Lynne Howard - Holistic Tech CTL1799

Category: Education

Presentation Description

Lynne Howard's individual final project for OISE course CTL 1799. Her personal family genealogy.


By: susanmark16 (79 month(s) ago)

We are related through Viola Rotish.

Presentation Transcript


A Personal Journey Through My Genealogy LYNNE HOWARD


Holistic Learning is built on the idea that an individual must be viewed as a whole person, not just a mind to learn, but also their body, emotions and spirit are all necessary components of their identity. The principle of holistic education emphasizes interconnectedness and wholeness between all these components of a student. Our backgrounds, histories and personal experiences all shape our perceptions of the world and the connections we make within it. As educators, it is imperative that we never lose sight of the wholeness of our students, but rather embrace their unique individualism and strive to meet the needs of each individual student that we teach.   This project is for me, a personal journey through my own family history. As I was researching my genealogy, the implications for holistic principles became very evident. The experiences that my ancestors have endured and enjoyed all contributed to their beliefs, opinions and actions. Each generation significantly impacts the one that follows and even generations to come. I am a direct product of all these people. Even the names given to each of the people in my family have significance, as in the Jewish tradition, we are all named for a loved one who has died. The way I think, learn, and act, are all a result of these many personalities coming together into one whole, which is me. The same can be said for each person that I have learned about on this journey, as they are all directly affected by the collective experiences before them. The same can be said for each of you, my audience, within your own personal histories.   Let me share with you, my personal genealogy history, which has shaped the person I am today. As you read, I hope you see the connections between the generations: the names, personality traits, talents, and physical characteristics that have been passed through the generations, are a combination of genetics (nature) and actions (nurture). While this project is specific to my own history, and that of my children, there is much to be gained by considering the holistic implications for all of us. The wholeness of mind, body, emotions and spirit is captured through these moments in time. I hope you enjoy the results of my journey, as much as I have enjoyed the adventure of creating it. HOLISTIC CONNECTIONS


HOW IT BEGAN... One fine spring evening in 2008, the Howard family sat down to enjoy a typical family dinner. Present at the table were: Lynne, Andrew, Matthew, Jessie and Dylan.

The Conversation... : 

The Conversation... The conversation began as usual, with the family sharing information about their day. Until this verbal exchange took place:   Jessie: Mommy, where did we come from? Lynne: Uh, Andrew, do you want to take this one? Andrew: Well Jess, you see… Mommy, where did we come from?

Slide 5: 

Drawing by Matthew

The Conversation continued... : 

The Conversation continued... Jessie: DUH! We know that already! Matthew: Yeah, we already know where babies come from. She means, where did our family come from? Jessie: I want to know why Matthew is such a great artist. Matthew: I want to know why Jessie is such a great gymnast. Jessie: I wonder what Dylan will be good at? Lynne: Gee guys, I don’t know. I’ll have to do some research for you. Driving my big brother and sister crazy ?

Slide 7: 





Lawrence David Polon was born December 17, 1940 in Toronto. He was the only son of parents Mel and Lilly Polon, sandwiched between two sisters. LAWRENCE DAVID POLON- THE EARLY YEARS Lawrence, age 2, 1942


Lawrence’s family likes to joke that he was not an easy child to raise. In fact, the stories about him paint a picture of a very clever, mischievous, okay downright terrible kid! He drove his mother crazy refusing to eat, playing “chicken” with moving cars, and setting small fires…but not to worry, the story has a happy ending! Lawrence (far right) age 15, with his father and younger sister, 1955. Lawrence, age 13 at his Bar Mitzvah, December, 1953. LAWRENCE POLON- THE EARLY YEARS


Lawrence graduated Northview High School in 1958, and then went on to earn a B.Sc. from the University of Buffalo. After his undergraduate studies, Lawrence began a Masters degree in physical anthropology at the University of Toronto. 1958 LAWRENCE POLON- As A Young Man


Maxine Rotish was born November 6, 1945, the youngest of two daughters to David and Viola Rotish in Toronto, Ontario. She was raised in a loving home full of song (singing I Feel Pretty with her sister), sport (anything active with her father) and shopping (with her mother). MAXINE ENID ROTISH-THE EARLY YEARS Maxine, 1946

MAXINE ROTISH-As A Teenager : 

Maxine attended Vaughan Road Collegiate Institute, and graduated high school on the Honour Roll in Spring, 1964. MAXINE ROTISH-As A Teenager Maxine’s report card June, 1964.

MAXINE ROTISH-As A Young Woman : 

Maxine went on to the Nightingale School of Nursing in Toronto, and graduated as a registered nurse in 1965. She graduated from the University of Toronto as a public health nurse in 1966. MAXINE ROTISH-As A Young Woman The graduating class of Nightingale School of Nursing, 1965.


In September, 1966, Lawrence and Maxine were set up on a blind date by a mutual friend. At the appointed hour, Lawrence promptly rang the doorbell at Maxine’s house. She refused to come downstairs until her mother first checked him out and gave her approval. Luckily, Maxine’s mother thought he was worth meeting, and the first date began. It must have been love at first sight, because on November 6, 1966, Maxine’s birthday and only 6 weeks after their first date, the happy dating couple became the happy engaged couple. LAWRENCE AND MAXINE-THEIR STORY Lawrence & Maxine 1966


On June 20, 1967, Maxine Rotish became Maxine Polon at the Adath Israel Synagogue in Toronto. The newly married Maxine Polon had no intention of following her husband to Australia where he hoped to find a job as an anthropologist. Instead, she convinced her husband that becoming a chartered accountant and staying in Toronto would be a much better career choice. LAWRENCE AND MAXINE POLON The wedding and honeymoon


Maxine continued working as a public health nurse and Lawrence went back to school to study accounting. It wasn’t long before they were expecting their first child. On March 3, 1970, Lynne Wendy Polon was born at Branson Hospital in Toronto at 3:00 a.m. weighing 6 pounds. LAWRENCE AND MAXINE POLON-THE FAMILY GROWS Maxine & Lynne: Before and After Left: A very pregnant Maxine. Right: Lynne, a few hours old with tired mommy.


On September, 25, 1972, Lynne was joined by brother Jonathan, and then again on October 30, 1975, brother Geoffrey was born.   Throughout the years, Maxine and Lawrence were devoted to each other and to their kids. Maxine was always fun loving and outgoing . She lost her temper on occasion, but who could blame her? Lawrence was always patient and calm. He balanced Maxine’s energetic nature. Two opposite personalities, sharing one life together. LAWRENCE AND MAXINE POLON-THE FAMILY KEEPS GROWING Lilly Polon, Jon, Lynne and Lawrence April, 1973 Maxine holding Geoff, Jon and Lynne Fall, 1976


Maxine was a successful career woman throughout the marriage. She returned to nursing after staying home with the children through their early school years, but soon after, her entrepreneurial spirit emerged. She left nursing to start her own business selling medical supplies. After selling her business, she worked as a sales representative for various companies as a top sales person until she retired on April 30, 2008. Lawrence also had a very successful career as a C.A. for over 30 years. Even now in his retirement, he continues to do consulting work for various clients, and tax returns for his daughter, Lynne. Today, Lawrence and Maxine are enjoying their retirement together. Forty-one years of marriage and still going strong! They are always active doing something. They love to travel, golf, ski, go to the gym, and spend time with their children and 6 grandchildren, with one more on the way. LAWRENCE AND MAXINE POLON-TODAY, JUNE 2008


Milfred Joseph Polon July 20, 1914 – June 11, 1989 And Lilly Polon (nee Baker) August 2, 1913 – present PATERNAL GRANDPARENTS


Milfred (Mel) Polonski was born in Russia on July 20, 1914 to a wealthy Jewish family. He was the oldest of 3 children. His parents were named Nathan Polonski and Gayla Polonski (nee Norber). His family owned a soda pop factory. Mel was educated with private tutors and learned to speak over a dozen languages. MILFRED (MEL) POLON Mel, age 2, 1916


One night, in the year 1930, Russian soldiers stormed Mel’s house searching for his father. His father was hiding in the woods and the soldiers left without him. As soon as the soldiers left, Mel’s mother sprung into action. She sewed as much money and jewels as she could into the lining of their clothing. Within days, the family escaped in the middle of the night and fled to Canada. MILFRED (MEL) POLON Mel (left) with siblings, Age 9, 1923 Mel with parents and siblings, 1919


After landing in Halifax, with $20,000 Canadian dollars on October 18, 1930, Mel’s family settled in Toronto. Their last name was shorted to Polon, and they quickly began to adjust to their new home. Mel easily learned how to speak English and began taking on jobs to earn money. MILFRED (MEL) POLON Photograph of the Canadian Landing Papers. The S.S. Koscieszko sailed from Danzig October 7, 1930 and arrived in Halifax October 18, 1930.


Lilly Baker was born on August 2, 1913, the third of four surviving children to immigrant Jewish parents in Toronto. Lilly’s parents names were Isaac Baker and Katie Baker (nee Isaacs). Lilly’s father and his brothers owned a dry cleaning store called Baker Brothers. Lilly’s mother stayed home to care for the children. Tragically, just days after giving birth to her fifth child (who died at birth from a forceps delivery), Lilly’s mother died suddenly of appendicitis. Lilly was only 6 years old, her sister was 4 and her twin brothers were 8. LILLY BAKER . Lilly, sitting on her father’s lap, with Mother holding baby sister and twin Brothers in front, 1915.

Lilly’s Birth Certificate : 

Lilly’s Birth Certificate


Devastated about his wife’s death, and unable to care for the children himself, Lilly’s maternal grandmother Faigle Isaacs, moved into the house to help raise the children. Lilly’s grandmother was not equipped to care for the four young children and she threatened Isaac that she would put them all in an orphanage if he didn’t remarry. In 1925, Lilly’s father remarried, Clara Rovner, but it wasn’t to be a very happy marriage. Clara had a hard time with the children, even after the youngest daughter moved to live with relatives in Buffalo, New York, and she didn’t get along with the grandmother. Lilly’s memories of her childhood after her mother’s death are unhappy ones. LILLY BAKER Picture of Isaac and Clara, 1946


At the age of 18, in the year 1931, Lilly married Danny Shelew. At the age of 21, Lilly gave birth to her first child, a daughter. Sadly, when the baby was only 8 months old, Danny died suddenly from brain inflammation and kidney failure. Lilly was left alone to raise her baby, without any source of income, no money and no place to go. She moved with the baby into the home of one of her brothers, but she was not happy. Her brother did not treat her well. She lived there for almost 5 years. LILLY BAKER Lilly, age 21, 1934


Mel and LilLy met through a mutual friend in 1938. Initially, Lilly was not interested in Mel, but he continued to pursue her, and won the affections of her daughter. After refusing his proposal of marriage many times, Mel finally gave her the final ultimatum – marry him, or he would not see her anymore. Feeling desperate to move out of her brother’s house, and wanting to provide her daughter with a kind and loving father, Lilly agreed to marry Mel. The wedding took place on November 5, 1939. MEL & LILLY POLON Love grows with time


Through the years, their love grew along with their family. Mel and Lilly had two more children, Lawrence (Lynne’s father) and another daughter. Eventually, they would have 9 grandchildren to cherish. When Mel died on June 11, 1989, the entire family, but especially Lilly, was devastated. They had lost an integral part of the family. Today, Lilly continues to live independently at the age of 94. The 9 grandchildren have all married, and there are now 19 great-grandchildren, with 3 more on the way. MEL & LILLY POLON Lilly (Bubbie Polon) with baby Dylan, April, 2008


David Rotish May 18, 1911 – January 24, 1999 AND Viola Rotish (nee Labko) November 25, 1916 – June 25, 2005 MATERNAL GRANDPARENTS


David Rotish was born in downtown Toronto in an area of the City known as the Junction to Russian immigrant parents. He was the second youngest of 5 children. His parents were Lloyd Rotish and Pearl Rotish (nee Javitz). DAVID ROTISH The Rotish Family, 1917. David is in the top row on the right. In the picture are David’s brothers, sisters and parents.


David was fond of saying that he started working at age 5 selling newspapers and never stopped working. He quit high school at the age of 16 to work full time to support his family. Over the years, he worked at many jobs, but his business talents for sales quickly became apparent. He was the top selling life insurance salesperson for North American Life for many years. In addition to being a natural salesman, David was also a gifted athlete. He was at the “Y” everyday from his teens until his 80’s. He played baseball, golf and he was a champion on the handball court. One of his friends from the “Y” was the famous baseball player, Roberto Clemente. DAVID ROTISH Baseball team, 1932. David is in the bottom row, second from the right.


Viola Labko was born in Chicago on November 25, 1916 to Russian immigrant parents named Max Labko and Minnie Labko (nee Weiss). She was the youngest of 3 children. Viola’s father was a tailor, and because he couldn’t find work in Chicago, he moved the family to downtown Toronto when Viola was still a baby. VIOLA LABKO Viola, 4 months, March 1917. Viola, age 6 1023


In 1932, at the age of 16, the years of the Great Depression took their toll on Viola’s family. She had to drop out of school to find work to help support the family. Using her “professional” name, Viola Lapp, she began work as a legal stenographer for various law firms in Toronto. VIOLA LABKO Reference letter for Viola “Lapp”, dated January 4, 1937. Nobody in family knows for certain why she did not use her real last name. Fear of anti-semitism, perhaps?


Viola was a beautiful young woman with a wide circle of friends and many male admirers. Among her closest friends was Ed Mirvish, the well known business man and philanthropist. In fact, Mr. Mirvish’s best friend, Yale Simpson, proposed marriage to Viola, but she turned him down. VIOLA LABKO The beautiful Viola, Age 21, 1937


In January, 1940, a very cocky David Rotish attended the same dance as Viola Labko. He fell instantly for the gorgeous red-head, but she would have nothing to do with him and refused to tell him where she lived. The next day, David went door to door asking if anyone knew “Viola with the beautiful red hair”. He obviously found her and won her heart, because they were married on June 28, 1940. They had a loving marriage full of laughter, which they shared with their two daughters, Brenda and Maxine. DAVID & VIOLA ROTISH Love through the ages Left: 1940 Right: 1990 FYI- that silver platter now has a place of honour in my dining room.


Through the years, David was a fun loving and active father and husband. He continued his successful career with the creation of his own insurance company, Rotish Insurance Inc., where he worked until he was 80 years old. In 1991, David was hit by a car and his life dramatically changed. His family, especially Viola, helped with his recovery, but he never regained his physical abilities. He lived at home, where he was cared for by his family and private nurses until he died on January 24, 1999 at the age of 88. DAVID ROTISH David, just before he was hit by the car. A loving husband, father and grandfather. He never really knew his first great-grandchild, and was not alive for the birth of the others.


Not only was Viola a wonderful wife and mother, but she was also a woman ahead of her time. She had a successful career running Rotish Insurance Inc. until the age of 73, when she stopped working to take care of her husband. After David’s death, Viola continued to live in her house for sometime, before deciding that it was too big for her anymore. She moved to a retirement residence, but wasn’t happy there (too many old people!), and she moved in with her oldest daughter, where she lived independently and happily for many years. On June 24, 2005, Viola lay a new outfit out on her chair, that she would wear the next morning for her youngest grandson’s Ufruf (a Jewish custom where an engaged couple, one week in advance of the wedding, attends synagogue and is blessed by the congregation). She died in the early morning hours of June 25, 2005 from a massive heart attack. VIOLA ROTISH


Today, the Rotish family has grown from David and Viola and their 2 daughters to 6 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren, with 1 on the way. We all have different surnames these days, but the Rotish legacy lives on in our hearts, minds, bodies and spirits. THE ROTISH FAMIILY TODAY Viola’s birthday, November, 2000.




My research is complete, however, this project is not. I have many more stories about my ancestors, and have been able to trace back beyond my grandparents’ lives to those of my great-grandparents and even a little bit of my great-great grandparents. It is amazing to me to hear the stories of their lives, the hardships they endured as Jews living in Europe and their triumphs as they adjusted to life in their new homes in North America. As I heard their histories, and was able to see their pictures and touch their artifacts, I was overwhelmed with a sense of completeness. Now I know why my oldest son is such a great artist (my great-grandmother, Gayla Polon, was a professional seamstress who used to make costumes for MGM in California). I now understand how my daughter acquired her athletic abilities – from her father, yes, but also from her great-grandfather David Rotish. I see my children’s personality traits reflected in the stories of my relatives. I see their physical features in the old black and white photographs from so long ago. The names of my ancestors live on through the current generations – Maxine for Max, Lynne for Lloyd, Matthew for Mel, Dylan for David (and his Hebrew name is for Viola – my husband and I couldn’t agree on a “V” name for his English name). Mind, body, emotions and spirit all coming together joining the generations and making connections between days long past and today. CONCLUSION

Slide 42: 

Learning about my family ancestry has helped me reflect on the person I am, the choices I make, my beliefs, my values and my identity. For me, this project has truly embodied the principles of holistic learning and has enabled me to see how past generations have impacted on my own personal growth and development. One day, when I have time between family and work obligations, I hope to finish my genealogical history. My wish is for my children continue to write the family tree with their own lives and the generations yet to come. “In every conceivable manner, the family is the link to our past, and the bridge to our future.” Alex Haley

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