Thank You Howard

harry at howard wall

There are so many variables that go into the makeup of who your kid becomes. As much as you try to control the narrative, manipulate each path taken and add your two cents to each decision, there are aspects you just can’t control.

One such variable that shapes a kid and sets them on a path is where they start school. I am not talking daycare or preschool or babysitting, I am talking full day, school. Where your kid starts going to school can have a huge impact on their love of school, how they learn, how they develop and who they become. It is the starting point for who their friends are, what types of teachers they like/dislike, the start of real stress and worry and really, the start of them becoming an individual person.

That’s a lot to take on for a four or five-year old. Just to let you know, Harry started school as at five because in Nova Scotia they don’t have junior kindergarten. He hit the ground running in senior kindergarten.

As parents, we kind of had all of the above floating around in our head. We knew school was an important part of Harry joining the world. We were also new to what the heck you are supposed to look for in a school. It was not a matter of just picking where you wanted. It was about where you lived. What school was in your zone. What was the story with that school? Did it have a good rep? A bad rep? So much pressure when honestly, there was not much you could do unless you were going to move simply to match the school you wanted.

We were living in the east end of Toronto at the time. We thought it was going to be Jackman, a highly regarded school and where his mom went. We even tried to register Harry there. It did not happen due to going on the wrong day. Maybe that was foreshadowing.


Very quickly, we found a place to rent and we moved to the west end. We moved into the High Park area. Once the lease was signed, before booking movers or figuring out who slept in what room, we were thinking school. Where was Harry going to school. He was about to start for real and it was an anxious time for everyone.

A quick google search showed us where. Howard Public School located on Marmaduke. We had heard a lot of great things. People were even saying it was the Jackman of the west. We were excited. I took Harry to register, he was in, our journey was about to begin. Nothing to worry about right?


One of the other variables that is hard to control in your child’s life is who their teacher is going to be. Unless you home school them and treat them like Kimmy Schmidt, a stranger is going to have them six hours a day.

At Howard, the two years of teachers we had were just what Harry needed. We lucked out and have zero complaints.

Harry had Mr. P for SK and Mr. Ing for Grade 1. Excellent role models for Harry. Excellent at pinpointing areas Harry needed to focus on. Excellent and maintaining communication with us. We appreciated them because they were no-nonsense and no drama.

Harry enjoyed his SK year so much, he was sad to leave it. Mr. P was known as a guy funnier than dad. He was fair but tough. He helped Harry enjoy transitioning to school where he had no friends and was new to the city.

My only complaint (wait I said we had none) was the way SK ended. But it was no Mr. P’s fault. It was when there were negotiations going on and the teachers could not provide report cards. This was hard for us because earlier in the year, the initial report card, Harry had a lot of work to do to catch up to his peers. We were left wondering if he was actually ready for Grade 1.

As it turns out, he really wasn’t. Grade 1 was a struggle right out of the gate. But, that is where Mr. Ing stepped in and was part of a turning point for Harry. A turning point that we are so proud of when it comes to where Harry is now.

I have written about Harry’s struggles with school before, so I am not going to talk about it again, but long story short, Mr. Ing identified the problem early.

Between meeting with us, getting Harry extra help and a few other extras like Kumon, Harry is now where he should be. He loves school.


September through November, Harry was fighting it. Always behind, stressed out over that and not being where he needed to be for reading and writing.

But from December until now, Harry has dominated. He has climbed levels and improved his grades to where they need to be. Plus he loves school. He loves learning. He is set for grade 2.

We were worried he would not get there. Now we worry about how we can continue to stimulate his brain and he is actually getting bored.

I give a lot of the credit to Mr. Ing. I know it is his job to teach and inspire, but I feel like he went above the norm and really helped our son. We appreciate it.

Like I said, the foundation has been set for his future years of school. Harry has learned what hard work is. He has a work ethic. He has gotten better at focusing. He has learned how to be social with different kids.

Why is this all extra important as Harry goes to Grade 2?

On To The Next One

Because Harry is moving schools. He will have to take all of these skills learned and basically start fresh in a new grade, with a new teacher, with all new kids and at a completely different school.

Everything Harry knows about school is going to change. He and his little brother will be attending Parkdale Junior and Senior Public School. Again, it was part of a decision when we bought our house. Our real estate agent made sure we knew about the school zone we were moving into. It was not rated as well as Howard. It had mixed reviews. Were we sure?

Katie and I decided we were fine with it. We liked Harry getting new experiences in an up and coming area like Parkdale. It would be where our boys will go for school for their entire public school time. Not to mention the high school is not far away either.

Both boys will start there in September. That will be a story for another day.

But back to Howard.

Thank You Howard

We are sad to leave. We are sad that Charlie will not go there. We are sad to leave all the friends, teachers and people we have gotten to know.

We will miss the Fall Fetes. We will miss the daycare staff. We will miss it all.

But each will be replaced with new people and events at Parkdale. But Howard will always have a special place in our heart. It is where Harry started becoming who he is and who he will become.

Harry loves Howard. He has some great friends there. It feels sad breaking the news. The thought of not seeing those friends as much.

Howard is part of my daily routine as I go there twice a day.

Howard gave us everything our family needed for the last two years.

We will miss you. Thank you.

Extra Thanks For…

  • Your fun playground
  • Hot lunches
  • Walks to High Park
  • Library time
  • Bandaids and ice packs
  • Pizza days
  • Bouncy castles
  • Having a lost and found
  • Wii time
  • Pancake breakfasts
  • Christmas concerts
  • Taking care of our boy

Harry’s last day of Grade 1 is on June 29th. But he is going to Howard Camp for most of the summer, so we still have lots of time to say our goodbyes.

***For the record I won’t miss going up three flights of stairs every day.***