District 8 – Recently OSSTF and the Avon Maitland District School Board hosted the 18th annual celebration of the 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!
Huron Manufacturing Association
The Huron Manufacturing Association (HMA) has demonstrated leadership as a community partner. The HMA is committed to working with the Avon Maitland District School Board (AMDSB) and students to provide exceptional educational opportunities. The HMA organizes industry bus tours for our students at no cost, they have awarded five $1000.00 scholarships to students pursuing the trades for the last eight years. HMA members regularly participate as guest speakers and presenters, as well as providing co-op placements for our students. The HMA works with other organizations to organize career fairs and trade fairs. They have been a valuable resource for the AMDSB providing letters of support to schools pursuing Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) programs, and its members donate endless amounts of materials, such as metal cut-offs, for the Manufacturing classes.
The HMA has selected the Manufacturing class of South Huron District High School to design and create the awards for their annual awards banquet for many years. They acknowledge Technical educators by awarding a “Tech Teacher of The Year” award each year, and last year recognized the AMDSB and Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board (HPCDSB) with “Associate Member of The Year” awards. The HMA has held meetings in our schools, and last year held its Annual General Meeting at Central Huron Secondary School with tours of the Tech Shops and the Directors of Education from both AMDSB and HPCDSB were the guest speakers. This education/industry relationship is a valued relationship and a model for other industries.
Michael Ash – Superintendent of Education
Mike’s 30 year career in education began in 1985 at Seaforth District HS where he taught Math and Sciences and coached volleyball, basketball and track. In 1987 he transferred to Goderich District CI where he later became the Head of Science. Mike also served roles on the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation District Council and Executive. From 1994 to 1999 Mike was a vice principal with responsibilities at Goderich District CI, Bluewater SS, FE Madill SS and the Education Centre. He also began chairing the boards’ Science Fair committee.
Mike led the Board’s first sojourn into online learning beginning in 1999, setting the stage for the AMDSB to become a provincial leader in secondary school e-learning programs. In 1999 Mike was appointed principal at Central Huron SS where he served until 2003 when he was appointed principal at Goderich DCI. In 2004 Mike was appointed principal of the AMDEC and subsequently he was appointed System Principal of Information Services/ Information Technology in 2006. In his various principals roles Mike sought ways to increase the opportunities for students to find success in their school experiences. He was also the board lead in developing awareness and programming related to bullying at school.
In 2008 Mike was appointed Superintendent of Education with the AMDSB. His portfolio has included Information Services, School Accommodations, Safe Schools, Adult and Continuing Education, Alternative Education and Student Success. Under Mike’s leadership the board has benefited from growth in the use of computer technology as a tool for education, expanded and closer ties to community agencies so that schools can better support student and family needs and the expansion of programs to serve the students who are most at risk for not completing their secondary school education. Mike has said “there is no greater sense of joy, no stronger sense of accomplishment, than when you have helped a child to learn a new idea or skill. Guiding students as they create their future is one of the most important things that we adults can do.”
Jennifer Costello – Community Living, St. Marys
This association is a charitable non-profit organization which provides services to people with disabilities and who reside within a 20 – 25 mile radius of St. Marys, Ontario, including portions of Perth, Middlesex and Oxford Counties. The Mission of Community Living St. Marys and Area is to nurture the ability and willingness of, and to welcome and support all people as valued and contributing partners. The work of this organization is founded on some core beliefs, including the following:
a range of relationships are valuable and important to everyone,
the right to self-determination, and
that being involved in the community leads to full citizenship through the of creation inclusive supports.
People who use CLSM services and/or their families are part of the hiring process and choose their workers. Each person who uses these services has a team of workers around them who all work together with the person and others in their lives to provide individualized supports. This association does not offer ‘day programs’ or other congregated services; rather, each person decides what they wish to do on a daily basis. CLSM provide the services that are needed to make that happen.
Katie Fox – Foundations Huron
Foundations Huron is a leading edge service that provides opportunities for young adults to forge a successful transition from high school to life within their community. Foundations Huron is a partnering project sponsored by Community Living-South Huron, Community Living-Central Huron, Community Living Wingham & District and Anago Resources Inc. Foundations Huron is run by energetic and amazing people like Katie Fox. Katie has been the Coordinator of Foundations Huron since 2009. She helps individuals and their families transition from high school to adult life and to build connections in their community. The Foundations Huron program provides planning, encouragement, and support to develop choices about future life decisions.
Foundations Huron works on the premise of community collaboration and partnership; “Person-Directed Planning and goal setting; Development of a personalized “Exit Plan”; Implementation of time-limited goal-oriented supports. Adults with a developmental disability who are experiencing transition and/or exiting secondary school system can participate in the Foundations Huron program.
Participants in Foundations Huron enjoy various benefits from the program including: setting and achieving personal goals, learning new skills, increasing employment, volunteer and social opportunities, becoming an involved member of the community, strengthening ties, meeting new friends, having input and support from your family, and choosing your future.
Foundations Huron reflects the goals of Avon Maitland District School Board in the sense that it too, inspires and supports collaboration and partnerships to build inclusive communities.
Laurie Long—Junior/Intermediate Program Coordinator
An outstanding educator in her own right, Laurie has also been an exemplary facilitator of learning for others in AMDSB. She began her career in 2000, teaching predominantly in the Junior grades, until she came to work in a central role in the year 2006. Since then she has supported a variety of initiatives and portfolios in both the elementary and secondary panels. From French, to literacy, to music and the Arts, Laurie has willingly and capably supported educators from across the District for the past ten years. She has an incredible ability to connect with stakeholders at every level of the organization. Maybe this is due to her infectious laugh!
Her most recent work with the Curriculum Assessment Policy Branch initiatives and in the New Pedagogies for Deep Learning projects have extended her learning reach beyond our DSB to provincial and global forums. In addition to the core of her work, she has been involved in countless side projects, as an assessment and evaluation consultant for e-Learning Ontario, and EQAO and OSSLT Assessment Development Committee Member, to membership on the PPM 155 Provincial Advisory Committee Member, and the FSL Regional Steering Committee, Laurie’s infectious love of learning has impacted so very many in AMDSB and beyond.
Laurie has accepted a secondment to the Ministry of Education as Student Achievement Officer this fall, and while she will be missed in our District, we are tremendously proud of her achievement, and of her contribution to our professional growth in AMDSB. Through her work, the learning outcomes of countless students have been positively impacted. We thank you for this and wish you all the best. You will be missed.
Trevor McGregor – Community Living
Community Living in Perth and Huron are very important partners with the Avon Maitland District School Board and support our the work of the inclusion of our students with developmental disabilities as we share the same vision of these young adults leading connected and contributing lives once they graduate.
Community Living Perth has partnered with the Avon Maitland District School Board in secondary schools to support our students with social inclusion throughout the summer months by having a paid student position in the school May and June. This person works with staff and students to learn more about the student and their social networks to ensure these stay in place over the summer months. Director, Trevor McGregor, also sits on SEAC helping us guide our work on inclusive education.
Trevor McGregor (Community Living South Huron) supports our work related to the Classroom to Work program with Partners in Employment, finding opportunities for students to gain employment skills and employment in their communities.
Denise Lovell – Technical Resource Assistant
Denise has been an employee with the Board since the early 2000’s and started as a secretary at Juliet Public School in Stratford. She then moved to doing TRA work and spent a number of years at Northwestern until she came to Shakespeare Public School about 6 years ago and is halftime at Shakespeare and the other half is at Romeo Public School. Denise is a dedicated and hardworking staff member and if she is not running the library or computer lab, she is troubleshooting for the large number of iPads in the school. At other times you will find her pitching in, answering the phone in the office, assisting students in the office or even helping the students in the kindergarten classrooms get ready for outside recesses. She also helps at Gr. 6 Graduations and has been on the social committee at Shakespeare. Outside of work Denise is very busy with her two boys. Denise is most deserving of this award.
Lisa Phillips – Educational Assistant
Lisa is an educational assistant at Little Falls in St. Marys. She has worked with the same student, who has significant challenges, for the last 3 years. Adjusting to a new classroom has taken months for this student and there have been many more challenges with abrupt changes in her medication and breaks in the school year. Lisa never loses her patience. She is willing to sacrifice her breaks and lunch when things are not going smoothly and she is always loving, kind, and respectful. Sometimes she has scratches and bruises but never complains. She is willing to help whenever she can with others and throughout the classroom. Every teacher and student deserves a Lisa in their classroom who is positive, nurturing, encouraging, trustworthy, and most of all loving to all in her care.
Lisa Laycox – Educational Assistant
Lisa Laycox has been an Educational Assistant for approximately the past 15 years at Huron Centennial PS. From a colleague and parental perspective Lisa is professional, dedicated, kind and brings a great deal of empathy to the role she plays at HCS. She is the person who supports many of the neediest students who benefit from her kind smile, witty sense of humour and ability to refocus their energy into learning. Students who have worked with Lisa routinely ask when they will be able to work with her again. Not only do the students enjoy working with her but staff regard Lisa as a skilled colleague whose presence in their classrooms is welcomed, and highly regarded. Lisa spends whatever time it takes to ensure that her students find success in their academic lives.
Lisa works collaboratively with the classroom teacher, administration, parents and the special education teacher to provide a variety of programs and services (social skills, learning skills and academic remediation) to her students. In addition, Lisa offers before school tutoring , has participated in School Council and has mentored new support staff, new EA’s, and CYW students to name a few. She remains current herself, eagerly participating in BMS, Google apps, iPad, and assistive devices technology training. She keenly learns alongside her colleagues from the student support team. Even though Lisa is very busy within the school, Lisa offers a kind welcome each day as she does bus duty that does not go unnoticed. Even our bus drivers look for her in the morning for a big wave and smile. It is her kind, positive, professional, and knowledgeable approach to her work that is delivered with a sense of humour that makes her a leader and valued member of staff at Huron Centennial.
Jason Ainsley—Information Technology Hardware Technician
Jason is an inspiration in his service to his profession and dedication to the Avon Maitland District School Board.
From the start of his career with the Avon Maitland District School Board, Jason has made a tremendous impact within the Education Centre and in his tech region. His professionalism, his kindness and his drive for excellence is evident to the people around him and in the work he produces. Jason’s unassuming presence means he is the guy who diligently works behind the scenes, to ensure everyone else looks good in their work. Jason’s desire to learn new technologies and help others make him most fitting of this award. Many students and staff probably wouldn’t know that Jason is one of three technicians responsible for the warranty repair on 10,000+ iPads. He is very good at his job and goes beyond the call of duty to ensure that these iPads are repaired and back into the hands of our students and staff as quick as is possible. Jason is a great team player and has served as an extraordinary role model to the junior technicians within the IT department.
Congratulations Jason, you are most deserving of this award.
Joy Bowman– Designated Early Childhood Educator
Joy Bowman is so deserving of this award for excellence in education. She has been working tirelessly in the Kindergarten classroom at Goderich Public School for the past 6 years, promoting inquiry based learning by providing many materials and ideas for the curriculum based activities. She came to the school with a lot of experience and knowledge from working as a Designated Early Childhood Educator at the Goderich Day Care Centre for many years and she was part of the pilot project at GPS, working in the classroom the year before the full day program began. She is a great team player, always helping out her co-teachers with anything they need and she takes a leadership role when it comes to decisions that affect the kindergarten program. Joy has done after school tutoring sessions and is also a counsellor for the ECEs on the Educational Support Staff counsel.
The best thing about Joy is her bubbly personality and her ever-smiling face that really draws the children to her and makes learning fun and enjoyable for them.
She is a caring, creative individual who gives her all each day she comes to school and GPS is a better place because she is there !!!
Graham Falconer – Student
Over the last couple of years, Graham Falconer has become the face and voice of the CHSS student body. Graham is a highly effective leader with vision, who motivates others because he works hard right along side them. He is not afraid to try something new and puts a great deal of effort into raising school spirit at CHSS. He works tirelessly to improve school life for all.
Graham is the kind of student who just has a way of including all students. It doesn’t matter whether he is in class, at a school dance, in a rehearsal, or at work, Graham is approachable, and always has the time for any student or staff member.
Over his years at CHSS, Graham has been an integral member of the concert band, jazz band and wind ensemble. He has become an accomplished musician and a strong section leader, always willing to mentor younger students and to take on added responsibility.
Graham is most deserving of an Excellence in Education Award.
Sean Mitchell – Student
Sean Mitchell is most deserving of an Excellence in Education Award. He is the kind of student all teacher’s want in their class: a highly motivated, conscientious, critical and divergent thinker. He has been an honours student throughout his years at CHSS. Sean exemplifies so many of the Board’s character attributes.
A competitive athlete, Sean is able to juggle the responsibility of numerous teams while maintaining his studies. Over his time at CHSS, Sean has been an integral member of the cross country team, Nordic ski team, and curling teams.
Sean has demonstrated his strong leadership skills both at CHSS and within his community. He has been a part of Student Council as grade representative, and Student Senator. His community involvement includes the Blyth Festival Orchestra, President of the Brussels Leo Club, and youth ambassador for the local riding association to raise awareness of politics as well as volunteering for other organizations in the Brussels area.
Over his four years at CHSS, Sean has been an role model for other students. He is a meticulous musician who works hard to play his parts well. Sean is also a competent section leader, helping the other players develop their abilities and ensemble skills. He leads by example, never asking someone to do something he wouldn’t do himself.
Mike Watterworth – Student
Mike is an energetic and motivated young man and is deserving of an Excellence in Education Award. He is a natural leader who is enthusiastic and positive about everything he does. Mike has been a member of the Student Council at CHSS for the last 4 years. He is a doer, who is always there to help make events run smoothly by completing whatever task may be needed. Mike is able to motivate others to go outside their comfort zone and try new things.
He is a disciplined athlete and musician. Over his high school career, Mike has been an integral member of CHSS’s cross country team, track and field team, basketball and volleyball teams. Mike has spent the last four years sharing his passion for music with the concert band, jazz band and wind ensemble. He is dedicated to the team, not just for games and performances, but also for practise. Mike isn’t satisfied with being mediocre, he wants to be the best and he works hard to constantly improve his own skills. He is also very quick to offer up his time to help mentor younger students in any capacity he can.
Mike is a strong student who has a passion for learning and is a creative and divergent thinker. Mike’s perspective as a student is thoughtful and refreshing, as he consistently makes connections between his learning and the real world. He has been an honour roll student for the last three years and is looking forward to his post-secondary studies.
Mike is such a positive role model for other students at CHSS and he is going to be missed next year.
Terry Zachar – Teacher
Terry is one of the most enthusiastic teachers at CHSS. Everyday he has a huge smile and “hello” for all staff and students, and his first period class is always “the best class he has had today.” Terry is a great supporter of both the CHSS and Clinton communities. To provide his construction students with real-world practical experiences, Terry is happy to accept building projects from the local community. He has supervised and coordinated everything from bookshelves for community agencies, picnic tables for local parks, gazebo’s for someone’s backyard or cottage to our large CHSS equipment storage shed beside the soccer field. Terry also takes part in the annual staff student hockey and soccer games to help with the school’s fundraising efforts for local charities.
This past fall Terry was instrumental in landscaping the courtyard in the school. With guidance from Cobble Design Landscape Services in Zurich, Terry and his students trimmed trees and climbing vines, replaced landscape bricks, shovelled topsoil, planted shrubs and ornamental grasses, spread bark chips, and planted grass seed. This spring CHSS students will have a wonderful new space to enjoy.
In the coming months Terry and his students will be building benches for the 2017 International Plowing Match and Rural Expo when it comes to Walton. Terry created the design and materials list, and will give his students the opportunity to construct the benches for thousands to enjoy in the fall of 2017.
At CHSS we are fortunate to have him as part of our staff.
Edison Peel – Student
Edison Peel is an exceptional student at F.E. Madill in many ways. He loves math class especially. He likes numbers, rearranging equations, manipulating complex functions – even math homework is a pleasure for Edison. Physics class allowed him to use that math to look at the real world applications of motion, mechanics, forces and vectors. Manufacturing class gives him a hands-on approach to designing real projects in a shop setting. Altogether, these experiences led Edison to the conclusion that a university program in mechanical engineering is the best option for him.
Edison has also been very involved in athletics, playing volleyball, basketball and soccer. He has appreciated being part of a cohesive group working towards a common goal, and being able to practice leadership skills. Being on Student Council, too, helped him learn how to work with people, and understand that everyone has something to contribute. Edison is certainly a hard-working, responsible, friendly, and reliable students whose future looks very bright!
Nicole Sanburn – Student
Nicole Sanburn is a grade 12 student at FE Madill. Nicole is very responsible young lady. She was instrumental in getting the inclusion group going at Madill. She did this while being a member of the swim team and Mustangs Making a Difference. She helped with the Diversi-tree, was the organizer of the Simple Random Acts of Kindness for teachers and students, and she helped with the application for the Community Living grant. Nicole is also a member of the senior girls’ soccer team. Nicole is definitely a positive role model for other students. She is a hard worker, and takes her role as a student very seriously. She is kind, caring, compassionate and wants everyone to feel welcome at Madill.
For the past 27 years at F.E. Madill, Mr. Armstrong has been a living model of how students and colleagues should approach each day. He is a positive, honest, hard working and selfless individual who puts the needs of others before his own. He inspires creativity and passion in those around him. He has been a leader in teaching students with special needs in our school long before inclusion was even a term. He uses gentleness and humour to guide and sees what could be rather than what is. He sees the strengths hidden in his students and then fosters an accepting relationship with them so they feel safe enough to try.
He models this calm, positive, inclusive manner with the entire class so students begin to cultivate each other’s strengths. He is quick to evaluate each student’s strengths and needs and plans activities that work for them. Bruce persists with the students and sees behaviour as separate from the individual; he forgives the slights of students and strives to move them forward despite the challenges.
Jack De Ferrari – Student
In Jack’s time at GDCI, he was worked tirelessly to advance the arts in this school and in his community. Dedicating his spare periods to volunteering in the art and drama rooms, he has built set designs, advertisements for the local hospital auxiliary, hosted his own display of work at a local gallery, and completed any task asked of him in a timely manner. His digital work has been awarded at the annual student show in Blyth and he was most recently chosen as an art ambassador at the Choosin’ Inclusion Symposium in Stratford. During the summer, Jack has endeavoured to diversify his skill set by attending Emily Carr Art College in Vancouver and working as a camp arts and crafts instructor, sharing his ability with younger students. He has won the Jack McLaren Art Award and bursary two times in as many years here at GDCI. This praise of Jack is only a snapshot of the hard work, perseverance, and creativity that he has brought to our school. When he moves on to Sheridan College next year, he leaves this school artistically and academically stronger than it was before his arrival. His efforts will be tough to match in the years to come.
Ally Connely – Student
Ally is a graduating grade 12 student who exemplifies what the board strives for in its students. She is articulate, well-versed, always prepared, and involved. She is a well rounded individual who demonstrates perseverance, responsibility, respect and empathy towards others. Ally’s academic contribution to her classes do not go unnoticed, where she is an engaged and eager participant in all class activities. She sets high academic standards for herself and does what needs to be done to meet those goals. While soft spoken, she is a leader amongst her peers. She is always eager to help, and always jumps into class and school activities with both feet. She is involved in our school’s drama productions, drama club, and has been a member each year of her high school career in our successful Sears Drama productions as an on-stage actress. Ally is also a member of GDCI’s Social Justice League and takes classical voice lessons outside of school.
Louise Groeling – Custodian
Louise started working for the school board as a custodian in 1992 at the former Victoria Public School in Goderich. It was here that she first learned that the job involved a lot more than cleaning. She felt she was a part of something greater, becoming a member of a team and of a family of co-workers and students.
In 1994 she was moved to CHSS where her daughter Jenn attended. Jenn and her friends wanted to start a Cheerleading squad, but didn’t have a coach- so Jenn “volunteered” Louise for the job. It turned out to be an amazing experience for her and the students.
Louise has gotten involved with students in many other ways over the years. She has been found cooking burgers at walk-a-thons, helping with a haunted house and umpiring student vs staff ball games. In 2004 Louise started working at GDCI. Here, she continues a practice she started early on in her career- one that probably goes unnoticed by everyone except the students. Louise believes a kind word and a smile can make a huge impact on the lives of our most vulnerable students. She makes a point of finding out the names of these students and interacting with them in small but meaningful way—calling them by name, smiling and wishing them a good weekend.
No matter which school Louise is working at, she is always there to help out in anyway she can, as she knows that in the end, it’s all about the students.
Connor Cox – Student
Connor often flies under the radar and does not take much credit for his many positive contributions to the school. He is a very deserving student as he demonstrates excellence in academics and sports and contributes positively to the school climate. He consistently has well above average marks and in any given year plays on 5 sports teams. Connor’s dedication and leadership earned him the role of captain of the senior basketball team. Last year Connor and his family spent a year in Australia where Connor continued to excel in a new culture, winning two academic awards at his new school. Now back at GDCI, Connor volunteers his time helping younger science students during his spare.
Outside of school, Connor is also a talented musician, playing piano and guitar. He volunteers with the Goderich Thunder Program, teaching young basketball players the game he loves. On top of this Connor holds a part time job as well is as being an excellent role model to his younger sisters. Connor plans to enrol in a computer programming or engineering program at university.
Connor’s self motivation, hard work and intrinsic desire to achieve excellence has led to his many successes and makes him a deserving recipient of this award.
Donovan Gerber – Student
Donovan is undoubtedly the best dressed male at LDSS! Add that to his bright smile and outgoing personality and you have a guy that is going places. Donovan got involved in school activities from the very beginning of grade nine. He went from grade rep on Student Council, volunteering to print posters advertising events to co-President in grade 11 and co-senator in his final year. His organization and support for all events has been appreciated over the years by the staff advisor and fellow students.
Donovan is actively involved in the choir which has taken him to places beyond Canada. He has been known to hit the stage in Chicago on a school trip as well. Donovan took on a key role in planning and implementing Not So Scroogey Christmas which was appreciated by the teacher facilitator and youth in the area. The event provides at risk kids with presents, engaging activities, and a healthy lunch. It is enjoyed by LDSS students as much as it is by the youth.
Donovan is an enthusiastic member of every class. He contributes meaningfully to discussions, is thoughtful and mature and has a deep understanding of what he has learned. His involvement at school is balanced with work, a healthy social life and setting goals for the future. His caring, respectful and contentious personality will take him far. He is pursuing an interest in the banking industry.
Megan Herrewynen – Student
When you think of Megan, you think of many things but her support for inclusion is number one. Megan is an active promoter of equality for all. She listens to and chats with peers regardless of ability, eye colour, or height. She encourages everyone to have a voice by conversing quietly with them, videotaping and asking them to share what they think and giving everyone an opportunity to put their words as handprints on the wall. She has produced videos that have been used during assemblies and workshops, has a great deal of artistic ability and has used it to create murals that are displayed in our school and attends workshops and conferences to learn more which allows her to make a difference in everyone’s life.
If you need someone to help, ask Megan, you know the answer will be yes. As co-President of Student Council and member of iMatter, her careful planning of events leads to success. She acts on her ideas. For Megan, ideas don’t remain as just ideas.
Her enthusiasm for the outdoors has taken her on dog sledding trips and hiking or camping with the Out and Abouters group. Megan is involved in many activities that are important to her while maintaining a high academic standing. She has maintained a high academic standing throughout high school while balancing a part-time job and many extracurricular activities. She is conscientious and dedicated to the study of humanities courses and intends to pursue this interest at Queens University next year.
Megan Herrewynen exemplifies what Excellence in Education stands for.
Jennifer Hugill – Teacher
Ms. Hugill is an exceptional teacher, giving vast amounts of her time and energy to assisting students in and outside of the classroom. She is always available to assist and gives many of her lunch hours to students. Jennifer creates lessons and a classroom environment that meets the needs of all types of learners, and works very hard to reach those students who just don’t “get” math, and she conquers all tough teaching assignments. “I give up” has never been in her vocabulary and she is willing to try anything! Her colleagues continue to be amazed with her fresh outlook and determined attitude and there is also a huge heart of kindness and caring to students and staff alike that has encouraged us all to keep going and not give up. Ms. Hugill is greatly appreciated. She often coaches curling and soccer, and has done more than her fair share of field trips and math contests. Her most significant contributions though are to her students in her Math classroom, and it is here that she is of immeasurable value to our school.
Congratulations Ms. Hugill!
Laurie Chapman is the Department Head of Social Sciences at LDSS. She is an enthusiastic teacher and a strong supporter of her subject area. Laurie was instrumental in applying for LDSS to be granted the Specialist High Skills Major program in Health and Wellness at LDSS. In May 2015, she organized a very successful one-day “Health and Wellness” day involving many members of the North Perth community, students and staff, to “kick off” the SHSM announcement.
Laurie is personally very interested in the relationship between nutrition and health and when teaching food and nutrition classes she assists her students in producing advanced dishes as well as researching, costing, and preparing plated weekly meals for staff.
She enjoys acting as an occasional “Teacher in Charge” and has also organized and chaperoned field trips to Chicago, and Europe. She’s also done a dogsledding trip in Northern Ontario.
Laurie has been the staff-lead for LDSS Student Council for many years. She spends countless hours helping the group of student leaders plan and organize events such as dances, Grade 9 day, assemblies and guest speakers, both for the school and community.
Outside of LDSS, Laurie continues her professional involvement by teaching the Family Studies additional qualification course through Queens University to other teachers in Ontario, and indeed from around the world. Laurie has also been involved with writing Social Science curriculum and is currently co-writer of a text book for the new Living and Working with Children course. Laurie Chapman is an excellent candidate for the Excellence in Education Award. Congratulations!
Laura Fischer – Student
Laura is a positive role model for many in her determination to grow academically and personally. In addition to her demanding academic schedule, she is very involved in the Blue Buds as a mentor. She works quietly to build moral and spirit within our school community. Laura has been involved in basketball, swim team, yearbook and Athletic and Spirit society. She is an avid gymnast and has worked at the Mitchell Gymnastics Club for six years and has studied piano for eight years. She works very hard to achieve good grades and never tries to be someone that she is not. Learning to manage Type One Diabetes and frequently being in the hospital for regular checkups has influenced Laura to help others as she herself has been helped. Laura’s key goals are to be successful in her career including the time to enjoy the great things in life like her family and friends.
Mikyla Walker – Student
Mikyla is a most valuable member of our MDHS family. She has excellent communication skills and the ability to work well with individuals from a variety of backgrounds. She is very involved in the Blue Buds as a mentor and as a leader for our popular Grade Nine Getaway Day. Mikyla is very involved with volleyball, the music programme and is a keen and dedicated drama student. She naturally reaches out to fellow students, regardless of whether they are in grade seven or grade twelve, to support them and make them feel comfortable. In her church community, Mikyla continues to be her sunny, bright, outgoing, accepting self. She volunteers where ever needed and never hesitates in reaching out to others. Mikyla is a dedicated student and manages to juggle her extra-curricular experiences with her studies and always honours her dedication to others. Mikyla is excited about the future and looks forward to continuing her mission experiences and to living in service to God.
Amanda Finkelstein – Teacher
Amanda has been the foods teacher at MDHS for 10 years. She runs the foods Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) program at MDHS. Amanda has been providing delicious, affordable and nutritious food to staff and students in the Twisted Carrot Café all these years. Culinary students, under her strong leadership and management, efficiently prepare and serve food in her classes and the Café. Her focus on skill development in the caring environment of her classroom provides students with life long culinary skills and a life long love of food and cooking. Amanda always goes above and beyond, providing food for meetings, Athletic banquets, Grade 8 Nights, principals meetings and many many other functions. Amanda is a great asset to MDHS.
RuthAnne Osgood—Technical Resource Assistant
MDHS has become a better place with the addition of RuthAnne Osgood on its staff 4 years ago. RuthAnne is an integral part of the success of transitioning our grade 7 and 8 students from the local elementary school to MDHS. Everyone feels part of one school community and RuthAnne is one reason for that unity. She works tirelessly in our library as the school’s TRA. She is easy to work with and offers support to anyone who comes down to the library. Her knowledge in all things tech is second to none and if she doesn’t know the answer herself she knows where to turn to get an answer for you.
RuthAnne spends countless hours managing our iPad carts, preparing them for EQAO testing, and resetting them back for use after EQAO, all the while ensuring that student work on the iPads doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. She helps students get things up and running if their iPads fail or they can’t log into their GAFE accounts. She is always trying out new apps on the iPad or learning ways to better share her knowledge with others. Her organizational skills are immense as she keeps track of all of our app codes in the school. RuthAnne also helps organize the Red Maple and White Pine reading programs which offers students at our school the chance to read and vote on the best work of Canada’s authors. The list could go on and on, but in all that she does RuthAnne engages, inspires, and innovates.
Jared DenOtter — Student
Jared has been on Student Council all four years of high school and is the President this year. He has been a valuable member of basketball, cross country, badminton and soccer teams at South Huron. He has been on Athletic Council for two years and Habitat for Humanity for three years. He is a member of the new mental health group – Active Minds – and is the type of student that others feel they can approach and voice their opinions to. Jared was the winner of the Stacey Case award – an award voted on by his classmates for the student who is well-liked, nice to everyone, and optimistic. He was chosen to attend the Rotary Club’s Adventure in Citizenship Program in Ottawa in 2014.
While being involved in all these activities at school, Jared has also maintained great grades and works a part-time job. Jared is a very deserving candidate for the Excellence in Education Award – he has made South Huron DHS a better place to be, simply by being himself and doing what he loves! He is the son of proud parents, Lisa Ulch of Kirkton and Jeff DenOtter of Hensall.
Amber Taylor— Student
Amber is a student at South Huron who demonstrates strong efforts and determination everyday toward goals that she sets for herself, that go well beyond the expectations placed on her by outside influences. Amber’s professional and immensely positive attitude, as well as her responsible, respectful and inquisitive demeanor make her an obvious candidate for this award. Amber is heavily involved in the school culture here at SHDHS by maintaining high academic standards, and being a very active member of our music and athletic programs. She has served on the SHDHS Music Council Executive for two years, where she has served as Vice President (2014-15) and President (2015-16). Since grade nine, Amber has been a member of the Intermediate and Senior concert bands, jazz band, and our school basketball team. Amber’s love of learning and willingness to get involved are what make her most deserving of this award. Amber’s proud parents are Robert and Christina Taylor of Hensall.
Mykayla Turner — Student
Mykayla is a student who exemplifies the phrase “Excellence in Education”. In everything Mykayla does to contribute to the culture here at South Huron District High School, she approaches it with everything she has to give. In her academic pursuits, Mykayla’s standards and expectations that she has placed on herself extend well past those placed on her by her teachers and peers. She works hard to understand the material on a deep level, noting the intricacies and depth of knowledge that usually extend miles beyond the curriculum in a course. As a result, her academic results are very, very high.
If those demands were not enough, Mykayla has proven herself to be one of our most involved students at the school outside of the classroom walls. Her willingness to take on extra responsibilities such as Fundraising Coordinator on our school’s music council (2 years), her membership in a large number of extra-curricular musical groups, and tutoring and mentoring younger students as well as being a member of the cross country team are just a fraction of the work Mykayla participates in school-wide. Through every day effort and determination, attention to detail, and pure hard work, Mykayla Turner provides our school with a standard of Excellence in Education that is truly admirable. She is the daughter of proud parents, Joel and Lynda Turner of Dashwood.
Kristy Bray has been a long term occasional and supply teacher at South Huron District High School for the last 8 years, and has been an active contributor, both personally and professionally, to our school community. As a former graduate of South Huron, she was actively involved in school life in those years, and has maintained that tradition in her role as an educator. In the last 8 years, Kristy has been a chaperone and co-chair for the 30 Hour Famine, a member of the organizing team for the Relay for Life, a coach for the Reach for the Top team, a faculty advisor for the Gay-Straight Alliance, a teacher-leader of the former Debate and Games Clubs, and a Commencement volunteer. As well, she has been a committed educator in the Math and Student Success departments where she has tutored hundreds of students over the years.
Kristy is an outstanding teacher who shows her commitment to our students and staff each year that she is with us. The students greatly appreciate her well-organized classes and her total commitment to their learning and their needs. SHDHS is thankful for her willingness to help throughout the school, and her positive attitude inside and outside of the classroom.
Nicole Boonstra – Student
Nicole is currently a grade 12 student at DCVI who works extremely hard to maintain the motto of our school – small school big heart! Nicole can often be found preparing and organizing for PWWP activities. As a long standing PWWP executive leader, she understands that time and effort are needed to make success occur. She is very diligent in her approach to making these fun and informative for the grade 9 student body. Her positive and upbeat mannerisms are infectious when she meets with students – either PWWP or the students that she tutors freely. Nicole has tutored students in numerous subjects from physics to math. Recently she was the underlying reason for the success of one student in SPH 3U! She has already graciously offered her services as a tutor for this semester.
Nicole demonstrates the effort needed to be successful – she is and has been an honour student each semester. She exemplifies this to those who are around her. Nicole also engages and encourages others to engage in school sports. As a member of the field hockey team, the cross country ski team or the soccer team, Nicole’s team mates know that they can count on her to perform at the top of her game each and every time with a smile! They also know that she will be cheering them on and supporting them on and off the playing field. Nicole is currently enrolled in Mental Health First Aid as she wants to better support her peers in the halls of DCVI. Nicole lives and breathes our motto- she has one of the biggest hearts!
Emma Watt – Student
Emma Watt is not simply an amazing student – she is an amazing person. Coming into grade 9, one of Emma’s teacher’s indicated that she was unique and very mature for her age. That did not change during her five years at DCVI. Emma is a truly caring, responsible individual. Her empathy and compassion could be used as a standard for others. During her time at DCVI, Emma has achieved honour roll status in each and every semester. However she continues to strive to do better by meeting with teachers at lunch and after school for extra help. Now consider that Emma also tutors other students, including three students in the last semester for math, science and biology. Added to that she is a very important member of girls basketball, girls volleyball, badminton and soccer teams. She is currently the captain of the senior girls volleyball team. She then coaches the midget girls volleyball team ( has for the last two years); is a PWWP leader and has been for three years. She has also been the voice behind our speak up grant for the last three years.
When you look at the character traits supported by AMDSB, Emma Watt would be the poster child! Emma is an amazing student, leader and young woman. As a team player, she’s demonstrated commitment and dedication to fellow players and to developing skills to advance the success of her team. As a peer mentor, Emma’s genuine empathy and gentle approach has allowed staff advisers to partner Emma with students with particular specialized needs including mental health difficulties and Autism Spectrum Disorders. Her enthusiasm and work ethic are contagious in any group she is involved with. There are many other examples of Emma’s willingness to support a positive environment at DCVI, in addition to her strong academic efforts, but there would be too many to list here. Emma is very deserving of this award, it would be a fitting tribute for her efforts at DCVI.
Gregg Blackler – Community Member
Mr. Gregg Blackler has been committed to minor sports in the St. Marys area for over 15 years. Gregg has contributed at both a front line and as an executive member to many minor sports organizations in the area. The most prominent of Gregg’s volunteer accomplishments lie with St. Marys minor basketball. Gregg has supported the program for 11 years in the role of front instruction to youth as well as having served terms as Treasurer and Vice President within the executive. Each year Gregg volunteers approximately 150 hours to support the program that teaches basketball to 120 area children. Gregg has made this contribution to the community with no other motivation other than the joy of teaching the game.
Additionally, Gregg has been on the supply list for AMDSB for several years. His contact within the elementary schools in the area has all the kids in the area knowing who coach Gregg is. He has been involved as a coach with the Junior Girls Basketball team at DCVI for the past two years. An extremely positive individual and role model, Gregg has touched the lives of many area families with children that play basketball. He does all of this with quiet enthusiasm and a general love for the game.
Gregg Blackler is a worthy nominee for this award.
Nic Seebach – Teacher
I would like to nominate Nic Seebach for an Excellence in Education award. I have had the pleasure and honour of working with Nic in the science department at D.C.V.I. for over a decade and have been able to witness first hand his ability to motivate those around him. When Nic speaks people listen!
In the classroom, Nic has a great rapport with all his students and often has students wanting to take more science classes because of their great experiences with him. He uses a variety of effective strategies, both new and old, to reach the variety of different learners in front of him. Many students over the years have told me how much they have enjoyed being in his classes and many have gone on to study in the sciences due to his inspiration.
Nic has been an active coach with the soccer program at DCVI for his entire time here. He is often the first person to arrive in the morning as he runs his practices and is often the last one to leave on the long days of tournaments. He never complains about the extra time, to him it is just another rewarding part of the job.
If this is not enough, Nic has also given up a remarkable amount of time and energy to help expose our students to wonderful science research experiences in different locations around the world. He has taken groups of students to help with important research in Peru and Honduras and is even now in the process of planning an exciting trip to South Africa. These trips are once of a lifetime opportunities for our students for which they are incredibly grateful.
When we think of excellent teachers in our school, and there are many, it would be very difficult not to put Nic to the top of the list. We at DCVI are lucky to have Nic Seebach.
Brontae Hunter – Student
Ms. Hunter is a dynamo of compassion, enthusiasm and hard work. For her IDC4U Action Learning Project Bronte researched, created, wrote, produced and starred in her Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s Awareness Performance Collective. Although being new to the community Bronte gathered Aboriginal dancers and musicians, alumni performers and current students to participate in her performance. She created original pieces of drama, dance and a compelling evening to bring Awareness to the MMIW issue. She has made a positive impact in our community and deserves to be recognized for her efforts. She is an inspiration and an example of the power that education can have in the world. Congratulations Ms. Hunter!
Julia Campbell – Student
Julia demonstrates leadership and the will to succeed in all that she does. She excels academically in all areas, and she advocates for herself, for her peers, and for those less fortunate than herself at all times. In her time at Stratford Central, Julia has managed to combine her excellent work ethic and drive with optimism and a will to see social justice done in the world – to great effect.
As one of the executives of Community Central, Julia has had a hand in many important community-building endeavours over the course of this year. From the Think Before You Buy; campaign, to organizing donations of cell phones and SIM cards for new Syrian families, to our Me to We assembly on local philanthropy, Julia is always working behind the scenes to make sure that everything comes together.
Most recently, she had a key role in organizing our Toonie Week in April, which involved preparing a school assembly, a student-teacher volleyball game, a week full of fundraising activities selling sundaes, smoothies and baked goods, and a school BBQ to raise funds for the Sunshine Kids foundation. With her help, the club raised close to $2400 for this charity.
Her music teacher, band and choir conductor says of Julia: “She is probably one of the best flute players to go through our program, and has never had private lessons!” Julia is extremely hard working, friendly, and co-operative – always willing to lend a hand, whether it is by working with a younger student or helping set up at concerts. She is always thoroughly prepared for everything she does.
Julia is an ideal candidate for this award, as she manages to balance all of her schoolwork and activities with her roles in music council and choir, as well as competitive diving and lifeguarding in the community. She does it all with positivity and gratitude to her teachers and to those who have helped her along the way.
Liz Lagerwer – Teacher
Liz is the Department Head of Learning Services/Special Education at Stratford Central Secondary School. Every semester, Liz tirelessly guides staff in the correct and most effective way to support students who benefit from Individual Education Plans and/or any other additional needs. Her support, advice and reminders are always timely for staff members and students. Further to that, she provides one-on-one help to colleagues who need assistance writing and implementing plans for students on modified accommodated learning plans which have been new to many. Over the last few years especially, Liz has had to navigate through the trials (and triumphs) of inclusion. To do that, Liz has effectively worked with a team of people which includes educational assistants, teachers, administration and parents. She has also embraced technology in assisting students with learning needs while becoming acquainted with curriculum in all subject areas.
Her professionalism, competency and compassion are always evident when she is working with our students at Stratford Central. Her room is a safe refuge for many of our students who are able to focus, find a quiet place to work and get support and guidance when needed. Liz also contributes to extracurricular at Stratford Central in helping with the Reach for the Top club.
Liz is an enormous asset to SCSS and is very deserving of this award.
Paula Ortelli – Teacher
Paula recently won an Excellence in Education award in 2013; but the staff at Stratford Central obviously feel that Paula Ortelli is so good at her job that it was time for her to win another in 2016. Paula received nominations from two staff members within the Arts Department at Stratford Central and the following is a collaboration between them.
Paula has been split between departments for many years – teaching both Music and English. As many teachers know, this can be a challenge, but also a great opportunity for collaboration and growth as a teacher. Having taught the grade nine English course, focused around the Archetypal Hero’s Journey, Paula must have been aware that the hero is on a journey from the self to the selfless. Paul- has been the selfless hero by putting her students, her colleagues, and her greater community ahead of herself.
Paula is now solely in the Arts Department, teaching her passion for music to younger generations. She freely gives her time to her students with extra curricular morning and after school rehearsals, lunch time meetings, and theory help on a regular basis. The list of ensembles she conducts is large – Symphonic Band, Jazz Band, Central Singers, and Vocal Chords. She holds herself and her students to a high standard and demands nothing less than excellence. She does this in a way that holds students accountable for their efforts and progress, but also inspires and motivates them to meet their potential and exceed beyond what they thought were their capabilities. As proof of these efforts, Paula’s bands are held in high regard, winning awards both regionally and nationally at Kiwanis and MusicFest.
Paula Ortelli gives freely of her time and talents to make the students, staff, and community a better place. She is a very deserving candidate for this award.
Josh Britton – Student
Josh Britton is in his grade 12 year at Stratford Northwestern. Throughout Josh’s tenure in our school, he has been the consummate leader both inside and outside of the classroom. Josh’s leadership qual