District 8 – OSSTF and the Avon Maitland District School Board recently celebrated the 19th annual Excellence in Public Education Awards recognizing 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 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.
Excellence is worth celebrating!
Linda Clements Memorial Best Buddies Award
Established in Memory of Linda Clements, a long-serving Educational Assistant, who through her gentle way, always encouraged her young students to be the best they could be through friendship. Awarded to two students in the Elementary panel who have become Best Buddies.
The two students value their similarities, not their differences. Their friendship is based on mutual respect and acceptance. The Buddies have built a relationship within their community that enhances their social and academic confidence. They model social inclusion and have made a significant impact on each other’s lives.
Pictured above is Director Lisa Walsh, award-winning students Hasan Zoba and Logan Adams and Jeff Denys – President OSSTF – District 8
Avon Matland District School Board
Eleanor Salmon – System Principal
Eleanor has been instrumental in her leadership, professional learning and international travel as a chaperone while with the Avon Maitland District School Board in various capacities.
Eleanor came to Avon Maitland in 1999 as vice principal at Central Huron Secondary School. She moved to Vice Principal at Mitchell District High School and then to South Huron District High School. In September 2008 Eleanor became Principal at AMDEC, in February 2010 System Principal—Program, in September 2012 Principal at Goderich District Collegiate Institute and then in September 2015 System Principal—Learning Services.
Eleanor is being recognized with an Excellence in Education Award because of the high level of commitment to improving the outcomes of students with learning differences throughout her career with the school board. Eleanor embodies the notion of professionalism—she is a true learning leader.
Ted Doherty — Director of Education
Ted’s career began in education in 1986 at FE Madill Secondary School where he taught math/computer science. In 1992 Ted taught in Goderich District Collegiate Institute and became vice principal in 1996, and principal in 1999. Ted became System Principal—Student Success in 2003, Executive Officer in 2005, Superintendent of Education in 2006 and Director of Education in 2010.
Ted has always put students first in everything he did. He was a visionary leader and was instrumental in developing the Strategic Plan with the Trustees that has been embraced by all the school community and continues to be the focus of Avon Maitland. Ted always sought to do things better—for students, for staff and for the board. Ted consistently promoted and demonstrated innovation during his time as Director. Inclusion, use of technology, international education, ‘4Cs and a P’, and promotion of pathways are just a few examples of Ted’s support for innovative ways to deliver the best possible education for our students. Ted always made sure that new initiatives were evaluated through sound research to ensure that these initiatives are as effective as they can be and delivering what we expect for our students.Provincially, Ted played a significant role in the latest rounds of labour negotiations at the central bargaining table. His expertise in secondary school education, collective bargaining and human resources was valued in discussions among colleagues and with the Ministry of Education.
Ted often underestimated his impact, but when he announced his retirement there could be no doubt of his success. Past and present employees of the Board, and colleagues across the province congratulated Ted for his exemplary work and his commitment to public education, but most importantly, to the students and staff in Avon Maitland. Thank you for your leadership Ted!
Joe Jankowski — Community Volunteer
For the past 12 years Joe was the Community Rep on the Supervised Alternative Learning (SAL) Committee of the Avon Maitland District School Board.
Joe believes in the value of the Committee and in keeping the lines of communication open to the young people who are struggling with the traditional mode of education.
Joe, in his role as the Community Rep on SAL, has always been an advocate for the students, looking for ways to best meet the learning and social needs of every student.
Congratulations Joe and thank you for your significant contribution to Avon Maitland students through your commitment serving on the Committee.
Municipality of North Perth
While the Avon Maitland District School Board is not accustomed to opening new schools every year, they have been fortunate to open three new facilities in recent history, the last of which opened this past September in the Town of Listowel.
On the surface, a new school construction project is about the bricks, and the mortar, and the systems that together create an imposing structure and presence in the community. Without a doubt, the new North Perth Westfield PS and the North Perth Spinrite Child & Family Centre facilities are beautiful. However, some individuals involved with public sector construction projects have an additional focus that starts long before Architects apply their aesthetic. These particular individuals look for opportunities to do something better for the communities they serve. They have the foresight to establish potential and plan for a better future. They are not only seeing but they are realizing the advantages of working collaboratively with others to form true partnerships with common purpose and tangible results.
With these attributes in mind, we recognize the Municipality of North Perth and the contribution they have made to the education and well-being of youth in the Listowel Community. North Perth’s vision and collaboration with the Avon Maitland District School Board has resulted in a community hub that combines daycare, family services, education, and recreation facilities. Long term, families will benefit from a far more accessible, convenient, and engaging community.
Central Huron Secondary School
Laura Browne has been an inspiration to both the staff and students of Central Huron Secondary for many years.
She helped to make CHSS an inclusive environment way before that was ever a buzz word. Laura embraced and encouraged the individuality of our students and staff just by being herself. She has had a tremendous impact on so many students. Laura created an environment where her students felt safe to express themselves and to figure out who they were. She challenged them to push their painting and drawing skills beyond their imaginations and encouraged them to look at themselves and their artwork from divergent perspectives. Laura encouraged students year after year to pursue arts related careers and they have been very successful.
Laura has also inspired staff and students alike to go out and experience life and pursue our passions, whatever they may be. She has shown us that no dream is too big and no mountain too tall. Laura brought her multifaceted personality and style to everything she taught – visual art, English, native studies and special education. She modelled respect for our environment and also respect for everyone around her. Laura’s experiences always gave her an ability to challenge the perspective of her students and encourage them to look at situations from another way.
Although Laura has retired and moved onto a new chapter in her life, she remains an active artist and outdoor enthusiast. Her contributions to CHSS over the years helped make it a better and more inclusive place. She is most deserving of an Excellence in Education Award.
Nick Bell — Student
Nick is one of the most pleasant, considerate and hardworking students to ever grace the halls of CHSS. Academically, he strives for excellence in everything that he does and is rewarded for his dedication with honour roll marks and academic awards every year. He has been a member of the Envirothon team since Grade 9 and was the group’s expert in forestry. Not only is he very strong in math and science, but also in music. He is active in the school band and most recently played “The Last Post” at our Remembrance Day assembly. Although very strong academically, it is his kind spirit that makes him stand out. He is an extremely well-rounded and well-liked student. Nick’s kindness is shown in his willingness to volunteer his time. He is always happy to help out at school events like Grade 8 orientation and give his own time to tutor other students having difficulty in math. Nick was nominated for this award by several teachers which shows how much his work ethic, smile, friendly greetings and his “have a nice day” at the end of each class is valued by staff here at CHSS.
Barry Bell — Community Volunteer
Barry has been taking co-op students at Clinton Public Hospital for over twenty years and this semester marks his 50th co-op student. He is the head facilities mechanic with enormous responsibility but always takes our co-op students every year and spends the time teaching them, letting them learn for themselves where possible and helping them with life lessons along the way. He has spent countless hours helping co-op students and past co-op students find jobs, write references, apply to post-secondary, make phone calls to help support our students before, during and after their co-op placement. He always goes above and beyond what would normally be expected of a co-op supervisor. Many times he was able to get a co-op student a job after high school through his many business connections in the community. Our students always love working with him, and quite often they call him a second father. CHSS would like to recognize all his efforts over the last 20 years as he will soon be retiring from his job and we will miss him greatly. Barry has helped jump start the careers of dozens of our students and our community has greatly benefited from his work with the young co-op students over the years.
Tristan Rhoads — Student
Tristan is an extraordinary example of Excellence in Education. He is one of the most self-motivated and disciplined students I have ever had the chance to teach. He knows what he wants to do after high school and has been working towards this goal for years. Tristan is exceptionally strong academically and has a great thirst for knowledge. He easily applies knowledge to new situations and never gives up on the challenge of a tough problem. An honour roll student in grade 9-11, Tristan has also been one of the top students in his grade annually. He works exceptionally hard on his studies in order to achieve at such a high level.
Tristan is also a dedicated and integral member of the Central Huron Wind & Jazz Ensembles. He holds his own playing to a very high standard by practicing consistently and running frequent sectionals. Tristan never backs down from the challenge of playing a new solo or a challenging piece and he can always be counted on at any performance or event. He is a team player who gives 100% at everything he does always ensuring that he is not the weak link that holds the rest of the ensemble back. Tristan is simply one of the strongest musicians in my music program in both technical skill and expressive elements. He is always professional and confident, yet completely coachable. Tristan is a joy to work with.
Tristan also offers his time and expertise in other ways at CHSS. He has been involved with the school Coding Club, which led him to developing the school’s new website as well as a manufacturing website. Tristan also serves on this year’s Student Council in the capacity of Social Media Coordinator.
Susan Faber and Jennifer Cox — Information Technology Trainers
Sue and Jenn are IT Trainers who are responsible for assisting teachers and students to use technology in the classroom and beyond. Sue and Jenn consider the other employees that request their assistance to be clients. They identify what their clients need and then work tirelessly to help. They embrace new technologies and promote them by finding their best uses and then matching these to the people most likely to benefit.
These ladies are exemplary of what a team should be. They are expert in similar and different technologies and support each other when they feel that this will bring the best possible outcome for their clients. They offer each other constant collaboration and support. They are each other’s best cheerleaders and communicate constantly and well.
A case in point is Chromebooks. These ladies are possibly the single leading factor in spreading the Chromebook message through AMDSB. If you want to know the many uses and amazing features of Chromebooks paired with Google, Extensions, and Apps – talk to them. They have been instrumental in promoting Chromebooks through the deployment to students and by supporting and participating in a research project looking at best use practices related to devices being used by Secondary Students in our Board.
Ilene Blackman — Educational Assistant
Ilene has been an amazing educational assistant for over 7 years. Her remarkable dedication, extensive skill set and incredibly optimistic disposition makes her an excellent candidate for recognition of this magnitude. Ilene has worked at a variety of schools supporting many children with varying needs. She takes great pride in connecting to the students, understanding their individual strengths and needs to assist them in progressing socially and academically. Ilene is attentive to not only the students she is working with specifically, but all students within the school who cross her daily path. Ilene is a positive role model and strongly committed, on a daily basis, to Inclusion at Hamlet PS.
She goes above and beyond her role, using her skills to create countless, useful items for students to promote success in their days. Such items include a handmade weighted vest, social story boards, and thinking of ways she can assist students during recess to have fun engaging activities to be involved in. She has extensive knowledge of exceptionalities and advocates for students best interest.
Ilene builds her knowledge through ongoing workshops and literature. Ilene is someone who never, ever stops thinking, planning, brainstorming, and sharing different strategies and approaches that can be collectively attempted when students aren’t having success with strategies in use. It is not uncommon to receive texts and messages , says Principal Drinkwalter, over the evening and weekends as Ilene is always thinking and brainstorming ways in which we can support students in ways we haven’t yet thought of. Ilene is the most reflective support staff I have worked with in my school career.
Ilene is kind, caring and uses her wonderful sense of humour to improve the lives of others. She demonstrates flexibility and insight when working with children, and staff of all ages. She has excellent observation skills and her experience and dedication make her a valued team member. She has also volunteered on various committees, including the Health and Safety Board for the AMDSB, as an OSSTF representative, and sits on Hamlet PS School Council to name a few.
Lori Brooks – Designated Early Childhood Educator
Lori Brooks became a Designated Early Childhood Educator in 1990. She worked at Nursery and Daycare for many years as a DECE and was Executive Director at the Clinton Child Care Centre in 1996 for 8 1/2 years. She has excellent management and leadership skills and is greatly respected by her co-workers. Her professional manner and warm, bubbly personality make her a wonderful ECE teacher!
She started supply work as a DECE for the Avon Maitland District School Board in the Full Day Kindergarten Program in 2010 when it was first implemented, filling a leave at Clinton Public School. She was then hired on full time with the board, working two years at Goderich PS, then moving on to Hullett PS for the next four years to present date. Wherever she goes, she readily provides resources and materials to help her co-workers and is always eager to learn more about her profession.
During the 2015-2016 school year, Lori worked with the AMDSB Early Learning Team as an ECE facilitator, providing support to Kindergarten teachers that did not have an ECE teaching partner. She visited nine different schools, collaborating with the teachers on the Six Foundational Pillars of the Kindergarten program and provided activities and expertise to help them incorporate that aspect into their classrooms. Lori’s well-spoken, passionate way with words makes her a great teacher! I have learned a lot from how she handles difficult situations at school in a calm and quiet manner.
Lori also facilitated a “Yoga for Kids” workshop at the board wide PD day in December. She shows genuine concern for the younger student’s health and well-being, for the body as well as the mind!
We are very fortunate to have such an experienced DECE as Lori Brooks working for our school board and she is most deserving of an Excellence in Education Award
Barb Turford – Educational Assistant
Barb Turford exemplifies excellence in every area of her life. She is a sought after, energetic, supply Educational Assistant who is dearly loved by both staff and students. Barb shows great care and compassion when interacting with all of our students, and consistently goes above and beyond the expectations of an Educational Assistant. She brings a smile to all as she greets them, and always remembers the names of our many students. Barb is a very capable and hardworking EA who easily steps into any position where there is a need. She is patient and kind to all, and in turn, has earned the great respect of everyone at Northwestern.
Barb is a committed member of her church and regularly helps out in a variety of activities. She is an avid church volunteer and has taught Sunday School for a number of years. Not only does Barb teach the lesson, but she prepares foods that are healthy, sugar free and gluten free, so that all snacks can be enjoyed by the children. She and her husband have traveled overseas to India and Nepal to do mission work and take goods to those who could otherwise not afford them.
Barb is also a wonderful community volunteer who regularly assists with many of Stratford’s special activities. She participates in the annual Salvation Army Kettle Drive, the To Stratford With Love dinner and works tirelessly helping with a variety of our community’s outreach meals. Barb has also started a thoughtful and kind initiative in which she sends care packages to university students. These post secondary students who are living away from home receive a care package from Barb, including cards, encouraging words and gift cards.
Barb has written a book about how she and her husband coped with the loss of their son to childhood cancer. She provides comfort to so many families who have lost a child and she also assists families who are providing additional care to children due to illness. Barb Turford is a selfless, energetic, optimistic and passionate person who loves everyone and is loved by everyone. She exemplifies excellence in every area of her life and all who are fortunate enough to know her, benefit greatly.
F.E Madill Secondary School
Justin Wall — Student
Justin demonstrates excellence in education. In the classroom he is a diligent student. He maintains good grades, but more importantly, he is always trying to improve what he does. He constructively uses feedback to improve, and routinely offers encouragement and support to others on their road to improvement. Since he was in Grade 9, Justin has been an active part of the Madill community. He is on Students’ Council, is a member of the GSA, has been involved in several Drama Guild productions, and is an active member of Mustangs Making a Difference. He stands up for the rights of others and his actions show that he believes in the power that one person can have to make a difference in their world. Independent of any school organization or class assignments, Justin writes inspirational speeches about equality, inclusion, and kindness, and courageously shares his messages at school assemblies and in his classes. In his quiet and unassuming way, he is a leader by example through his words and actions every day
Bianca Knop — Student
Bianca has been a valuable, contributing member of the F.E. Madill school community. She has achieved an impressive academic record, while juggling a challenging course schedule, extra-curricular activities and a part-time job. Bianca has been on the Honour Roll in each of her high school years. She is creative, goal-oriented and pays attention to detail, which have all contributed to her success. In terms of extra-curricular activities, Bianca has been a key member of the drama guild and has served as the arts representative on Student Council. She is a co-operative and enthusiastic team member, who is dedicated to excellence. She takes initiative when needed and has innovative ideas to share with others. As well, Bianca connects well with people, which makes her very successful in her role as a voluntary peer tutor.
In terms of community involvement, Bianca is an avid volunteer. She has helped at various homecoming events over the years in neighbouring communities. She volunteered with the local Salvation Army Thrift Shore. As well, she is a long-standing member of the Wingham Minor Soccer club. Bianca has certainly proven that she can make a positive impact on her school and community. Logan and Hasan are students in our Grade 2/3 class. Their teacher is Mrs. Cheryl Zehr. Hasan and his family are Syrian newcomers who arrived in Stratford from Turkey, in December 2016.
Upon hearing of the arrival of Hasan to Mrs. Zehr’s class, Logan was asked by his teacher to help Hasan learn the routines and where things were at Shakespeare Public School. Logan eagerly agreed to this role and certainly helped make Hasan feel welcome and at ease. He seemed to intuitively realize what might be helpful and supportive and acted upon it. Logan even took it upon himself to go to the Public Library and take out books to help him translate Arabic to English, in order to better communicate with Hasan. Hasan has a younger brother who was finding the transition to a new country, city and school quite difficult. Logan welcomed him too, encouraging him to play with Hasan and himself and others until he felt more at ease with his own classmates. Very quickly, however, Logan’s ‘helper’ role expanded into a mutual friendship. Hasan is not a ‘job’ that Logan has been asked to ‘do’. Rather they have become friends who help each other in different situations and in different ways. Because of Logan’s accepting and respectful behaviour, Hasan has integrated into a wider circle of friends who view each other as peers.
Evan Skinn — Student
Evan Skinn is very deserving of an Excellence in Education award. Evan takes his school work very seriously, asking intelligent questions and obtaining assistance whenever necessary. When faced with challenges, Evan perseveres and persists. He uses suggestions and feedback from teachers and peers constructively in order to obtain further success. Evan ensures his work is submitted on time and done to the best of his ability. Evan is always extremely polite, respectful and thoughtful in discussions with teachers and peers alike. He is responsible, independent and very dependable. Evan’s friendly demeanor and optimism have certainly been welcomed and appreciated within the classroom and halls at F.E. Madill.
Evan is quite active within his school and local community. He travelled to Ecuador last year with the Mustangs Making a Difference group from the school, for which he helped fundraise. In Ecuador, they poured a foundation for a school and worked with children. He is a member of the Nordic skiing team and travelled to OFSAA this past winter. He also participates on the Cross Country team.
He is currently cooping at the Maitland Valley Conservation Authority and is hoping to pursue a career in Resource Management.
Nancy Cook — Teacher
Nancy has been with Madill since 2001. In her time at Madill, Nancy has become a fixture at the school for students and teachers alike. Nancy is a mother figure for many students who often confide in her when they are having problems. They trust Nancy and affectionately refer to her as “Cookie.” Students often take repeat courses with her because of her gentle and humorous way with kids. If there is any event going on at the school that requires food, Nancy is often seen working late hours not only preparing for the event, but cleaning up also. She generously lets others use her kitchen as needed, and works to keep it in order for the next person.
Goderich District Collegiate Institute
Selena Reitsma — Student
Selena certainly fits the criteria for an award of excellence. Over her years at GDCI she has made a consistent effort to excel in all areas of high school life. Selena is a hardworking, inquisitive and dedicated student. She embraces new learning opportunities with enthusiasm. Her stellar work habits have lead her to maintain well above average grades in a variety of subject areas. Selena knows what it means to make a commitment to her studies and to stick to it. Selena also shines on the court- be it a volleyball, basketball or badminton court. She has also been a dedicated member of the GDCI soccer team for four years. Selena is a talented singer, performing at GDCI talent shows and coffee houses. She is not afraid to take on a leadership role at her school. For four years she has been a member of the Student Leadership Team, working hard to organize a variety of events at GDCI. Selena also has a strong sense of social justice and a desire to help others. She has been a member of OSAID, the Social Justice Club as well as the new Jack Chapter- a student group focussed on promoting education and understanding of mental health issues among young people.
Outside of school, Selena volunteers at her church, including helping with Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. She works at the YMCA as a preschool and youth instructor. Selena will be attending Redeemer College in the Fall for Social Work.
Lizzy McDonald — Student
Lizzy is almost too good to be true. She embodies the spirit of the Excellence in Public Education award on all levels. She has worked tirelessly at GDCI to make it a better place for all students. She has been actively involved in organizing the Friendship Games held at GDCI for the past 4 years, and this year she is the head co-ordinator of the event. She has been a member of OSAID since Grade 10, attending conferences, chairing campaigns, and participating in countless awareness events. In Grade 11 Lizzy was chosen to be a part of the Choosin’ Inclusion Team. She is a founding member of the Social Justice Club. She is a talented artist and left her mark on the school when she helped paint the Spirit of Canada mural. Lizzy has been an active member of the Drama Club, where her positions included Assistant Stage Manager, Wardrobe/Makeup, Actor and Lead Role. Lizzy has also been on the GDCI basketball and volleyball teams.
Lizzy is also very active in her community. She has volunteered at the Celtic Festival, for the Lions Club, and the Huron County Health Unit promoting smoke free environments. For two summers she engaged children in learning activities while volunteering for the Summer reading Club. Lizzy has also volunteered with the Lakeshore United Church for the past 6 years.
On top of all of this, Lizzy has maintained a high standard of academics. This September, she will be heading to the University of Ottawa to enrol in a joint honours program for Public Administration and Political Science. She have been accepted with the opportunity to take a co-op and enrol in French Immersion, setting her sights on becoming fully bilingual.
Shelly is an excellent teacher who inspires students to learn and to participate actively in their local community. As a music teacher at GDCI, Shelly leads the Jazz Band, the Small Ensemble and the Junior Band and provides students with opportunities to showcase their skills in at least seventeen performances throughout the year. They perform in school assemblies as well as events such as Commencement and Remembrance Day. They also perform concerts in local elementary schools, community nursing homes, and the town square.
In her role as a Careers teacher, Shelly began the “Cyber Senior” project with the Alzheimer’s Society of Huron County, where students teach seniors to use current technology. The students now independently run “Cyber Seniors” at the Harbour Hill Retirement Centre in Goderich.Shelly demonstrates leadership at GDCI as coordinator of the Remembrance Day Assembly, coordinator of talent for the Christmas Assembly, and coordinator of the GDCI Talent Show.
Shelly is also actively involved in the community. She plays music with a local brass quartet “Suncoast Brass”, a local girl band “Dames Rocket” and the Lighthouse Swing Band. She is also a Conductor of the 2018 Lucknow Public School Reunion Band and is involved in Music Directing at the Livery. Shelly is currently the musical director of “The Penelopiad” which is a reinterpretation of the Odyssey, told from a woman’s perspective. Shelly attended the University of Windsor and spent summers playing in the Ceremonial Guard in Ottawa. This is a job that requires Canadian musicians to win an audition, do Basic Training, and spend the summer playing music on Parliament Hill and for events such as the G8 Summit.
Shelly is married to Drew, a teacher at Brookside PS. They have two children who are 5 and 2. In her spare time she runs a small business out of her home studio called Cremation Keepsakes. Shelly is a positive role model for students at GDCI because of her enthusiasm and her active involvement at GDCI and in the Goderich community.
John Clarke has been a teacher at GDCI for 30 years. He started in 1987 as a Computer Science and Business Studies teacher. He has been the Head of Business Studies since early 2000’s.John is doing an outstanding job as both a teacher and staff advisor with the Student Council / Leadership group at GDCI. He has motivated students to become involved in leadership, including some students who would have been considered “at risk”. He acts as a mentor/advisor, allowing students to make decisions, organize events and be responsible for running activities. John has put a lot of effort and time into increasing student participation and school spirit at GDCI. Activities such as the Warrior Dash and Colour Run, successful dances, spirit events, Valhalla Week etc. have made GDCI a vibrant community.
In addition, teachers and staff members have appreciated John’s skill and experience as a leader in OSSTF. Over the years, he has held a variety of positions in OSSTF, including Federation Officer, CBC rep, District Vice President and President, and Branch President for a total 17 years service to OSSTF. Currently, he continues to help fellow teachers in his role as GDCI Branch President.
John has maintained a healthy business program at GDCI in his role as Head of Business Studies. Many GDCI students have successfully continued their studies in business in post secondary institutions thanks to the strong business program at GDCI.
In addition to all of this, John has spent years coaching at GDCI and in the community. John has coached Sr Boys Soccer / Jr Boys Soccer since 2010 – including defending back to back HP Senior Boys Soccer champions. He has coached community soccer since 2006. In the past he coached Jr Boys and Sr Boys Basketball, boys golf and boys curling. John also spent many years as the Students Council Financial Advisor Yearbook Staff Advisor.
John is married to Lesley, who works at Goderich Public School. They have 3 boys who have attended GDCI over the years. 2 are currently at Brock University studying Business Studies. The youngest is at GDCI in Grade 12.
Listowel District Secondary School
Jacob Nethercott is a mature, compassionate human being who is deserving of an Excellence in Education award. What makes Jake stand out is that his achievements don’t just have to do with himself, they impact the enviroment of the classes he is in, the groups he is involved with, and the school he attends. Jacob is a dedicated, creative writer and a dynamic stage performer. He has been involved in many Black Door Theatre productions and also some open mic Slam Poetry performances. Part of his success here is due to natural ability but also to a superb work ethic. Because he is a kind natured person, often, his high expectations of himself will affect others to work hard as well.
Over the past couple of years, Jacob goes out of his way to befriend those who may seem lost, or ill at ease in a school environment. He has helped many young people find an accepting person or place within the school which has in turn, helped them survive the day or the year. Further, he started volunteering his time every first period to help in the self-contained classroom at LDSS. He has a natural ability to communicate with the students and help them engage in their learning. He consistently takes a leadership role and is an asset to the class environment.
Parker Ducharme — Student
This boy was destined for greatness since he walked through our doors four years ago. Parker was the first and only grade nine student I entrusted the role of Stage Manager with the Sears Drama Festival due to his maturity, his incredible work ethic and his extreme compassion for others. Parker has now served as Stage Manager for four years and took home the coveted Excellence in Stage Management Award from the District Sears Festival when he was only in Grade 10. Parker has also greatly contributed to the Drama program at LDSS and can lead a team of anyone with creativity, focus and gentle care. He is currently Co President of the LDSS Student Council and an active member of the Social Justice Club. I have never, in all my years met a student with as much drive, with maturity well beyond his years, and with such an innate ability to improve the quality of the student experience at all levels of high school life. I’m sure I never will again and it will be a shame for all of us to lose him to the big, wide world next year.
Geneva Perkin — Student
Geneva is a highly competent academic grade 12 student with a passion to help others. She has been actively involved with the L.D.S.S. Me to We group since she was in grade 9. She has consistently provided leadership on many occasions to the Me to We group. She has been involved in our annual “We Scare Hunger” campaign which provides food items for the local food bank and she has prepared pancake breakfasts for the homeroom class which brings in the most food items. Through wind, rain, and a bit of snow, she, along with some family members and friends, has collected food items from the community on Halloween night which is connected to the “We Scare Hunger’ campaign.
Geneva has become a very accomplished pie maker. The Me to We club annually bakes and sells over 100 pie for Christmas and Easter with the funds raised going to Me to We global initiatives. Geneva initiated the creation of a video for the Me to We “We are Silent” campaign. This campaign brings awareness of children who live in unjust conditions where they have little, or no voice, to speak up against their lack of human rights and dignity. This video was shown in classrooms and at our final assembly. She is planning another video to be presented this year.
Genveva truly lives by the Me to We philosophy, showing compassion and empathy in her everyday interactions with others. Geneva has also been involved with L.D.S.S Friendship games and an elementary school reading program. She has successfully participated in a dual credit food preparation program offered in Stratford, is signed on with the Secondary High School Major “Health and Wellness” program, and she achieved an academic credit during a summer by travelling to Italy with the school board program.
Deb is one of the most caring and nurturing teachers I have ever met. Deb has worked at LDSS for many years in many capacities. First, she was a Business Department teacher, then Student Success and now is the new department head of Student Services. Deb makes everyone feel special, she takes time to see every student in need whether she has the time or not and she makes all students see their potential. Deb is a friend to all and her student followers affectionately call her “Goggs” or “Goggin” when they see her and she gladly welcomes them into her office even if they just need to unload from their hectic day. She supports all differences and is makes an effort to learn strategies to help students with differences so all students feel included and important. Deb treats staff the same way. Her infectious laugh and positive attitude make it easy to work with her and she gets the job done without sweating the small stuff.
Deb also wears many hats other than guidance counselor; she is the lead for Dual Credit and she was the Tech Coach during semester 1 this year and is one of the staff reps for the LDSS Yearbook. She does everything with a smile and also juggles a busy household with two small kids of her own!
Mitchell District High School
Alicia Vos — Student
Alicia plays a key role in student life at Mitchell District High School. She is currently serving at Vice President of Student Council, bringing enthusiasm and creative ideas to the weekly meetings. She works hard to keep student spirit alive in the school and acts as a positive and strong team player in this leadership role. Alicia is very committed to making Mitchell a fun place for students and has spent many hours planning and implementing school events during her years on Student Council.
Alicia is also a member of the school band and choir, dedicating herself to hours of practices and performances as part of Mitchell’s musical ensemble. As a member of the yearbook club, she ensures that all school events get the coverage needed. Alicia is also part of Mitchell’s Reach for the Top team, competing in various competitions and playing an integral part in helping Mitchell’s team rise to their current high standings within the Board. Also, she is one of two students acting in a production that portrays a dramatic story that involves only two characters. Alicia will be performing at the Sears Drama Festival this spring. Lastly, Alicia is an excellent academic student and strives to achieve to her potential in all subject areas. She works well with others on group projects and is an active participant in class discussions, demonstrating a keen interest in learning.
Heather Cumming — Teacher
Heather is a vital member of our MDHS community. She goes above and beyond the call of duty time and again as both a teacher, role model, and mentor. Heather has been one of our student council advisors for years. She has helped mentor our student leaders through many great and memorable school activities. The end of year walk-a-thon, last years MDHS loves Michelle fundraiser, winter carnival days, September Grade 9 day, school dances, assemblies, are just a few of many activities Heather has been involved with in the past. She is a great sounding board for the ideas from our student leaders. They gain independence and an understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses after working with Heather in our student council.
Heather is also involved in programs outside the school. She recently took a group of students on a YMCA exchange to the Gaspe Peninsula in February. Her leadership throughout the trip there and her organization of events back in Mitchell for our exchange partners were appreciated by all. Heather is a leader in our school when it comes to a curricular focus. She has been the department head of Social Science for many years and has provided leadership and mentoring to the school community. Heather is not afraid to try new things. Her classroom is always a hive of activity in regards to her students use of technology. She was an excellent choice to implement our IDC courses a few years ago as she knows how to help mold students love of learning and passion for topics that interest them. She also looks for ways to make meaningful partnerships within departments. She teams up with our math department to create a joint project for her senior students where both teachers use the same project in their assessments but each person teaches the important aspects of their respective disciplines to show the cross-curricular nature of learning.
Heather is always looking for ways to innovate and inspire. Everyone at MDHS counts themselves lucky to work with Heather Cumming.
Derrick Knill — Student
Derrick has been an exemplary student in all areas of the school community at Mitchell High School. His motivation to achieve at a consistently high level in his academic pursuits is evident in all of his courses. Derrick has also been the recipient of many awards throughout his high school years for highest honours in Chemistry, Physical Education, Science, Math, English, Geography and Technical Studies, as well as receiving awards for overall highest achievement in his Grade level.
Not only is Derrick an excellent academic student, he is a personable teen who works well with others and is admired by all of his peers. He has a positive influence on other students, acting as a leader and role model in the classroom, as well as in the school community. He is regularly identified by staff as a respectful and polite student with a strong commitment to reaching his potential in all areas of his life as a student.
Outside of school, Derrick is known for his dedication to his 4H endeavours and has been the recipient of many Awards at prestigious competitions in Perth County and around Ontario, including the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto for his calf showing and judging. He is also an active participant in many diverse local clubs and has acted as President of the Mitchell Dairy and Veterinary Club, as well as Vice President of the Fishing Club and Demolition Derby Club. As a group leader for the 4H Dairy Club, he has further demonstrated his commitment to excel in all activities that he is involved with.
Derrick’s community athletic pursuits include participation on local hockey and soccer teams, as well as acting as Head Coach for a Mitchell Minor Basketball team. His ability to act as a dedicated leader is appreciated by all who have dealings with him.
Derrick’s thoughtful and caring personality, and his commitment to academic excellence makes him most deserving of this prestigious Excellence in Education award which recognizes the contributions he has made to Mitchell District High School and the community!
Robert Ellison — Teacher
Bob is the package deal. He is a positive role model for staff, students, and our administration in his enthusiastic approach to every day. He works hard to build morale and spirit within our school community. Bob is a dedicated coach and in the school year he is responsible for field hockey, volleyball, senior and junior badminton, track and field and will be coaching soccer this year.
Shifting gears, Bob is also a committed drama teacher and works to build an atmosphere of trust within his classes. He has revamped the phys-ed program for grades nine and ten to focus on building a love for lifelong activity using team games that can be played without complicated equipment. This approach means that all students are active and have fun regardless of their ability. Bob now works with former students of MDHS who are now co-workers and who still see the same stamina and joy that he had when he first started as a teacher.
Stratford Central Secondary School
Aleah Graff — Student
Aleah Graff is a student deserving of an Excellence in Education award. Aleah has grit. Everyday for almost 5 years, she climbs the endless stairs at Central, navigates the twisting hallways, and make her way everywhere and anywhere she wants to go. Nothing stops her. She has resolve. Each day she independently completes everything to her high standards, only asking for support when she really needs it. If it is suggested that a task may be difficult, she makes the point to show you that she can do it and it really wasn’t that hard. She has a plan about what her future at university will look like. I know she will execute that plan. Aleah influences others. She quietly advocates for her own needs but more importantly she advocates for others. Aleah Graff does her best, everyday, all day. There is never an excuse, but always a smile.
Jamie Paul — Educational Assistant
Jamie is an Educational Assistant at Stratford Central Secondary School. He works with students that have diverse needs and regularly builds strong rapport with these students. What is most impressing is that Jamie manages to maintain a positive attitude at all times, even when nothing positive seems to be occurring. He continually encourages his students and makes them feel successful, despite the challenge. In addition, Jamie is a team player and supports the classroom teacher to ensure the program runs smoothly. He is a pleasure to work with! Jamie works hard every day, bringing to life the curriculum to all his students.
Katie Paradis, Megan Parson, Julie Smith — Students
As part of a broad challenge to make their world a better place, Katie, Megan, and Julia decided to “instill the importance of girl power, self love, and personal dignity in young women and girls, and to stop the stereotyping of women that is a contributing factor of rape culture.” Having experienced the harmful effects of name calling directed at them because of their gender, both by males and by other females, Katie, Megan, and Julia connected with Alicia Houston of Optimism Place, the women’s shelter in Stratford, to determine the long-term and widespread impact this language has on women. With the support and guidance of Ms. Houston, the students targeted the grade 9 and 10 classes at Stratford Central with a presentation on the damage that is caused by harmful language and name calling directed at women. The presentations were followed by, facilitated small-group discussions where students identified and discussed their experiences both as victims and victimizers. Through their efforts, Katie, Megan, and Julia saw real change in their school and were asked to present at the next meeting of the Stop Violence Against Women Committee in Stratford.
Bonnie is an integral member of the Guidance office, the team of secretaries and the entire school here at Stratford Central. Bonnie has quickly become an expert in her area, despite being new to the role. It is not uncommon for other guidance secretaries and employees at the Board office to call Bonnie searching for advice with a situation or with Maplewood. In addition to Bonnie’s expertise in the area, Bonnie’s organizational skills and efficiency are a great asset in her role and the counsellors are appreciative of the volume of work that Bonnie is able to process and work through. It is not uncommon for Bonnie to stay late during busy times or work at an event that is being run in the evening. Bonnie is always searching for innovative ways to make the department more efficient.
Bonnie is the front line in the office and she has been great at dealing with both staff and students. Bonnie has developed positive relationships with many students over the years and there are many students who return to thank Bonnie for her support through personal situations. There are also a number of students who count on their daily interaction with Bonnie. This routine has been established because Bonnie has the ability to make every student feel valued and treats everyone with a great deal of respect.
Bonnie’s impact on the department extends beyond her expertise and her relationships she has developed. Bonnie has changed the culture in the office and in the building. She brings positive energy and laughter to the job and makes it more enjoyable for everyone to come to work.
South Huron District High School
Mandy Migchels — Teacher
Mandy works hard every day in all aspects of school life. She is constantly working on new ways to engage students in her classroom, spending her own time on a regular basis learning new apps/methods/activities to engage her students. When she is not focusing on the students in her classes, she coaches basketball and badminton, helping run tournaments and seeding for the badminton playoffs. Mandy has always contributed to school fundraisers, student led initiatives, and charity events in an effort to help in whatever way she can. Mandy routinely spends time working with her locally developed students, going so far as to offer them a breakfast snack everyday as she is keenly aware many do not have the resources to ensure they have proper meals. Mandy is always striving to connect with the students she teaches and coaches on a personal level, and forms strong relationships with the students in the school. Because of this, Mandy deserves to be recognized for all her hard work over the last 12 years at South Huron District High School.
Taylor McCann— Student
Taylor has been on the Student Council for 4 years and is our Student Council Prime Minister this year. She is a true leader through her actions and is a valuable member of our Student Council where she leads other members to make our school community a better place. She is equally comfortable in front of a large crowd or one on one. She is approachable and treats all students and staff with respect and sincerity.
Taylor has been the top female student each year she has been in high school, with an average in the mid- 90s each year. She continues to amaze others with her strong academic skills in all subject areas. Taylor has a passion for music which is evident in the bands and music programs she is involved in. She has been involved in our school band for several years and is on the Music Council. Outside of school, she has played piano for 14 years and volunteers at her piano teacher’s studio, teaching young children music. In addition to piano, she also knows how to play the bass guitar, clarinet and flute. Taylor is also a talented athlete who plays basketball, volleyball and soccer. She is a quiet leader who leads by example both on the playing surface and off. She is often a leader on the team and is well respected by her teammates and coaches. She is the type of athlete who is willing to do whatever the team needs her to do in order to be successful.
Life at South Huron is enriched by the presence of Taylor McCann. She is involved in all facets of student life and works hard to make a positive difference in the lives of others. She has time management down to an art as she successfully manages her academics, athletics, music, volunteering and part-time employment. Taylor is the type of student leader you hope your own child will one day become. She is a talented young woman whose skills and abilities will take her far in life.
Shannon Rogers — Student
Shannon Rogers is a student who exemplifies the phrase “Excellence in Education”. In everything Shannon does to contribute to the culture here at South Huron District High School, she approaches it with everything she has to give. In her academic pursuits, Shannon’s standards and expectations that she has placed on herself extend well past those placed on her by her teachers and peers. Teachers describe Shannon as motivated and driven; a student not afraid to ask questions and seek answers. She has been on the Honour Roll each year and had the top mark in Civic/Careers in Grade 10. She is the leader of the GSA (Gender Sexuality Alliance) and has been involved in it since Grade 9. She is actively involved in drama and was on the Drama Council, has participated in the Sears Drama Festival, and has been involved each year in the school show.
As if the demands of school were not enough, Shannon received life-altering news in June of 2015 when she was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, a rare disease in which cancer cells are found in the bone or in soft tissue. Shannon’s life would be drastically changed, but she maintained a positive attitude throughout her treatments. At the Terry Fox Assembly in September, 2016, Shannon shared her story with students and staff. While in hospital, Shannon noticed that other cancer patients were not as fortunate to have family close by, and many of the children were celebrating birthdays far from home and family. She decided that she wanted to do something for these children and “The Cupcakes and Confetti Crew” was born. Shannon and her family and friends provide birthday boxes to children in hospital so they can have a moment of joy in their lives (firstname.lastname@example.org). You will often see Shannon in the front foyer selling cupcakes to raise money for these boxes.
Through daily effort and determination, attention to detail, and pure hard work, Shannon Rogers provides our school with a standard of excellence that is truly admirable.
Phil Conley — Teacher
Phil has been teaching at SHDHS for about 20 years. During that time he has dedicated his time to promoting sports, athletics, healthy living, positive energy and the Panther Spirit! He has coached numerous sports such as basketball, volleyball, curling, track and field for both boys and girls. As well, he organizes numerous field trips to encourage school spirit in all aspects of life at SHDHS. The past couple of years he has worked hard to develop an organized Athletic Council to follow his passion of school sport and Panther Spirit. There is no doubt that Phil brings energy to his position, to the school community as a whole and to his classes and students in the gym and school community. His decision to retire this coming June did not come easy and he will definitely be missed.
St Marys DCVI
Kelli Schiedel — Community Volunteer
Kelli is a former student and Nordic Ski Athlete of St. Marys DCVI. Her children, two boys, are growing up, but are not yet at the high school. Kelli is a physiotherapist in the community. Despite having a very busy schedule, raising two boys and working full time, she has committed to helping coach the cross-country running team and the Nordic ski team at DCVI. She is very passionate about both sports and has extended her love for competing to the athletes at DCVI. She commits to coaching a practice every Monday, from September to March. She caters the practice to the students, clearing her schedule either before or after school depending on their work schedules or conflicts. Kelli brings expertise to the field of running and skiing, as she completed her post-secondary education on scholarship at the University of Alaska. She attends almost every race, and if she is not able to watch the athletes compete, she looks up the results and comments to the athletes about their performance. Not focused on the winning, she is supportive of all runners and skiers based on their individual goals.
Jake Watt — Student
Jake Watt is a man of few words but great actions. He is a very mature, responsible, compassionate individual. Jake is always ready to respond to a request of challenge with a smile on his face. He is determined to do what needs to be done to make DCVI a better place for him and his peers. Jake is a “tutor extraordinaire”, as the students he tutors respond to him. He is always willing to help someone else do better at school. Jake tutors, but his students learn more than the subject. Jake is a role model for other students. His natural approach to others and friendly manner create a safe atmosphere for those peers around him. Currently as PWWP leader, he connects regularly with a grade 9 students. He also continues to meet with a student from his group last year who struggles with anxiety and works in isolation at the school. This student recently lost a grandparent – Jake continues to help him work through his grief. Jake checks in regularly and “chats” trying to help with this student. Jake is also responsible for getting this student to eat in the cafeteria for the first time since entering grade 9, recently.
Athletics are also a strong area for Jake but he is always supportive and respectful of his team mates. Playing volleyball, basketball and soccer, Jake excels but understand the teamwork approach and role on the team.
Jake does all of this while maintaining honour roll status every year to date in high school. He is truly an outstanding example of the term excellence in education.
Jaron Camp — Student
Jaron is the current Student Council president, and in this role has done some excellent work in the school. It is because of his hard work, the school has run several well done spirit weeks; an enjoyable school dance; and a monthly coffee house, where students perform songs/stand-up/spoken word in an intimate environment. He was also the lead organizer of an extremely well run pep rally.
His commitment to the school over the past three years has been excellent. He has been working towards creating a strong school community with excellent school spirit. He is always positive, extremely well organized in his Student Council duties, and delegates work to the other members of the Council in a fair and equitable manner.
The work Jaron has done has really helped strengthen DCVI’s school spirit this past year. Tristan’s greatest impact has been in the community where he has been involved with the cadet program for the last 6 years. Most of his cadet experiences include aviation related courses such as the Glider Pilot Scholarship and Power Pilot Scholarship. Tristan is highly responsible. He teaches classes every Wednesday night and is in charge of ensuring that the proper training requirements are met for all 30 of the Cadets in his squadron. Tristan helps with Glider Operations at his local Gliding Centre. This is something that Tristan does as an extension of the Air Cadet Program where he takes young cadets from squadrons across Southwestern Ontario up for brief 10-15 minute flights to show them what it is like to fly and how things work within a flying operation. He typically spends up to 24 hours on a weekend helping with these flying operations. The bulk of Tristan’s community involvement comes from this program as well as parades, community events, and gatherings with his Air Cadet Squadron.
Tristan Rhoads is an exceptional student whose knowledge, skill set and experiences have shaped him into the strong, independent and successful young adult that he is. In my 20 years of teaching, I have never come across another student with this same level of dedication and discipline toward his future endeavours and academic excellence.
Jenson Dundas — Student
Jensen excels in academics. Her average for all four years of high school has never dropped below 90%. Her conscientious efforts always have Jensen striving to do better. Recently she got a mark of 98% in PSK 4U while reviewing what she could have done to improve. These grades alone seem significant however are more so when you consider all the other parts of the school community and community at large that Jensen also contributes to. Jensen is a student in our school that other students look to emulate. She is a truly kind and gentle soul who often reaches out to help others in any way she can. That may be tutoring a student in grade 7 or informal help to class or team mates to acting as a big sister to students who need someone to talk. Jensen is very active in our school inclusion group as she is one of the founding and coordinating members . This group works to accept all students for who they are regardless of any cultural, racial or discriminating factors. This project has become huge and drawn not only local attention, but provincial, national and international coverage. Jensen joined this group because she truly believes this is the right way to live! She is also a member of PWWP where senior students work to be big sisters/brothers to a small family of grade 9 students.
Add to this, that Jensen is also active in sports community both within the school and the larger community of St. Marys. During her time as a Salukis, Jensen has played on basketball, volleyball, badminton, baseball, soccer and cross country skiing teams. For her participation and sportsmanship, Jensen has been voted most sportsmanship for several of her teams and has won an overall award in both junior and senior sportsmanship. These attributes are recognized by both her coaches, teachers and peers. When Jensen is not representing her school on a playing field, she can be found supporting those who are! She is a very loud supporter and cheer leader who often invigorates others to join her spirit! None of this will change when Jensen heads off to university she will continue to be an academic leader who involves herself in causes that are important to her. She knows no other way; it is simply who Jensen Dundas is!
Stratford Northwestern Secondary School
Bonnie Wettlaufer — Community Member
Ms. Bonnie Wettlaufer has been a committed volunteer to the Stratford Northwestern Learning Services department for the last 12 years. Every September, Bonnie comes back with a positive attitude to work with some of our most vulnerable students with different learning disabilities. She works effortlessly modeling important life skills such as respect, polite conversation and true friendship with those she comes in contact with. She assists the teachers and educational support staff to brighten the days of many people. Bonnie volunteers up to 25 hours a week supporting various people. Bonnie has made this contribution to the Northwestern community with no other motivation other than the shear joy of helping others learn.
Bonnie has touched the lives of many students and staff members with her kindness, quiet enthusiasm and general love of learning.
Trisha Wickhorst — Educational Assistant
Trish is an exceptional Educational Assistant at Stratford Northwestern. She is gifted with creativity and is a team player at the school. Trish has a gift of “being a bridge” between the teacher and students with exceptionalities in main stream classes. Trish has made the transition of inclusion easier for both students and teachers, by offering suggestions and expertise on ways to best incorporate their learning style into the classroom environment. Most recently, she did this by acknowledging a students love for a particular tv show. She let the teacher know about the students passion for the show and suggested an idea that would incorporate the show and curriculum to make the class content accessible to the student. The teacher was then able to modify the program for the student, in such a way that also incorporated her classmates in participating socially in her academic activity. Without Trish’s love for her students, her creative mind and willingness to collaborate with classroom teachers, this success story would not be possible.
Trish cares deeply both for the students she works with, but also for her colleagues. She always has a listening and non-judgmental ear. She works hard and can see the sunny side of life. Her authenticity, transparency and kindness are what make her a blessing to have at Stratford Northwestern.
William Mason — Student
When I think of someone who does more than anyone else to support his school and community, I think of William Mason. He runs Huskie AV Tech, a completely student run AV team that manages Audio and Video for events of all kinds at Northwestern. He is involved with Student Council, acting as the Treasurer, which gives him jobs such as managing all transactions, creating a realistic budget, and making sure all transactions are recorded in the Council books. He also creates the agenda for all council meetings, and makes sure the Council minutes are kept tidy and readily accessible to all council members. Mr. Mason has also helped out with Huskie AM, the student run team that does all morning announcements. William is the one that regularly organizes all announcements to be read each day.
William does more that just volunteer his time at school. He has participated in the Relay for Life in the past, organizing his own team, to help fight cancer. He has also helped Community in Blooms with audio visual assistance, and has volunteered at the “Local” community food centre on many occasions. He manages to do all of this, and still maintains his school work and a part time job! William is extremely dedicated and always puts his best effort into everything he does. William Mason is a most deserving recipient of the Excellence in Education Award.
Gabrielle (Abbie) Jutzi — Student
Abbie is an honour roll student, a student athlete and a student mentor at Stratford Northwestern as well as an overall nice young women who is liked and respected by students and staff. She is a volunteer in our math help room, and is seen as a mentor in all her academic classes where she consistently achieves honour roll level scores.
She has represented Stratford Northwestern as an athlete on volleyball, hockey and track and field teams. Outside of school Abbie has worked and volunteered in summer camps and with her church.
Abbie will be attending University of Western Ontario next year with the intention of pursuing a career in medicine.