Sistema Toronto

Teacher Artist Professional Development

Sistema Toronto is a social development program, using ensemble-based music education to transform the lives of 300+ children and youth in underserved neighbourhoods across Toronto. Students work together for 10 hours of weekly instruction. They learn strings (violin, viola, cello, or double bass), percussion, choir, and Music & Movement while developing important life skills like problem solving, empathy, and self-advocacy. In addition to expert music instruction, students are provided an instrument, nutritious snack each day of the program, and performance opportunities throughout the year, at no cost to families.

Sistema Toronto’s Teaching Artist Professional Development sessions ensures Sistema Toronto teachers have the additional skills needed to work with vulnerable communities. These mandatory paid professional development sessions are offered throughout the year and are part of Sistema’s curriculum development. Sessions focus on social and emotional learning and related teaching needs.

Funding from the Aubrey & Marla Dan Foundation has enabled Sistema Toronto to expand these sessions by providing additional supports through teacher PD by funding the sessions and enabling Sistema Toronto to invite outside experts and facilitators in child and youth mental health, music education and social learning.

These sessions are especially important as Sistema Toronto’s program has returned full-time to the classroom in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The social and emotional impact of the pandemic continues to be seen in students, and for many, has delayed their social development. Professional development sessions provide added support and education for our teachers, to ensure that students have their social, emotional and mental health needs met.

Project Initiation




Organization Website

"The Aubrey & Marla Dan Foundation truly understands the mental health and social support needs of vulnerable children and youth, especially during a remarkably difficult time for this sector. Their support of Sistema Toronto’s teacher professional development series focussed on mental health support for vulnerable children, and their dedication to the use of music as a tool for social change through their funding of our Percussion Program will impact Sistema Toronto students for years to come."

Christie Gray

Executive Director