New school named after Canadian kindergarten pioneer from Kitchener

Kitchener’s newest elementary school will be named after Canada’s first ever kindergarten teacher, Janet Metcalfe, who taught in Waterloo region for more than thirty years.

A rendering of the exterior of Janet Metcalfe Public School. Credit: WalterFedy

Janet Metcalfe’s obituary appeared on the front page of the Kitchener Daily Record the day after her death on April 12, 1935.

Janet Metcalfe Public School, located in Southwest Kitchener at the corner of Seabrook Drive and Amand Drive is scheduled to open in September 2018 for students in Junior Kindergarten to Grade 8. The school will also be home to a child care centre.

Trustees voted on Monday to name the school after Ms. Metcalfe who became the first public-school kindergarten teacher in the country at Central School, later renamed Suddaby Public School, in Kitchener 135 years ago in 1882. Records indicate that her work alongside Jeremiah Suddaby on early kindergarten education played a major role in understanding the principles and practise of education in the late 19th Century.

Janet Metcalfe later became Principal of Margaret Avenue Public School. She worked as an educator in Waterloo region for 31 years and was known at the time of her death in 1935, aged 82, as one of the pioneers of kindergarten education in Ontario.

“Janet Metcalfe Public School uniquely demonstrates the innovative spirit of our school district and honours an individual who made a crucial, though hitherto overlooked, contribution to education in Waterloo region and across Canada,” said Courtney Waterfall, trustee and chair of the board’s ad-hoc school naming committee.

Coincidentally, the first principal at Janet Metcalfe Public School is also a Janet. Janet Hale will leave her role as principal at Lincoln Heights Public School in March 2018 to begin planning for the new school opening.

We are currently doing a study to determine the boundary for the new school. The study area includes homes in the Huron South and Wildflowers communities in Kitchener and may affect the boundary of Jean Steckle Public School. Students for Janet Metcalfe Public School are currently attending Jean Steckle, Laurentian Public School, Queen Elizabeth Public School and Southridge Public School.

A plan view of Janet Metcalfe Public School.

A plan view of Janet Metcalfe Public School. Credit: WalterFedy

Liz Sandals, then Education Minister, announced funding for the new school in October 2015. The $12million project was announced as part of an $11 billion investment from the Government of Ontario over 10 years to help improve the learning conditions for students across the province.