City-as-School Toronto (CaST) is a small-yet-mighty not-for-profit independent school based inside of CSI Annex, where it has a permanent classroom space and access to other CSI spaces, such as the boardrooms, the garage, the patio, and beyond. Embedded in the CSI community, CaST aims to give its students a less institutional educational experience. The school also expands far beyond the walls of a building. Its goal is to offer students the opportunity to learn from the city in which they live, using it to further their knowledge and understanding, and to use the city as their classroom. This year, CaST is pleased to be venturing into brand new territory by offering a cooperative education program to further enhance the educational experience of its students.
While looking for potential placements, access to the CSI community allowed for quick and friendly connections with a wide variety of organizations. Tara Marina Pearson was key in helping the school find placements. With her extensive knowledge of the CSI family, she was able to help compile an initial list of possible organizations that could offer placements. CaST then reached out to the whole community through the CSI listserv, and many members answered explaining if and how they could help– some even replied just to give a warm welcome and words of encouragement. Students were matched based on their areas of interest, coupled with the need and capacity of related organizations; the program aims to be mutually beneficial for students and organizations. Matched partnerships include: Ontario Nature, Capillary Consulting, Artists Against Racism, Spence Gallery, and Project Canoe, who has generously taken on three students, guiding them through the process of designing an educational day-program scheduled to take place in High Park.
CaST is so thankful to be part of a strong community network like CSI. Thanks to CSI members, CaST students have engaged with a variety of professionals around the city, gained real world experiences, and deepened their learning through generous mentorship. CaST hopes to continue offering their co-op program to senior students next year and will look forward to connecting with new CSI members in 2023!