District 8 – OSSTF and the Avon Maitland District School Board recently celebrated the 21st 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!
Randy began his trustee career in the year 2000. He was a trustee who always focused on our students, and believed that it was his duty, along with the rest of the board, to deliver a well-balanced education for all students in multiple areas aligned with our strategic plan. Randy also took on the jobs as chair and vice-chair on many occasions. Specifically, he chaired the Avon Maitland District School Board in 2011, 2015, 2017 and 2018; and held the vice-chairs’ position in 2004, 2005 and 2012.
A trustee’s job can, at times, be very difficult especially when dealing with issues that don’t always engage all members of the public. Yes, Randy had a lot of sleepless nights over school consolidations, and issues such as the blue devil controversy at Mitchell District Secondary School which was one of the first that he had to deal with as a trustee. Again, Randy focused on what was best for the students, their learning, and the community. Randy, in his life outside of the board, is an engineer, and as such, he was asked every year to help judge our annual science fair. After a particularly exhilarating fair he lay wide awake thinking about all of the wonderful possibilities that awaited these talented students. Programs such as character education, and expansion of educational paths and the addition of an audit committee to our board all happened during Randy’s 18 years on the board. He felt that they all contributed to making our little area of the world just a little better!
Thank you Randy for your dedication, your wisdom, your willingness to learn, your willingness to share, your many questions, your many researched answers, the many hours of lost sleep and the many hours of working, and for helping to make Avon Maitland a better place to live, learn and thrive.
OSSTF Education Support Staff (ESS)
Kathleen MacNeil – Technical Resource Assistant
Kathy is an amazing TRA with a whole school community vision which supports the Eastdale Public School in many ways. She is very thorough with her traditional TRA Job Roles. Students and staff are warmly welcomed into the library, either to work at the tables, to choose a book or receive assistance regarding a technology question. Kathy supports the staff in many ways with resources and technology. She is always gentle and kind to us! For the school, Kathy is the key player supporting the extra-curricular Makerspace. Students in all grades have the opportunity to code and program little robots and complete other STEM activities. She also organizes the Forest of Reading group which has a huge membership.
Kathy maintains Eastdale’s Facebook and Twitter sites on Social Media. We think they are amazing. She posts students participating in activities, sharing events, special moments and sharing important information for our community. She works with our Yearbook committee and the results are amazing. Kathy does all this work and more – silently behind the scenes. She is a very important and very supportive member of the Eastdale Staff.
Marie Feltz – Educational Assistant
For the past fourteen and a half years, Marie Feltz has worked as an Educational Assistant within the AMDSB. During this time, she has worked at various schools throughout the area, working with a wide range of needs, supporting students and has had many rewarding job opportunities. Her experience and knowledge is very valuable to both students and staff.
In her current role, she supports a student with low vision along with other students needs in the classroom. Her patience, consistency and high expectations have assisted these students in achieving great gains, self confidence, peers and academic success.
Marie is very flexible within her work environment, hard working and enjoys praising the students on their many achievements. She likes to keep busy and always asks if anything needs to be done. Currently she is doing a Yoga Club with the students. She is a great co-worker who is caring, kind and aware of others feelings and needs. Occasionally, she likes to surprise the staff with some of her home baked treats. We feel Marie is very deserving of this special award as she has improved the social and academic needs of many students.
Angela Hewitt – Office Clerical Support
Angie Hewitt is the Clerical Support for the Adult Education program at the Centres for Employment and Learning (CEL) in Goderich and Clinton. Angie has worked for the school board for over 20 years and has worked at her current position since 2002.
Angie provides daily ongoing support not only for our principal, teachers, and the rest of the employment and learning staff at the CEL, but also for our students, many of whom are highly barriered. In fact, she goes the extra steps of not only processing their paperwork but of encouraging them, building their confidence, and establishing a supportive learning environment for them.
At the CELs, Angie is committed to supporting all staff in all departments – not only her own. She is one of the first faces you see when entering our office. She manages to juggle multiple tasks with an inordinate amount of interruptions, and still manages to get it all done properly and with a positive, infectious attitude. She organizes all the staff fundraisers and events, never missing a birthday or special celebration.
Angie is a connector. She has been highly involved in our local community outside of work, and this has been a huge help in building the CEL’s outreach to our community in order to promote our many government-funded programs and services.
Her community involvement includes being an active behind-the-scenes presence with local minor sports such as hockey, baseball, soccer and field hockey. She was an active supporter of the Kraft Hockeyville Challenge in 2017, which resulted in $250,000 being awarded to the Ag Park rejuvenation Project in Goderich.
She is the co-chair for the Parent Council for Goderich District Collegiate Institute, as well as being a committed member of various programs at both Goderich and Colborne Public Schools. Her roles include assisting with the organization of proms, graduation events and fundraisers.
Jennifer Haney – Network Technician
Jen has fulfilled several roles within IT: hardware support, network support, and most recently managing the IT Help Desk. Jen adapts easily to each role with skill and professionalism. She helped make the transition to the help desk model a success for both the IT department and the schools that IT supports.
She consistently exemplifies what it means to be a team player, while always having the ultimate goal of providing the best end-user support. Jen always maintains her friendliness, composure, and professionalism even during stressful situations requiring immediate solutions.
Jen always has the best interests of the schools that she supports in mind and is always a pleasure to work with and learn from. She is willing to share her knowledge with her co-workers and is also eager to learn in order to provide excellent tech support to schools.
Joanne Durnin – Educational Assistant
Joanne Durnin is one amazing and resilient lady! She has been working with a young lad since grade one with significant challenges. In this role, she arrives everyday to be flexible to whatever the day brings. Joanne is dedicated to help all students to be successful in all environments within the school. She is generous with her kindness, patience and love for all students and staff. “Team” is Joanne’s middle name when it comes to the Huron Centennial school community. A job is never too big or too small for Joanne. No matter the situation, Joanne can be depended on.
Outside of school, Joanne is a busy mother of four kids, spending her free time in hockey arenas. She balances school life and home life with the same energy everyday which makes her one amazing and resilient lady!
Central Huron Secondary School, Clinton, Ontario
Madelynne Graham – Student
Maddie is a deserving recipient of this award. She is involved in many aspects of student life at CHSS. Maddie is a dedicated band member who works hard at every rehearsal. Her teachers and peers love working with her as she is always willing to laugh in tough situations and work hard to be successful. She is inclusive and welcoming of all students. In the several bands she plays, she is always ready to perform with enthusiasm and musicality. Her band teacher cannot imagine having band and jazz ensemble without her. She is essential to the bands’ morale – always there for her friends and always supporting others. Maddie has also been a vital team player on the school’s student council, pitching in whenever and wherever needed, especially at school events like dances. On top of her extra-curricular involvement, Maddie also excels academically and is dedicated to her studies. She will study Health Sciences at university next fall. The staff and students at CHSS greatly admire this young woman and we are thrilled that she is being recognized with this award.
Rae Melvin – Student
Rae has been the backbone of the CHSS concert and jazz band for several years. His commitment to music and all that it entails can be seen when you engage Rae in a conversation about anything related to music.
His passion for music is contagious and he shares that passion with the the student body whenever possible. Along with other students, Rae preformed monthly (2017-2018) in the cafeteria during the Principal’s Luncheon (a student recognition event).
Rae also shares his gifts with the wider school community by both teaching guitar and drum lessons to other youths in the community. He regularly plays in his band, which has performed in Goderich, Exeter and at the Zurich Bean Fest. Rae has also auditioned for the Band of the Ceremonial Guard in Ottawa this summer as well as three other national youth ensembles.
Rae does not just excel at music, he also achieves high marks in other subject areas. Rae is currently averaging 90% in his grade 12 year. Rae plans to continue his music education at university. His has already completed auditions for U of T.
Lynne Godkin – Teacher
Lynne Godkin can only be described as the consummate professional. A teacher who cares deeply for her students, and one who is passionate about her school. Lynne started teaching at SDHS in May of 1988 straight out of teachers college and in 1993, Lynne transferred to CHSS after her second son, Brent, was born. Here she is finishing her career this June.
Lynne’s passion no question is the humanities and the family studies curriculum. Over the years, she has written and re-written all her courses to always keep them relevant and current. Lynne loves teaching fashion and there are times when walking the halls you can hear the buzz of the sewing machines working away in room 109.
Lynne teaches a gerontology program linking youth in our school with seniors in the community, helping to bridge the gap between the young and not so young. Her students have been seen teaching the seniors how to use an iPad and technology, and simply sitting and listening to the stories of days long ago. Lynne is also the leader in our school for the snack program. She coordinates this important work to ensure that our students always have a ready supply of food in the morning.
Every year at Christmas time, Lynne coordinates the Christmas bureau food and gift drive. Over the years, tons and tons of food and gifts have been delivered to the Huron County Christmas bureau due in large part to Lynne’s passion for this organization and the less fortunate among us. Lynne is also the person everybody wants as their “Secret Santa”. She makes a mean cheesecake! In 2017 Lynne was one of the directors of the Huron County Plowing match in Walton, which required a tremendous amount of her free time. Knowing Lynne, the event was a success because of her involvement.
In 2011, Lynne was stricken with the big “C”. Like a champion however, she fought this disease with determination and class like we knew she could. Lynne is an avid runner, having run numerous marathons including Boston, twice. There is little question that her complete remission of the big “C” is due in large part to her exceptional health and physical activity.
There aren’t enough pages in this program to highlight all of Lynne’s positive and amazing contributions to CHSS and the students she has served over her 30 year career. In her retirement Lynne intends to spend more time with her husband Ron, and their four children, Scott, Brent, Heather and Laura, and their only grandchild,… to date, Ryan. No doubt, we expect to see her continuing to stay active but we also know she is looking forward to more time at the family cottage in Tobermory cuddled with a good book.
For these and for so many other reasons, Lynne Godkin is absolutely deserving of an Excellence in Education award. Her contributions will not fully be understood until next September when room 109 has a different occupant. Congratulations Lynne, and happy retirement!
Bill Shore – Teacher
Bill Shore, simply put, is an amazing teacher! Bill began his teaching career at SHDHS in 1988, and in 2000 transferred to CHSS to become the head of the math department, a position he’s held since. Bill has made room 308 his home for the last 18 years. Students are welcomed to his room every day with the daily warm up, testing their retention of the previous day’s lesson. Over the years, including his first passion of Math, Bill has also taught Geography, Phys-Ed and French.
Bill can regularly be seen in the Learning Commons giving extra help at lunch during the lunch and learn sessions. He is always willing to give of his time to ensure his students are successful. No matter the class, the students have always commented that Bill is a great teacher. Bill is handing in his keys this June and is looking forward to retirement.
Bill is an active member of the coaching staff at CHSS. Many times over, he has coached boys and girls soccer, boys and girls hockey, and volleyball. Many of his teams over the years have gone on to WOSSA and beyond. He would never take credit for their success though – that’s not Bill’s style – it was their success not his. Bill could easily be described as a hockey nut. If he wasn’t coaching school kids hockey, he’d be coaching his own kids, hockey, and failing that he’d be seen driving his own kids to hockey, and dance. Bill is a very involved dad and has spent countless hours traveling the highways of Ontario. In fact, Bill loves hockey so much he has a part time job working for the YMCA, driving the Zamboni!
Besides being an amazing teacher, Bill is always the lead joker on staff. While he is very subtle you can be assured that if you are willing to reciprocate, there would be a practical joke well placed at just the right time. Many an April Fool’s day, would find classrooms completely turned around. There are some on staff that would stay late at work on March 31 waiting for Bill to go home so we could “get him back”. Somehow in the morning even after he had left work before others, our own rooms had been attacked! He had accomplices! This speaks volumes of Bill’s character. Bill gets along with everybody, from custodial staff (his accomplices) to administration.
Halloween was also one of Bill’s favourite holidays. On more than one occasion, he’d have a costume so well planned that he’d be completely unrecognizable. Bill starts planning his costume in September to ensure that it is as perfect as possible. His Carnie outfit was especially amazing. One has to wonder how someone has that kind of time to get ready for work in the morning!
Bill was awarded an Excellence in Education award in 1992 by his South Huron colleagues. It is certainly time he is recognized again by his CHSS colleagues for the amazing work he does inside and outside of his classroom for the students at CHSS. Our school won’t be the same without him.
In retirement, Bill is looking forward to spending more time with his wife, Janice, and 3 kids, Liam, Riley and Owen. True to fashion however, Bill will still be active and should you ever wish to find him, head to the Goderich YMCA. He plans to continue working there, and why wouldn’t he? Who doesn’t want to drive a Zamboni!
Believe you are Bill Shore? Believe it long enough, and it is likely to become true! – Gotcha Bill
F.E. Madill Secondary School, Wingham, ON
Carly is a model student in the classroom, in the school community, and in the greater community. To say that Carly is well-rounded would be an understatement. She is on a number of sports teams at the school, including the basketball, volleyball, track and field, and curling teams. She is also a member of the Mindfulness group, for which she redesigned the appointed space to make it more functional and effective for students and staff. Carly is also a member of the Senior Band, and is on the Reach for the Top team. She is an exemplary student who is a terrific ambassador of Madill when traveling to other schools. She does all of these school activities while maintaining an average above 90%.
Beyond the school walls, Carly is an active member of her community. As part of the group Mental Health Matters Wingham, Carly has been working to raise awareness of mental illness and mental health, and to promote mental wellness both in her school and in the greater Wingham area. She is integral in helping plan the major fundraising event for May 11, and she represents MHMW on an educational committee focused on mental health and wellness in Wingham. Carly has also been part of the Belmore Skating Club, teaching and assisting younger skaters as a PA. Carly is incredibly involved in her community, and in making it a more informed and caring community.
Lauren Stainton – Student
Lauren is a perfect candidate for an Excellence in Education Award. During her time at Madill she has been a quiet, but impactful presence. Academically, she has been a strong student who participates in her classes in meaningful ways and treats her teachers as well as her peers with respect. In all her classes, she demonstrates good citizenship as well as all the characteristics that make her a good representative for F.E Madill. In addition to being a good student, she has also participated in school sports such as soccer. But these traditional student roles are not what makes Lauren a deserving recipient of this award.
It is Lauren’s character that makes her a standout candidate for an Excellence in Education Award. As well as being a good student, Lauren has grown into a compassionate, kind, and caring young adult in her time at F.E. Madill. Adverse experiences meant Lauren had to develop a strength of character that most students never reach. This strength of character has led Lauren to become a great role model for youth in the community of F.E. Madill as well as the town of Wingham. Lauren has been involved with the mindfulness and mindset initiatives in our school. She has been one of the key organizers of events in the school to target positive messaging as well as peer support.
In summary, Lauren is an excellent candidate for an Excellence in Education Award as she demonstrates the character traits that make her a great representative of Madill.
Maureen Matchett – Teacher
Maureen continues to quietly go beyond the call of duty without wishing for attention or praise. Besides being a department head, and mentor for “Reach For The Top”, she helped orchestrate this year’s Remembrance Day assembly, this spring’s Provincial all candidates debate, and the Provincial Student Vote. In addition, Maureen continues to provide enrichment opportunities each semester for her history classes by attending World War I re-enactments, visiting with Holocaust survivors, touring the provincial legislature, and bringing in guest speakers (for example, the Blanket Exercise).
Maureen is the epitome of a life-long learner, working long hours after school, and attending professional development conferences and workshops regularly. As a staff member, Maureen is supportive through her regular involvement with OSSTF over many years and her willingness to provide staff with learning opportunities and resources. As a director of many plays, Maureen’s community theater involvement in Lucknow also overlaps in her work with students and staff members alike. Maureen is certainly an invaluable asset, both at F.E. Madill and in her own community.
Kim Martin – Strive Child and Youth Worker
Kim Martin is the Strive CYW for secondary students at F.E. Madill. In this position, Kim deals with challenging situations on a daily basis. She manages to deal with students in a calm, professional manner, often reducing a stressful situation. Her communication skills are excellent and she is respected by staff students and parents. We are lucky to have Kim as our Strive CYW.
Goderich District Collegiate Institute, Goderich, Ontario
Gwyneth Pella – Student
Gwyneth is the face of GDCI. She is involved in everything and always establishing relationships with both students at staff in new and positive ways. She is a powerhouse and always looking to change the world. As well, she is academically excellent – always pushing herself to find new and interesting ideas in the content she is studying. She is never satisfied with easy, and always seeks challenging projects and experiences.
Gwyneth is involved in Student Council as the Vice Prime Minister, Friendship Games as one of the Head Coordinators, a member of OSAID, and a member of Cheer Squad. Throughout this semester she is also volunteering as a tutor in Mr. Doble’s Grade 9 Math class.
In addition to these, throughout this year and in past years, she was a part of the Spirit of Canada club, the Social Justice club, and has been involved in the Drama Club (both in productions for the Sears festival and in this year’s Halloween musical). She has volunteered with the Children’s Area at the Goderich Celtic Roots Festival every summer since 2011, the Children’s Festival, the Huron County Museum Summer and Winter Carnivals, as an actor in plays at the Livery, helped out during Canada Day festivities, and volunteered with musical performances and art projects at the local church she attended in her youth.
Jackson Million – Student
During his time at GDCI, Jackson has been an integral part of the music program. He has been an active member of the Jazz Band, in the pit for “Evil Dead – the Musical”, composed and performed all of the music for the drama production “The Lovely Bones” and has accompanied countless students at Remembrance Day, Christmas, Coffee House and Talent Show concerts. During first semester, Jackson had a co-op placement with Ms. Johnston in music. By the end of the semester, Jackson had been a part of more than twenty performances. He was instrumental in the organization of the “Off Our Rockers” senior citizen-student rock concert. All of this was done with a smile on his face and a willingness to help others. His caring personality and musical abilities will be missed at GDCI next year but we are very happy to hear that he will be heading to UWO in the fall to study music and continue to pursue his talents and passion.
David Armour – Teacher
Dave began his career at Martingrove Collegiate in Etobicoke in October of 1981. If they had become teachers, his eldest students would now be about 5 years behind him on the seniority list – if they weren’t already retired. He began as a teacher of English and History, but after moving to Peel County, he was informed by his department head at Mayfield Secondary School in Brampton that he had “the disposition of a Drama teacher.” He’s still not sure what that means, but since then he has been primarily a teacher of Dramatic and Theatre Arts. From Mayfield he came to Huron County to work at Bluewater Secondary School, where he ran a Drama Club and a fencing team, before moving to GDCI to do likewise, and where he has been joyfully trapped ever since.
Under his direction, the GDCI Drama Club has grown into a force to be reckoned with in the annual NTS Theatre Festival (formerly Sears), participating many times in Regional competition and the All-Ontario Showcase. Since arriving at GDCI, he has directed and produced more than 60 shows – the exact number is growing dim – many of which were undertaken collaboratively with community organizations like The Goderich Little Theatre, and Huron Historic Gaol. This connection with community is central to Dave’s work and in its service he has cultivated relationships with professional theatres, community groups, church groups, and schools to support their art. He has also served for about 20 years altogether as a board member with the Goderich Little Theatre and the Provincial Executive of the Sears Drama Festival.
Steve Albrecht – Community Partner
Steve Albrecht has been a Co-op employer in Goderich for over 20 years. Any time the Co-op office calls Ideal Supply to ask if Steve is interested in meeting with, and taking on another student, Steve has always been willing to do it.
We’ve sent a lot of students to Steve and his team over the years. Each and every student reported back to us how they were treated with courtesy and respect. Some of our students have had little to no work experience – especially in the field – and yet Steve was always able to help the students find a way to contribute, gain some skills and experience, and ultimately, feel valued. Even when the Co-op placement was not entirely successful, Steve found a way to stick with it and turn the situation into a learning experience for the student. His patience seems to be unlimited.
It is with thanks to Steve and employers like him that GDCI has had a successful Co-op program over the years. Without such employers, we wouldn’t have a program.
Listowel District Secondary School, Listowel, ON
Shaelyn Couto – Student
Shaelyn Couto has been an active student in her four years at LDSS. Not only has she played on the girls basketball and soccer teams every year since grade 9, but she has taken on many leadership roles within the school. During her time as an athlete, Shaelyn has been captain of her teams as well as an MVP in both soccer and basketball. She is a true leader in the game and her peers look up to her for motivation and guidance.
As a leader, Shaelyn has been a peer helper in a PPL1O class. Her assistance to both the students and the teacher in the classroom far exceeded expectations. In her fourth year, she has been a valuable member of the Student Athletic Association where she has organized and led numerous spirit events, fundraisers and activities for students and staff. She was also a student in the PLF4M, Recreation and Leadership class where she further demonstrated her leadership skills through the organization of the Terry Fox event, Pause to Play activities and Student- Teacher activities at lunch.
Outside of athletics, Shaelyn was a part of a Senior Girls Focus group supporting belonging and student well being and she also sat on a student voice panel for NTIP teachers in AMDSB. She has done all of these things while maintaining good grades with the hopes of entering a medical diagnostic program after high school.
Within the community, Shaelyn is an active participant in recreational soccer, works part time at the Listowel Golf Course and was most recently named First Runner Up in the Paddyfest Ambassador Competition. Shaelyn and her family have taken on community outreach programs such as Random Act of Kindness day.
Beatrice Reinhardt – Student
Beatrice Reinhardt, a fifth year student is an all round excellent student. She excels in Math, Science, Music, Languages and English and is consistently at the top of her class. She has been a member of the choir and band for five years, an active member of the trivia club and the science Olympics team, has volunteered twice to peer help in French, achieved the highest mark in 4U biology and has challenged DELF.
She is an active participant in the Listowel School of Dance where she has danced for many years. She can even do Pointe! She teaches several classes of the very young dancers and is patient and kind. She is an active member of her church community.
She is lovely, always prepared, super helpful and kind to everyone. She asks for help when she needs it and is willing to help those who need it.
Carolyn Wilkans – Technical Resource Assistant
Carolyn is LDSS’s TRA and blends this role with the Library Learning Commons. She is in constant demand for passwords, fixing locked out and broken tech. She is warm and welcoming and many students look forward to seeing her every day. She supervises the library often and is supportive of all students feeling welcome in this space. To say that she deserves a pay raise is an understatement! She goes above and beyond her role everyday to connect with students and have them feel they belong. As a colleague she is supportive, honest and a team player.
Kim Knight – Secretary
Kim deserves an Excellence in Education award because of her bright and bubbly personality, her willingness to always lend a hand and her care and comfort to our most at risk students. At least a couple times a month Kim makes homemade lunch for all of the kids in the student success room. Whether is it homemade meatballs, pulled pork on a bun or chili, Kim goes above and beyond for our kids. She never misses a holiday or special occasion and realizes that sometimes these are not always the best or happiest times for our kids. Whether it is Thanksgiving, with homemade pumpkin tarts with whipped cream, Christmas fudge or cherry-chip cupcakes with red sprinkles for Valentines Day, it goes without fail that there will be a beautiful display waiting first thing in the morning in the Student Success room for the kids. Included is always a personal handwritten note saying ‘Happy Thanksgiving,’ or ‘Merry Christmas.’ Kim has the biggest heart and not only keeps staff finances straight on a daily basis but truly goes above and beyond for our kids. She is an LDSS angel.
Mitchell District High School, Mitchell, Ontario
Emma Badley – Student
Emma has encouraged positive “spirit building” at MDHS through her active membership on Student Council over the past two years. With Emma’s efforts to provide a memorable experience for students during their high school years, she has brought forward creative and fun ideas to implement as part of extra-curricular spirit events.
Emma ran for Student Council President after her Grade 10 year, successfully winning the role that is usually taken on by a senior Grade 12 student. Her success was a result of the student body having faith in her strong work ethic, knowing that she had the ability to get things done!! She provides leadership in a non-threatening manner, effectively collaborating with others and always demonstrating the importance of a team effort. She delegates tasks among members when initiatives are brought forward, ensuring that the team follows through with all details as required. She displays effective communication skills by showing open-mindedness and empathy when planning for events.
In the classroom, Emma is a positive influence on all those around her. She possesses a maturity that is unmeasured, always displaying kindness to others. She strives to achieve to her highest potential, asking questions when needed, while pushing herself to consistently exceed expectations. Positive values such as honesty, dedication, responsibility, integrity, and equality for all, are demonstrated by Emma on a daily basis in our school community. These values, along with her excellent organizational skills, make her an outstanding role model in any classroom. Her friendliness and confidence are appreciated by all who have dealings with her. Students respect Emma’s commitment to ensuring that Mitchell is a school to be proud of, making her a very deserving recipient of this award for excellence.
Megan Price – Student
Megan is definitely a student who has made the most of her opportunities for self-development at MDHS. Megan was a top candidate (recommended by teachers) to be selected for a Quebec exchange in her Grade 10 year. She accepted with enthusiasm as it gave her the chance to practice and develop her French speaking skills, while being immersed in the culture of the Gaspe region of Canada. She actively took part in all activities with a positive attitude, making a clear effort to communicate, using her knowledge of the French language during her 5 day stay with the family she was billeted with. As part of the exchange, when the group from Gaspe returned to Mitchell, she acted as a exemplary host, making a strong effort to ensure the student staying with her felt welcome, while making the most of her experience.
Recently, Megan took part in a two credit Co-op placement at Upper Thames Elementary School. Here she used her experiences from the Quebec exchange and demonstrated her passion for the french language by using her knowledge to help students in the french classroom. Her co-op teacher was extremely impressed with her professionalism and calibre of her assignments which were completed in both english and french. Megan’s supervisors continuously praised her on her maturity and natural teaching skills.
As a classroom student, Megan strives for excellence in all that she does. As an independent learner, she has excelled in AMDEC courses, achieving outstanding achievement as a result of the thoroughness of her assignments. She seeks assistance when needed, accepts feedback from teachers, and acts on the feedback to ensure that she is reaching her potential by making a conscientious effort to succeed beyond expectations. Megan’s strong work ethic and desire for self-improvement has a positive influence on those around her by being a role model for her peers. For these reasons, Megan is a great candidate for Excellence in Education!
Jacquie Mohr – Educational Assistant
If you were to walk into Mitchell District High School in the morning with students, you would find yourself welcomed by a warm smiling face asking how your weekend was and how are you doing today! Jacquie is an Educational Assistant in our building that helps students in and out of the classroom, however, the most impactful role of her day occurs in our front hall each morning. She lives in our community, and is very involved in many aspects, which allows her to immediately be able to talk ringette, hockey, farming, etc. with each and every student that enters the building. Jacquie helps students start their day by feeling that they belong at MDHS.
Further to this, students are welcomed by a well stocked snack table as they enter the building each morning. Students can take what they need to get that morning kick! What students may not realize is that several times a week, before they arrive, Jacquie can be found struggling down the hall with many, many grocery bags full of items for that snack table. Never complaining, never seeking recognition, Jacquie ensures that all students are ready to face the day at MDHS!
Jacquie also serves the students by being a great role model when it comes to civic duty and community service. Jacquie is a fixture at the local Tim Hortons during the Smile Cookie campaign. It is always a pleasure to go through the Drive Thru and see her smiling face as she supports the community by volunteering her time.
Another event that Jacquie helps out with is our OSAID team. Every Thursday during the school year, you will see Jacquie wearing her OSAID sweater to keep the awareness of alcohol and drug abuse alive.
Finally, Jacquie’s contributions in the classroom, in her role as Educational Assistant are second to none. Her unending patience with students is clearly balanced by consistent expectations. Jacquie’s ability to tailor or change her approach when helping different student speaks to her clear understanding, flexibility and dedication to the students she serves. Students respect her and are always willing to accept help from her when offered.
The students and staff recognize Jacquie’s dedication and tireless effort to make each student’s day a little brighter! For these reasons, Jacquie is the ideal candidate for Excellence in Education!
Trish Menheere – Teacher
Empathy, compassion and dedication; if a person was looking for real-world examples of these character traits one would just have to follow Trish around Mitchell District High School. It would be quite easy for an outside person to enter the Mitchell community and see the impact Trish has on the student body and her colleagues. One of the greatest contributions that Trish brings to Mitchell is the unofficial role of our social justice compass.
Trish has been involved with, or has championed, many social justice initiatives at MDHS. Trish was the creative force behind the MDHS Friendship Tree that is proudly displayed in the front hall and welcomes visitors as they walk into the school. The contributions of each of her students are clearly on display as Trish found a creative way to incorporate student voice in the final product. Also, without hesitation, Trish volunteered to be the staff representative for the Gay-Straight Alliance Club at MDHS.
With increasing awareness of the importance of mental health, Trish once again can be found as a leader of PD surrounding Mental Health within our building. One great example of her work with her colleagues was the creation of the Well Being Tree that was placed in our school’s front hall. Students were encouraged to anonymously write down what factors affect their mental health on a paper leaf and then add it to the tree. It was very common to see groups of students gathered around the tree reading what has been written and coming to the important conclusion; “you are not alone”.
Finally, Trish’s dedication is clear as she works tirelessly developing individualized programming for her often split, or triple split, Visual Art classes. The student response to Trish’s dedication is evident as the Art Club always is well attended and is a vibrant and happy space. Students clearly sense the level of empathy Trish has for them as the Art Club often has more discussions about life than it does about art… but perhaps one may argue they are one in the same!
There is no doubt that Patricia Menheere’s presence at MDHS makes our school a better place for students and staff. For that reason, Trish is the ideal candidate for Excellence in Education!
South Huron District High School, Exeter, Ontario
Noah and Liam McGregor – Students
Noah and Liam McGregor quietly demonstrate leadership skills daily at SHDHS. Since Grade 9, they have been a part of the school band, and are always on hand to help other students, set up and take down after concerts. Also, since Grade 9, they have been with the Varsity Curling team. This year and last year, they helped take SHDHS to WOSSAA with Liam as Skip and Noah as Lead. They play competitive league curling every Thursday, and Liam helps with the Little Rockers on Sundays.
“The Twins”, as they are affectionately called, are also active members on the school’s Reach for the Top team. Liam and Noah manage to keep extraordinary grades, earning them spots on the honour roll each year, and they were both nominated for the McCall-McBain scholarship. Within the community, they are now Venturers with Scouts Canada and were volunteers at the Scouts’ Canadian Jamboree in Halifax during the summer of 2017. Wherever their life’s path takes them, Noah and Liam McGregor are sure to make an impact.
Morgan Lewis – Student
Morgan Lewis is graduating from South Huron District High School in June and is being nominated for this award in recognition of the many positive contributions she has made to our school during her time here. Morgan has been an active member of our student council for six years, serving as Co-President in both her Grade 11 and 12 years. In this role, she has done her part to make our school a fun and welcoming place to be. Morgan is recognized as a leader in our building and was a natural choice to represent our students at the Global Leadership Conference last year.
Morgan has always been a proud Panther, playing her heart out on our hockey, field hockey, and slo-pitch teams. When not participating herself, Morgan can often be found supporting and cheering on our other sports teams and encouraging others to do the same. This year, she is also actively involved with the prom committee, working hard with her peers to organize a memorable event for their fellow graduates. If the incredibly successful semi-formal they planned was any indication, the prom will surely not disappoint!
Despite her active participation in extra-curricular activities, both in and outside of school, Morgan has always managed to make her school work a priority and maintain excellent grades. She is a dedicated and conscientious student who works hard, respects her teachers and classmates, and is a pleasure to have in class. She makes learning a priority and always puts forth her best effort. She is an excellent role model for younger students, a valued leader in our school community, and a proud ambassador of South Huron, all of which make her a deserving recipient of this award.
Brenda Kipfer – Educational Assistant
Brenda Kipfer exudes Excellence in Education. In her 18 years with the Board and 7 years at South Huron District High School, she has had many roles. As an Educational Assistant, Brenda has worked with ESL students from Brazil, she has been a job coach, and she has worked with many students with complex needs to support them within a classroom setting. In whatever role she is in, Brenda gives 110% to her work. She has an amazing rapport with staff, but what stands out most, is her dedication to the students she works with. She is patient and has a positive energy about her, and her students are always happy when they are with her. She is very open, welcoming, and friendly to all. She is helpful, willing to lend an ear, and has a great sense of humour. Brenda has had some very difficult personal challenges recently, but even through the hard times, her care and commitment to the students she works with is very evident. When Brenda is not at work, she loves to travel and her pride and joy is her family and her dogs. Brenda is most deserving of an Excellence in Education Award.
Barry Miller – Community Volunteer
Barry Miller is a community leader with a heart of gold. He has selflessly given his time for over 20 years to work with the youth of South Huron DHS and Exeter to teach them the skills needed in curling. He fosters a life-long passion for this sport in our students. Barry coached his own daughters while they were students at SHDHS years ago, and he continued to guide students in understanding and loving this sport. In the past three years alone, he has helped send the boys teams to WOSSA twice and he travels to wherever the Gore Mutual Curling Championships are being held to coach our students. Barry quietly gives his time (while being a business owner, father, and grandfather) and does not wish to receive recognition. However, this is exactly why he deserves the Excellence in Public Education Award. Without Barry, the Panther Varsity Curling Team would not exist. Simply put – he “rocks”!
St. Marys District and Vocational Institute, St. Marys, Ontario
Simon Duncan – Student
Simon Duncan stands as an excellent example of a role model in the school community. Simon has played on numerous school teams since Grade 9 and always exhibits a positive attitude and good sportsmanship. Around the school, Simon is friendly and respectful to staff and his fellow students and leads by example. He exudes a quiet confidence and positive attitude that inspires others. For these reasons Simon is deserving of an Excellence in Education award.
Hazel Taylor – Student
Hazel Taylor is a student who always has a smile on her face. She is polite, cheerful and a light everywhere she goes. She is always willing to participate in school activities and is constantly raising her peers up. I have heard on more than one occasion that “if you can get Hazel on board, you’ll have the whole student body!” She is involved in multiple activities including many sports and excels at everything she puts her mind to. Hazel contributes to the DCVI community with her positive energy and is incredibly deserving of this award.
Les Brunton – Teacher
Mr. Brunton has a passion for sharing his passions with students. He has a variety of interests and talents and openly displays these and is a role model for students. He is first known as an Auto-Shop teacher sharing his work experience with students. He is keeping his teaching current by integrating knowledge of working with electric cars in the classroom.
In his History classroom, he provides students with replica battlefields, clothing, and warning devices that students can see, touch, and hear along with many other props to engage his learners.
Les has contributed beyond the classroom by sharing his talents in playing the bagpipes over the years at commencement, the Terry Fox walk, and the Remembrance Day Assembly. He has been a lead in organizing the Remembrance Day assembly and has contributed to the smooth operation of the Winter Talent Show. At the Talent Show, Mr. Brunton integrated his musical talents with his talent in the shop by building a musical instrument out of car horns and playing it for students at the Show. He also plays intramural sports, and has coached athletic teams, further building relationships with students.
Mr. Brunton’s enthusiasm for teaching and engaging students is clear while upholding standards that people would be expecting their workers to have in the workplace. He demonstrates what it means to be a life-long learner.
Lisa Boyer – Educational Assistant
Lisa has been an Educational Assistant since 2001. Lisa is well organized, hard working and is always going above and beyond expectations to ensure the students are successful. She runs and facilitates our breakfast and school nutrition program. Lisa is always willing to help with not only the student she is assigned but other students who are within the classrooms. Lisa is kind, compassionate and patient with all whom she assists throughout her day. She is the kind of person that her students look up to. Lisa has past elementary students who continue to come and visit her on a regular basis. Lisa is not only dedicated to her school family but to her own family as well. She is a very valued member of our team at St. Marys DCVI. Lisa, thank you for being you!
Stratford Central Secondary School, Stratford, Ontario
Effie Honeywell – Student
Effie is a key part of our SCSS school community and the larger Stratford community. Her diverse talents and friendly approachable manner make her a valued member of a range of clubs and groups (Science club, Envirothon, Music Council, Jazz Band, Vocal Chords, Central Singers, Rams Horns, and Symphonic Band). Effie is always encouraging to others, helping everyone to achieve their best. She willingly takes on a range of roles to help the group reach its goals. Over the years there are a very few students who truly possess natural talents in arts and academics while showing a natural gift to work with people of all ages and experiences. Effie is one of these truly talented individuals.
Gavin Yoemans – Student
Gavin is a super music student and deserves this award because of his participation and leadership in the music program at Stratford Central. He is a member of all the ensembles, plus he is the leader of RamsHorns. He participates in small ensembles run by other students as well. He accompanies the choir and any students who need accompaniment for the coffee houses. He constantly volunteers to help with the organization of every event possible within the music program (and we are a busy program), and he does so with enthusiasm. He does all of this while participating fully in other school activities, plus community groups. Gavin sets a strong example for younger students and is definitely an example of what Excellence in Education is all about.
Danielle Black – Teacher
There are many reasons why Danielle deserves this Excellence in Education award. First, she is committed to creating engaging and authentic lessons for her students. She works tirelessly to improve herself and continuously to refine and modify her teaching practices to suit the needs of her students. This past semester, she spent hours inspiring and supporting the students in her Interdisciplinary course (IDC), who planned and executed a variety of initiatives about which they were passionate. Some of these projects included inspiring fellow students to disconnect from technology for a day, raising awareness about violence against women and inclusion for members of the LGBTQ community. Not only did these students develop academically, many of them tackled and worked on developing their work habits and overcoming obstacles (like procrastination, lack of confidence) that derail them. By the end of the semester, many of the students in her class felt a sense of pride and amazement in what they had accomplished. Danielle was an integral part in helping her students achieve these outcomes.
Next, Danielle is also a very supportive Department Head. She makes the other members of the department feel valued and supported. Since I started teaching at Central 5 years ago, I’ve been constantly impressed by how empowered she makes me feel. Not only does she listen to and value her colleagues’ perspectives, but she always has time to advise and support them. Danielle is more than willing to spend time collaborating with her colleagues; she often uses her prep time and time outside of class to help others in the department. Finally, Danielle also works hard to improve our school climate. From promoting and and developing the French Immersion program in the school and community to giving up lunch hours to supervise Dog Friendly Fridays, to joining committees to improve student engagement & well-being in the school, Danielle embodies excellence and makes a significant impact in the classroom and in our school. She is a true leader who helps facilitate the success of her colleagues. She is truly deserving of an award which celebrates all she does for SCSS.
Naomi Lange – Community Volunteer
For the past 9 years, Naomi Lange has coached our Junior and Senior Badminton teams here at SCSS. Naomi has attended all of our practices, both Junior and Senior, and attended all of the all day tournaments (they are typically an 8-10 hour day) and she coaches each and every player to improve their game. She has the ability to watch several matches at once and when the coaching opportunity arises she can tell the player what he or she did well and what needs to be worked on. All of the players have huge respect for her and know she really knows how to coach badminton. Naomi has also accompanied myself and players to four OFSAA tournaments which are 2-3 nights and long days. She is always there ready and willing to help these players improve their game. I firmly believe our SCSS team is strong because of her coaching and it will be Central’s loss when Naomi stops coaching and she has admitted she is getting tired! This week alone she will attend 2 all day tournaments in Goderich and attend 3 practices–both early morning and after school. Naomi does it for the players for the love of badminton and because she herself is a former Central Ram and she wants to ‘give back’ to her high school. Naomi truly deserves to be recognized for these past 9 years with an ‘Excellence in Education’ Award!
Stratford Northwestern Secondary School, Stratford, Ontario
Rhys Britton – Student
Rhys has been an active member of our high school’s academic, athletic and now student council community. He is high achieving academically, a great team player and a genuinely kind person liked by all. This year he has taken on the role of athletic coordinator for students council and has demonstrated both competency and enthusiasm in the role. For school commitment, and strength of character, Rhys is deserving of an Excellence in Education Award.
Madison Baillie – Student
It is my honour to nominate Northwestern student Madison Baillie for the Excellence in Education award.
Madi has been a important member of Northwestern Student Council since grade 10. In this capacity she has brought a professional and mature attitude to any job she was asked or volunteered to fulfill. Her leadership skills were identified early as she took on more responsibilities within Council by becoming social convenor in grade 11, co-president in grade 12, and then was nominated to be our school’s student senator this year.
In her myriad of roles, Madison recognizes the importance of serving her student body. She is an excellent listener and values student input. Madi is driven to create the very best opportunities for her fellow students. Whether it be organizing school dances, Christmas Toy and food drives with her Challenge and Change class, or booking monthly yoga classes as part of our mental health initiative, Madi welcomes new challenges.
Outside of school, she makes a difference in her community of Milverton by volunteering in Girl Guides, bible camps, Earth Day cleanups, donating blood, and cancer fundraising initiatives.
Interesting enough, you would assume with this kind of volunteering initiative, that Madi would pursue similar interests in university, but this is not so!
She plans on attending University next fall and majoring in Criminology. Madi has a strong passion for the human mind and hopes to achieve an expert understanding of the behaviours of individuals and the working of the brain. Her short term goal is to co-op with the RCMP and then gain employment with a police unit as an expert in the field of psychology and criminology.
Madison Baillie has made a difference at Stratford Northwestern Secondary School. We wish her the very best in all her endeavours and am confident she will not only be successful but will provide a leadership role in whatever she chooses!
Janie McDermott – Teacher
Janie is a classroom teacher at Stratford Northwestern and has taught French as a Second Language, English, Art, and Social Sciences. She is an excellent example of a teacher who continually goes above and beyond for all her students, making her the perfect recipient of this award.
Over the last few years, Janie has travelled between two schools, taught out of many different classrooms, worked in multiple departments, teaching a wide range of courses. This lack of consistency is not easy, but it hasn’t stopped Janie from caring deeply about all her students and consistently creating an environment for her students that encourages them to take risks and to feel like they are all valued members of the classroom community.
Janie has never shied away from a challenge. In our work with Janie, meeting the needs of complex learners in her classes has never been seen as a burden or something that she doesn’t feel is part of her job. That doesn’t mean meeting the needs to such a diverse and sometimes complex group of students is easy, but Janie has always support and viewed it as a partnership where she takes ownership for her students and wants to do the very best for all of them.
Janie works hard to create meaningful and differentiated learning opportunities for all her students, and is often worried that she’s not doing enough. In an Art class last year, Janie was presented with the challenge of meeting the needs of a young woman who does not have use of her hands, and is unable to communicate without the use of eye gaze technology. Janie ensured this student was an important member of the class community, and also created projects for her that were thoughtful and meaningful.
Her exemplary classroom management creates a culture where all kids feel safe and welcome, regardless of their abilities or challenges. She models this acceptance of diversity on a daily basis. Because of her genuine caring and support of all kids, the rest of the students in her class can’t help but become better human beings, understanding that everyone has something to offer and the right to feel welcome. Janie takes the time to check in with all her students, and is acutely aware of everyone’s strengths and needs so that she can always meet them where they’re at. She takes the time to get to know her students as learners and also as people, and this allows her to develop meaningful relationships with them as well as push them to achieve to their full potential.
Alicia DeBackere – Teacher
Alicia is an extremely dedicated Mathematics teacher. She works very hard to create lessons that will engage her students and challenges them to be at their very best every day.
Alicia is incredibly giving of her time. She can be found in her classroom everyday at lunch supervising the Math Help Room which offers students a quiet place over the lunch hour to seek out help with a difficult mathematical concept. She also stays after school to help her students complete homework questions or prepare for an upcoming unit test.
She organizes the University of Waterloo Mathematics competitions and encourages students in Grades 9 to 12 to participate in these challenging tests. In preparation for these competitions, Alicia always provides students with relevant practice materials.
Alicia has also created the “Mathlete of the Week” award. This award recognizes one student in a math class each week on the morning announcements for their success in the math classroom.
Additionally, Alicia is involved with the Gay/Straight Alliance within the school.
On top of all of these commitments, Alicia, as the head of the Mathematics department, also provides excellent guidance and advice to other teachers within the department. Her door is always open for teacher to bounce ideas off of her or to ask her advice on how to approach teaching a challenging topic. Her knowledge of the subject material and her experiences within a variety of classroom environments allows her to share a wealth of knowledge with her peers to help make the task of teaching mathematics easier for those in her department.