If you would like to be involved in your child’s education in a more “hands on” way, then the APPLE Program may be just what you are seeking.

APPLE, an acronym for Alternative Parent Participating Learning Experience, is a program in which teachers, parents and children collaborate together for the sole purpose of enhancing the children’s educational experience. All references to parents in the APPLE Program documentation refer to parents/guardians.

APPLE students are part of the Thames Valley District School Board family at Arthur Ford Public School and follow the curriculum as mandated by the Ontario Ministry of Education. The difference is that the families of the students in our program commit to spend a minimum of ten hours a month volunteering in a variety of ways which serve to enhance their children’s education. There is no extra cost and the rewards are great!

Note: All references to parents in the APPLE Program documentation refer to parents/guardians.

History of the APPLE Program
The interest of extending parent participation into the elementary school began in the spring of 1982 when Mary and Peter White formed a group of London parents who spent time researching the topic. This group formulated a proposal which was presented to the London Board of Education in February 1983. The trustees accepted the proposal and plans began to open a parent participating alternative program in September 1983. After numerous hurdles, including staffing and enrollment issues, the APPLE Program officially opened its doors in September 1985 at Brick Street Public School. The first APPLE class was taught by Penny Hanford and there were 24 students representing 19 families. The constitution for the APPLE Program was formally adopted in November 1985 and the first election of officers for the parent committee occurred in December 1985. 
Vision, Mission and Beliefs


Collaborative, Enhanced Learning Environment


APPLE recognizes the differences in individual learning style, pace of learning and developmental needs of children and strives to provide a range of opportunities within the curriculum to reflect this diversity. Children will experience a joy of learning in a curriculum enhanced by the personal expertise of parents in collaboration with teachers and administration. This helps to foster a community of lasting relationships and promote critical thinking, skills and knowledge, creativity and personal development.

Our Beliefs:

Parental participation and cooperative planning in each class increases opportunities for individual student support and an enhanced classroom environment.

Parents, Teachers and Administration collaborate to nurture a sense of community between home and school.

A community atmosphere of acceptance and belonging provides students with a sense of security and personal worth as well as teaching them to respect and care for others.

Children’s natural curiosity and inclination to learn is supported through an integrated curriculum where children are actively involved in a program that incorporates learning centers, teacher led experiences and individualized support for each child.

Child-centered learning experiences reflect the strengths, needs and interests of the group and of individual children, and provide each child with a sense of competence and success.

Collaborative groupings within and among classes and age groups foster the skills of leadership and shared responsibility, which make for well-rounded students who feel comfortable in the leadership and learning roles of their lives.

Group learning experiences promote co-operation and collaboration, encouraging children to assist and support each other in the learning experience.

Experiences beyond the classroom are valued as an integral part of a dynamic and diverse curriculum.

Volunteer Hours

Achieving Your Commitment of Monthly Participation

Families who are involved in the APPLE Program agree to a minimum monthly participation of ten hours. Many families participate on a regular basis in the classroom and are members on one or more committees. The maximum participation is unlimited and usually a matter of time availability. APPLE tries to maintain a flexible approach to participation, recognizing that circumstances arise which may affect the amount of monthly commitment. Parent participation in the classroom has always been the backbone of our program.  

Opportunities for participation include: 

  • Participating in the classroom (see below). 

  • Attending Program Enhancement Meetings (see below). 

  • Attending General Meetings (see below). 

  • Participating on classroom field trips or helping with classroom theme days (see below). 

  • Filling classroom positions or preparing/planning of classroom activities and materials at home (see Program Enhancement Meetings below). 

  • Actively working on an APPLE Committee (see “Executive and Committees”) 

  • Assisting with the Kiss’n Ride Program.  

  • Assisting in other Principal-approved ways during school hours. 


Participation in the Classroom (“Duty Parent” or “Duty Days”)

Parents are scheduled to participate in the classroom most days of the year.  Exceptions may be made at the beginning of the year or on special days.  Parents support the teacher in whatever capacity they require. Teachers lay out their general expectations at the first Program Enhancement Meeting and generally supply a list of particular duties on the specific duty day. Support can include filling mail bags, photocopying, preparing classroom materials, assisting students in and out of the class, helping students with exercises, one-on-one time with students who have missed days or leading groups of students to allow the teacher more focused time. 
When in the classroom, parents are expected to follow the APPLE Classroom and Duty Guidelines as outlined in the APPLE Parent Handbook. A sample of these guidelines is as follows: 

  • Foster a safe, caring, respectful, and welcoming learning environment and atmosphere. 

  • Arrive on time and be prepared to focus your attention on the duties the teacher has requested. 

  • Inform the teacher if unable to attend on a scheduled duty day. 

  • Do not criticize or over-praise children or teachers. 

  • Model behaviour that is interactive, open, and honest to help build trust and commitment. 

  • Be supportive, but do not take the responsibility for children’s actions or activities away from them. Students may be solving the problem themselves and premature intervention becomes interference. If adult intervention is needed, do so by encouraging the child to identify the problem, discuss possible solutions, and choose one. 

  • Respect the confidentiality of the teachers and students and keep a positive attitude toward all aspects of the operation of the classroom. In other words, what happens in the classroom stays in the classroom. 

Program Enhancement Meetings

Program Enhancement Meetings allow teachers and parents to meet regularly to discuss the material being taught and how it can best be enhanced with valuable parent resources. The ultimate goal is to broaden the scope of the program, thus enhancing the learning experience of our children. Generally, each class has a Chairperson and certain members who will be assigned various responsibilities as outlined below. This group usually meets once every six weeks or five meetings over the school year. Attendance at Program Enhancement Meetings is highly recommended. It is for the benefit of the students that parents attend at least three of these meetings. 
The following positions are typically available and are assigned at the first Enhancement Meeting of the year, with the exception of the Chairperson who is chosen by the teacher in collaboration with the Vice-Chairperson of Program before the school year begins. 

  • Class Chairperson: Draws up the agenda with the teacher, chairs the meeting with the teacher, collects participation hour sheets and acts as liaison to the Vice-Chairperson of Program and Vice-Chairperson of Participation. 

  • Field Trip Coordinator: Coordinates field trips with the teacher, sends out and collects forms. 

  • Duty Scheduler: Schedules parent duty days in the classroom. 

  • Secretary: Takes minutes at Enhancement Meetings. 

  • Class Reporter: Writes a short column on classroom activities for the Core Gazette approximately monthly. 

  • Yearbook Committee: Compiles the annual yearbook for the classroom. 

General Meetings
General Meetings are an opportunity for the Parents’ Association to come together and discuss matters that affect the APPLE experience. Members of the Executive will provide an update and answer any questions from the Parents’ Association. The school administration will provide clarification on matters pertaining to the APPLE Program as they relate to the policies and procedures of the Thames Valley District School Board and any other issues that are the responsibility of the School Administration. The School Council Chair will update the Parents’ Association on issues pertaining to the global school community. Upcoming events and items related to our Vision, Mission and Beliefs may be reviewed and discussed. The General Meeting is an appropriate forum to discuss questions and concerns from the Parents’ Association. 
It is a requirement of the APPLE Program that parents attend at least four out of six General Meetings.  Attendance is taken at these meetings.  At times, a quorum of families is required at a General Meeting to vote on changes to the program.
Field Trips and Classroom Theme Days 
APPLE classes have lots of field trips! Some classes have up to one each month.  Field trips are determined at the Program Enhancement Meetings and coordinated by the teacher and the Field Trip Coordinator. Parents are polled for ideas on activities and may be asked to call on contacts to find activities that match the students’ curriculum. 
Parents may volunteer to drive students in grades four through eight to and from the activity and stay at the activity site to supervise the students. Due to insurance reasons, siblings are not permitted to travel with the parent on field trips. 
Field trips are partially funded through general program fundraising but parents are also asked to contribute to a field trip fund at the beginning of the year. An accounting of these funds is provided at the Program Enhancement Meetings. 
From time to time, classrooms have special events or theme days. Parents can participate by presenting or demonstrating an experiment, craft, instrument, etc. relating to the topic of study. 
Time spent on field trips and during classroom theme days can be recorded as volunteer time. 


The APPLE Legacy

The APPLE Legacy: 


Thesis by: Bernie Lawrence (2009) 

Penny Lane Park
Executive and Committees


APPLE Executive

The APPLE Executive acts as the coordinating body of the Parents’ Association and is responsible for conducting General Meetings and coordinating the efforts of all other committees. They are all volunteer positions and are elected by the parent body. The 2019-2020 Executive consists of: 

Publicity Committee

The Publicity Committee usually meets every 4-6 weeks and is responsible for: 

  • The promotion of the APPLE Program. 

  • Keeping media informed of upcoming events. 

  • Announcing upcoming Open Houses through media and posting of flyers. 

  • Staffing Open Houses with committee members, other APPLE members, and an APPLE teacher. 

  • Organizing and setting up displays as appropriate. 

The 2020-2021 Co-Chairs of Publicity are Melissa Tower and Dannon Lee. You can reach the team at

Fundraising Committee

The Fundraising Committee works according to the policies and procedures of the Thames Valley District School Board and is responsible for: 

  • Organizing events to raise money to support the APPLE operating budget. 

  • Working collaboratively with the School Council for joint fundraising efforts. 

Some of our past Fundraising Events have included: 

  • APPLE Silent Auction 

  • BBQ at Canadian Tire 

  • Rheo Thompson Mint Smoothies 

  • 50/50 Nights at local hockey games 

The 2020-2021 Chair of Fundraising is Jessica Smallwood. You can reach the team at 

Core Gazette Committee

The Core Gazette Committee is responsible for: 

  • Producing a newspaper called the Core Gazette every second month to keep members of the Parent Association informed of program activities and classroom happenings. 

  • Gathering information (submitted by parents, teachers, committees, and students). 

  • Coordinating, editing, typing, and distributing the Core Gazette. 

  • Ensuring that copies of the Core Gazette are delivered via email to all APPLE families, school administration, School Council Chairperson and any other interested person(s), (e.g., Board members, trustees, etc.) 

The 2020-2021 Chair of Core Gazette is Tammi Robertson. You can reach the team at 

Social Committee

The Social Committee arranges family fun events for APPLE families approximately every 4-6 weeks during the school year. The committee meets approximately once a month. The focus is to provide a positive social atmosphere for parents and children. Past events have included: 

  • Movie nights 

  • BBQs 

  • Swimming at the Boys’ and Girls’ Club 

  • Our annual Halloween costume party and haunted hallway 

Th2020-2021 Chair of Social is Emma Leathorn. You can reach the team at  

Penny Lane Park Committee 

Is a group of parents who maintain Penny Lane Park at Arthur Ford Public School. They are responsible for: 

  • Planting new trees and plants 

  • Watering the trees and plants during the summer months 

  • Weeding 

  • Fund raising to support these activities 

The 2020-2021 Chair of Penny Lane is Tammi Robertson. You can reach the team at