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Galileo: Learning, Creating, Giving Back

Alfonso Guerriero enjoying a pet therapy session with bunny Andy Warhol in the Art Hive in February 2021.
Montreal - Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Alfonso Guerriero enjoying a pet therapy session with bunny Andy Warhol in the Art Hive in February 2021. (Photo, Lucrezia Termini)

Galileo: Learning, creating, giving back

 Even during the pandemic, the English Montreal School Board’s Galileo Adult Education Centre in Montreal North has been introducing innovative projects to their Social Integration Services (SIS) and Sociovocational Integration Service (SVIS) Program students. From adding 16 small animals to their pet therapy program, thanks to a generous donation from Friends4Cause, to exploring their inner clown and passion for acting, students continued to learn, grow and explore. Here are a few of their accomplishments during the 2020-21 school year.

 First Art Hive at the EMSB

Galileo’s Art Hive is a creative, collaborative space that is all about inclusion, respect and learning. It’s a welcoming place to talk, make art, build communities and respond creatively to things that matter in a way that meets the needs and level of functioning of each participant.

The Galileo Hive is helping their SIS students build a sense of autonomy, belonging, competency, and generosity. It can be a calming, quiet zone used to de-escalate a situation or help students regulate themselves. Art is a means of speaking without words. In a special needs population where some individuals struggle to express themselves, here, students are encouraged to share their message through art.

Galileo hopes to open the Hive one day a week to the special needs community at large. 

Read about this Art Hive on the international Art Hive website.

-Erica Nicole Onofrio

Collaborative ‘keychain initiative’ leads to giving back

The “keychain initiative” started with an idea from Angelia Escobia, a client of Miriam Home and Services, which is part of CIUSSS West-Central Montreal. The project entails assembling keychains featuring inspirational words like “faith,” “love” and “miracle” and selling them to raise funds. After hearing that some Galileo SIS students were cooking meals for the needy, Escobia wanted to do something to help others, too.

 Galileo students are part of Miriam Home’s Community Integration Program for adults aged 21 and over, which aims to help develop social awareness and pre-vocational skills. Escobia presented the keychain idea to Galileo principal, Martina Schiavone. With her approval, and the help of Dominique Hamel, special care counselor at Miriam Home; Isabelle Albert, rehabilitation assistant at Miriam Home; and Matea Dixon, teacher at Galileo, the idea took off.

 “This project has allowed students to give back and be active members of the community,” said Chantal Forget, program manager for the Community Integration Program at Miriam Home. “They’re not just on the receiving end of services, they’re also contributing to society.”

The money raised through the keychain sales will go toward making care baskets that will be donated to the needy in Montreal.

 -Produced by the Communications Department of CIUSSS West-Central Montreal. Read the full article in 360, the employee newsletter of CIUSSS West-Central Montreal at


Teachers and students set off to sell keychains at Galileo Adult Education Centre on February 5. (Photo, Matea Dixon)

Students talk about success with tech

After hearing about the success of online SIS courses at Galileo, Concordia University Journalism student Nadia Trudell visited the school to interview students for a piece about online learning during the pandemic. Trudell was impressed by the students’ positive responses about learning online. They recounted that they “overcame an enormous challenge” and “became more comfortable using technology and video call applications independently,” something they never thought possible before. They explained how hands-on training using their class iPads and visual memory aids assisted them in using Microsoft Teams from home. They are a resilient bunch, and their dedication and willingness to learn have been the silver lining of the pandemic. 

Learn more about the project here: 

Using iMovie for virtual storytelling with Hands-on Media

Lisa Trotto’s SIS class has partnered with Jessie Curell (founder and director of Hands-on Media) and Learn Quebec to take part in the “I Belong” digital storytelling project. Sixty schools from across Quebec participate each year, and Galileo is excited to represent the special needs community. This seven-week project allows students to hone their newly acquired digital media creation skills and further explore filmmaking, photography, original digital music creation using Garage Band and iMovie (an excellent app for SIS students as it offers video modeling, social skills training, authentic social stories and student successes). iPads also include built-in inclusivity features (such as VoiceOver, which reads the screen aloud); Zoom, which magnifies the screen; and Assistive Touch, which can adjust the touch screen prompts to our students’ unique physical needs.

 This all culminated in a Film Festival that was held online, to great success, on April 15, which can be viewed here:

 -Lisa Trotto

Erica Nicole Onofrio is an art therapist at Galileo and Lisa Trotto is an SIS teacher at Galileo.


SIS students on the red carpet for their Film Festival. (Photo: Lu Termini, SIS Facilitator)