15th Annual Excellence in Education Awards

15thEIE The Avon Maitland District School Board and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation District 8 held its 15th Annual Excellence in Education Awards at the Seaforth Community Centre. The annual celebration recognizes the efforts of the people who make our schools better places to learn and work.

The goal is to recognize excellence in all areas of public education in Avon Maitland - whether it is the student who has enriched the atmosphere of the secondary school, the teacher or support staff member who has encouraged excellence through their contribution to the school, the community member whose contribution has improved the school environment, or the trustee or administrator who commits to ensuring the educational experience is a positive one. Those honoured with Excellence in Public Education Awards are selected by each of the 9 secondary schools, the Board, and the Office/Clerical/Technical/Educational Assistants (OCTEA).

Up next - the video highlights of the Excellence in Public Education Awards, followed by a look at each of the recipients

The Honourees

Avon Maitland District School Board

Re-Engagement Team: Jo-Dee DesJardine, Mark Roth, and Susan Young
RE-engagementteamThe Student Re-Engagement initiative in our Board began three years ago as a concerted measure to help students who had become disengaged with school before they could finish their diploma.

Jo-Dee DesJardine, formerly an Education Assistant at Mitchell DHS, was given the task of working with students who were 18 years of age or older and who had left school prior to graduation. She helped these students reconnect with school to achieve credits, complete their literacy requirements and complete their Community Involvement Hours. Another member of the team supporting this initiative is Susan Young. Susan, a teacher at MDHS, who is teaching AMDEC Continuous Entry Coop, delivers online co-operative education credits and supports the development of employability skills in our re-engaged students. Mark Roth, the Co-operative Education Department Head at Stratford Northwestern, is the third and newest member of the team who seeks out and supports our students.

Jo-Dee, Mark, and Susan made visits to each of our school communities, meeting with students at their homes, at various local restaurants or wherever students would agree to meet, and at school to develop a plan for them to complete their diploma requirements. They have gone above and beyond to support these students, working side-by-side with them as they complete community involvement hours and providing them with whatever additional support they require. They connect with the students regularly and meet them where they are at through texting and social media. These three educators exemplify what it means to be caring adults for students who need that extra connection in their lives.

Catherine Hardman - Community
CatherineHardemanCatherine has worked at Choices for Change; Alcohol, Drug & Gambling Counselling Centre since 1990. Early in her career, she worked in a correctional facility for youth, and initially held a position as an Addiction Counsellor at Choices for Change, before becoming the Executive Director in 1995. She received her Honours Bachelor of Arts-Sociology in 1987 and her Diploma in Addiction Studies in 1990. From 1993 to 2006, she held her designation as an International Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor. Most recently Catherine received a certificate in Management and Leadership Studies.

Locally, Catherine Co-Chairs the Huron Perth Mental Health and Addiction Network and the Huron Perth Area Provider Council. Recently she formalized a partnership between addiction and mental health providers in this area. Catherine has been involved in numerous provincial and LHIN level committees, representing addiction services and the clients they serve. In May, 2012, Catherine was awarded the Addictions Ontario President’s Shield for her contributions to the field of addictions in the province of Ontario.

Catherine's leadership of Choices for Change has been both visionary and agile; she has worked creatively to provide services and resources within Huron and Perth Counties to meet the changing and complex needs of clients. Her commitment to serving youth in our communities has been demonstrated in the long standing partnership with AMDSB and in the quality counselling and treatment services provided to our students.

Terry Marklevitz
TerryMarklevitzTerry is quite literally the architectural underpinning for a number of our programs as well as buildings across the district. In 1993, Terry became the education lead in the architect firm, Garrett Marklevitz. As the firm morphed into Marklevitz Architects Inc., Terry expanded his awareness of education requirements, as architectural consultant to four different school boards, and many DayCare Organizations, sharing best ideas across an expanded base.

Time and again Avon Maitland has been the benefactor of Terry's creativity, highly developed critical thinking skills, and genuine dedication to his craft. Whether renovation or new construction, every project results in well thought out, flexible and well constructed spaces designed not just for present day use, but for future longevity. Terry has created a legacy of new buildings in Avon Maitland with Little Falls PS, the renewed and expanded Goderich PS, Maitland River ES and soon-to-be new North Perth elementary school. On an ongoing basis, Terry gives freely of his time and lends his exceptional mind and insightful and broad knowledge to enhance board planning and decision making.

Terry believes in the power of students and undertakes much to support their learning, whether through his annual scholarship to a graduating Technology Studies student, supporting the Foundation for Enriching Education to ensure availability of enrichment activities for our students, judging at Science Fairs, and speaking with students at career fairs, or in their individual classrooms.

For all these reasons, and more, Terry is held in high regard as an individual that cares about the results of his actions well beyond normal obligations. These characteristics and qualities are all very evident in the work he does for Avon Maitland, making him a most deserving recipient of this recognition.

Frank Stretton - Staff
FrankStrettonFrank began his career in 1973 teaching junior and intermediate classes. His journey into special education began in 1982 when he volunteered to teach a junior/intermediate Self Contained class. In 1984 Frank took on the role of School Resource teacher and in 1986 Frank was placed in the role of Area Resource Teacher.

Following amalgamation Frank became principal at Wingham PS, a full service school having four special education classes and a program for the visually impaired. After 4 years at Wingham Frank was appointed principal at Howick Central. In 1991 Frank's new role was the Co-ordinator of Special Education. In this role Frank also represented the Board at RSEC, SEAC, and on many local community agencies.

Following a short retirement, in 2002 Frank returned to the administrative role, becoming the Vice-Principal at Listowel Central PS for 2 years. After those 2 years he became Principal at East Wawanosh and then returned to Wingham PS for a second time. Finally these last few years Frank has been at the Education Centre as System Principal - Special Education to assist centrally in the area of Special Education. Frank is retiring in June 2013 and will end his career in an area that has held a special place for him during his long outstanding career. Frank's dedication, support and contributions to Avon Maitland students is absolutely deserving of an Excellence in Public Education Award.

OSSTF - Office, Clerical, Technical, Educational Assistant - OCTEA

Cindy Laing - Secretary
CindyLaingCindy Laing started at Northwestern as an EA and in September 1998 became a TRA. She held successful book fund raisers and got new books for the school Library. In 2008 she applied for the Stratford Northwestern Public School secretary position and held that position until January 31, 2013. Her knowledge of computers from her former role as TRA was very helpful when technology questions came up in the office. Being specifically assigned to the grade 7 and 8s requires a special skill set. One that is infinitely patient, kind, firm, and a strong sense of humour is essential. Cindy has all of these in spades and needed to use them each day!

She did an excellent job of her work as school secretary at Stratford Northwestern Public School. She took on far more than the role of Intermediate Secretary and built relationships with many secondary students who counted on Cindy long after they started at the high school.

In January 2013 Cindy became the secretary at Hamlet Public School. When families found out that Cindy was heading to Hamlet Pubic School, they were very sad to see her go. One child at Northwestern who has a sibling at Hamlet, told the younger sibling, “you’re lucky”. You’re getting the best principal at Northwestern!” Cindy has been a welcome addition to Hamlet Public School. She has superb organizational skills and the students love her! They know that when they need a caring, compassionate, calm and friendly voice to talk to, or a band-aid for their scraped knee, that Mrs. Laing will be there to help them, and look after them. She keeps parents informed and updated and many have expressed how lucky Hamlet is to have her.

Cindy is deserving of this award because she is a wonderful person who always goes the extra mile for all involved with the school.

Dianne Shapton - Educational Assistant
DianneShaptonDianne Shapton commits herself to her work as an Educational Assistant with professionalism and heartfelt dedication. Every day, Dianne works with some of our most high-need students, both socially and academically, and deals with many challenging situations. With unrelenting patience, humour, and a warm smile, Dianne's positive attitude and dedication to the students she works with is both inspiring and powerful. Congratulations Dianne!

Susan Rader- Technician
Susan RaderSusan brings both a depth of expertise and a positive attitude to her work in technical support. Anyone who has ever asked for assistance will testify to Susan's patient helpfulness. No question is too small or too silly. Susan's efficiency is legend in the AMDEC office. Her responses are returned at lightning speed. For example, her fastest time to make a change to our website once an email request has been sent, is four minutes! Susan often anticipates the needs of her clients and corrects errors or makes improvements before being asked. Her positive attitude is reflected in her online, telephone, and person-to-person communication. Susan Rader is an example of excellence in education in the Avon Maitland DSB.

Angela DeWeerd
AngelaDeweerdAngela DeWeerd has worked with the AMDSB for over 30 years. She has held many different positions, moving from one challenging job to another. Angela is a smart, hardworking, energetic professional. She is committed to providing the best support for SEA students. She makes it a priority getting the new equipment ready and repairing equipment as needed. Her priority is that the students have the tools in their hands that they need to succeed. Her tenacity for problem solving is second to none. She is resourceful, often scavenging parts from old machines to make our computers/printers last a little bit longer. She is quick to refer defective products to vendors for service, taking advantage of the warranty offered, saving our school money. She has earned the respect of her peers and collaborates with her fellow workers. Angela willingly shares her knowledge with others so that they can feel more comfortable resolving computer problems on their own.

Carrie Mulholland - Early Childhood Educator
CarrieMulhollandAs an Early Childhood Educator, Carrie puts forth the extra effort to be a life long learner for the children in her care, the staff she works with, her family and herself. She consistently collaborates with other staff members to extend the learning of her students.

As the teacher that she works with stated, "I think the reason that it is so hard to describe why Carrie is a fantastic candidate for this award is because it is who she is. Her commitment, kindness and dedication is so much a part of her that it comes out in everything that she does. She treats both children and adults with dignity and respect, encouraging them to be their best self - and she does this with a smile. I have learned so much from her this year. She has been an amazing teaching partner and I am excited to learn more from her next year."

The staff at Little Falls Public School believe that Carrie is the perfect candidate for this award.

Central Huron Secondary School - CHSS

Lydia Calderwood - Student
LydiaCalderwoodLydia Calderwood is the kind of student whose actions speak to her strong character. She is a natural leader who motivates others by treating them with respect and compassion, while helping them improve upon their skill set. Lydia is extremely active in her church community. She volunteers a great deal of time, helping out with the junior high youth group, Sunday school and nursery. At school, Lydia is a hard working and conscientious student who excels in all classes and is a pleasure to teach. One of Lydia’s most endearing qualities is her ability to assess a situation and start helping other students, staff or team members without ever being asked. Lydia is a tremendous asset to the basketball and track programs, but also in the music department as a member of the wind ensemble and jazz band. In all of these capacities, she is not only a skilled team member, but also an effective leader. Lydia exemplifies all the character attributes and embodies excellence in education.

Central Huron YMCA - Community Member
CentralHuronYMCACentral Huron YMCA has opened their doors to the CHSS students involved in the personal fitness class. Toni Gale and her staff have been very welcoming and accommodating to our students. The staff are friendly, organized and passionate about health and wellness. The staff are truly interested in the students as they don't see them as an inconvenience or"ignore" them because we are there for a short time. They are always willing to help students with proper use of equipment and to correct form. They are very flexible in times and dates and try every possible way to include the CHSS students. Their dedication to promoting health and wellness at CHSS and to the town of Clinton is appreciated.

Hugh Lobb - Student
HughLobbHugh Lobb is an exceptional student, writer and athlete at Central Huron. Hugh has played an active role in the development of the CHSS drama program. Over the past 2 years, he has been involved in the Sears Drama plays performed by the CHSS students. He has various awards including an Award of Excellence in script writing and acting for “Simon and Frankie” as well as an Award of Excellence in directing and writing for “Taxi”. Hugh is very passionate about the drama program and has given younger students a great opportunity to see the potential.

Hugh was co-captain of the Senior boys volleyball team this year. He gave 100% during all practices and used the coaching to improve his overall skills.

Jennifer Ross-Holton - Teacher
JenniferRossHoltonJen is an incredible leader and teacher at CHSS. She manages time well as she is the department head of science, Environthon coach, innovator with technology, and exemplary teacher. As the department head of science she leads her department in student friendly strategies that help every style of student achieve success. Over the last few years Jen has coached her Environthon team to awards of merit and recognition across the board and province. Her greatest contribution would be her willingness to incorporate the use of technology on a daily basis in her classroom. Jen is overall an incredible teacher, mentor, colleague and leader. She is well-deserving of this recognition.

F.E. Madill Secondary School - FEMSS

Jacob McGavin - Student
JacobMcGavinMadillJacob McGavin is a talented student, an excellent athlete, and an individual who displays outstanding citizenship. Academics are important to Jacob. He has been the proficiency winner of his class each year at Madill since Grade 9. Jacob has been a valuable member of the school’s volleyball team for the past four years. He has also played on the spring volleyball league through the school. He is an active member of Student's Council as Charity Representative and the Mustangs Making a Difference group. He has always been concerned about people in the school, in his community and in other parts of the world. In Grade 7, Jacob founded a social action group called Kids Care at Brussels Public School and helped to raise thousands of dollars for school building projects through Free the Children. He has maintained an interest in this cause. This summer he will be travelling to Nicaragua with a group of FE Madill staff and students to help build a school. Jacob assumes leadership roles willingly and he exemplifies positive character traits. Jacob is busy at school but he makes time for his part-time jobs and other outside interests too. His plowing abilities have earned him numerous county and provincial awards. Jacob will continue his studies next year at Mount Allison University in Nova Scotia with the hopes of becoming a doctor. Jacob is an individual who strives for excellence in all that he does and he has contributed in many positive ways to life at Madill.

Ty Dillon - Student
TyDillonMadillTy Dillon is an remarkable young man. Everyday he enriches the lives of the staff and students at Madill School. Ty always greets staff members or students with a wave and a smile, whether they are in the building or out in the community and he’ll probably add a congratulatory fist pump too. Every morning while collecting attendance he'll poke his head into the classroom and give a little grin and wave or he will stop and chat. Ty certainly does not let his physical disability interfere with his routine. Even though he may walk with a walker or roll along in his wheelchair and have limited use of the left side of his body, that doesn't slow him down much! Every day after physiotherapy he independently gets himself off the gym mat and goes through a series of exhausting movements to get himself into his chair. Then on his own, he buckles himself in, adjusts his foot supports, and puts back on his braces and shoes. This can be an exhausting task which takes a good deal of time and effort but, once this process is complete, he looks over at his EA, smiles, gives her a fist pump and thanks her for helping him. Ty’s determination and positive attitude really reinforce the fact that heroes may appear in the most unlikely places!

Bill Hamblin - Teacher
BillHamblinMadillBill Hamblin believes that you should “follow your bliss”. It was the fact that he embraces and lives this philosophy that led him to enter the teaching profession at the age of 47. Bill joined the Business Department at F. E. Madill in 2001 and has been a valuable staff member ever since. Whether Bill is in a Business or Math classroom or acting as Teacher in Charge he displays an enthusiasm and dedication towards his work. Students respond well to his approach and they connect easily with his teaching style. As part of his Leadership course, Bill encourages student leadership in the planning, organizing and running of the annual semi-formal dance at Madill. He has achieved a lot of success getting students fully involved and they have certainly learned many valuable lessons while participating in this activity. There is a real sense of accomplishment as students transform the gym into a new world! Bill Hamblin inspires his students and his colleagues and is truly a deserving recipient of an Excellence in Public Education Award.

Bill Wallace - Teacher
BillWallaceFEMadillBill Wallace is a passionate educator who has motivated both students and teachers over the course of his career. Bill has a keen interest in woodworking and he has been sharing his skills at Madill since he started teaching here in 1993. Bill truly wants other people to experience the fulfillment he has found in life from making things, working with wood, expressing himself artistically and being creative. Students benefit from his knowledge and his enthusiasm as they produce many excellent works. As a colleague Bill has been a guiding light in the Tech. Department. He acts as a mentor to all the department members and his insights help to direct them through some difficult questions and discussions. As a teacher, Bill has always been dedicated to his students. It is very common for him to spend his lunch hour supervising students as they complete projects. Students realize the dangers that can be associated with the equipment in a wood shop and appreciate the effort that Bill puts forth to keep everyone safe. Bill will be retiring in June and he will certainly be missed by Madill staff and students.

Goderich District Collegiate Institute - GDCI

David Gauthier - Student
DavidGauthierGDCIIn spite of his challenges related to Asperger’s Syndrome, David Gauthier has made the most of his time at GDCI. He has been a member of the curling and track and field teams and has been actively involved in the music program. He has shown consistent dedication to the Jazz and Concert bands and is a leader within those bands. This year David is a Co-op student working in the music room as well as one of the SCC-DD rooms. His supervising teacher is very impressed at the job he is doing and at the strides he has made over the years. Outside of school David works at the YMCA as a lifeguard and is a Cadet leader.

Taylor Lowe - Student
TaylorLoweGDCITaylor Lowe is remarkable in his initiative & collaborative abilities. Taylor is always willing to help and isn't afraid to do some work. He is approachable and he cares about GDCI. He is driven to succeed and he is well organized. Taylor is a major contributor to school life as school president and as leader of the drama club. He has been a member and a leader of the Tech team for three years. He oversaw the process of framing a new constitution for student government. Taylor was the lead hand in hosting the 2011 District Sears Festival. He has served as student rep for the Maitland Trail Association since he was in Grade 9 until the fall of 2012 and was a member of the former Environment Club. Taylor was a member of the Global Village club for two years and attended the Me to We student conference 3 times. In the past Taylor has been the assistant coordinator of the Friendship Games and this year he is the lead coordinator.

Ally Thomas - Student
AllyThomasGDCIAlly Thomas’ involvement in many student life activities has been exceptional and well-worth a nomination. She has been a very dedicated Peer Tutor for the past year and a half and also is a volunteer tutor outside of school hours. Ally has been a Peer Mentor and a member of SC and a member of the Concert Band.

She was part of the Environment club for several years before it merged with Global Village. Ally has been the president of Global Village for two years and taken the initiative to plan multiple activities including 30 hour famine, Vow of Silence, Trick or Treating for non perishable food items, Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes, and the dove mural between B and C hall. She also just returned from building homes in a developing country which she expressed is fueling her dream to become a doctor that works in developing countries.Ally also has participated in writing contests including the Legion poetry contests and the Marion Drysdale contest.

Ray Lewis - Teacher
Ray Lewis is a most deserving and worthy candidate for this year's Excellence in Education Award. First of all, his wealth of knowledge translates into instruction that is differentiated and meaningful. His classroom is one of hands-on, experiential learning, and his impressive arsenal of teaching skills creates a fun and engaging classroom environment that attracts kids to his classes. Furthermore, Ray spends countless hours as a coach and mentor to many of our student-athletes. As a result, he has built two highly successful sports programs that seem to dominate their competition on an annual basis. WOSSAA representation has become the norm for Ray's teams, and trips to OFSSA are never a surprise. It is Ray's dedication, care and commitment to the students that has led to such a high degree of competence and confidence among his athletes. In fact, Ray works to ensure that we graduate well-rounded students, who eventually go on to compete in post-secondary athletics.

Listowel District Secondary School - LDSS

Matt Askett, Student
MattAskettLDSSMatt Askett understands how difficult it can be to be a co-president of student council in a year when things are not as they usually are. Matt returned to LDSS for a fifth year to make a difference and although he faced frustrating times on student council because of the job action by teachers and general student involvement, everyone knows who he is because of his volunteer work to help a friend raise awareness of Ankylosing Spondylitis, a form of arthritis that affects the spine. Matt sparked LDSS students into collecting over 10,000 plastic bottle caps in the first semester alone. He has done a number of other amazing things at the school and outside of the school, you should see his dance moves for example, but he has made a difference by being a role model for others as well as helping raise funds for a debilitating syndrome.

Darylan Kotyk, Student
DarylanKotykLDSSDarylan Kotyk has attended a number of different schools across the country. Coming back to Listowel after attending school in Winnipeg, she was aware of the bullying issue. She saw a news article of someone she personally knew who was a victim of bullying and decided she wanted to do something about it. She spoke to a number of her teachers asking if she could present her story of bullying while including stories of others that may or may not be known here in Canada. Since her presentations, people have come up to her and apologized for their hurtful remarks and she has had people reach out to talk to her about their victimization of bullying. She believes she has had an impact and that is one of the reasons she stands before you today because she had the initiative and courage to stand up and have her voice be heard. It shows that one person can make a difference.

Rose Kellington - Teacher
RoseKellingtonLDSSRose Kellington has taught for 22 years in a variety of departments at various schools throughout the AMDSB. What makes Rose a remarkable teacher is how her sparkling, pleasant personality can light up a classroom, staff meeting or lunch room. She always encourages her students to maintain a positive and relaxed environment in her classes so all students can learn. She is an advocate for students with learning disabilities and has a natural way of dealing with their individual needs and making them feel like they belong. In Student Success, she helps students by boosting their self esteem using humour and common sense. She treats students with respect and they respect her in return. She loves to plan and supervise field trips in order to make lasting memories for the students. She promotes physical fitness for girls by working with the Perth Health Unit and coordinating the FUEL program. Her zest for learning and life is why we are nominating Rose Kellington.

Brenda Coxon - Teacher
BrendaCoxonLDSSAs a Math teacher, Brenda provides great real-world applications that brings Math to life for students (and staff too!) As a "non-Math" person, when Brenda conveys her lessons to me now as a colleague, I often find myself understanding mathematical principles that completely eluded me in high school! Though she has taught in the same subject area for years there is a persistence in making each lesson new and engaging.

Brenda's positive attitude exists beyond the classroom. She gives every lunch hour to work with students and spends a lot of time mentoring colleagues. She is a caring individual who genuinely wants the best for everyone. Over the years Brenda has participated in many school groups and would work diligently every year to ensure that the Grade 9 EQAO Math testing would run without a hitch!

There are so many things to say that are hard to put into words when describing Brenda. I think a former student said it best when she said,"I wish Ms. Coxon could teach EVERYTHING!"

Brenda is simply amazing!

Mitchell District High School - MDHS

Brianne Skinner - Student
BrianneSkinnerMDHSMDHS has been most fortunate to have Brianne Skinner as a member of our school community. Her interests and talents are varied, but her commitment to excellence is unwavering. She has been an enthusiastic athlete on the volleyball and tennis teams in her midget and junior years, and an important part of the field hockey and rugby teams throughout her high school career.? Brianne was delighted to be a part of the inaugural Blue Devils girls hockey team as well.?Shifting gears from athletics, she has performed in our dramatic productions in the past two years as well. ?Brianne has worked as an executive member of the yearbook committee learning the ins and outs of publishing this important book and has played a number of roles in our Student Council, culminating with being our co-president this year. She has shared her experiences and her leadership in the peer mentoring programme and was an integral part of our safe schools anti-bullying/body image initiatives for students in all grades. Brianne recognizes the value in taking risks and challenging herself. ?She is often the first person to volunteer when needed and never hesitates in reaching out to others. Brianne is a dedicated student and manages to juggle her extra-curricular experiences with her studies, part-time employment and always honours her dedication to helping others.

Molly Ryan - Student
MollyRyanMDHSMolly has demonstrated maturity and instrumental leadership in all activities that she is involved in. Her enthusiastic manner encouraged others to tackle group activities with a positive and confident approach. Molly's sense of humour is displayed on a consistent basis, adding enjoyment for others involved. Molly was secretary for the student council and she often took on the leading role in planning and orchestrating school events that student council was involved in. As a lead actor in the school plays for the last 4 years Molly accepted instruction and suggestions from the drama teacher in order to reach her potential as an actor. During the past year she led the Drama Production to winning the south-western Ontario regional competition, focusing on achieving a high level of performance on stage while maintaining a close connection with all actors, again displaying her natural ability to work as a team player. During her time at Mitchell, Molly has also been involved in the school choir, the Interact Club and demonstrates enthusiasm in all general school spirit activities. As a student in the classroom Molly participated with interest in class discussions, adding insightful thoughts on a regular basis. Her assignments were written with stylistic appeal and great attention to detail, always working to achieve her potential. Molly's commitment and dedication to activities she was involved in made it especially rewarding for anyone to work with her as it was easy to leave any extra-curricular project capably in her hands.

Diana MacLeod - Teacher
DianaMacleodMDSHSDiana has contributed hugely to the academic and extra-curricular programs offered at Mitchell during the last 12 months. In May of last year she helped organize and supervise the History trip to Chicago for a large number of MDHS students. Diana also regularly coaches girls' sports teams. Most importantly, from my perspective as Department Head, Diana is consistently pro-active and supportive of the English Department at this school. She has organized much of our professional development this year with excellent results; moreover she regularly volunteers to take on irksome tasks that nobody particularly wants. Diana is also a superb teacher, pushing her students beyond what they think is possible and demanding standards of excellence which will stand those students in good stead in the future.

Doug Stewart - Teacher
DougStewartMDHSDoug Stewart has been an active employee in the Avon Maitland District School Board for many years. As the head of cooperative education at Mitchell District High School he has created and maintained solid working relationships with many employers in the community. Students have benefitted from this greatly by being able to work in many different trades and businesses. Moreover, Doug has been a strong mentor for many younger staff and has shared his experiences and knowledge freely. He has also helped to build a strong COPE program and has helped many students find a productive pathway. Lastly, Doug has been a member of many different working groups at OSSTF and currently sits on the CBC.

South Huron District High School - SHDHS

Brooke Smith-Costain - Student

BrookeSmith-CostainSHDHSThe first thing you will notice about Brooke Smith-Costain is that she’s always smiling. Her ability to overcome physical challenges, attend school regularly, and brighten everyone's day makes her deserving of this recognition. Brooke has enthusiastically grasped the opportunities for self development at South Huron District High School by taking both Cooperative Education and Dual credit courses. At her Cooperative Education placements Brooke has worked as an educational assistant with young children, and provided excellent service to both her students and the teachers she has worked with. Her dedication to her placements and her desire to excel at whatever she does is commendable.

Brooke has been a participant in the 30 Hour Famine, and was our top fundraiser in 2012. When asked what has been a highlight of her time at South Huron Brooke said she really likes how the students and staff have been so accepting and supportive of her. Despite many challenges Brooke has been able to achieve academic standing worthy of acceptance into the Community Integration Through Cooperative Education Program at Lambton College, where she plans to qualify as an Early Childhood Educator. Keep smiling Brooke! Your friendly, compassionate, and sincere personality will take you far.

Sara McEwan - Student
SaraMcEwanSHDHSSara McEwan demonstrates a strong commitment to her studies and positive involvement at South Huron District High School. She has made the most of her opportunities during her four years at the school, and has been involved with many extra curricular endeavours including serving as president of our music council, a valued member of student council, an active participant in athletics, Habitat for Humanity, Relay for Life, and the 30 Hour Famine. In addition to her activities Sara has maintained excellent marks, and has been accepted to Carleton University where she will be in the Environmental Studies program.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Sara is her ability to do all of this with a very positive, inclusive attitude. She leads by example, and inspires the people around her to be their best. By fostering these positive qualities in everyone, and maintaining strong leadership in her activities through a challenging school year, Sara has demonstrated that she is most deserving of an Excellence in Public Education award. Sara’s proud parents are Beth Ronson and George McEwan of Exeter.

Scott Halpenny - Teacher
ScottHalpennySHDHSScott Halpenny has been teaching and coaching at South Huron District High School for 28 years after following a few years of teaching in northern Manitoba. Scott has taught science and physical education with Phys. Ed. being his main assignment for most of his career. While being a member - and more recently the department head - of the physical education department, Scott has worked hard to develop and share his passion for healthy active living. Scott has been a coach since he started his career at South Huron, sharing his love for volleyball, basketball, and track and field. He has also been a starter for track at various Huron Perth and WOSSAA championships. Scott is also on the Transfer and Athletic committee for Huron Perth where he is highly regarded by his peers within the Huron Perth Athletic Association.

Scott is highly respected by all staff and students alike for his dedication, hard work, and friendly and approachable manner. This is not Scott’s first Excellence in Public Education Award - he was recognised by the Huron County Board of Education and District 45 OSSTF in 1997. Throughout his years of service at South Huron, Scott has continued to share his love of teaching and coaching which has earned him the nomination for an Excellence in Education award.

Heather Hawley - Teacher
HeatherHawleySHDHsHeather Hawley is the type of teacher whom students and staff truly respect and admire: hardworking, dedicated, an expert in her discipline, and always willing to help whenever it is needed. Heather is the head of the English department at South Huron District High School, and oversees the literacy test and OCA program. She has taught the whole spectrum of courses, from Grade 9 Locally Developed to Grade 12 University prep.

Her students know that she is tough, but fair, and wants to prepare them to meet any future challenges with confidence. Heather is the chair of the literacy committee, and helps promote language across the curriculum through many different ways at South Huron. In addition to her work, Heather coaches girls soccer, is a devoted parent, and is active in the community as well.

Stratford Central Secondary School - SCSS

Kelsey Robinson - Student

KelseyRobinsonSCSSKelsey is a very accomplished student in music and in digital media. She participates in Symphonic Band, Jazz Band, Central Singers, Vocal Chords, and is the co-president of Music Council at Stratford Central Secondary School. Outside of school, she studies voice, piano and music theory. She is an active participant in the annual Kiwanis Music Festival.

Kelsey brings an unique creativity from her arts background into the digital realm. A capable student who looks for ways to accomplish a task with a creative element. Kelsey's work ethic and creative outlook help set a standard of excellence in both the classroom and in extra-curricular activities.

Beyond being an example of dedication and determination, Kelsey is a quiet leader, a team-player who helps make sure that others succeed as well. She is committed to personal excellence, and recognizes the importance of helping others. Kelsey is a true leader who is always pleasant, very helpful and who always gives her best..

Dylan Woodley - Student
DylanWoodleySCSSDylan is a talented, hard-working student whose passion for digital media has earned him the respect of his peers and the industry. An integral member of the Ramcast team, Dylan has directed, edited and written episodes since Grade 10. Ramcast is a popular news/fun video podcast that is directed and produced by students. The impact of this contribution is difficult to measure. The commitment to artistic excellence in the videos themselves sets a standard for the school. The energy and creativity of the Ramcast programming celebrates and promotes school activities thereby encouraging greater involvement in school life.

When called on to represent the school at community events, Dylan is an excellent ambassador. He is well-spoken and friendly as he effectively engages his audience. He also wrote a play called 'A Thug's Life' for Theatre Central's fall show this past fall. His animation work has been his main focus for the past four years. His work was featured in the Stratford Festival’s production of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.

Dylan’s strength is not in digital media - it is in work ethic and passion. He is fearless - he uses and controls digital media to do his bidding. Technology is a tool and he is definitely in control. He willing shares his knowledge and passion with other students and teachers. Dylan makes teaching exciting and helps all of us grow with technology.

Paula Ortelli - Teacher
PaulaOrtelliSCSSPaula is a positive, cheerful, and active member of our staff. Paula teaches English and music (strings, vocal, and instrumental) at Stratford Central. Her teaching career over the last 20 years at Mitchell District and Stratford Central has always included her talents outside of the classroom as choir director, music director of musicals, and organizer and chaperone of European and North American trips.

Paula’s extracurricular involvement reflects her passion for music. She is conductor of the Central Concert Band, and the Central Singers, director of Vocal Chords, advisor for the music council, and most recently chaperoned a music trip to Washington over the Easter holiday.

Her interest in fostering an appreciation and fondness for music extends beyond the classroom. She is an accompanist for area singers, and has conducted the children's chorus for the Starbright Christmas show for the past 4 years.

In the community, Paula has participated in the Stratford Community Players. She coaches baseball and enjoys playing sports. She is proud to be the “oldest” member of Ramsfit, Central’s fitness club. Paula enjoys being outdoors, reading, cooking, and spending time with friends and family which includes being chauffeur for her teenage daughter.

Paula is a well respected staff member by both her students and her colleagues. Her dedication to her role at Stratford Central makes her a very deserving recipient of this award of excellence. ?

Dan Keys - Teacher
DanKeysSCSSDan started his teaching career at Mitchell District teaching in a variety of subject areas including Science, Math and Business. He came to SCSS in 2009 and became the full time Student Success teacher in 2010. Dan’s extensive extracurricular involvement has made him an invaluable member of the SCSS staff. He runs the peer mentoring program at the school and helps organize the grade 10 ‘Change Day’ event, which gives students an opportunity to discuss teen issues in an open, safe environment. Dan is also a member of the school literacy and OCA committees.

He has dedicated countless hours to both boys and girls basketball as a coach as well as the curling team. Always with a smile, Dan can be seen outside his classroom door in the morning greeting and talking to students. He truly cares and inspires students to achieve their best.

In his spare time, Dan helps his mom with the family farm in the Clinton area and enjoys playing baseball in the summer

St. Mary’s District Collegiate and Vocational Institute - SMDCVI

Julie Towton - Community Member

JulieTowton-DCVIOfficer Julie Towton does more than make our school safe. She is part of our school community everyday. Her presence in our school is so common place that students will often drop by her office simply to "chat". Officer Julie offers students another resource, who can help them work through situations. By being a presenter in classes, students learn more than the law. They learn that police officers are approachable and knowledgeable. By simply being another adult in the building, she helps to reinforce the learning atmosphere outside the classroom with life skills. In crisis situations, she works with other staff members to present a consolidated team, while supporting students. Although her role often is assumed as police enforcement, Julie works more as a partner with the staff and students in our school community. Julie truly cares for the students at DCVI and this is clearly demonstrated by the time and effort she puts into being a part of this community.

Samantha Day - Student
SamanthaDayDCVISam is a student who contributes quietly to school life every single day.Being the treasurer on the school Student's Council, requires dedication and a commitment of time. Sam completes this task without hesitation. This is extended learning for her online course and her future goal in Business and Commerce.A valuable member of the DCVI field hockey and soccer teams during her four years, Sam is an integral part of what makes these teams successful - dedication, desire to achieve and coachability.Sam also uses these skills to be a role model to other members of our school.A PWWP leader for the last two years, she stepped up this year as a member of the executive, taking an active role in the responsibility and planning of the monthly activities. Sam also takes the time to assist others with their education by being a tutor to several students while maintaining honour roll status, herself. Excellence in Education truly describes Sam Day - in every aspect of school life!

Kerry Evans - Student
KerryEvans-DCVIKerry is a grade 11 student who has become a very active member of the St. Marys DCVI community. This year, she has been a driving force behind many campaigns run by the Global Voices club as well as an active member of the Eco-Team. Kerry is a quiet individual who has developed her interpersonal skills throughout the year to become a strong leader. She comes up with unique ideas to get the attention and support of the student body. From the paper boat challenge supporting a clean water initiative to organizing a day of silence to stand up for those suffering from oppression, hunger and violence, Kerry's concern for others shines through. She is keen to make a difference in our community as well as the world at large. She attended the Rotary Young Leaders Training workshop this spring and will be a key member of Global Voices and the Eco-Team at DCVI next year.

Rachel Brommer - Student
RachelBrommer-DCVIAs our Student Council President, Rachel continuously contributes to her school community. She has taken initiative to organize activities for students throughout the school year, whether or not she was able to receive teacher assistance. These events encourage students to participate in all aspects of school life, and help create a sense of a caring community within our school. Rachel's positive attitude and genuine enthusiasm transfers to other members of Student Council and they remain a dedicated group largely because they have such a dedicated leader in Rachel. She has also represented her school community well speaking at events such as Commencement and the Ignite Parents conference in Listowel in April.

Stratford Northwestern Secondary School - SNSS

Katey Kneider - Teacher
KatyKeniderSNWSSKatey is an enthusiastic and creative special education teacher at Stratford Northwestern Secondary School. Katey has a natural ability to use the student's interests to develop engaging programming for the students in her class to help them maximize their learning in literacy, numeracy, communication and life skills. Her belief in her students and high expectations help her students meet and exceed their goals. Katey's expertise with technology benefits her students through daily use of Smart board technology as a learning tool and iPads as a communication tool for students who struggle to use verbal language to communicate. The socials Katey's classes have hosted inspire an environment of inclusion at Northwestern. Katey invites classes to join her class to participate in activities to learn more about each other. Katey is an advocate for her students, she always has their best interest in mind. Her students love her, their parents admire her and her colleagues are inspired by her. The Northwestern community also benefits from the hours Katey spends coaching sports, creating bulletin boards and planning Northwestern's 50th anniversary.

Nicole Bice - Student
NicolBice-SNWSSNicole is an exemplary student. She graduated in 2012 and returned to complete a fifth year, and to continue her active involvement in the school. She is an excellent team player with an enthusiastic spirit for sports; she was part of the junior soccer and badminton team, as well a valuable leader in the Nordic ski team for the past two years. Nicole also demonstrated her concern for the environment through her involvement with the eTeam in grades 9 and 10 where she helped implement the bottle ban initiative. Nicole is well liked by her peers. She is a very academic straight A's student, but takes the time to help her peers as part of the Math Tutor Help group. Nicole's aptitude for teaching and coaching is also demonstrated through her work in the community as a swimming instructor and life guard. In addition, Nicole is always willing to step out of her comfort zone and take a risk - in 2013 she will be representing the school at High Skills Canada for her first time.

Frank Incer - Student
FrankIncerSNWSSI have known Frank for 4 years. In that time he has been a student in my Grade 10 Drama, Grade 11 Drama, and Grade 12 Drama, as well as a member of our Northwestern Players. I have collaborated with Frank on numerous productions where he has played the role of an actor, director, producer, stage manager, and other technical positions.

Frank is an outstanding and driven individual. He has brought nothing less than excellence to all our projects. He has been the head of play festivals, play writing, stage managing, directing shows, and production work for 5 successful semesters, and was one of the committee members and a production assistant for the hosting of the Sears Drama Festival this year at our school. In the classroom, Frank is insightful and hard working. He puts time and effort into every endeavour. He often provides critical analysis that exceeds what would be expected from a person of his age. Truly, he is a talented, hard working, and admirable student.

Camile Oates - Teacher
CamileOates-SNWSSThere are a myriad of reasons why Camile Oates deserves this award. Since Cam became the drama teacher, he has steadily built the drama program at SNSS. He is a whirling dervish of energy that has lite the school up with his ideas and enthusiasm. Kids are passionate about drama. They are passionate about life and this is very much credited to his work with students that maybe are on the fringe and he has given them a voice in our school community.

Secondly..can you say Glee,...Sears Drama Festival,...Titanic Dinner Theatre,....Ghost Tour! These are projects ( and this is only a small taste of what he has taken on in the last five years) that Cam continues to make available to his students. His excitement for his subject ignites a special vigor and passion in his students and the entire drama team

Cam, has inspired several teachers to work on projects that they would have never approached before. Drama + Tech+ Culinary Arts + History+ Music were gelled together to work on his drama creations.