Celebrating Outstanding Educators

    McGuinty Government Recognizes Excellence in Education

    TORONTO, April 16 /CNW/ -


    Twenty educators and school support staff will receive a provincial award
for their contributions to student learning and achievement.
    The Premier's Awards for Teaching Excellence
(http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/teachingawards/index.html) celebrate the outstanding
individuals who work in Ontario's schools and school boards.
    This year's recipients include a principal who is making it easier for
parents to get engaged in school activities, a teacher who takes students on
archaeological digs and an education assistant who is a true champion for
    The award recipients will be recognized in six categories
(http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/teachingawards/index.html) at a special event held
during Education Week
(http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/general/elemsec/edweek/edweek.html) on May 5.


    "We are fortunate in Ontario to have so many outstanding individuals
working in our schools and boards. The awards give us a chance to celebrate
the achievements of some of these exceptional professionals."
    - Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Education

    "This was a humbling and rewarding experience. The calibre of nominees
was outstanding and they clearly demonstrate the impact one individual can
have on our students."
    - Cynthia Mulligan, chair of the selection panel and education specialist
with Toronto's Citytv


    -   Over the last three years, more than 3,000 nominations have been
        received and 58 individuals have been recognized.
    -   There are six award categories: teacher of the year, new teacher of
        the year, excellent support staff, excellence in leadership, team of
        the year and lifetime achievement.
    -   An independent selection panel
        reviewed the nominations to select award recipients. The panel was
        chaired by Cynthia Mulligan, education specialist with Toronto's
        Citytv, and included a parent, principal, student, support staff
        member and a teacher.


    Read about this year's award recipients

    Find out more about the Premier's Awards for Teaching Excellence

                                                      Disponible en français



    The Premier's Awards for Teaching Excellence celebrate exceptional
educators and support staff and the contributions they make to student
success. This year, fourteen individuals and one team of six are being


    Teacher of the Year - Monique Gazan, Teacher, Iroquois Ridge High School,
    Oakville (Halton District School Board)

    Students in Monique Gazan's class know they can influence change - and
they have. She motivated and empowered students to organize a conference with
Stephen Lewis, raise awareness and money for a variety of global causes and
advocate for healthier cafeteria food and classroom recycling bins. Every
year, she refreshes her courses with new materials and methods, and inspires
students to make a difference. She is a true leader, giving staff and students
opportunities to take on leadership roles.

    Teacher of the Year - George Knight, Teacher, Napanee District Secondary
    School, Napanee (Limestone District School Board)

    How do you build an engine powered by the heat from a candle with only a
photograph to start from? George Knight's students could show you. Now they
have made the engine solar powered and are receiving international recognition
for it. This is just one of the real-life projects he initiated to challenge
and inspire students. He instils a sense of enthusiasm for learning,
collaboration and community involvement, and connects students with the world
of work.

    Teacher of the Year - Catherine MacDonald, Teacher, Department Head,
    Father Leo J. Austin Catholic Secondary School, Whitby (Durham Catholic
    District School Board)

    Catherine MacDonald helps students dig up the past and connect it to the
present. Her students have worked with forensic anthropologists, recreated
ancient cave paintings and participated in archaeological excavations. Her
passion and enthusiasm inspires staff and students. She is very active in the
community, coordinating the Amnesty International Club, participating in
several board committees and presenting education papers at archaeology
conferences. She also developed a high school archaeology course and mentors
other staff.

    Teacher of the Year - Kelly Smith, Teacher, David Leeder Middle School,
    Mississauga (Peel District School Board)

    Whether on the volleyball court or in the classroom, Kelly Smith believes
in helping students realize their potential. He helps at-risk youth by
coaching volleyball and using innovative teaching methods, like producing an
anti-racism video, creating a teen writing website and publishing books
written by teen writers. He keeps students engaged, inspires them to be good
citizens and builds strong relationships with parents and the community. A
mentor to staff, his door is always open. He has also contributed to the
writing of curriculum and textbooks.

    Teacher of the Year - Joe Tersigni, Teacher, Department Head, Our Lady of
    Lourdes Catholic High School, Guelph (Wellington Catholic District School

    When history happens, Joe Tersigni's students usually know about it. His
students have held teleconferences with soldiers in Afghanistan and students
at Pope John Paul II's former school in Poland. He encourages students to
celebrate Canadian holidays like Flag Day, and the leadership award he
initiated has brought well-known Canadian athletes, politicians, musicians and
journalists to speak with students. He has a profound impact on students and
colleagues and has given workshops to new teachers on innovative teaching

    New Teacher of the Year - Manuel Cordeiro, Teacher, St. Edmund Campion
    Secondary School, Brampton (Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board)

    In his first year of teaching, Manuel Cordeiro is already making a lasting
impression on students and the school community. His Comic Book Club has
engaged struggling students in reading and boosted their literacy skills. His
reproduction of the allied war room during D-Day operations and diplomacy
simulation games brought history to life. A gifted motivator and leader, he
also organized a campaign with students to send holiday care packages to
Canadian soldiers and support workers in Afghanistan.

    New Teacher of the Year - Jonathan Hancock, Teacher, Glen Williams Public
    School, Glen Williams (Halton District School Board)

    Jonathan Hancock knows how to communicate success. He publishes a monthly
newsletter that keeps parents informed about class events and the curriculum.
He helps students produce videos and publish stories, while building their
confidence and skills. The result has been significant increases in reading,
writing and math in his Grade 3 class over the past two years. Eager to
develop his practice, he attends numerous workshops including ones on special
education to help him address the needs of students in his class.

    New Teacher of the Year - Vernon Kee, Teacher, Danforth Collegiate and
    Technical Institute, Toronto (Toronto District School Board)

    Engineer-turned-teacher Vernon Kee makes learning fun and engaging.
Teaching subjects like computer science, engineering and physics, he has
students build robots, create video games and investigate "paintball physics."
Known for his enthusiasm, he mentors new teachers, maintains the school's
website, leads seven clubs, coaches six athletic teams and much more. He also
helps students explore career paths and reinforces the value of giving by
connecting students with local and global outreach opportunities.

    Excellent Support Staff - Laureen Kuzyk, Educational Assistant, Rainy
    River High School, Rainy River (Rainy River District School Board)

    Laureen Kuzyk's energy and enthusiasm for education can make even
disengaged students embrace learning. An educational assistant for 18 years,
she never stops anticipating and addressing the needs of her students -
particularly those who face barriers to success. She has brought in used
clothes and cut hair for students who struggle financially, and she tutors
students after hours who struggle academically. Plus, she does this in a way
that preserves their dignity and privacy.

    Excellent Support Staff - David Margetts, Head Custodian, White Oaks
    Secondary School, Oakville (Halton District School Board)

    Dave Margetts makes sure students shine in the spotlight - literally. The
head custodian has volunteered as the school's technical director for 19
musical and drama productions. He manages a student technical crew that hangs
lights and runs sound equipment. Margetts keeps the school shining too and
instils a sense of ownership and pride among the school community. Committed
to supporting students, he also steps in to coach and referee school sports
and volunteers with other school activities.

    Excellent Support Staff - Vimaladevy Vijeyacumar, Educational Assistant,
    St. Margaret's Public School, Scarborough (Toronto District School Board)

    A champion for math, Vimaladevy Vijeyacumar coaches the school's math
league team. Her passion for the subject is infectious, with many students
joining each year and rarely missing meetings. She instils confidence in
students that they can solve any math problem. Many of them credit her
mentorship for helping them win provincial and national competitions. A
qualified educator for more than 16 years in Sri Lanka, she is an
International Language Instructor and spent four years as a full-time school

    Excellence in Leadership - Poleen Grewal, Principal, Thorn Lodge Public
    School, Mississauga (Peel District School Board)

    First-time principal Poleen Grewal is building communities. She strongly
encourages parent involvement, visiting local neighbourhoods to encourage
newcomers to attend parent events and offering these sessions in three
languages. The school council has since grown and become more active in the
school. She also partners with community agencies, celebrates diversity and
championed a new vision for the school. She builds professional learning
communities for staff that are producing results. Student achievement in
writing jumped from 56 per cent to 79 per cent - closing the achievement gap.

    Excellence in Leadership - Chantal Bertrand, Teacher, Coordinator, Centre
    d'éducation et de formation de l'Est ontarien, Hawkesbury (Conseil des
    écoles publique de l'Est de l'Ontario)

    Chantal Bertrand is committed to helping everyone learn - in English and
French, from age 16 to 60. She champions a vision of excellence and helps
create a family atmosphere that makes everyone feel welcome and respected. She
ensures courses and programs meet high standards - programs that have since
been adopted by other schools. Throughout her career, she has worked to build
community partnerships and collaborated on the introduction of courses that
meet student needs, such as welding for women and computing for adults 55+.

    Team of the Year - Neil McNeil Leadership Team, Teachers, Neil McNeil
    High School, Toronto (Toronto Catholic District School Board)

    Members: Alan Baigent, Susanna Bellisario, Paul Edwards, Michael Fellin,
    Nicholas Kovacs, Tony Morale

    At this boys school, the leadership team has developed a peer support
program to empower students as leaders in helping others. The cornerstone is
the care of students transitioning to high school. Incoming students are
paired with a "Big Brother" - a senior student leader - during a three-day
camp experience. This orientation forms the basis of a relationship which is
maintained over the year through peer tutoring and mentoring. The team's
collaborative approach includes working with community agencies and has helped
transform the school culture through an increase in academic success and
student engagement.

    Lifetime Achievement - Douglas Fraser, Teacher, Department Head,
    Timiskaming District Secondary School, New Liskeard (District School
    Board Ontario North East)

    With his passion for the Earth, Doug Fraser has been making science come
alive in his classroom for 25 years. Through courses and school clubs, he
inspires students to think globally and become environmental stewards. His
contributions to science education have also extended beyond the classroom. He
helped produce computer programs for biology teachers, co-authored eight
science textbooks and has spoken at numerous science education conferences. He
has also developed and implemented science courses, the newest one is called
One Planet - One Future.


    The independent selection panel includes a parent, principal, student,
support staff member and teacher. Together, this diverse group maintains the
integrity of the selection process, evaluates nominations and recommends who
may receive the awards.
    Cynthia Mulligan is the chair of this year's panel. Mulligan began her
career at Citytv 19 years ago in the CityPulse library. After a brief stint
with BT-BreakfastTelevision as a news writer, she moved over to CityPulse. In
1994, she hit the streets as a cameraperson and two years later became a
videographer. In between being a mother to two daughters, Mulligan continues
her work as the education specialist and host on CityNews. She has an honours
degree in English from McMaster University.

                                                      Disponible en français

For further information:

For further information: Michelle Despault, Minister's Office, (416)
212-3747; Patricia MacNeil, Communications Branch, (416) 325-2676; Public
Inquiries, (416) 325-2929 or 1-800-387-5514; TTY 1-800-263-2892

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