Event News

AGM and Guest Speaker Event — May 26th 2021

June 15, 2021

On May 26, NISPA held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) via Zoom. The meeting was a well attended event with 54 attendees from 26 member schools.

The first half of the AGM dealt with the business portion of the meeting. NISPA President, Krystie Robinson-Vincent, welcomed all attendees and went through the agenda. There were several items that needed to be voted on during the meeting which will be highlighted in the minutes. The financial summary was provided by our Treasurer and the event highlights, including all the many speakers NISPA offered throughout the year, were shared with the group.

NISPA’s Nomination Committee developed the slate for the 2021-2022 Board members.

  • Chair — Domenica Coppa
  • Vice Chair —Tanya Giaquinto
  • Treasurer — Susan Ianni
  • Secretary — Kathy Vucic
  • Director — Jackie Sklenka, Nicol Andrea Domingues, Jo Hanna
  • Past Chair — Krystie Robinson-Vincent

The second half of the AGM focused on fostering Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion within Parent Associations with our guest speaker Mahlon Evans-Sinclair.

The key objectives of the presentation were:

  • Make links between how nature and nurture work together in the socialization process of perpetuating stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination.
  • Reflect on key terms and their contextual application.
  • Consider where best to start on the journey of EDI in their own settings in support of their learners and school environment

Mahlon identified macro and micro inequities and how we can lead purposely from the inside out.  We need to start with our own understanding:

  • Acceptance of bias and intention-setting
  • What key terms still need greater understanding
  • Self-learning
  • Tackle bias consciously
  • Catch yourself in the act
  • Name bias and analyze
  • Feedback from others

Shop Managers Roundtable — May 12th 2021

June 15, 2021

On May 12, the second Shopkeeper’s Roundtable workshop occurred with great discussion.  There were 26 attendees representing 20 schools.  It was a wonderful turnout.  The focus of the workshop was centred on 3 questions with opportunity for general discussion.

For this workshop, the groups answered the following questions:

  • What are your plans for back to school including the school’s choice to stay with casual uniform or going back to full uniform?
  • If you go back to uniform, how are you planning to handle fitting both this year’s students and 2021 students?
  • What have we taken away from this year to help us plan for next year? In particular, what have been the surprise successes or what has worked really well?

The plans for back to school uniforms ranged from still wearing casual clothing from slacks, quilts and golf shirts, to full uniform.  Shopkeepers are working with their school administration closely to ensure inventory is sufficient based on the decision.  If schools were wearing casual clothing at the onset of the school year, there would be a move in 2022 to be in full uniform.  There were a few schools that were still undecided.

In terms of fittings for new parents and returning parents, there was a combination of in person fittings based on appointments giving sufficient time to the parents and students to try on clothes with those schools providing only online shopping.  Some of those shopping online or via zoom have the opportunity to return items if they do not fit as long as tags remain on the item.  It appears all shopkeepers have gone online with curbside pickup throughout the year.  Also, many shopkeepers were on their own serving parents and students as a result of the pandemic.

Lastly, shopkeepers expressed that it has been a challenge navigating the changing needs of the school and assisting parents and students. However with the challenges, many benefits were highlighted:

  • Flexibility of schedule
  • Curb-side pick up allowed step count to be great — excellent workout
  • Updated inventory
  • Appreciate the students who are the soul of our schools
  • Resilience and adaptability — we can manage on our own while appreciating our volunteers
  • Community support and understanding

A big thank you to the shopkeepers for helping us keep our children in uniform, being flexible in the ever changing requirements because of the pandemic.  We appreciate all that you do!

End of Year Reflection Roundtable — April 27th 2021

June 15, 2021

The End of Year Reflection was held on Tuesday, April 27, 2021 via Zoom. It was well attended with 39 members attending from 24 schools.

The morning started with an introduction to Kundalini Yoga by Sheila Claudi-Partrat who guided us through relaxation and breathing exercises. We learned how these techniques help with calming and focusing the mind, creativity, language and logic.

We then moved to the roundtable discussion which focused on three topics: Parent, Volunteer and Student Engagement with specific questions to frame the discussion. Breakout rooms were used for small group discussion and then we came together to share each of the groups’ information. The conversations ranged from successful virtual events, meaningful ways to celebrate volunteers and plans for graduation.

It was evident that Parent Associations worked diligently and creatively to engage parents, volunteers and students during this challenging pandemic year. Using the latest technology, communities came together in new and exciting ways to celebrate and spread joy in their schools and foster a connection between all members. It is difficult to predict what the next school year will look like, but most likely, PAs are considering the use of a combination of in-person and online events to support their community engagement programs.

Leading with Intention Workshop – February 23rd 2021

February 25, 2021

Our Leading with Intention workshop was an engaging and informative session with a presentation, breakout rooms and whole group participation. Members were also able to ask questions and contribute feedback using the chat feature on Zoom.

Sandra Herbst

Sandra Herbst

Sandra Herbst led the session which explored the question, “What counts…what matters…what is important for a Parent Association to work as an effective team in achieving its mandate?” She drew on her experience as a teacher, school leader, superintendent and advisor to Ministries of Education as well as author, speaker, coach, mentor and consultant. She is currently serving as Chief Strategic Officer at Holy Trinity School.

She shared a sample of an effective meeting agenda:


  • welcome and beginnings
  • for learning-norms of collaboration that lead to success
  • for discussion-effective meeting structures and protocol
  • for information-essential communication moves for leaders

Sandra expanded on each subtopic referring to slides and practical examples from everyday situations. In the “for learning” section, it was noted that highly performing teams create their own norms and refer to them on a regular basis.  Attendees were led through the process of co-constructing norms of collaboration. In the “for discussion” phase, discussion and reflection protocols were shared and explained. Lastly, in the “for information” section, Sandra highlighted six significant items a leader needs to pay attention to: paraphrasing, questioning, pausing, presuming a stance of positive presupposition, setting aside unproductive listening patterns, and pursuing a balance between inquiry and advocacy.

Sandra concluded her presentation with a message to all leaders which is clarity brings equity. Furthermore, if we lead from the side, we promote a more positive and inclusive environment for all volunteers.

NISPA would like to thank Sandra Herbst for her dynamic and educational workshop and for all the valuable information that was shared. Also, a big thank you to Holy Trinity School for its collaboration and support of this presentation.

Health and Wellness During a Pandemic Panel Discussion – January 26th 2021

January 30, 2021

The panelists at our health and wellness during a pandemic panel discussion represented various areas of the healthcare system:

  • Dr. Mark Broussenko, ’07 MD-Family Physician, Hospitalist, CAMH
  • Janet Randie, RN, MPH, CIC-Co-Founder, Thomas and Randle IPAC Consulting
  • Eslyn Thomas, RN, BScN, CIC-Co-Founder, Thomas and Randle IPAC Consulting
  • Elissa Kline-Beber, MSW, RSW-Director of Student Wellness at The York School
  • Kelly Sylva, RN, BScN-Cardiac and Vascular Surgery, St. Michael’s Hospital

Dr. Mark Broussenko is a hospitalist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. He holds a faculty appointment at U of T and is currently a covering physician for the inpatient COVID Cohorting Units and on rotation caring for COVID patients. He shared his experience with his patients, the future of COVID-19, his thoughts on travel, community spread and vaccinations.

Janet Randie and Eslyn Thomas, both nurses with certification in infection, prevention and control (IPAC) talked about the importance of continuing to use safety protocols such as hand hygiene, masks, social distancing and eye protection. They also highlighted that health equity is the opportunity for everyone to lead a healthy life regardless of social, economic and demographic circumstances.

Elissa Kline-Beber, a registered social worker, shared her experience on the effects of COVID-19 on the mental health of children and adults. Impact on learning and coping strategies for stress and anxiety were also discussed. Challenging your thoughts, choosing where to focus, making spaces between parents and children are some ways to combat stress and anxiety. Preparing children for the possibility of returning to school and then returning to a lock down scenario was also addressed.

Kelly Sylva, a registered nurse on the Cardiac and Vascular Surgery unit, talked about her experience as a frontline worker and the impact COVID-19 has had on patients and staff. She described how the hospital implemented best practices to combat COVID-19, and developed initiatives that would help patients cope with limited access to family and friends while in hospital.

NISPA would like to express our deepest gratitude to the panelists, Dr. Broussenko, Janet Randie, Eslyn Thomas, Elissa Kline-Beber and Kelly Sylva for sharing their knowledge and expertise with our members. We would also like to thank all of you for attending this session. We hope you found it to be informative and insightful

Shop Managers Roundtable Event – November 25th 2020

November 30, 2020

Once again, this dynamic group of committed school shop managers shared the very many successes and struggles they have, and continue to have, in order to ensure their schools stores can meet and exceed the needs of their whole school community, while responding to the regularly changing rules around COVID19.

From the 28 participants it was so interesting to hear their responses to the three topics discussed:

•    What protocols/restrictions are in place in your shop,
•    Did the uniform requirements change at your school,
•    Have your sales been greatly impacted either positively or negatively,

For example, some schools shared their students wear only casual school uniform pieces, while others maintained the wearing of formal uniforms, with the exception of blazers and ties and how this has impacted sales, stock control and planning for 2021.   Some Shop Managers shared they have seen a big increase in the number of graduation rings ordered by families compared to previous years, while the conversation on fitting new and current students for key uniform pieces continues to be ongoing and robust.

Hot Button Topics Roundtable Event – November 24th 2020

November 30, 2020

Thank you to all of the 45 registered participants that attended the November 24th meeting.  Our participants were assigned to breakout rooms that were rotated to all three topics – Fundraising, Parent Engagement, and Graduation. This virtual event allowed us to share ideas, concerns and really highlighted how resilient we are as school communities, parents and volunteers during conditions that push us out of our comfort zones.

The fundraising group discussed school plans to fundraise, switching in person events to virtual events and explaining whether their particular school raises funds for their school, their PA or both. The parent engagement group shared the success of their virtual events and attendance to the events, along with sharing the topics they felt were successful, and if day events or evening events were more popular. The Graduation session covered whether graduation 2021 will be in person or virtual, if any celebrations are being planned and were there any events hosted for 2020 Grad ceremonies.

NISPA Guest Speaker Event – October 27th 2020

October 30, 2020

Mark Bowden

We welcomed Mark Bowden for our virtual guest speaker event in October.  Mark has been voted the #1 Body Language Professional in the world for two years running. So yes, now is the time to sit up straight… even if you are sitting at home! Mark is the founder of communication training company, TRUTHPLANE® and his highly acclaimed TEDx talk has reached millions of people, and he is regularly called upon by media to comment on body language around elections and debates. Mark has written 4 books on body language and human behavior, the most recent TRUTH & LIES, WHAT PEOPLE ARE REALLY THINKING becoming a Globe and Mail Canadian Bestseller.

We were presented with a number of interesting ideas and suggestions on how to plan and participate in virtual meetings as part of our Parent Association planning sessions.

Mark encouraged us to ask important questions – Did you know that in order for virtual meetings to run effectively, paying attention to our body language is essential?

Little changes and suggestions all make for a better and effective meeting for the organizer and participants, and include:

  • shortening the length of the meeting
  • lighting
  • raising our laptop
  • use of our hands
  • along with not fearing silence

Mark Bowden used all of these effectual changes to make our event entertaining, while providing us with hands on knowledge to use for meetings, work environments, and also to help our children learn more effectively.

Welcome Back Roundtable — September 30th 2020

September 30, 2020

We all recognize that COVID has impacted how our schools are managed and how our children learn in and out of school. COVID has also pushed us out of our norm in terms of meeting, fundraising, supporting our schools, and community events. COVID and ZOOM virtual meetings will forever be a part of 2020 time capsules!

During our first workshop we discussed and shared our experience with speakers used in schools that brought their parent community together. We also discussed topics that you would like to hear in our upcoming workshops and events. Additionally, we learned how schools had their students return to learning, quarantining rules for the boarding students and non-boarding students, and the tools used by PA’s to meet virtually. Further, we discussed the way our PA’s are funded and how schools are supported during the school year – through parent engagement and/or fundraising events. Lastly, we shared our ideas about graduation.

NISPA AGM – May 20th 2020

May 30, 2020

We are very excited to announce our new Executive Committee for 2020-2021 and we look ahead to another year of fabulous events and opportunities to network.  A big welcome to Rachel O’Donovan (St. John’s Kilmarnock) and Susan Ianni (Holy Trinity School).

NISPA Executive

We are pleased to present the following members as our incoming NISPA Executive Committee.

  • Past President – Kerstin Lueck
  • President – Krystie Robinson-Vincent
  • Vice-President – Domenica Coppa
  • Treasurer – Susan Ianni
  • Secretary – TBD
  • Marketing and Communication – Rachel O’Donovan
  • Events – Jackie Sklenka, Connie Castillo, Tanya Giaquinto
  • Membership – Rachel O’Donovan, Nancy Nash, Patricia Graham