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We founded AVRO Academy in 2010 to provide Toronto with an alternative high school providing individualized education to youth needing smaller classes and a therapeutic environment to support learning. We're here to help teens who struggle, need to find their way, and engage using their own strengths without limitations.  We recognize that every child learns through a unique combination of support, structure and guidance.

Our story


AVRO supports a unique group of teens who need an alternative school that supports their needs.

Teens who aren't thriving in school due to stress, academic and social anxiety, bullying, and scheduling conflicts.

Teens with a complex Individual Education Plan (IEP), identifying learning difficulties associated with attention disorders, in combination with significant anxiety/depression, or complications due to family circumstances.

Teens who may be atypical, gifted, or diagnosed, as well as undiagnosed on the spectrum, with high-functioning Autism, Asperger's and ADHD.

Who is our student?


At AVRO Academy our alternative school recognizes that each student needs a unique combination of support, structure, and guidance to learn effectively. Through individualized education, mentorship, and counselling we tailor our environment to ensure all students feel comfortable and cared for, so they stay actively engaged on their educational journey.

  • AVRO helps students learn how to learn, by teaching them to recognize and rely on their own strengths.

  • AVRO empowers students to commit to their study schedules, by requiring them to participate in their course selections and the design of its delivery.

  • AVRO promotes a community atmosphere where students are encouraged to develop collaborative partnerships to work with peers and teachers.

  • AVRO offers students individualized courses, consisting of personalized assignment plans and curricula to meet each student’s unique schedule, interests, and learning style - ensuring credit completion can occur beyond class time.

  • AVRO encourages students to develop environmental awareness and responsible attitudes that extend beyond school to reinforce their self confidence through involvement within the larger community.  

  • AVRO provides mental health resources and wellness activities ranging from mindfulness practices to individualized therapy. 

  • AVRO creates a therapeutic milieu in which on-site professional counseling for individuals and family members are available within our educational setting.

Our approach
Our team


AVRO teachers and support staff have specialized training and years of experience working with students with a wide variety of challenges on their educational path. Through AVRO’s support and guidance, students develop the confidence to explore their full potential.

 Our Founder  

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Jason Shaul Ellenbogen, B.A., M.S.W., R.S.W.  

Founder, Clinical Director

Jason is a registered social worker and psychotherapist with a focus on helping adolescents and families. He has significant clinical experience, including work at the Pine River Institute in Canada. Jason uses compassion and expertise to build trust and encourage growth and resilience in his clients. He specializes in adolescent development and addresses social-emotional and behavioral challenges. As the founder of Avro Academy, he has created a supportive learning environment that promotes well-being.

 Our Teachers & Support Team 


Efrat Shapir, MA (Philosophy), MA (History)

Principal, Head of Humanities

As principal of AVRO Academy, Efrat ensures a personalized plan for each student. She meets regularly with students to engage in their learning and shape a high school career that supports their needs and capabilities. With nearly a decade at AVRO as both teacher and principal, Efrat is dedicated to their holistic development. She holds a Master’s in Philosophy from Queen’s University, and her interpersonal approach benefits from existential conversations. Under Efrat’s leadership, AVRO flourishes with collaboration among students, teachers, and families.

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Chirasree Sen-Varma Ph.D., PG-Cert APSET, Member CAP

Academic Coordinator & Director of International Programs

Chirasree has worked in a wide variety of positions in the field of education, including research, administration, course design, management, and teaching. Her teaching experience has mainly been in sciences and mathematics with a focus on physics. As a teacher she inspires students to learn in their own way. As well as teaching and coordinating academics Chirasree manages AVRO’s international program, and guides our learners with their college or university applications by providing academic counselling and support throughout the process.


Shanique Pinnock 

Registrar, Operations Manager

As the smiling face at the Avro Academy front desk, Shanique is the go to person for students, families and staff. With a background of over 10 years of management and relationship development experience under her belt, Shanique is focused on ensuring everything runs smoothly from one day to another, she is your source for all things program registration, scheduling, course guidance and student intake all year round.

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Chaya Mushka Ellenbogen   

Special Education Resource Teacher + Educational Support Staff

Mushkie brings 3 years of Spec-Ed/ESL teaching support and over 5 years of mindfulness training. With a patient, positive approach, she develops and implements student IEPs. Besides facilitating humanities and social sciences learning, she provides customized 1:1 support for executive functioning, emotional regulation, and self-advocacy skills, enhancing student success. Dedicated to professional development, Mushkie stays current on educational research and practices to adapt to evolving student needs and foster an inclusive learning environment.

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Tatiana Martin MA in Applied Linguistics, Advanced Diploma in Child and Youth Care. 

Humanities Teacher 

Tatiana brings over two decades of experience in education to her role. Her diverse background includes positions as a teacher, teacher trainer, textbook publisher, and educational director of a not-for-profit organization, where she led teams in developing impactful school projects. In the classroom, Tatiana thrives on witnessing the unique learning journey of each student. She fosters a positive and inclusive environment where everyone feels a sense of belonging and achievement.

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Xiang Huang  M.Ed, Ph.D in Physics Education

Math and Science Teacher 

Xiang has worked in different positions in education, from research on STEM education to course design, and has many years of experience teaching math and physics in the classroom. She aims to create a positive and constructive learning environment for her students and encourages them to learn actively. Xiang hopes that students walk away from AVRO with both the knowledge and experience to benefit them through life. 

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Janine Plantilla BA in Linguistics

Humanities Teacher

Throughout her ten years as a teacher, Janine has taught a diverse range of Humanities classes spanning from English, literature, social science, multimedia, and ESL.  Janine employs a dynamic teaching style, blending traditional teaching styles with interactive discussions, multimedia presentations, and hands-on activities. She believes in creating a comfortable, inclusive learning environment where diverse perspectives are embraced, and individual learning paces are respected.

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Nitasha Iftikhar  B.Ed., OCT, MPhill Physics, M.Ed Curriculum & Pedagogy

Math & Science Teacher 

Nitasha has over ten years of experience teaching high school. She enjoys learning, unlearning and relearning along with inquisitive young minds. At Avro, she helps students learn the most by urging them to break their prejudices and to  question pre-existing facts and facilitating them in finding their answers. She is an avid believer of holistic education and believes in the power of mindfulness and meditation in education. Nitasha ensures to provide a caring and flexible classroom environment where her students can actually thrive and have meaningful learning.


Mindy Alexander  B.Ed., OCT, M.Ed Arts & Sustainability Education

Teacher, Academic Coordinator for International Programs

Mental health and sustainability are two of the most important issues of our times, especially for younger generations who are facing an increasingly complex world. AVRO Academy strives to center these two goals by helping students develop the skills to cope, thrive, and make a positive impact within their own academic lives and beyond. I focus on critical thinking skills and self-reflection to make personal meaning from the class content and make connections beyond academics.


  • Small class sizes allow for reduced stress and distraction, as well as increased peer support.

  • Student-Teacher ratios of 6:1, 2:1 and 1:1

  • Environment is cooperative, supportive and nonjudgmental, free from bullying and discrimination.

  • Independent learning, peer mentorship, and on-site academic tutoring both in-person and online.


​AVRO believes that encouraging students to reduce their environmental footprint empowers students, improves self-confidence and academic capabilities. Incorporating this philosophy into the school structure, students are encouraged to participate in the Eco-Health Carbon Challenge whereby students are paid to travel to school in an ecologically minded fashion such as walking, roller-blading, skateboarding, or bicycling. Students are encouraged to participate in AVRO’s plastic bottle deterrence program and litterless lunch program.

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