District 8 – OSSTF and the Avon Maitland District School Board recently celebrated the 20th 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!
Avon Maitland District School Board
Jason Younan – OPP Inspector
Jason Younan has been policing for 17 years across the province of Ontario, and his most recent position is Detachment Commander for the Ontario Provincial Police, Huron County. Jason has occupied this position for 2.5 years, but his work has already positively impacted Avon Maitland students. Jason thinks pro-actively and values the partnership between community, school and police. He is passionate about engaging youth.
Recently, Jason established the Police-Youth Advisory Council to honour the voice of youth and to tap into their creative and innovative minds to address common community issues, while fostering trust between police and youth. Jason is a strong advocate for mental health supports in our community. Jason established the OPP’s first collaborative response model that paired a police officer with a mental health worker in Essex County, and he demonstrates his commitment to Huron County through attendance at community-based meetings to champion mental health supports. His nursing background deepens his understanding of the physical and emotional needs of people who struggle with mental health challenges. Jason is very supportive of our schools, willing to personally attend debriefing meetings in order to ensure the best possible response times for police, encouraging positive relationships for officers in schools, and sharing resources developed in his detachment with other schools across Avon Maitland.
Carol MacDougall – Public Health Manager, Perth District Health Unit
Carol MacDougall recently retired from her role as Public Health Manager from the Perth District Health Unit. In this capacity, she served as the key liaison between the Health Unit and staff at Avon Maitland DSB. As a promoter of comprehensive school health, she advocated and supported Healthy Schools initiatives, health promotion campaigns and policy development, and disease and injury prevention strategies. As the manager of the School Based Public Health nurses she also oversaw direct service supports in our schools. She has made a significant contribution to positive health promotion strategies in AMDSB.
Furthermore, Carol was the chairperson of the Joint School Boards-Health Units Liaison Committee. This committee meets to ensure alignment and coherence between the health and education at the system planning level. She supported ongoing conversations about how the health sector could support education and vice versa. And while this relationship had been ongoing and mutually beneficial for several years, Carol spearheaded the campaign to formalize a Partnership Agreement in 2016 between the Perth and Huron District Health Units, AMDSB and HPCDSB. The Partnership Agreement articulates the roles and responsibilities of the member organizations but more importantly sets the direction for our working relationships for the years to come. As a result, we see this work as a legacy from Carol and will serve as a reminder to each of us about the values that Carol demonstrated: commitment, compassion, and collaborative thinking. We wish Carol all the best in her retirement and thank her for her valued contribution to health and well being in AMDSB.
OSSTF Education Support Staff (ESS)
Kimberly Hoevenaars – Computer Trainer
Kimberly has been employed by Avon Maitland District School Board since May 2003. She works hard at ensuring issues are dealt with in a timely manner and she is always looking ahead to prevent additional problems for the staff when working on Maplewood. Kim is all about student success and it is evident that she makes a person feel respected and no matter how busy she is, she always has time for you. Her dedication and commitment to our schools and our students are second to none. Congratulations Kimberly, it is a real honour to have you working for the Board.
Jo-Dee DesJardine – Educational Assistant
Jo-Dee is an Educational Assistant at our Secondary School level. She has been employed by AMDSB for 19 years. During her employment with the Board, she has shown compassion, dedication and has devoted her time to ensure that her students are successful. She has worked hard for her students, showing them respect, kindness, and understanding. Congratulations Jo-Dee, your devotion to your profession never goes unnoticed. On behalf of all the students, staff and OSSTF, congratulations.
Sherry Wilker – Secretary
Sherry is a Secretary at Shakespeare Public School in Stratford. She has been employed with the Board for 21 years, doing various job classes, Janitor, to Technical Resource Assistant, to Educational Assistant and finally as a Secretary. For years Sherry has gone over and above her duties for her schools. She actively assists with all of the activities happening in and around the school. Her warm smile and friendly reception are never forgotten. From the tears to band-aides, to crowd control in a busy office area, Sherry is on top of it all. Congratulations Sherry for your hard work, and dedication to our staff and students.
Marion Schmidt – Educational Assistant
Marion has been an Educational Assistant since 2000. Marion is a very well organized, hard-working, dedicated individual who works over and above expectations to ensure that the students are successful. She remains calm during stressful times and supports everyone around her to ensure that they are okay. She is passionate and devoted not only to her school family but her own family as well. She is a deeply respected and valued team member at her current location and throughout the Board. Marion, congratulations and thank you for the devotion, dedication, and compassion you display every day for the students and your school family.
Mary Lou Ruttan – Educational Assistant
Mary Lou Ruttan currently devotes her time at Maitland River Elementary School in Wingham as an Educational Assistant. She has been employed with the Board for 19 years. Mary Lou not only works with 2 legged little creatures, but she also works with 4 legged little creatures, as well. She sets high standards for the students in her care, as well as ensuring that the service dog is being attended to when necessary. In her role with the school board, Mary Lou has been flexible with the changing education world, but she faces each day with a smile and helping hand. Mary Lou is a role model to many Educational Assistants.
Congratulations Mary Lou on a job well done.
Central Huron Secondary School, Clinton, Ontario
Laura Ashwin – Student
Laura’s personal strengths are as impressive as her intellectual accomplishments. She’s an active, outgoing presence in class. Her attention to detail and excellent work ethic are evident in all her classes. She is the perfect person to get a group project rolling, but she also knows how to sit back and let others take the lead. Laura’s teachers have reported that she was always dependable in her independent and collaborative learning situations, ensuring that tasks were completed within the allotted time. Her cheerful nature and openness to feedback mean she’s always learning and growing as a learner, an impressive strength that will continue to serve her well in life as she ventures off to the post-secondary world.
Outside of the classroom Laura has also been involved with students’ council for a number of years and is currently serving as the school’s Events Coordinator. It is always important for the student holding this position to be an outgoing, hardworking and natural leader, and Laura consistently displayed these attributes.
This year those skills will be essential as the students’ council plans our semi-annual Redwalk (a walk-a-thon that raises funds for local charities). Laura has played an integral role in the planning and implementation of this year’s Redwalk, which will be raising funds for the Tanner Steffler foundation. Laura is the kind of driven, engaging and curious student that helps make our school an open, positive learning environment.
Sarah Mitchell – Student
Sarah Mitchell is a high achieving academic level student who is planning on attending the University of Guelph next year. Even with significant challenges, Sarah has achieved high marks across the curriculum, showing that she is a well-rounded individual. Sarah obtained an Acquired Brain Injury prior to her grade 10 school year, and also had to deal with many physical injuries. She had to learn a whole new way of learning, how to cope and manage those symptoms that people with brain injuries typically have, such as significant fatigue and feelings of being overwhelmed, that she never had to think about prior. Even with the struggles Sarah had academically, she still has been an active participant in student life, including Student Council, Student Senate, planning the School Prom, and being involved in various sports teams throughout her years here.
Not only has Sarah participated in student life at Central Huron Secondary School, she is active volunteering in her local community. She is a part of the Leo Club, provides tutoring to others, is a Camp Volunteer, and has helped volunteer with skating. She is also currently working with children affected by Traumatic Brain Injuries, as this is an issue that deeply matters to Sarah. She is also applying to volunteer with the Canadian Blood Services since she positively benefited from receiving blood due to her accident. She is an amazing person and we could all learn a few things from Sarah.
Jim Cooke – Teacher
There is never a dull moment when Jim Cooke is around. Jim’s love of all things phys-ed and physical activity really is what makes students want to take his classes. It can easily be said that Jim loves teaching and working with students to help them build a healthy lifestyle. Whether it is looking to teach his students the finer points of a sport, or the significant challenges around mental health and healthy living, Jim has a passion for supporting all his students in their personal growth toward more active, healthier lives.
Over the years, Jim has coached nearly every school-based team there is – from hockey to track and field. He has coached hundreds if not thousands of students in this time. His main ambition in each of those teams, of course, was to excel and win, but never at the expense of the students understanding that sport is about personal growth and personal bests. Jim’s constant and calm demeanour helps his students appreciate that winning is important, but being better than our previous selves is what matters. He is quick to point out that this applies outside the sports arena too into our personal lives with relationships with others.
Jim’s real sports passion, however, is volleyball – beach volleyball actually. He was very active in the sport when he was in university, winning many competitions. Eventually, he became the athletic development chair for Volleyball Canada where he ran clinics for up-and-coming players. Some of those players no doubt made their way onto Olympic Volleyball teams. In fact, Jim was the coach of the Canadian Men’s Beach Volleyball teams at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney Australia, where he helped our teams finish in 5th and 9th place. Not bad when playing on the world stage!
In 2009 Jim was awarded the Leadership in Sports Award, sponsored by the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations. It was an appropriate recognition for Jim’s tireless efforts in athletic teaching, training, and mentorship.
On a lighter side, Jim is never shy to take part in school life. He loves being the star performer at spirit assemblies, where students get to see and appreciate that it isn’t healthy to take ourselves too seriously all the time. He has participated in countless skits and characters over the years. The students’ personal favourite, is the Hans and Franz skit where Jim plays Franz, and they “pump up” the students to get them out and do whatever it is that the student council is asking them to do, such as collecting for the Christmas Bureau or Walk-a-thon. Over his career, Jim has had a profound effect, bringing academic strength, and personal care and concern to each of his students. Jim’s entire career has been a demonstration of Excellence in Public Education.
David Yates – Teacher
In short David Yates is an amazing teacher. Dave is one of those rare teachers where students hang on his every word. Yates, a self-described history guru, can take personal pride of his influence over his students over the years. Many have gone on to become historians themselves. He has been the CWS head at CHSS for many years, where thousands of students have passed through his door to hear and learn the tales of the days long ago. Dave is a history buff, and his love for his subject is not lost on his students. They thrive on his captivating lessons of world history, but more importantly on the lessons of the local world in which they live.
Everybody knows someone who seems to “know everybody”. Dave is one of those people who “knows everybody” and knows all their previous family connections too! Many would consider Dave to be the local Huron County historian, and wherever and whenever he can, he brings to life the historical stories of his students’ families into his lessons. His knowledge of the County’s past and it’s influential, and not so influential people and events are unparalleled. Dave writes a weekly column in all of the local papers titled “Huron History”. Many in the community comment that they had no idea that the County had such influence around the world. He has also been featured on the Huron County YouTube channel giving the 2-minute historical snapshot of all of Huron County’s towns and villages.
Dave’s love of history has transcended generations of students through his many international trips with them to places near and far. From Ottawa to New York, to Washington, and across the Atlantic to the beaches of Normandy, and the hills and valleys of Vimy, his students have come to not only love history but in many ways “live” history. Dave has infused a love of history in his students through any number of interesting and thought-provoking projects. None may be more so than the one in which they look into their own personal pasts through his personal tours of local churches and cemeteries.
In addition to his writing and teaching, Dave was a key player in the organization of the 100th anniversary of the “Great Storm” in 2013 (where he was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal) and he was also integral in helping to plan the 100th-anniversary celebration of the Huron’s 161st Battalion. Most recently Dave has been appointed to OSSTF’s provincial writing team, whose task it is to create a history book for OSSTF’s 100th anniversary in 2019. With all this knowledge and experience, and passion for teaching, David Yates is without a doubt deserving of an Excellence in Public Education award.
F. E. Madill Secondary School, Wingham, Ontario
Kaylee Hughes – Student
Kaylee Hughes exemplifies what a model student should be. She is always cheerful and willing to go the extra mile to ensure that she is meeting all expectations and helping others. Kaylee is a mentor both in the school and in the community at large. She is a renowned peer mentor who works with younger students to give them guidance on their school work and makes them feel comfortable in the school setting. In her church community, she is a Sunday School Leader who participated in a mission trip to the Dominican Republic to assist with the refurbishment of a school. During her tenure at F.E. Madill, Kaylee has been a member of the following sports teams; volleyball, soccer, badminton, and basketball. Her coaches all note that she is a respected leader who always brings a positive attitude and mature presence to her respective teams.
She is respected by her peers and teachers alike. She has been recognized as a Madill Scholar for the four years she has been at F.E. Madill. Kaylee has a reputation for being a hard worker who will persevere through any difficulty and will always give her best effort. Her mature approach to her studies is a reflection of her dedication to her post-secondary aspirations.
Katie Murray – Student
Katie has been the embodiment of student leadership throughout her five years at F.E. Madill Secondary School. Often taking on the role of a behind-the-scenes leader, Katie is a constant presence at school events. Her ability to easily adapt to various situations enables her to take charge wherever she is needed; be it as captain of the girls’ hockey team, preparations for semi-formal, support of the 7⁄8 basketball program, her co-op placement with the Physical Education Department or taking care of teachers’ children when we need an extra hand. For the past two years, she has played an integral part in the planning and execution of the annual Madill Mad Dash Colour Run and the Madill Yearbook.
Katie has a natural ability to bring together the student body, demonstrating a connection with students of all grades. She is a welcoming, familiar face that encourages a cohesive school environment. Her positive attitude and willingness to get involved are a great representation of the spirit of Madill. She spreads that spirit everywhere she goes and helps to make F.E. Madill a better place. Katie is a deserving recipient of this award because she will not expect it in any way.
She goes about her business in a humble, yet confident way. Her maturity allows her to be a leader in the best way possible, without pretence and with the betterment of the whole group in mind. I am excited to see where she goes in life as she is an exceptional young person and she is going to make a positive impact in this world.
Lincoln Dinning – Community Volunteer
Lincoln Dinning has been involved with Madill for many years. His sons graduated from the school many years ago, and over the past few years, he has become involved again at Madill in many ways. His family generously donated scholarship funds in memory of their son and brother Matthew, which helped numerous students achieve their post-secondary dreams.
The Matthew Dinning Memorial Junior Boys rugby tournament will be running for the 12th year this April. Lincoln attends the tournament, welcomes teams with an inspirational message about the spirit of rugby competition, and presents the championship plaques. He volunteers with the junior boys’ rugby team to offer additional supervision, help with equipment and mentors the boys. Every boy that has been through the rugby program at Madill for the last several years would be able to speak to the positive impact Lincoln has on the Madill rugby experience. In addition, Lincoln is an adult mentor through the student success program. It is particularly important to him to connect with the students by getting to know their interests and hobbies and doing fun activities during their visits. He has made an impact on so many staff and students at Madill that he is certainly deserving of this award.
Andrea Verhaeghe – Teacher
Andrea is an educator whose dedication and commitment to education and community involvement is amazing. She has worked in many departments, including science, special education, guidance and physical education and has fully embraced and mentored many students to ensure success. Andrea has coached many sports teams and is able to build positive relationships with students from all corners of the school. She also has been on Parent Council and has been a positive liaison between the school and community as a Building Bridges to Our Future committee member. She has been the organizer and supporter of the Mustang Mad Dash, editor of the yearbook and works with the community paper to promote the positive things happening at the school. Andrea’s leadership, flexibility, and friendly and practical nature contribute greatly to our school’s atmosphere.
Goderich District Collegiate Institute
Elizabeth Alcock – Student
Elizabeth Alcock is deserving of an Excellence in Education award for her positive, hardworking and personable attitude in the face of exceptional health problems. Despite her regular illnesses and hospitalizations due to her cystic fibrosis, Elizabeth achieves top marks in her classes. When she is absent, she stays in contact with her teachers to stay caught up on work and asks for help when needed.
And just when you think that might be enough on her plate, she is also involved in many things in her community and she has a part-time job. She volunteers at the Children’s Festival, Touch a Truck event, Young
Canada Week hockey tournament, CF walk, Relay for Life, Heart and Stroke canvassing, children’s radio-a-thon, Fill the Bus fundraiser, and many more. She is an assistant dance instructor and runs booths at ringette tournaments. She competed with other GDCI students at an Earthquake Engineering competition this year and assists with Friendship Games.
She treats all members of our community with respect and always has a smile on her face. She dreams of being a pediatric nurse so she can give back to others from what she’s learned from her own experiences. Elizabeth is one of those students who put a smile on your face just by walking into a room.
Jessica Millian – Student
Jessica Millian is a well-rounded and involved student at GDCI. She has been described as both a coach’s and a teacher’s dream. Jess is incredibly dedicated, hard-working and talented. She plays volleyball, basketball, baseball, soccer and is a member of the GDCI Jazz Band. Jess is regularly voted MVP on her teams. In grade 10 she was the overall athlete of the year. Despite the large amounts of time she dedicates to sports and music, Jessica also maintains an academic average in the mid-90s. She earned the highest average in grades 9, 10 and 11. Her work ethic is described as ‘second to none’.
She does all of this while holding down two jobs and competes in equestrian events on weekends. Jessica has an interest in helping others. She is trained in Mental Health First Aid and is a volunteer EQAO tutor at GDCI. Jess is a highly motivated individual and always holds herself to a super high standard, which makes her deserving of this award. Jessica is going to school for nursing in hopes of becoming a doctor or nurse practitioner one day.
Daryle Ward – Community Member
Daryle Ward at the Goderich Elevators machine and maintenance building has taken in and mentored GDCI Co-operative Education students for over 25 years. He has always been very professional and patient with the students and has shown a genuine interest in their success and future plans. Daryle advises students on routes to take in order to succeed beyond the placement and encourages them to persevere and have a strong work ethic on the job. Many of the students placed with Daryle for a semester have continued on to college and apprenticeship programs that were a direct result of their experience at the Goderich Elevators. Not only have numerous students become millwrights and welders but the Goderich Elevators actually now employs a handful of former students. We are lucky to have partnerships with caring individuals such as Daryle Ward.
Alice Sikma – Teacher
As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “The secret in education lies in respecting the student”. This is one of the ways in which Alice excels. Teaching French at various levels, she is always ensuring her students are engaged, and that their voices are heard. She is thoughtful, approachable, and a subject expert. Alice is constantly reinventing her classroom activities to include all students and to excite those students in their learning. Alice has participated in many professional learning opportunities as she is always looking to improve her craft.
Outside of the classroom, she has served as staff advisor to the Social Justice League, chaperoned numerous French trips to St. Donat and France, and holds a French Conversation group called Jaser. Alice is also a familiar face at school events such as dances. She has held positions at GDCI as Assistant Branch President and Branch President. As a colleague, she is always eager to share. Her co-workers also appreciate her kindness, that she is approachable and her passion for teaching French.
Alice began her teaching career in 1991 at GDCI, moved to FE Madill in 1998 and then returned to GDCI to finish her career. While she knows she will miss teaching, Alice looks forward to her retirement and more time to be spent with her partner Dale Greenwood and her two amazing daughters, Faegen and Saskia. As a lifelong learner, Alice is looking forward to exploring new interests and learning new skills. She plans to join the town band, learn Dutch, travel distant lands and create colourful, crazy quilts.
Listowel District Secondary School
Hiruthika Ravi – Student
Hiruthika is an excellent student. She strives for perfection and is always willing to ask for help. She takes feedback well – never getting upset or defensive. On top of her academics, she is involved in band/choir, student council, and trivia club. She is a quiet leader who her peers look up to. She is always willing to lend a hand – no matter how busy she is, she will help out – with a smile on her face. She is kind and generous. On top of her busy schedule, she has also found time to volunteer at “It takes a Village” a shop in town that works on a point system. Hiruthika is a fantastic student.
Christopher Van Veen – Student
Christopher is a bright light in our day. This young man has overcome a lot to graduate from high school. We admire his courage and tenacity. Christopher often begins his mornings in the Student Services office so he can chat about hockey and greet us all as we come in. If the secretaries are busy, he takes messages and keeps us all on track. Chris is such a hard worker, both in classes and in co-op. He asks for help and never gives up. Chris is never in a bad mood and passes on that great smile of his every day. Never one to turn down a donut, one of our community officers will sometimes visit and bring them just for him. Christopher is one of the most caring and kind young men we’ve ever had in the halls of LDSS. He is an asset to our school community. The Avon-Maitland District School Board promotes character traits such as Fairness, Courage, Integrity, Optimism, and Perseverance and Christopher is all of these and more.
Jennifer Judge – Strive Child and Youth Worker
This girl is amazing! She is the Strive EA at LDSS and is wonder woman. She is the glue to our team. She comes to school with a positive attitude even if she has other things going on in her personal life. She is always on the ball even if she denies it. She is always there when you need her whether it is for back-up or just to chat to have a friend listen. She not only calms the students but the staff too. She is an inspiration to all. She goes above and beyond what her duties are and steps up with full force when needed. Not only is she incredible at her job, she is an amazing human being. Jenn is a respectful, honest, kind, funny, empathetic and all other good qualities a person can have. She inspires me to be a better person and I hope one day I am that kind of person in my career setting. She deserves to be recognized for all of her hard work.
Ken Van Osch – Teacher
Ken Van Osch has for the last two decades been a committed educator and learner. Ken has been a full-time Canada and World Studies teacher of the highest caliber. His students know that he is responsive to their learning styles as he always seems to find a way to adapt his instruction in order for students to succeed. His colleagues appreciate his pursuit of high student and teacher academic performance as he consistently models the best of professional instruction and assessment strategies, and has taken part in numerous professional learning communities and teacher inquiry groups.
Aside from his regular classroom duties, he has also agreed to teach outside of his area of Geography and into Law, History, and Math because both staff and students know that he is about student learning and not course disciplines. He offers lunchtime help for students each and every day. He has been a member of our school literacy teams for many years, often acting as the lead teacher. He has coached badminton and golf and helped to both organize and lead student trips to locations in the United States, Europe, and here in Canada. Ken’s leadership roles have seen him in the role of head of the Canadian World Studies department for three years and as teacher-in-charge on many occasions.
Ken’s recent work with his senior IDC classes has been authentic, to say the least. Recently his students made real proposals to elected officials. Specifically, work done last year has been included as a provincial model for understanding the migration patterns of youth in rural areas. Ken’s humble and thoughtful personality, shunning the limelight and focussing on being a true professional has earned him the admiration of staff, students, parents and the Listowel community. It is time he is recognized.
Mitchell District High School
Savannah Hooper – Student
Savannah Hooper is a dedicated honour roll student committed to reaching her potential. In addition to her academic studies, she was an essential leader at Mitchell District High School in hosting the Friendship Games in 2017. This year, she has continued her passion for inclusion with a poster awareness campaign about the importance of celebrating diversity and equality. Savannah plays a key role in Student Council as Student Senator, attending Parent Council meetings to report on school activities and events. Savannah works well with others as a team and shares her thoughts with confidence at planning meetings. She demonstrates creativity in bringing forward insightful ideas to promote spirit within the school and follows through to implement events with attention to detail. Savannah is a very thoughtful person and is eager to help others. She is a quiet leader among her peers and is an important part of our school community focus.
Kelly Ward – Student
Kelly stood out early on in her Grade 10 year. Kelly’s English teacher observed that she excelled academically throughout the course, but the creativity and the thoroughness of her final project were simply astonishing. Kelly knew it was good, but her delivery was modest, slightly self-deprecating, witty and good-humoured. And that presentation typifies what is special about Kelly: there is a generosity of spirit to all that she does, a readiness to support others and share the accolades that one does not meet often.
Kelly’s Math teacher also observed, “She takes real pride in her work, works at it until it’s right.” In Science too, the depth of Kelly’s general knowledge and her grasp of difficult concepts is often exceptional, but she still finds time to help and support others.
You’d think that would be enough, but Kelly’s contribution to the school’s extra-curricular programs has been equally impressive. She is, in the words of her music teacher, a “fabulous saxophonist, as happy with jazz as with classical music.” In sports, Kelly has been the mainstay of the MDHS curling team, helping to grow the sport so that we take four teams to the bonspiels, more than many bigger schools. Kelly is also on the Reach for the Top team, the basketball team, and Student Council; in all of these, Kelly contributes, generosity, grace, wisdom, and energy. Quite simply, Kelly has been a huge asset to life at MDHS and we wish her well in the future.
Michelle Clarke-Ellison – Teacher
Michelle is a strong advocate of fairness to all and is a never-ending supporter of students in need who may not have the confidence to speak up for themselves. In all areas of her work, Michelle always has the students’ best interest at heart. Her caring nature is appreciated by all who have dealings with her. She is helpful and kind while providing insightful and knowledgeable guidance to those seeking direction with their course choices, as well as their post-secondary pursuits.
Michelle goes above and beyond in her daily duties and despite the many tasks she may be doing at one time, she will always take the time to support a student or staff member in need. Students will consistently go to Michelle to help solve problems both personal and academic, and her door is always open for students facing hardship. Michelle has helped out coaching field hockey, taking students to board initiative workshops, and goes above and beyond with our annual commencement ceremonies. She also helps in any way around our school to make it a more inviting place for students/parents and staff. She brings creativity to her work, coming up with new ideas and initiatives for student wellness and always works with great effort to follow through and implement these ideas into the MDHS school program. Michelle is a team player and provides positive encouragement to everyone.
Michelle has a huge heart; there are many past graduates who come back just to stop in to student services to talk to Michelle about their happenings in the real world.
Philip Vousden – Teacher
Those who know Philip Vousden cannot help but think of him as the ideal role model for staff and students alike. The care with which he takes students under his wing shows how perceptive he is to their struggles and needs, and he always takes the time to advise or debate with his students about art, literature, and life. This rapport that he creates with them over their four years speaks to his dedication and commitment to our students. Whether it’s teaching students how to cook on a snow day, or taking on the supervision of the curling team because no one else could, Phil cares about more than just our students’ academics; he cares that they have fulfilling lives.
Furthermore, his creative and humourous nature is infectious among both his students and his colleagues. His appreciation for and admiration of music, film, and art is inspiring and is always a part of his classroom.
There is always an amusing story or line of humourous advice to department members, new administrators, and new teachers. He would undoubtedly give a self-deprecating response to an award such as this; however, he is so deserving of it, I cannot think of a better candidate. Mitchell District High School, as well as the Avon Maitland District School Board, will not see another teacher like him. His retirement after all these years of teaching is bittersweet but well deserved. We cannot thank him enough for all that he has given to the profession of teaching and to our school.
South Huron District High School, Exeter, Ontario
Shay-Lynn Durand – Student
Shay-Lynn Durand is a student that demonstrates “Excellence in Education” in all facets of her school life at South Huron. She is a very self-motivated individual and this allows her to be at the top of her class academically, be involved in the band, be part of athletics, and still hold down a part-time job.
In her studies, that are composed of university-level science and math classes, she is able to excel due to her strong desire for understanding and strong work ethic. In class, Shay is a leader among her peers, and she is often found at the centre of the group helping the others solve a problem or helping to sort out other students’ misconceptions. In grade twelve chemistry, Shay volunteers ideas and explanations in class and during laboratory investigations. Shay’s peers are quick to seek clarification from her because they value her as a leader in the classroom. Shay is not afraid to seek extra help, and during her time with the teacher would often find herself giving some extra help to her peers while working on her own understanding of the material. Besides helping her peers, Shay uses this ability to help others through her work tutoring math and science students here at SHDHS.
Shay is also active in our school concert band where she plays the saxophone and is also a member of the jazz band where she plays the piano. Since grade nine she has been an instrumental part of the music program. She is a positive, hard-working musician who leads by example. She is always prepared for her features, which takes commitment and practice and she and takes ownership of the integral parts that she plays within the band. The band was often hired to perform at special occasions around the community, and Shay was always reliable and flexible to help with these events.
Shay is also part of Panther Athletics. She is a valued baseball and badminton team member and has been part of the baseball program since grade nine. She is an integral part of the team and even when she broke her leg during the grade ten season, she was out supporting the team during practices and games. This determination and desire to improve is also seen on the badminton court where she listens to coaching instruction and tries to incorporate the newly learned strategies and ideas into her gameplay.
Shay has made most of the opportunities provided to her at South Huron District High School. She has enriched the lives of those around her through her strive for academic excellence and through hard work and determination in athletics and music. South Huron is very fortunate to have had Shay be part of our community for four years.
Jared Orr – Student
Jared Orr demonstrates leadership skills on a daily basis at SHDHS. He is an active member of Student Council, participates in the band, and plays on the boys’ hockey team. He also does the school announcements every morning. Most notably, though, is Jared’s friendship with Tyler, a student with complex needs. Jared treats Tyler like a true friend, no matter their differences. He looks out for him, chats with him, and makes sure that he is doing what is expected of him in class. Jared displays excellence in education in our school every day and he is only in grade 10. We are excited to see what else he becomes involved with in his last two years of secondary school. Congratulations, Jared.
Kay Rathwell – Secretary
Kay Rathwell is a great support and adviser within our school. As head secretary, she keeps us organized and on track each and every day. Often overlooked and taken for granted, I believe due to her quiet and professional manner, her efforts are what keep our school running smoothly. She supports teachers new and experienced, providing reminders, organizing our reams of paperwork and documentation and assisting us in finding any documents we may need. A keystone to our school for her knowledge, patience, and dedication, Kay is very deserving of this award.
Jim Workman – Community Volunteer
Jim Workman is a retired secondary school teacher from our board; however, he can still be seen at the school almost every day during the fall semester, and many days during the winter and spring as well. Jim is the field hockey coach at SHDHS. He was a teacher at SHDHS and the field hockey coach 45 years ago when the program started, and he is still the field hockey coach now. During Jim’s storied career, SHDHS field hockey has earned numerous Huron Perth and WOSSAA Championships, as well as four OFSAA Championships! His field hockey team even made it back to the OFSAA championships this year, after a 13-year drought. The success of the team is only a small part of the reason that Jim is deserving of this award. It is as though he spends even more of his time and effort on the team after he left teaching.
Jim spends countless volunteer hours organizing and attending practices, as well as games and tournaments. He runs skills clinics during the offseason for grade 7 and 8 community members who want to learn the game. He gives up time during the summer to run clinics for grade 7-12 community members, and he does all of this with a big smile on his face.
Jim teaches that hard work and dedication are important parts of sport, school, and life. The girls respect and adore him because they understand how much they, and field hockey, mean to him, and that he will do whatever it takes to help them be successful, hard-working young adults. He is also taking the time to help groom a new coach for his position because even he knows that at some point he is going to hang up his stick. I just wouldn’t hold your breath! Jim’s incredible work ethic, dedication, and character are a few of the reasons that he is beyond deserving of this award.
St. Marys District and Vocational Institute
Becky Knarr – Student
Becky Knarr may be a small person but she exudes personality. Becky’s strong nature makes her naturally friendly, someone whose first instinct is to help others. She has assumed the role of our school’s international student ambassador. Becky is sure to be there to assist registration, help them pick courses, tour the school and introduce them to our “culture”. She then continues to be their go-to during their entire stay at DCVI, with many planned events only occurring because Becky made them happen. Becky acts as a role model for them both academically and socially in our school community. She has been an honour student in each of her four years and is on her way to becoming an Ontario Scholar. She also spends some time on many different playing surfaces. Engaging in basketball, volleyball, badminton, and soccer keep Becky on a tight schedule but she always finds time for others. Somehow, she also finds time to assist a small group of grade 9 students as their big sister in our PWWP (Peers Working With Peers) organization. Small but mighty and very worthy.
Maia Moore – Student
Intelligence plus character is the true goal of education. There is no doubt that Maia is intelligent. Her diligence in maintaining her above 92% average speaks for itself but even that accomplishment is overshadowed by her character. You can see her character when you walk past Student Services and witness Maia working with a series of students providing math and science tutoring or facilitating small group activities to welcome new students to the Salukis family. You can see her character on the courts as well where teamwork and fair play are equally important to advancing. You see it in the countless meetings she attends to give student voice in governing policy and culture establishment at DCVI. There is no doubt that Maia has met and exceeded the true goal of education: intelligence plus character.
Jenn Cronsberry – Teacher
Jennifer Cronsberry leads by example while seeking out opportunities for collaboration amongst her peers. Whether it is participation as a mentor for new teachers within DCVI providing support for content and pedagogy choices, conferencing with fellow AMDEC teachers to share tips and tricks, or leading the Literacy Committee in the development of strategies and best practices to address declining scores on the OSSLT, Jenn’s quiet leadership leaves our members feeling supported. Supported teachers, in turn, support students to do great things and that is what excellence in education is all about!
Cheryl Rader – Technology Resource Assistant
In this day and age, the most valuable member of staff has to be the TRA and in the case of Cheryl Rader, she operates as an unsung hero. Who facilitates smooth communication with parents and community members through the maintenance of the school website? Cheryl! Who troubleshoots technical issues on every device under the sun? Cheryl! Who brings in new technology in the form of robotics and virtual imaging? Cheryl! Who holds workshops for teachers to master the use of assistive technology and apps geared towards the success of all students? Cheryl! Who was the driving force behind making our library into a learning commons? Cheryl! And she can check out your library books too. Cheryl is not a typical TRA. She sets the bar much higher and the whole DCVI community is lucky to have her.
Stratford Central Secondary School
Emilie Stanley – Student
Emilie is very deserving of an Excellence in Education award because she achieves excellence in her classes, adds to a positive school climate and community relationships and she does so with a great deal of perspective and maturity. Emilie strives to do her best in her classes. She is a hard worker and adds insight to class discussions. Emilie takes ownership of her learning and is a good problem solver. Last year when she was in grade 10, she achieved a high degree of success in Gr. 12 French Immersion Challenge & Change. In her ISP project she discussed the negative effects of technology on social relationships and encouraged her peers to rekindle face-to-face relationships/activities and unplug. In addition to being a responsible and conscientious student in the classroom, Emilie also improves the school climate outside of the classroom. As an executive member of Community Central, Emilie is an integral member of the team who plans, organizes and oversees the completion of many activities, for example, the Christmas Food Drive, Rake ‘n Run, Community Suppers and Toonie Week.
Emilie encourages other students to get involved and she works hard to provide a variety of activities to improve relationships between students in the school and the relationship between the students and the community. In conclusion, Emilie is a hard-working, responsible and mature student who is very deserving of an Excellence in Education award.
Jaime Tuling – Student
Jaime is a member of the Executive team for the Community Central student outreach group at Stratford Central. In this role she is has exhibited strong leadership skills, taking the time to quietly listen to the voices of each club member before helping lead them in the successful execution of a fundraising venture.
Jaime represented Community Central and Stratford Central at a Youth Interact Conference last spring where she was asked to speak on behalf our club Interact and Rotary members from throughout the province. Through her experiences at the conference, she left a lasting impression on the Interact and Rotary Executive and has since been asked to work hand in hand with Rotary members as the Interact Representative for Southwestern Ontario; a job she confidently dove right into, continually representing SCSS with maturity and professionalism.
Jaime is a well-rounded, socially conscious, driven individual, excelling in the areas of music, academics, and community outreach.
Michele Carter – Teacher
In the short two years that Michele has been at our school, she has definitely made her mark. Joining an already successful Art Program it takes time to find your niche. Michele having great communication skills was easily able to earn the respect of her co-workers and build quick rapport with her students. If it wasn’t for Michele our school wouldn’t have the beautiful mural that is now a staple of Central’s front entrance; a mural that took days to complete in organization alone. It took a community to finish. Many hands were needed to reach the point of completion.
She has also been part of a committee that focuses on mindfulness. In doing so, Michele played her part by bringing her passion for Art into the Zen Den which was the direct result of the Committee. When you walk in the Den a large poster size Mandalas has been traced on the walls, completed by Michele and to be filled in with vibrant markers by the students. She enjoys learning and exudes confidence. There’s always something ‘Cookin’ in her Kitchen.’ If I can, I would like to sum things up with a few keywords and phrases about Michele Carter: caring, passionate, empathetic, people-centered, always ready for a challenge, but always worthy of a fair, respectful and honest outcome.
Patricia Pommer – Secretary
Patti works hard and takes pride in being thorough. What really sets her apart is that she always greets you with a smile, no matter what she is dealing with, and she is always happy or seems happy, to stop what she’s doing to help with what you need, again, no matter what she is dealing with. Patti has been a breath of fresh air since she arrived. It makes me smile just thinking about it.
Stratford Northwestern Secondary School
Janelle Restall – Student
Janelle Restall is a vibrant, energetic student at Northwestern Secondary School. She is active in extracurricular activities such as the school’s Concert Band, the Curling Team, and Student Council. She achieves high academic excellence and is on the honour roll. Janelle is highly involved in the music program where she plays guitar and sings in the Guitar Cafe, plays trumpet in the band and directs our school jazz band.
Janelle also plays the trumpet in the Stratford Concert Band. Janelle is a leader in our school community with her positive attitude and her student connections, always helpful toward others, kind, and a strong collaborator. She takes part in school assemblies and runs the Math Help Room during the lunch period. Janelle continues to be curious and excels with new ideas and concepts. She is truly a gift to Northwestern.
Bailey Shiell – Student
It is a pleasure to nominate Bailey Shiell for the Excellence in Education award. After a tough first few years of high school, and non-attendance, Bailey has re-entered the COPE program at Stratford Northwestern Secondary School this year. She has attended faithfully every day, for the full day. She has completed five credits so far this year. This semester she is taking part in the Dual Credit Program at Conestoga College for Security Guard Training, as she hopes to get into the policing field after high school.
She has quit smoking and has been an advocate for others to quit smoking as well. She encourages others in class to make healthy lifestyle choices. She has taken on a number of responsibilities in class and outside of class as with her role as a mother. This positively contributes to the COPE Program. She openly talks about mistakes she has made and encourages others to make better choices. She has shown great initiative and perseverance and this award is well deserved.
Kerri Otten – Educational Assistant
Kerri Otten has been with our board since 1999. Her first position as an Educational Assistant was in the elementary setting. Over the last 16 years, Kerri has been very instrumental, assisting students in the co-operative education field and learning services at Stratford Northwestern. Kerri is physically by their side as they exit the school, find transportation to the work site and learn each task that is required by the employer. Kerri has helped the students build contacts with community businesses over the years. The program that Kerri has presented to her students has prepared them for the future. Many of her former students, due to Kerri’s assistance, have secured full-time employment. Her students have been taught safety in the workplace. Students have learned how to access busing within the city. She emphasizes with all the students how to complete all task expectations at their work placement. Kerri’s rapport with her students has built their confidence, and independence to do the jobs required. Her encouragement and work ethics have assisted many of the graduating students to obtain life skills that will be used for their lifetime. The success of her students shows the compassion with which she does her job.
Steve Faber – Teacher
Steve Faber is a great candidate because of all the things that he has done for Stratford Northwestern Secondary School and the community over the years. He has played a big role in mentoring and teaching the students that have passed through his classroom door. He has helped them become successful entrepreneurs or tradespeople within the Stratford area. Steve has taken the time to reach out to each individual in his class and get them to push themselves to do the best work that they can possibly do. It may not always be a work of art or a thing of beauty, but for some students, it is simply something that they created with their own hands and that’s enough. Steve’s unique sense of humour and drive to get the students to engage in his classes has helped to get the students to work together to produce some wonderful projects – such as the Northwestern Fitness Room Renovation and multiple Harvest Tables at over a $1000 a table.
Over the years, Steve has spent much of his own time in the community setting up, presenting and tearing down at the annual Stratford Home and Leisure Show. The students in his class help design, build, paint and trim the garden shed each year. They then take it to the Home and Leisure Show and raffle it off as a door prize. Steve and his students have built many beautiful items in his class. They can be as small as live edge coffee tables, a 14-foot cedar stripped boat and a grand wooden bench that is on display at Fryfogle Inn, just outside of Stratford.
This year one of Steve’s students has taken on the monumental task of building a full-sized two-seater airplane that he hopes to fly by the end of the year. Steve says he would like to be a passenger on the second flight of the plane. Steve is a very caring and kind person that takes the time to reach out to all of his students no matter what their ability or disability and help them to be successful at whatever they plan on doing. Steve is a teacher that still shows how much he cares about the students by the way he interacts with them and guides them in and outside of school. He is an inspiration to us all.
Linda Clements Memorial Best Buddies Award
Steven Nicholson – Maitland River Elementary School
Linda Clements was an Educational Assistant from the Stratford area. Linda passed away a few years ago and has graciously made provisions in order to present an award to a pair of students who embody what it means to be a Best Buddy to another student. It is meant to be awarded to two students who value their similarities and not their differences.
This award is for a friendship 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.
The individual that was selected for the Best Buddy award this year is Steven Nicholson. As for Steven’s Best Buddy, we would have had to invite his entire grade 4 class, the Junior Wing and the rest of the student body and staff at Maitland River Elementary School. Everyday Steven shows respect and acceptance to everyone that he meets. He is the first to help you if you need a door held. If something is dropped in the hallway Steven takes the initiative to pick it up. In the classroom he makes sure everybody else has a spot to sit or a chair and he will happily get one for a fellow student before he gets his own. He is very thoughtful towards others and is sensitive to those around him. On the yard, he shows sportsmanship and an encouraging attitude to all players in the game. He always uses good manners when asking if he can use a space within a room or if borrowing things and doing errands. Steven is a reliable and courteous member of the Maitland River community. His smile and caring manner create an opportunity for friendships to form because Steven knows how to be a Best Buddy.