Monday, June 15, 2015


By Wendy Singer

On June 10, over 100 guests gathered in the gym of Galileo Adult Education Centre to be dazzled by the school’s Social Integration Services Program (S.I.S.) students. This group of nearly 50 students worked diligently for 10 months with their team of teachers and staff to prepare their musical, Love, Michael, a tribute to Michael Jackson

Martina Schiavone, Galileo S.I.S. student, and Robert Stocker
Galileo’s Principal Martina Schiavone opened the show, welcoming guests from the EMSB including former Director General Robert Stocker, and representatives from CRDITED de Montréal. She thanked the EMBS for supporting Galileo’s initiatives, “even when we have the craziest ideas!”

This musical performance was particularly exciting as it came on the heels of some of the S.I.S. students’ trip to New York City. This first ever adventure proved to be an incredible experience to all who attended, and raised the performance bar to Broadway heights.

The show began with an energetic performance of ABC, which had the whole group on stage dancing their hearts out. Other numbers included a fabulous rendition of Thriller, and poignant dances to Man in the mirror, and They don’t really care about us.

Love, Michael was laced with fun choreography and contagious smiles. The school spirit was undeniable, with students proudly wearing their black I Love Galileo t-shirts. It was often a challenge for audience members to stay seated! 
Most moving was the S.I.S. students rendition of Man in the mirror, where dancers brought hula hoops to their faces to symbolize mirrors. The lyrics ‘if you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change’ were emphasized with signs that students displayed, sharing powerful messages: Open your heart; I am not a label; Say no to racism.

Man in the Mirror

Man in the Mirror
Galileo’s Vice-Principal Joe Cacchione took to the stage to share some heartfelt words of appreciation. Cacchione was instrumental in planning the adventure to New York, along with the help of his friend Antoni Snopek (who I had the pleasure of sitting beside). When I asked Snopek when asked how he enjoyed the adventure to the Big Apple, he replied: “This trip changed my life.”

This show took months of planning, and involved many staff and volunteers. The community supporting this group of students, and the students themselves, are inspiring, and their energy is contagious.

As Louise Panet-Raymond stated in her closing remarks, “Over the past two years, Galileo is quickly becoming the gem of the EMSB.” Indeed true, they will be increasing their student numbers in the year to come, and look forward to welcoming more students to their school.

Following the musical, guests were invited to enjoy a beautiful lunch with their star performers, and visit the students’ classrooms for a first-hand view of the amazing work that they are doing.

Congratulations, Galileo! We are already looking forward to next year’s performance. Have a great summer!

Joe Cacchione and Antoni Snopek

Galileo Adult Education Centre is located in Montreal North. S.I.S. is a program set by the Ministry of Education (MEESR) designed for adults who experience difficulties of a psychological, intellectual, social or physical nature. It is distinctively designed to help students acquire the necessary skills to be able to integrate and participate in society to their fullest potential.

Thursday, June 4, 2015


The Dynamic Funds Caregiver of Inspiration 2015
JESSE HEFFRING Recognized at a Ceremony at Summit School

By Jade Horner-Chinappi

Summit School in St. Laurent from the outside looks like many Montreal schools.  Housed in a regular brick building there is nothing about it that speaks to what is happening inside its walls.

For over 50 years, there has been magic happening at Summit School.  The magic is the seed of dedication, hard work and loyalty that has blossomed into making Summit School what it is today; a safe haven for special needs students to flourish.
A place where their ideas and imagination have been allowed to grow.

Jesse Heffring (far left) Cathy Vlahos-Perez, Herman Erdogmus
On June 3, 2015 the gymnasium of Summit School quickly filled to capacity as excited students and staff came to honour its Volunteers. The ceremony began with the enthusiastic school choir singing, ‘Come down with me and say hello.’  There were 18 hard working volunteers present, who sacrifice their time and energy to the school. As each stood as their name was read aloud, the students of Summit School responded back with cheers, laughter and waving hands.

After the volunteers were honoured, Jesse Heffring was honoured for receiving the Dynamic Funds Caregiver Inspirations award. Jesse has dedicated 10 years of his life to bringing his love of filmmaking and theatre to the students of Summit School. It doesn’t stop there though; Jesse also started the school’s Media Program, and spearheaded the founding of the Copy Centre, and the T.E.C.C. Program at Summit School.

 Nominated by Inspirations Newspapers own Wendy Singer, and presented by Wendy Singer and Mike Cohen, Jesse received movie passes, and a stunning piece of original artwork from Jason Goldsmith and Ellis of Big Blue Hug.  The hand painted glass image called Imagination, illustrated perfectly the creative energy that is Jesse Heffring.

Since 2004 Jesse has work with Summit School students creating original short films, which have been shown at film festivals, and has produced major theatrical shows, one that was staged at the Rialto Theatre in 2014, where 35 guest artists, and 55 Summit students lent their talents to the production of You’ll Never Walk Alone.

In his usual manner, upon receipt of his awards, Jesse Heffring made sure to include everyone in his speech.  “I see this as an award for Summit School,” he smiled. Speaking to the responsive crowd, he thanked Inspirations Newspaper, the staff of Summit School, citing their “talent, dedication and sacrifice,” and lastly, he spoke directly to the students declaring their love and originality were his inspiration.

“Keep being yourself, keep working hard, and one day you will have your special moment.”

Congratulations Jesse and Summit School!

To read the full article about Jesse Heffring, visit page for of our Spring / Summer 2015 edition:

Summit School is a private school recognized and subsidized in the public interest by the Ministère de L'Education du Loisir et du Sport. The students, ranging in age from four to 21, present with a range of difficulties including intellectual disabilities, autism, and/or behavioural and emotional disturbances.

Herman Erdogmus, Jesse Heffring(middle), Wendy Singer and
Summit School students

 Summit School ~ Ecole le Summet