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Voice Integrative School

50 Gristmill Lane, Toronto, Ontario, M5A 3C4

Grades (Gender):
Gr. 1 to Gr. 8 (Coed)
Main Language:
Avg. Class Size:
12 to 15
Day: 90 (Gr. 1 - 8)

School Address
50 Gristmill Lane, Toronto, Ontario, M5A 3C4

About this school:


Established in 2000 and located in Toronto's Historic Distillery District, VIS is a non-denominational, co-educational day school. Within the context of an environment conducive to a strong sense of belonging, VIS offers challenging academics, competitive sports, and an innovative performing and liberal arts program. We pride ourselves on a learning environment that promotes personal accountability, critical thinking, compassion, community involvement, and the skills needed to learn for life. — Visit school website



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Our Take: Voice Integrative School

our takeMarie Lardino, the founder of VIS, began her teaching career within the public system in Ontario. As such, she witnessed first-hand the impacts that the province-wide reforms begun in 1998—in particular standardized testing—had on her students. Grades, she felt, became a regrettable focus, increasing student stress and anxiety. That was the impetus that lead her to found the VIS in 2000. It builds from the strength of having a common curriculum, though presenting it in a more personal, supportive, student-centred environment. To date, the success of the school has been remarkable, gaining the attention of professional educators, and providing an example that many have chosen to emulate. Lardino, who remains head of school, believes that students learn best in environments where “belonging and safety are acknowledged, practiced, and celebrated.” The academic program is rigorous, though student success is a product of the empowerment that they feel each day when they arrive at school.

Principal's Message


Marie Lardino, Founder

“A global education is lived and felt. It thrives on a mandate to educate children from the inside out, with an eye on their future and a healthier future for our planet. This mandate does not neglect the need for academic achievement.  To the contrary!  A “global” (or well-rounded/ transformative/change oriented) education immerses academics in a relevant and timely context and gives them a purpose for being.”  

– Marie Lardino

The founder and principal  of VIS, holds a B.A., B.Ed., Ed. Admin. and M.Ed. in curriculum with a focus in global education and is currently on sabbatical from her Doctor of Education at the University of Liverpool in order to focus on our school community.

She taught for the Toronto District School Board for ten years and has qualifications in all primary, junior and intermediate divisions with additional Principal’s Qualifications (Part I).

Marie has conducted workshops to teachers in the U.S. and Canada with the aim of helping them establish peaceful school environments.  She served as an Adjunct Professor at York University’s Faculty of Education for several years, and has given seminars at three of Toronto’s faculties of education on global and holistic education.  She developed guidelines on the topic of conflict resolution for the Toronto District School Board, and has published curriculum on children’s rights and other materials on global education for Primary Voices K-6 (1990-1994), UNICEF (1995), and for the Institute of Global Education at OISE/UT (1992-2000).

In addition to her role as the Principal of Voice Integrative School, Marie was a board member for the Children’s Own Media Museum (COMM), and currently serves as a Liaison Administrator for the Faculty of Education/Master of Teaching program at OISE/UT.


Curriculum Traditional

Primary Curriculum: Traditional

What VIS says: VIS provides a perfect balance of academic rigour and the skills required to succeed socially and intellectually in school and other settings.

  • Approach:

  • Pedagogies and subject courses:

  • Mathematics
    • What VIS says: This information is not currently available.

    • Textbooks and supplementary materials: This information is not currently available.

    • Calculator policy: This information is not currently available.

    Early Reading
    • What VIS says: This information is not currently available.

    • DIBELS Testing: This school does not use DIBELS testing to assess reading progress.

    • What VIS says: This information is not currently available.

    • What VIS says: This information is not currently available.

    • Teaching approach: This information is not currently available.

    • Topics covered in curriculum:

      Subject = offered
    • Treatment of evolution:

      Evolution as consensus theory
      Evolution as one of many equally viable theories
      Evolution is not taught

    • What VIS says: This information is not currently available.

    Social Studies
    • What VIS says: This information is not currently available.

    Humanities and Social Sciences
    • What VIS says: This information is not currently available.

    Foreign Languages
    • What VIS says: This information is not currently available.

    • Languages Offered: • French • Spanish

    Fine Arts
    • Program offers:

      Subject = offered
      Graphic Design
      Visual Arts
    • What VIS says: This information is not currently available.

    Computers and Technology
    • What VIS says: This information is not currently available.

    • Program covers:

      Subject = offered
      Computer science
      Web design

    Physical Education
    • What VIS says: This information is not currently available.

    Sex and Health Education Ontario curriculum
    Topics covered in sex and health education: This information is not currently available.

    What VIS says: This information is not currently available.

    Mostly value-neutral

    By and large, we teach sex education free of any particular moral or ethical standpoint. We try not to impose any particular values or value systems (such as social, political, or ideological values) on our students when teaching sex and related issues.

    Fairly value-based

    Sex education is sometimes taught from a particular moral or ethical standpoint. Sometimes particular values or value systems (such as social, political, or ideological values) are invoked when teaching sex and related issues.


    This includes a range of positions. A traditional approach might, for example, go as far as emphasizing the nuclear family and complete abstinence from sex before marriage. Alternatively, this approach might simply involve placing less emphasis on sex outside of the context of marriage and more emphasis on abstinence. Or finally, it might just involve focusing less on sex outside of the context of marriage.


    This might mean more emphasis is placed on the importance of such things as social equality, diversity, and choice in sex education.

    What VIS says: This information is not currently available.

    Curriculum Pace Standard-enriched

    • Standard-enriched
    • Accelerated
    • Student-paced

    Broadly-speaking, the main curriculum -- like that of most schools -- paces the provincially-outlined one. This pace is steady and set by the teachers and school. The curriculum might still be enriched in various ways: covering topics more in-depth and with more vigor than the provincial one, or covering a broader selection of topics.

    Flexible pacing:

    Flexible pacing style = offered
    Subject-streaming (tracking)
    Multi-age classrooms as standard
    Ability-grouping (in-class) as common
    Frequent use of cyber-learning (at-their-own-pace)
    Regular guided independent study opportunities
    Differentiated assessment

    What VIS says about flexible pacing: This information is not currently available.

    Academic Culture Rigorous

    • Rigorous
    • Supportive

    A school with a “rigorous” academic culture places a high value on academic performance, and expects their students to do the same. This does not mean the school is uncaring, unsupportive, or non-responsive -- far from it. A school can have a rigorous academic culture and still provide excellent individual support. It does mean, however, the school places a particular emphasis on performance -- seeking the best students and challenging them to the fullest extent -- relative to a normal baseline. High expectations and standards – and a challenging yet rewarding curriculum – are the common themes here. Keep in mind this classification is more relevant for the older grades: few Kindergarten classrooms, for example, would be called “rigorous”.

    What VIS says: This information is not currently available.

    Developmental Priorities Balanced

    Primary Developmental Priority: Balanced
    Equal attention is paid to a balance of priorities: intellectual, emotional, social, and physical.

    What VIS says: This information is not currently available.

    Special Needs Support No support

    No support

    VIS offers no/limited support for students with learning difficulties or special needs.

    • Academic Support:
      Support Type = offered
      Learning strategy and study counselling; habit formation
      Extra support and minor accommodations for children experiencing subclinical difficulties
    • Mild but clinically diagnosed ADHD
      Support Type = offered
      Extra support
    • Support for moderate-to-severe special needs:
      Special needs
      ADHD (moderate to severe)
      Learning disabilities
      Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability)
      Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)
      Language Processing Disorder
      Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD)
      Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit
      Asperger's Syndrome
      Down syndrome
      Intellectual disability
      Williams syndrome
      Behavioral and Emotional
      Troubled behaviour / troubled teens
      Clinical Depression
      Clinical anxiety
      Suicidal thoughts
      Drug and alcohol abuse
      Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
      Multiple sclerosis
      Cerebral palsy
      Muscular dystrophy
      Spina Bifida
      Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder)
      Cystic Fibrosis
      Multiple physical
    • Forms of support delivery:
      Support Type = offered
      A regular class with indirect support
      A regular class with resource assistance
      A regular class with withdrawal assistance
      A special education class with partial integration
      A full-time special education class
    • Additional Support:
      Support Type = offered
      Social skills programs
      Occupational therapy
      Speech-language therapy

    Gifted Learner Support No Support

    VIS does not offer any specialized programming for gifted learners.

    Gifted education: If you want to learn more about gifted education, check out our comprehensive guide. It’s the first of its kind: it covers different kinds of gifted schools and programs, and a whole host of issues parents face in finding the right option for their gifted child.

    Class Sizes Not available

    This information is not currently available.


    What VIS says:

    This information is not currently available.

    • Sports OfferedCompetitiveRecreational
      Downhill skiing
      Field Hockey
      Ice Hockey
      Track & Field
    • Clubs Offered
      Community Service
      Debate Club
      Drama Club
      Outdoor Education
      Poetry/Literature club
      Radio club
      Student Council

    Tuition & Financial Aid



    Need-based financial aid

    This information is not currently available.

    Merit based Scholarships

    This information is not currently available.


    Total enrollment 90
    Average enrollment per grade11
    Average class size12 to 15
    Gender (grades)Gr. 1 to Gr. 8 (Coed)
    Boarding offeredNo

    Student distribution: This information is not currently available.



    Admissions Assessments:

    Assessment = requiredGrades
    SSAT (out of province)
    Entrance Exam(s)N/A
    Entrance Essay
    Application Fee 

    Application Deadlines:

    Day students:

    What VIS says: This information is not currently available.


    Acceptance Rate:


    Type of student Voice Integrative School is looking for: This information is not currently available.

    Student Entry Points

    Student Type12345678
    Day Acceptance
    (Acceptance rate)

    Stories & Testimonials


    V.I.S. Parent Testimonial

    "Thank you for providing such an amazing place for children to learn, to be responsible for the things they do, for challenging them and for showing them their potential. Our daughter is so very happy, so very challenged and more importantly we see her growth in more than just academics. Thank you!!" ...

    V.I.S. Parent Testimonial

    "As the parent of two V.I.S. graduates, I am confident that my children are equipped with the academic preparation, critical thinking abilities and skills necessary in order to function effectively as part of a team. Most importantly, however, my children now possess the awareness that they are part of something much bigger - a global community." ...

    V.I.S. Parent Testimonial

    "An unhappy student struggling with her academic identity, our daughter was not living her potential at her previous school. In a short time after starting at Voice, she became interested, engaged, proud of her successes and most specifically began down the creative road that we are certain will define her life. And she has never looked back. Due to your leadership and your amazing group of energetic teachers, she did indeed find her Voice! . . . The world would certainly be different and so much better if every child had the Voice experience." ...

    V.I.S. Parent Testimonial

    "We wanted to let you and your staff know just how much we appreciate all the hard work you have done with both our children. We feel so lucky that our children have been involved in an inspiring school such as V.I.S. Your commitment to excellence and global awareness is truly refreshing and exactly what this generation of kids needs in their lives; a sense of matter, responsibility and trust to all that you can be and more. Emma and Elliott have flourished under the leadership of both you and your team of teachers, and for that we are truly grateful. All of your hard work and dedication is reflected in each of our children. Keep up the great work!" ...

    Our Philosophy Pt. 2

    It explores many perspectives and values the perspective of each child. It draws from the past, investigates the present and inspires students to envision and strive for possible and preferred futures. It embraces teacher directed evaluation and expects self-evaluation from each student. It is a democratic environment where children can feel safe from bullying and free of exclusion. It is an environment of 'rights and responsibilities' with a strict demand for self respect, respect for others and respect for the environment. In such a setting, I have watched students become academic achievers and responsible citizens. I have seen them gain empathy and conflict resolution skills that they take with them far beyond the classroom. I have watched them develop enthusiasm toward learning and a positive attitude toward school. Most important, they begin to trust their gifts, become decision makers and feel proud of their accomplishments. These are the critical steps toward becoming a 'life long learner'. Marie Lardino B.A, B.Ed, M.Ed. Principal – V.I.S. ...

    Our Philosophy Pt. 1

    Our Philosophy ________________________________________ "Inspiring the academic, analytical, creative and compassionate voice of students" Our aim is to teach students to 'learn how to learn' and to 'learn for life'. It is my firm belief that learning is not something that is done to the student; rather, it is something the student does. With this philosophy in mind, our program draws from personal, local and global issues that are relevant to students and integrates these issues into a challenging, creative and innovative academic program. It has been my experience that when kids are challenged with relevant learning tasks, they 'learn for life'. When they are given the opportunities, the skills and the tools to take ownership for their learning, they 'learn how to learn'. In essence, the learning must take place in an environment that promotes a sense of belonging, strives toward high expectations, respects each child's voice, and celebrates his/her achievements. Our program provides an alternative because it is balanced as such; • It provides challenging academics in small classes. • It makes the Ontario Curriculum meaningful through the integration of personal, local and global issues. • It offers a strong sports program and an innovative performing arts curriculum. • It encompasses a balance of learner centered approaches as well as teacher directed lessons. • It provides learners with opportunities to work independently as well as cooperatively. • It enables students to develop strong skills in reading, writing and mathematics, and places importance on higher order skills such as critical and analytical thinking, problem solving, cooperation, time management and organization. • It focuses on specific subjects, (i.e., Mathematics, English, French, Spanish, Global Studies, History, Health, Science, Philosophy, Physical Education, Visual Arts, Theatre, Dance and Music), yet facilitates the integration of curriculum to make vital connections. ...

    What I Have Learned...continued...

    Now, more than ever, I feel that today is a new day. A day to start DOING something. I’m tired of talking about crucial issues and promising myself that I’ll make a change but not actually getting up and truly making a difference. But this year, things are going to change. This year I have a whole entire school to back me up. What I’ll do, I don’t know. But I want to contribute somehow. And without the knowledge I have gained here at Voice, I would never have believed that I could help to change the world. I have learned about the physical and emotional aspects of the world. I have learned about settlement patterns and edge cities and John A. MacDonald. I have learned about integers and French conjugations and the Water Cycle. And I am glad I have learned those things. But for me, the emotional elements of our international society are so much more interesting, because often they are the root of so many worldly issues. In the last two months I have felt better and more confident than ever before. And there is a simple answer for why I feel this way. I learned how to be myself. ...

    What I Have Learned

    What I Have Learned By Alana Friend-Lettner November 9, 2005 Through the sweltering heat and between the red fire leaves there is a school. And in this school there exists a great desire. To live. Laugh. And learn. The students that come to this school become immersed in education, in culture, and in each other. I live at this school. I say that I live there because living is learning, and everyday I come there to be taught and to teach others what I have learned. And throughout my thirteen years of living, I have never felt that I have learned as much as I have at Voice. I have learned compassion and perspective. I have learned the freedom of speech and the joy of opinion. I have learned about oppression and attitude and injustice. I have learned about cruelty and peace and suffering beyond words. I have learned about success and loss. Bliss. Love. Equality. I have learned about the pieces of culture, humanity, passion, and variety that make up this world. At this very moment I ask myself just what holds our world together. How have we all managed to stay alive? How is it possible that there are so many of us who are ignored? Why are we so blind to the rest of the world? I know why. Because we choose not to listen. We choose to shut ourselves away in these tiny boxes, where mothers are baking cookies and fathers are reading newspapers in front of fireplaces. Where little Tommy and tiny Sara are dancing together on the prickly grass on the front lawn. But this is not reality. Or at least this is not my reality. Voice has opened my eyes and allowed me to see the true colours of the world we are all a part of. ...

    Ideas On Education


    Principal's Reflection

    "Global Education is a teaching and learning philosophy that is lived and felt. It is anchored on a mandate to educate children from the inside out with an eye on their future and a healthier future for our planet. This mandate does not negate the need for academic achievement. Simply, it immerses academics in a relevant and timely context, and gives it a purpose for being" Marie Lardino Principal Voice Intermediate School ...

    V.I.S. Parent Testimonial

    "After trying two public schools and three private schools, Voice is the only place where we've found a true community atmosphere where everyone is supported to share who they really are, and express their own unique gifts. While academics are important, giving our children a strong sense of self is imperative. That's what will carry them forward with confidence and the courage to make their own way in the world." ...

    Camp Kawartha Testimonial

    "The VIS students have always shown a determination to understand issues and concepts presented to them with an open and inquisitive mindset. They are constantly excited to explore the world around them as it is now, as it once was, and what it could be like through their questions and comments. The staff always amaze me with their energy for teaching, their commitment to each student and their ability to motivate their students to learn. A great school with which to be associated." ...

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