Thames Valley District School Board

2016 Annual Report

GENTLE Family Reception Centre


The GENTLE Family Reception Center (Guided Entry to New Teaching and Learning Experiences) is an example of TVDSB’s commitment to meeting the needs of our students through an innovative practice.  It was created to respond to the challenge of supporting school based reception, orientation and initial assessments for the unprecedented surge of Syrian families who had been displaced due to the crisis in their homeland.


In January 2016, GENTLE opened its doors and created a welcoming environment for Syrian families to register for school and begin the process of orientation to school in Canada.  In recognizing the multitude of needs for some of the families, GENTLE was purposefully staffed with ESL/ELD (English as a Second Language/English Literacy Development) staff, Arabic speaking educators, a social worker, a team of retired educators, staff from the SWIS (Settlement Workers in Schools)-London partnership, Educational Assistants and an Early Childhood Educator.


During the four months of operation, GENTLE, which was located at White Oaks Public School, welcomed over 450 students along with their families. The Centre successfully:

  • Partnered with Cross Cultural Learner Center to meet and register students as soon as they arrived in London;

  • Created new procedures to allow for multiple transportation routes to transport students from both their temporary and permanent residences to GENTLE;

  • Provided educational programming for newly arriving students which allowed students to begin their learning in a comfortable environment;

  • Included an onsite social worker to assist with the reception of families, particularly in screening and responding to special needs;
  • Addressed the social–emotional needs of children and youth who had experienced war, trauma, displacement, loss and migration as they settled into a new culture;

  • Assessed the knowledge and skills of each student in language and mathematics and reported assessment findings to receiving schools; and

  • Supported a positive transition of students from GENTLE to their receiving school communities.


The GENTLE Family Reception program was so impactful that it was recognized with the Pillar Non-profit Network Community Innovation Award at a ceremony on November 23 2016.