level of focus and genuine degree of joy and happiness they observe.  We hear this constantly as well as familiar refrains of praise from those who host our students on class trips and school outings.  At Dearcroft, our students love school and being with their friends.  They love the community they have helped create and they reflect it beautifully when they represent us off campus as well.

As we look forward to Dearcroft’s next 50 years, we will remain true to what has made our school great while also being vigilant in maintaining our place of excellence in an ever dynamic and rapidly changing world.  Although Montessori education is timeless, many aspects that surround our school community are in constant evolution, driven by technology, changes in community dynamics and the general passage of time.  When Dearcroft was founded by my parents in 1968, Oakville was a much smaller community with a population of just over 20,000.  Dearcroft joined Appleby College and St. Mildreds on the independent school map that year and now, over half a century later we remain the third oldest Independent school in Oakville a community that is 10 times larger than it was then.  Looking ahead, it’s an interesting exercise to project how everything from population dynamics and demographics as well as general infrastructure development, including the creation of municipal facilities, can influence where people choose to live.  Certainly having a quality school in your neighborhood is a major draw for many.

As we have now been on our campus for over 40 of our 50+ years, we are looking forward to planned improvements to our facility, updating and renovating our original school building.  As Oakville plans and carries out a massive re-build of it’s original downtown area, a little over a kilometer’s walking distance from our front gates, change and renewal will be in the air as 2020 approaches.  The natural beauty and ideal location of our campus has served us well over the decades.  Dearcroft remains a wonderful community tradition, highlighted by it’s natural beauty and perfect location in the heart of Old Oakville.  We are so fortunate to be able to serve our families in such a naturally inspiring and carefully planned setting.  In an environment that was designed carefully and with much thought, so many years ago.  In the early years, my parents, Peter and Barbara had a wonderful vision for a unique and special school community.  They followed their hearts and ambition without compromise.  Along with our amazing team of gifted and enthusiastic educators and you and your amazing children we continue on this journey of learning together.  We are thankful for the opportunity to carry on such a wonderful tradition and thank you for your part in making Dearcroft such an amazing place to live and learn.  Thank you for another great year and your contributions to the very special Dearcroft story.


Gord Phippen

Thank You Dearcroft Community

We would like to take this opportunity to thank our Dearcroft Community for such an amazing event on Friday December 7th.

Dearcroft Community, Season's Greetings, Holiday Wishes

Thank you to our supporting sponsors at Ten Thousand Villages who helped raise funds for two great causes, all proceeds that were raised during “gifts from the heart” market place will be going to global artisans from all over the world that will help put food on the table, provide schooling for children, and clean water.  “Gifts from the heart” raised $2000 and we are all so appreciative of everyone’s effort in supporting such an amazing organization that continually gives back. Fifteen percent of these proceeds will go towards the Ocean School Initiative.

We would also like to thank our community partner My Gym of Oakville who provided all the gym equipment and programming for the evening, so that Dearcroft students had a fun outlet to jump their sillies out!  We also appreciate the efforts of the Junior High students for providing all the festive games for the younger students to play.

Once again, Jon and Katherine Vellinga made our parent lounge a huge success with Zirkova Vodka holiday cocktails.  Denise and Chris Handscomb, the people behind the lovely charcuterie board, the veggie tray, and sweets joined them.  Dr. Denise Handscomb is a naturopathic Doctor, and clinic owner at Abaton Integrative Medicine and Chris Handscomb is a Financial Investment Advisor & Family Wealth Management.

Last but certainly not least we would like to thank the special man in the red suit for making a special stop from the North Pole (we all know who he is… Santa!) to spend some quality time with our lovely Dearcroft students.  It was very magical to have you!

Thank you to our parent volunteers who came in during the week to help transform Dearcroft into a Winter Wonderland full of festive fun.  To the parents who were able to provide sandwich trays, snacks and gifts for all the classroom baskets, we are so appreciative.  This is such a generous school community and we are certainly grateful for everyone’s contributions!  Proceeds raised during the raffle were $1,300, all going towards the Ocean School Initiative.

On behalf of the Dearcroft Staff, we wish you all a wonderful holiday.

‘Lost & Found’ – Dearcroft Welcomes Arctic Adventurer, Geordie Dalglish

The story of Franklin’s Lost Ships and the greatest discovery in Canada’s maritime history…

Marine Archaeology

Franklin Lost Ships, Search for Northwest Passage

Lost Franklin ships

In 1845 Sir John Franklin set off to find the Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic.  Franklin, his 2 ships and 129 men were never heard from again.

The fate of the expedition has become one of the greatest mysteries in the history of exploration…

Canadian Geographic, A Franklin FindNearly two centuries later, the discovery last summer of Sir John Franklin’s flagship, the Erebus has ignited interest in this tragic and enigmatic story.  Dives to the wreck and the ongoing search for Franklin’s other ship, Terror have slowly begun to unravel this arctic mystery.

We are very excited to welcome Arctic adventurer, Geordie Dalglish to Dearcroft Montessori on Wednesday, May 6th @ 10:00 a.m. to share the story of this remarkable discovery.  Geordie has been involved in many facets of the search, supporting the research team, divers and scientists in this monumental multi-disciplinary effort.

The success of the search for The Lost Franklin ships, (long considered the ‘holy grail’ of marine archaeology), has been supported by the local Inuit, Canadian Coast Guard, government and private investment and iconic publications including Canadian Geographic.

If you’d like to join us to hear Geordie Dalglish, as he speaks to our Elementary students, please feel free to join us in our Jr. High building tomorrow.

As chairman of the W. Garfield Weston Foundation, Geordie Dalglish is involved in numerous initiatives supporting education, land conservancy, stewardship and Northern research initiatives.

W. Garfield Weston Foundation, Geordie Dalglish

A graduate of Dalhousie University, he is an avid outdoorsman, pilot and environmentalist.

Dearcroft Welcomes Arctic Adventurer, Geordie Dalglish

Celebrating Mom’s

Mother's Day, Tea Party, Celebrating Mom

The school has been abuzz this week with final preparations for the annual Mother’s Day Tea to be held on Friday May 8th at Dearcroft.  This spring tradition is a wonderful chance to pay tribute to the dedicated and hard-working Mom’s, who we are fortunate to have as part of our school community.  Students have been working on a few surprises and musical numbers to help show their appreciation towards their Mothers.

We look forward to spending this morning of celebration with an outstanding group of women!

Mother’s Day Invite

Experts in Another Topic!

Junior High, Nova Scotia, Acadians, Finland

Grade Seven students enjoying a moment with their job well done!  These girls are feeling great after completing their presentation on Nova Scotia and the Acadians.  And after such an intensive study and research period, they have earned it!  Our Junior High program is made up of several 6 – 8 week sessions over the year.  Each session focuses on a different inter-curricular theme, and encompasses studies from all subject areas.  On top of related lessons, weekly work and field trips, students are responsible for identifying an area of interest within a topic and completing a major research project with a written, oral and creative component to it.  With all of this rigorous behind them, our students are understandably proud of their accomplishments!

There are numerous arguments in favour of “teaching by topic” instead of “teaching by subject” in order to really prepare students for life.  So many in fact, that the entire country of Finland – one of the world’s most successful education systems, is making the switch.   Check out the article below for more information.

Finland schools: Subjects scrapped and replaced with ‘topics’ as country reforms its education system