Innovative arts teacher among six female entrepreneurs of the year

Town Crier Online 
January 8, 2007

By Neil Becker

Forest Hill educator Lola Rasminsky was one of six honoured with 2006 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur of the Year awards in a Nov. 21 ceremony at the Metro Convention Centre.

Rasminsky received the Bell Trailblazer Award in recognition of more than 25 years of teaching arts to children and adults.

Winners were selected from 150 semifinalists and more than 800 nominees across Canada.

Rasminsky, a former Associated Hebrew School music teacher, began teaching fine arts to six neighborhood kindergarten-age kids in her basement in 1979. Today she teaches music, drama and visual arts through three venues —Avenue Road Arts SchoolArts For Children and Beyond The Box.

“It’s very important to teach topics such as dinosaurs, friendships and outer space, which interest kids,” she said in sharing some of her teaching methods that made it a success among both kids and parents. “The kids get so energized using their imagination, and it’s fun to see their development.”

The road wasn’t all paved with gold for Rasminsky who because of increased enrollment moved from her basement to the Avenue Rd. location in 1993.

“First year the school got broken into twice. There were only about 200 students and we needed 900 to break even.”

But, she says, she “never once thought about throwing in the towel.”

In the Avenue Rd. location, enrolment grew to 1,200 children. Encouraged, she decided to take another step and in 1995 opened Arts for Children of Toronto, bringing the world of arts to some 8,000 inner city kids.

“We reach about 45 inner city schools and it’s a way for them to unleash their artistic potential,” Rasminsky said.

Beyond the Box is a program that teaches business people to think creatively in their day-to-day lives.

Looking back on that special night, Rasminsky, who doesn’t think of herself as an entrepreneur, praised her staff, which is comprised of 20 full time and 20 part time members.

“The staff does a great job in awakening the talent in the school and this award is also for them,” she said. “I was thrilled by all the nominations that I received from across the country.”

Looking toward the future, Rasminsky is just hoping for more space as enrolment once again continues to be in high demand.