The kids arrive on day one at LEAP, the TDSB’s Literacy Enrichment Academic Program, clutching pencils and notebooks, anxious and vulnerable, many of them still coping with the aftershocks of war. Their English is weak at best, which limits their ability to navigate the city, order a meal, find a summer job—obstacles that the program aims to remove. Each year, at 33 TDSB schools, specialized teachers guide some 500 students through an intensive educational regimen aimed at boosting competency in literacy, math and study skills. The program, which began in 1998, has evolved alongside Canada’s changing immigration policies and priorities. Today, the greatest proportion of LEAP students come from Syria, all young people hoping for a better life. These are their stories.
Maya Aldroubi, 16
Grade 12, Marc Garneau Collegiate
Hometown: Homs
Arrived in Canada: June 30, 2015
Wants to be: A children’s dentist
I hated school in Syria. One day, a …