The Switch – when Mutchmor moves to First Avenue

First Avenue School now houses the staff, students and programs of the former Mutchmor Public School.

This September marks the culmination of a concept dubbed “The Switch,” something that has been preoccupying the families at Mutchmor Public School for the past two years. The basic concept is that all the families and teachers from our school community will be moving to the First Avenue Public School building and those families will move to the Mutchmor Public School building. Anytime this topic comes up in conversation it generally leads to one simple question with a not-so-simple answer: “Why?”

The process began due to significant overcrowding at First Avenue, which offered the Early French Immersion (EFI) program for this area of the city. A solution was needed so a committee was struck, one that included parents from both schools. One of the initial suggested solutions was to simply add an EFI program at Mutchmor and to spread the students between the two schools. The families from Mutchmor were polled and what emerged was the clear message that our families wanted the school to maintain its strong English program and that adding EFI might not be the right solution. Our families were open to the idea of adding a Middle French Immersion (MFI) program to the school. MFI is an immersion program that begins at Grade 4; students in this program merge with EFI students when the two cohorts enter high school. Previously, students from the area who wanted to attend MFI would need to cross the Lansdowne bridge and go to Hopewell Public School.

MFI was launched at Mutchmor in September 2012. It has been a great success, continuing to grow each year. We strongly encourage families who want immersion for their children to consider both EFI and MFI programs. Research supports the effectiveness of both immersion options, and it is important to choose the most appropriate option for your child’s learning style and strengths.

After a great deal of discussion and work by the committee, the chosen solution was to build an addition to the Mutchmor School building and then switch the two populations. The addition was chosen for our building because of the improvements that had been identified previously and that were more efficiently done in an addition than in the renovation of a more-than-200-year-old building.

Construction began in October 2013 and was near completion at the end of the 2014/2015 school year.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the Mutchmor families and staff for their patience and sense of humour as we lived through what was essentially two years of construction. We weathered the inevitable construction delays and complications, and we came out of it all a stronger school community. I look forward to seeing all of you again at the First Avenue building in September.

Jennifer Wilson is co-chair of the former Mutchmor School Council, now First Avenue School Council.

The Swithc Sept 2015 Liz photo IMG_4359
The new Mutchmor addition is bright and colourful.

 The Switch – when First Avenue moves to Mutchmor

By Isabelle Flannigan

First Avenue Public School’s students and staff are moving location to the former Mutchmor Public School site. But they are taking the heart and spirit of their former school setting with them. In December 2011, after an extensive area review, it was determined that Mutchmor’s building would be renovated and expanded. The extensive addition would accommodate the Early French Immersion population and staff from First Avenue Public School who would be relocated to the Mutchmor school building. Meanwhile, the Mutchmor community including students and staff would relocate to the First Avenue building. This became known as “The Switch.”

The Switch Sept 2015 Kindergartern classroom
Kindergarten classroom at the newly renovated Mutchmor Public School

There was much excitement being experienced by both school communities as we readied ourselves for the first day of school on Tuesday, September 8. First Avenue is a beautiful heritage building that has been renovated and well cared for. It offers more workable space to the former Mutchmor students and staff. The school is located adjacent to Patterson’s Creek and offers bright, large, classrooms, amazing views and quick access to the canal.

The end of summer is always a busy and exciting time for teachers and support staff as they prepare to welcome students back to school, following the summer break. The excitement builds for everyone as August comes to an end and September rolls around. Students are excited to see their friends, organize their school supplies and prepare for the first day of school as they meet their new teachers and reunite with their classmates.

Meanwhile, teachers and support staff are busy thinking about all that has to be done to make their school and classrooms a welcoming and inviting learning environment. But this year isn’t your average back to school situation. Most of the teachers and students are coming back but to a new building – and that is both exciting and a little unnerving. Winston Churchill said, “There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction.” I believe this is the right direction for our greater school community. This has been a long process but it has been done with great thought, empathy and consideration for what is best for all students and staff. The work is not over, but we are confident we are able to welcome our students and staff to their new school.


The Switch Sept 2015 Heritage Classroom
A heritage classroom at Mutchmor

Boxes have been packed and moved and are in the process of being unpacked. The furniture is new to our students and staff as we left behind our desks and chairs and are using those of the former students and staff. The concept was we were exchanging “like for like.” Now, we are settling in at our new school location. By the end of August, the office staff and I had unpacked approximately one hundred boxes – but who’s counting!? Teachers have set up their individual classrooms; the librarian and volunteers have prepared the library; and our resource room will be ready later on in September. It takes a village to raise a child and it has taken the cooperation and assistance of our staff and our volunteers to get our new school building ready to start the school year 2015/2016.

As I walk the halls of Mutchmor, our new school location, I feel like I am travelling through time. The charm of this Victorian building is inspiring. The high ceilings, large moldings, tall doors and windows are a work of art. The classrooms have hardwood floors that creak underfoot and some have beautiful tin ceilings. Then, I enter the connecting hallways, and I am genuinely impressed with the modern addition. This offers glass walls, many unique and interesting features, large windows and beautiful finishes. There are bright colours such as lime green, orange and yellow throughout the building. The designers have made sure to marry the old and the new beautifully. There is a welcoming courtyard that is made up of two old walls and two new walls. There is also a breath taking archway that welcomes us back to the original building. That is my favourite part of the school.

The Switch Sept 2015 Archway
The breathtaking archway between new and old Mutchmor

On September 8, our students visited their new school for the first time. Our staff were ready for them and excited to show them all this new location has to offer. I know many students will feel a little apprehensive at first but I am certain that when they see all of the familiar faces and all that this new location has to offer, they will be delighted.

I so look forward to sharing this experience with them.

Isabelle Flannigan, formerly Principal at First Avenue, is now Principal of Mutchmor Public School.


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