len's masthead




londoner editor pic





The late Don Clarke, Director Of Music, dreamed that London’s elementary students could one day have a school of their own dedicated to the Arts. In 1989 a school for the arts, grades 4-8 in London became a reality. Gerry Treble was the first principle and talented teachers such as Bill Bettger made it work.

Recently Rick Wood, the principle, graciously gave me a tour of Lester B Pearson School for the Arts. Sara and Emily two grade six girls dropped into the office to welcome me.

Thames Valley District School Board elementary schools received the program and registration forms for grade three students to apply. The competition was intensive with 250 youngsters/parents competing to be one of the 56 students hoping to enter grade four in September. “The admission process takes the form of enrichment workshops during the month of March. Acceptance into the program is based solely on the applicants’ workshop experience.”

Twelve adults score the candidates anonymously and the top 56 receive the coveted acceptance letter in April.

The program is unique in that all students take dance, drama, visual arts, vocal, strings, winds and piano.
Walking down the halls you can hear the sound of violins and exuberant youngsters. Check out the walls and tables outside the classroom and you get to admire the paintings along with Egyptian/Greek masks. You quickly become a believer in the posted sign- “Artists at Work”.

The harmonious blending of strings drew me into one of the three music rooms. Two grade six students, Jasmine with her cello and Zoe with her violin were intent on learning a new piece of music. Strange there was not a teacher to be seen. They told me that “they played for fun.”

The Pearson teachers are special: musicians/artists half the day that also teach all of the required academics to their classes. It’s sure busy with a six day cycle with nine forty minute classes.

Linda Jones has been teaching piano keyboarding, band and computers at Pearson for fourteen years. She thoroughly believes that "education through the arts works".

The school is geared to the active interaction with learning. Creating a safe atmosphere of risk taking students, staff and parents participating and taking ownership. “Innovative, creative problem solving and divergent thinking are encouraged. Students' uniqueness is encouraged and nurtured by all of the staff.”

The school produces student leaders who practice excellent work habits and a sincere commitment to learning.
Pearson’s facilities are pretty impressive with a fabulous library and gym - but facilities do not make good students. Rick explained why the school is a success.: “committed students, staff, and parents make good things happens.”

Many of the youngsters are involved in their “spare time” with the London Youth Symphony, Ambilie Choirs, Theatre London and Stratford Festival.

Helen Nash, the school secretary, wanted to emphasize that every day was exceptional. Special students, teachers makes coming to school a pleasure.
When I was leaving I met Lorna, a mother who drives her children from Woodstock,. She has had three of her children attend Pearson. I asked why? “ Her children had learned self discipline, the family was involved and the children's lives had been enriched.”

Thank’s to Don Clarke and a lot of dedicated believers the dream has come true. 890 students have graduated from Pearson and we Londoner’s are all a little richer.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com