By RON FANFAIR
Veronica Sullivan’s eyes lit up when she saw an advertisement for teachers for the new Africentric school, which is set to open this September.
As the children’s program co-ordinator since 1981 for the African Canadian Heritage Association (ACHA), she has played a key role in the curriculum-based initiative that has turned out hundreds of graduates who have carved out successful professional careers.
She knew that acquiring a position at the new school would place her in a position to continue with the educational work she has been doing for nearly three decades.
“To get a job with the Africentric school is a dream come true,” said Sullivan who has been teaching with the Toronto & District School Board for the past 10 years. “I see it as an extension of what I have been doing with the ACHA. I have worked with many children over the years, trying to ensure they have a positive future.
“In that time, I have seen many kids who are not succeeding in the school system. They need appropriate help and support which the new school that I am going to be part of will provide. We shall give them the confidence they need to know that they can succeed, in spite of whatever obstacles they may face.”
A graduate of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto, Sullivan taught at Orde Street and Maple Leaf public schools before joining Chalkfarm Pubic School as a teacher librarian.
She will spend the summer getting ready for her new job.
“I shall enjoy this summer working and I’ll have an amazing program for the students when they arrive in September,” she said. “This job means a lot to me because I have worked hard to come to this point. I am already looking forward to the commencement of the new school year.”
The Africentric Alternative School will initially accommodate students from junior kindergarten to Grade Five.
School principal Thando Hyman-Aman said the new institution is extremely fortunate to have Sullivan on its staff.
“I have known Veronica since I was a child and she was my second instructor with the ACHA program,” Hyman-Aman said. “She has been critically important to the dissemination of African history and African heritage classes in Toronto. She has a great wealth of knowledge and a passion for kids that her new students will soon find out.”
The other teachers hired so far are ACHA instructor and former Chalkfarm Public School teacher, Marina Hodge and Agatha Paul.
The school, which already has an enrolment of 81, will have five full-time teachers and one part-time staff member.
“We are pushing our outreach program to increase enrolment and we expect about eight to nine kids to be registered this week,” said Hyman-Aman. “The more students we get, the more staff we will be able to hire.
“Parents have been very enthusiastic about the school, telling me that they want something different and better for their kids. Those are things that we shall provide for them.