French teachers are hot commodities

As her university classmates struggled to land teaching positions, Michelle Tokarev found herself to be a “wanted” woman, reported The Globe and Mail May 26. The 29-year-old turned down a half-dozen offers for job interviews, securing a position even before she graduated from York’s Faculty of Education last year. Her secret? Specializing in French. “I knew going in, that, with my French, more doors would be open to me,” said Tokarev, who teaches a Grade 4 French-immersion class at Julliard Public School in Maple. “If I was strictly an English teacher, I’m not sure if I would have had that choice.” Indeed, an Ontario College of Teachers study released yesterday shows that teachers such as Tokarev are hot commodities today, boasting qualifications that give them a 50 per cent greater chance of landing a teaching post immediately after graduation.

Drug data opens up

Patients and doctors can now learn more about possible side effects of medicines. Access to that information, restricted for years by Health Canada, was opened to the public for the first time Wednesday through the health ministry’s Web site, reported the Toronto Star May 26.

Dr. Joel Lexchin, a Toronto emergency physician, drug policy expert and professor at York’s School of Health Policy & Management, said that the federal health ministry must take a more active role in drug-safety monitoring and demand that pharmaceutical firms do follow-up safety studies after drugs are approved for public use. “This is a good first step. The database provides a small window into what’s going on,” Lexchin said. “But without putting more money and resources into this entire process we’re not going to get the picture of what really goes on with adverse drug reactions.”

Adjunct prof is appointed a federal judge

Deena Baltman was appointed a Superior Court justice by the federal justice minister earlier this month, reported The London Free Press May 25. She has been assigned to work in Milton. Baltman was the manager of the complaints resolution department at the Law Society of Upper Canada in Toronto when she was appointed to the bench. Baltman has been an adjunct professor with the University of Toronto Law School and York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, where she taught administrative law in 2002 and 2003. She was a litigation lawyer for several years in personal injury and employment law.

Saviour of Ceylon’s kit on display

Artifacts from the distinguished military career of a Canadian war hero have found their final resting place at the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Memorial Museum at Canadian Forces Base Trenton, reported The Review in Niagara Falls May 26. Tuesday morning museum officials unveiled a display dedicated to the memory of Air Commodore Leonard J. Birchall, known as the Saviour of Ceylon. Birchall died Sept. 10, 2004, in Kingston, Ont. at the age of 89.

Birchall retired from the RCAF in 1968. He then joined York University as CEO for the Faculty of Administrative Studies (now the Schulich School of Business) until his retirement in 1981. As recognition for his outstanding contribution to the University, Birchall was awarded the degree doctor of laws, honoris causa, in 1982. He was awarded the Order of Ontario in 1989 and the Order of Canada in 2000, and in 2001, he was inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame.

Safer playgrounds are child’s play

The impact of public policy is often subtle or slow. But when it comes to the safety of playground equipment, it turns out decisive action can have a decisive effect, suggested an Ottawa Citizen editorial May 26. The Toronto District School Board removed equipment from 136 playgrounds in 2000. By Dec. 2001, the equipment had been replaced with safer equipment in 86 of those schools. Researchers from the Hospital for Sick Children and York University discovered that the rate of injury at those 86 schools fell from 2.61 per 1,000 students per month to 1.68 after the equipment was replaced.

Game teaches teens about disease

Computer games, they are practically the universal language of teenagers, so what better tool is there to teach those teenagers about issues that really matter? That, at least, is the thinking behind Contagion, a new computer game about contagious diseases currently being developed by Suzanne de Castell, a professor of education at Simon Fraser University, reported The Vancouver Sun May 26. Right now it’s still in its prototype form, but when she and her partner, Jennifer Jenson, a professor in York’s Faculty of Education, have completed the game, it will be a way to teach 11- to 14-year-olds not just about the dangers of such diseases, but also the often inadequate ways officialdom deals with them.

Stadiums, stadiums everywhere

The dream of a proper soccer stadium in Toronto has been given a new lease on life by the Toronto Catholic District School Board, reported The Globe and Mail May 26. The news resuscitates hopes crushed by York University‘s recent decision to kill plans to build a 20,000-seat soccer stadium. Although nothing has been decided, the Catholic school board has signalled interest in beginning discussions with various stakeholders including the Canadian Soccer Association, the public school board and the City of Toronto. The Catholic school board is interested in building such a stadium on board-owned land.

On Global TV’s “Sportsline”, host Peter Irvine said the Canadian Soccer Association may build a new stadium at McMaster University, now the stadium deal at York University is dead.

Cook mixes flamenco and rumba

Jesse Cook and his rumba-flamenco band brought their show to the Cowichan Theatre, reported the Duncan News Leader and Pictorial on Vancouver Island May 22. “There are elements of flamenco in my music but I throw in many elements to my world-music stew,” said Cook, who studied at York in 1984-1985. “We do a mix of flamenco-rumba but there are influences of jazz, Brazilian, Cuban, African; whatever influences you hear are in it.”  While Cook took inspiration from Boston’s acclaimed Berklee College of Music, his real musical education came from Canadian mentors. “Berklee was a factory but both my best teachers were in Toronto. Casey Sokol at York University got us to re-examine how we did everything.”

Business students open clothing store

For most university students, the summer break usually means enjoying time off school and scraping up enough money for the next year. For 19-year-olds Azeta Ghaeinizadeh (of Trent University) and Zhamack Layeghi (of York University) it means starting their own business in downtown Stratford, reported the Stratford Beacon-Herald May 25. The two business undergrads became co-owners earlier this month, and hosted the grand opening of Sabella on Saturday.

On air

  • Stephen Gaetz, education professor and Chair of the recent homelessness conference at York University, spoke about how homelessness in Canada is not just an urban but a suburban and rural issue, and about conference recommendations to alleviate the problem, on CBC Radio’s “Ontario Morning” and regional programs in Ottawa and Thunder Bay,  May 25.