News & Views

School’s Cool Makes a Difference in Durham Region

This fall, 10 elementary schools in the Durham District School Board will divide up the children who graduated this summer from their School’s Cool programs and place them in the kindergarten classrooms to act as role models to the other children.  In just six short weeks, children attending a School’s Cool program go from unprepared for school (which could range from math and language skills to behavior and attention span) to children who are ready and eager for school.  Lisa Millar, Superintendent of Education, Early Years and Child Care, says School’s Cool changes the trajectory of children who would otherwise enter school unready, to one of success in their academic career.  “It’s a win-win for everyone,” she stated. “Principals report a tremendous impact on student school readiness and their improvements across all developmental domains.”

School’s Cool is not new to Durham.  Families have been benefiting from this amazing program for over 10 years, thanks to the YMCA Family and Community Action Program (FCAP).   Jane Thomposon, Manager of Family Support Programs, would negotiate with individual principals to run a summer program in their school.  But a few years ago, a school board trustee committee recommended that the School Board support more School’s Cool programs because they saw such a impact in the schools where FCAP had delivered the program.

Lisa Miller, made it happen.  “When Jane met me, I just fell in love with her and with School’s Cool.  In fact I nag her ‘Can we not put it in more schools, can we not expand?’”  That’s because the results are measurable and sustainable.  The Durham District School Board has seen a huge correlation between the 72  hour School’s Cool program, and success in kindergarten and grade 1.  They’ve also tracked children and noted that they have higher grade 3 testing (EQAO) scores.  Over the next few months, we’ll be profiling the effect that School’s Cool has had on Durham Region. In the first video clip below, Lisa Millar talks about the impact of the School’s Cool program on children and parents in Durham Region, using specific examples of math and language development.


About Gena Robertson

Gena Robertson is the President and Creator of School’s Cool. A social worker by profession, and problem-solver by nature, Gena has always felt that success in school levels the playing field for children. Her vision is for School’s Cool to be available in all communities to create generations of children who thrive.

"When Gena Robertson was troubled by the many young people who didn’t complete high school and ended up struggling through life, she took action and created School’s Cool. It was an idea ahead of its time and has improved the lives of thousands of children. We are fortunate to have Gena in our world. She recognizes the needs in our communities, and then works tirelessly for change at a local, provincial and national level. Gena is more than a visionary. She is an inspiration for what is possible."
Wendy Ladurantaye - President, SIRCH Community Services



  1. Ashley denney says:

    Hi, how do I get my son involved in the schools cool program? Thank you Ashley Denney