Celebrating the CCLCS 30th Anniversary (Part One)

Celebrating CCLCS' 30th Anniversary
Celebrating CCLCS' 30th Anniversary

The 30th Anniversary: Looking Back on the Founding of CCLCS

Hi. It’s Mike Simpson. I’m a proud graduate and I’ve been a teacher and website designer for the school. My connection reaches back to the TESL program I first attended in 2001. I am delighted to have been associated with the school for two decades and very happy to congratulate the founders, staff and students on their amazing 30th anniversary. It’s a tremendous milestone!

How CCLCS Came Together and Who Made it Happen

Back in 1991, Dawn founded the school along with Peggy Irwin and Beverly Shellrude Thompson.

I interviewed Dawn Michael, current Director, and one of the founders of the school, and she relates, “We registered as a not-for-profit cooperative and a charity: Canadian Cooperative for Language & Cultural Studies, Inc. In 2008, we amended the organization to become The Canadian Centre for Language & Cultural Studies, Inc. We remained a not-for profit and a charity.”

As a former student and staffer and as someone who has kept up with the staff for two decades, I can attest to the power of the CCLCS approach. They offer a welcoming environment, inclusive approach, and a professional practice supporting high quality teaching and training. From the classrooms to the kitchen to the office, friendly vibes are the way of CCLCS and their staff.

CCLCS Original Co-Directors Dawn and Bev

Mission Statement

Dawn shared the CCLCS Mission Statement which has guided the school through the past 30 years:

“Mission Statement
We believe that people learn best in an environment that is
intellectually stimulating and emotionally accepting.
We commit ourselves to providing
quality teaching, small classes and a welcoming learning environment.”

Roots in the Annex, Toronto

The school is headquartered near Bloor and Bathurst in the amazing neighborhood of west downtown Toronto.

Dawn relates: “We started teaching our TESL courses in classrooms rented from Canadian Crossroads International, on Madison Ave. We rented and renovated our current space at 635 Markham Street, in 1992.

How did the first programs and teachers come onboard?
“We initially only taught TESL classes (Dawn, Peggy and Bev developed and taught the TESL courses). As the administrative load increased, we hired more TESL instructors: Barbara King, Stephane Larouche Lallande and Wendy Hounsham.”

That is a little about the initial early 1990s history of the school. In future posts we’ll continue to celebrate and share memories of the people and programs that make CCLCS so special.

Peggy and students at CCLCS

Grateful / Going Forward

I for one am grateful that Dawn, Bev, Peggy and all the other teachers, including my teacher Martine, applied their passion and knowledge to growing and building the school.

Between 2001 and 2002 I finished my TESL program and was the beneficiary of so much hard work from folks who came before me. I have now been a teacher for twenty years and no matter what subjects I teach the things I learned at CCLCS are deeply ingrained and guide me toward success.

I wonder as we enter a new decade, how students from the 2000s, 2010s and now 2020s will fare and how their CCLCS experience will guide them on their journey. Will they teach in Toronto or overseas? Will some of the ESL teachers become TESL trainers? So many paths and options!

Thanks all who contributed to this amazing school and wishing you a happy 30th anniversary. To 30 more years! 🙂

Mike Simpson

Dawn, Tim, Bev and Stephane


  1. Darryl Michael

    What a great testimonial! The CCLCS mission and objectives have sure stood the test of time. Congratulations!

  2. Gillian Bonn

    Congratulations to all at CCLCS on your 30th Anniversary! Congratulations Dawn! You are an amazing sister to me; friend, teacher, mentor and advisor to so many people, through these years. Your dedication from the start; seeing the need for a better TESL program, to support and improve teaching ESL worldwide by creating a great foundation & program, has been an amazing contribution! Well done and best wishes always! Cheers!

    • CCLCS

      Very much appreciate your kind wishes! Dawn has certainly played so many key roles for many of us in the CCLCS community. All the best!

  3. Sigrid Johnson

    Congratulations to all the amazing staff and teachers at CCLCS! You’ve done a wonderful job throughout these many years of mentoring and fostering newcomers to Canada and the new teachers who want to support them. CCLCS is a truly special place, and I will always cherish my memories of it.

    • CCLCS

      Thank you Sigrid! We appreciate your contribution! 😀

  4. Karen Thomson

    Congratulations on your 30th anniversary! I think I was class of 1993, and that doesn’t seem so very long ago. It’s been an amazing journey, and I’m happy to have been a part of it – as a student and as a teacher trainer.
    I wish you all the best for the next 30 years.

    • CCLCS

      Wow time flies! 1993! Amazing to get this kind of support and feedback 🙏
      We appreciate your kind words Karen. All the best!

  5. Chris Smrke

    Congratulations on 30 years! That’s a fantastic achievement. I did my TESL certificate training back in 2008 and what continues to stick with me today – aside from the skills taught 😉 – is the atmosphere and comradery that I found in the school. Everyone cares, and that’s something to be truly proud of.

    I cherish my experience at CCLCS and am so glad that it is still around to train new language teachers. Congratulations again!

  6. Dawn Michael

    Thanks Chris. I’m really proud of the LINC and TESL staff and students who have continued to care over the years…and have sustained our welcoming environment. So glad you could be a part of it.

  7. Claudie Graner

    CCLCS was inclusive before that became the mot du jour; it was aware of the importance of cultural fluency and compassion and actively showed how to incorporate appreciation of and respect for others. It saw teaching ESL as more than measuring competencies but as giving the precious gift of an additional language to people – and it supported teachers in developing their individual teaching personas to enable us to become competent professionals in this amazing profession. I thank my lucky stars that 20 years ago I was led to that unprepossessing staircase that led to that simple set of rooms – and to the warmth, buzz, and utter commitment to and love of the people that were drawn to the organisation in all locations (founders, teachers’ teachers, TESL students, learners, childminders, kids, support staff et al) Thank you Dawn and Bev (and for me – Barb!) and everyone. Your “brand” has spread far and wide. xo

  8. Justine Jun

    Happy 30th Anniversary!! It is remarkable that CCLCS has supported this English teaching and learning community for 30 years in Toronto. Congratulations, Dawn, Beverly, Tim, Cheryl, and all the amazing instructors and staff!! The CCLCS community has been very special to me as well. I’ve met great colleagues, wonderful lifelong friends, so many outstanding professionals, and good people through this community whom I feel grateful for in life. As an instructor and teacher educator, the experience with everyone and every course at CCLCS has taught me something valuable. CCLCS was the beginning of a wider world, and it is still an ongoing learning venue for me. I wish you all the best, and would love to see you and CCLCS in 30 years as well! Congratulations again!

    • CCLCS

      Belated thanks, Justine. We’re proud of our instructors, and also proud of our graduates (like you) who go out into the “wider world” and do a great job of teaching.

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