Finding a dream in Emery Village

By Sean Delaney

Continue your journey, pursue your dreams, and achieve your goals.

Ward 4 Trustee Matias de Dovitiis recently arranged for me to spend an afternoon at the Emery Adult Learning Centre (EALC) and Emery EdVance School. One of the school’s main goals is to help applicants aged 18 and over explore EALC and Emery EdVance, offering various learning opportunities. Here, students can upgrade their skills in preparation for college, university, or the workplace.

At EALC, they provide education for adults returning to school for various reasons. Perhaps they’re a few years out of school and have changed their life’s direction, needing specific courses. Maybe they’ve recently moved to the country, were professionals in their home nation, and are now seeking Canadian work experience. Or perhaps they aim to enrich their personal lives. Many families, for example, migrate to Canada in search of a better education system and improved life prospects.

Having been in operation for 25 years, EALC recognized the need for a more dedicated program for adults. Thus, Emery EdVance was born. “Something that works for someone who is 16 likely won’t work for someone who is 46,” commented Peggy Aitchison, Principal of Emery Adult Learning Centre & EdVance Secondary School. “I’m genuinely proud of our role in transforming lives and assisting individuals to redefine their paths.”

Their programs equip students with both academic and technical skills. The compassionate staff at EALC and EdVance School recognize students’ needs for enhanced skills and requisite knowledge, providing consistent support.

The classes are scheduled to best suit students, especially those with jobs or family responsibilities. Aitchison elaborated on some of the comprehensive resources available: “We have a full-time counselor, Derik Chika, whose entire day is devoted to meeting with students about issues both inside and outside of school,” she explained. Chika helps with course selection, diploma completion, and addresses personal challenges impacting student welfare.

Many of their students are newcomers. To assist them, Settlement Worker Amy Dagby provides free support, ensuring a seamless transition into their new Canadian community. She aids with immigration application forms, accessing government services, and much more. “Amy’s services are fully confidential. She doesn’t report back to the school,” Aitchison emphasized. “Her efforts are sponsored and funded by IRCC (Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada). An added benefit is that our students can continue to seek Amy’s assistance even after they leave our institution.”

Another pillar of support is their Social Worker, Aditi Deonarine. She assists students, teachers, and administrators in maximizing their educational experience. Her broad spectrum of services includes everything from counseling and community referrals to trauma response and multicultural outreach. All her interactions are voluntary and confidential.

Chika, a program leader at the school, expressed pride in their unique program. “Not many boards in Ontario offer a full day of programming,” he noted. He highlighted that many older students aim to refine specific skills, often opting for their computer classes that range from Microsoft Office basics to beginner computer programming.

Many students come to EALC and EdVance with stories of interrupted or incomplete education. Monica Nyarko is one such student. “When I first attended high school, I didn’t prioritize my studies,” she reflected. “Returning to school, I noticed the diverse backgrounds of my peers and the myriad reasons they had for coming back. I wanted to better my life and make my family proud. This institution made that dream attainable.”

Find the Emery Adult Learning Centre & EdVance Secondary School, Learning is for Life at the following location:

3395 Weston Road, North York

Phone their office at:


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