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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 Founders  


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

Founder, Clinical Director

Jason is a registered social worker and psychotherapist with extensive clinical experience working with teenagers and their families. Jason was a member of the pioneering therapeutic team at The Pine River Institute, one of Canada’s premier adolescent therapeutic boarding schools, and he specializes in adolescent development and related behavioural issues such as school anxiety, social anxiety, and addiction. 

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David Aubrey Berger, B.A., M.E.S.


David is passionate about educating teachers and consulting to private schools on alternative methods of education. David taught in the Critical Skills department at York University and has worked with numerous private schools, corporate groups, and individuals delivering workshops on alternative education, teacher training, and personal development courses. His self-published book Eco Leadership: The Power of the Circle was released in 2006.

 Our Teachers & Support Team 


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

Principal, Head of Humanities

Efrat has been teaching for the last two decades. Reading and discussing ideas are her main passions. She loves to learn and teach in different ways. From years of yoga and mindfulness experiences, Efrat recognizes that there are many forms of expression. Students are invited to share their preferences to help develop an especially engaging and positive learning environment.

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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.


Sadé Rose, BSc. Pure Mathematics

Math & Science Teacher

With a passion for helping students overcome their Mathematical struggles, Sadé joined AVRO Academy. Her classrooms are filled with life and engagement as she encourages students to be the best versions of themselves. Sadé believes that all students can learn and must learn – even if at different paces. Sadé uses her experience from York University as a PASS (Peer-Assissted Study Sessions) Leader to challenge students as individuals rather than just as a group.


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 8 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.

Our learning environment

Chaya Mushka Diamond   

Teaching Assistant & Student Support

Through daily meetings, Mushkie finds unique ways to support and assist students in learning class material. She creates a positive environment by working with students to strengthen learning skills, and improve social-emotional well-being. Her experience includes assisting in multiple Spec-Ed, and ESL classrooms at YRDSB. Trained in mindfulness and meditation with iBme (Inward Bound Mindfulness Education) she uses these techniques to facilitate a patient and positive approach.


Mendel Ellenbogen,  B.Eng., B.Ed., OCT

Math & Computer Science Teacher​
"As I reflect on all I have learned and the teaching values which I have formed as a teacher of STEM subjects. I have become aware of the important role that productive struggle plays in student learning. Creating opportunities for students to develop skills in navigating the mindset of “being stuck” is an important lifelong skill that I strive to help students become more comfortable with. The richest learning experiences often arise from giving students activities that require a struggle and promote inquiry and self-agency to complete."


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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