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Premier's Awards For Teaching Excellence Recipients

Archived Backgrounder

Premier's Awards For Teaching Excellence Recipients

Ministry of Education

The Premier's Awards for Teaching Excellence celebrate exceptional educators and support staff and the contribution they make to student success. This year, fourteen individuals and one team of nine are being recognized.

Award Recipients

Teacher of the Year - Jay Fedosoff, Teacher, Roberta Bondar Public School, Brampton (Peel District School Board)

Whether coaching school sports teams or hosting a monthly "Dad's Club," Jay Fedosoff is involved in every aspect of school life. A lifelong learner, he is a mentor to other teachers and extends a welcoming hand to the school community. He adapts the curriculum to match his students' needs and incorporates their abilities and strengths into his lesson plans. He challenges them to exceed their own goals and gives them the courage to test themselves.

Teacher of the Year - Paul Finkelstein, Teacher, Stratford Northwestern Secondary School, Stratford (Avon Maitland District School Board)

Welcome to the Screaming Avocado Café - also known as Paul Finkelstein's culinary arts class - where kids learn how to cook and how to run a business in a restaurant setting. Praised for his energy and creativity, Finkelstein's students learn that there are many routes to success, and there is a place for everyone in his kitchen - including many of Canada's top chefs. Through his annual Slow Food Youth Symposiums, Finkelstein has inspired students and schools across the province.

Teacher of the Year - Donna McAdam, Teacher, Unionville High School, Unionville (York Region District School Board)

Donna McAdam's geography classes extend well beyond the classroom. Her students conduct school waste audits. They hike the Niagara Escarpment with Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers. And they build 3D models of sustainable communities - models that are judged by urban planners to show students that their work is realistic and meaningful. A leader in her school and community, she inspires students and teachers alike to become global citizens who respect the environment.

Teacher of the Year - Merrill Pierce, Teacher, Northlake Woods Public School, Waterloo (Waterloo Region District School Board)

Merrill Pierce believes that students learn best when they take an active role in their learning. So she works with students to discover their strengths. And she lets them decide how to complete tasks - using sights, sounds, and activities, as well as pencil and paper. Outside the classroom "Mrs. P." runs the school's intramural sports programs - helping students develop confidence that spills over into the classroom. And she helps new teachers build confidence too, sharing her knowledge and experience by leading workshops and seminars.

Teacher of the Year - Nathan Tidridge, Teacher, Waterdown District High School, Waterdown (Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board)

Teacher, coach, mentor, role model and advocate - all of these words describe Nathan Tidridge. His passion for teaching brings learning to life - from re-enacting famous battles in the classroom with costumes and props, to taking students to Europe to explore actual battlefields. Whether he's helping to start a school rugby team or urging the student council to rewrite their constitution, he inspires students. He encourages at-risk kids to explore and reflect on their learning - to grow beyond their boundaries.

New Teacher of the Year - Leah Kindornay, Teacher, Park Street Collegiate, Orillia (Simcoe County District School Board)

Every day, Leah Kindornay tries to make our world just a little bit smaller. She teaches her students about French language and culture by recreating events such as Mardi Gras or Quebec Winter Carnival in her classroom. She reaches out to exchange and international students and helps her school celebrate diverse cultures through the international club she created. And she encouraged her school to launch a new program called Languages for Travel.

New Teacher of the Year - Tracy Napper Sharpe, Teacher, Spruce Ridge Community School, Durham (Bluewater District School Board)

Tracy Napper Sharpe may be a new teacher, but she is a master at creating integrated learning experiences. When teaching about global communities, she transformed her classroom first into an African hut and then into an Arctic landscape. Immersed in these environments, students learned not just facts but how to connect them to media events and to their own lives. Napper Sharpe believes sharing helps all children learn, so she freely shares her plans, resources and time with other teachers.

New Teacher of the Year - Andrew Schmitt, Teacher, Joyce Public School, Toronto (Toronto District School Board)

When you enter Andrew Schmitt's classroom, you see students working together to learn, understand and achieve. Schmitt's passion inspires the staff to work together too - two-thirds have expanded their math qualifications, and the school's math scores are above the provincial average. He helped his school get interactive SMART boards into every classroom, and introduced the technology to 14 other schools. He also lectures on math and technology at conferences, partners with researchers and businesses, and plays piano for the school choirs.

Excellent Support Staff - Douglas Browne, Custodian, Golden Avenue Public School, South Porcupine (District School Board Ontario North East)

Douglas Browne takes great pride in his work and school. And he teaches students to do the same. While keeping the school safe, clean and organized, he also helps with science projects, builds bookshelves for classrooms and talks with students about the importance of learning and being respectful. And students are eager to help him in return. He often works with groups of students around the school and helps them learn the value of logical thinking and problem solving.

Excellent Support Staff - Kathleen Galloway, Head Secretary (retired), Elmcrest Public School, Mississauga (Peel District School Board)

For over 20 years, Kathleen Galloway was the cheerful, welcoming face in the school office. Known for her caring and generous nature, she made inclusion a priority - whether it was spearheading clothing drives for families experiencing their first cold winter or making sure everyone had ice skates to participate in the school skating program. A mentor to other secretaries, she also built strong relationships with families and regularly volunteered with school and community events.

Excellent Support Staff - Mark Latour, Chief Custodian, St. Catherine of Siena School, Barrie (Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board)

Mark Latour does more than keep the school immaculate. His quiet acts of kindness bring learning to life for students and strengthen the school community. Always willing to help, he crafts hands-on teaching tools like motors and circuit boards to help students learn. And his posters honouring friends and family who served in the armed forces put a human face on Remembrance Day. His creativity and passion for what he does are an inspiration to staff, students and parents.

Excellence in Leadership - Heather Gibson, Principal, Ernest C. Drury Provincial School for the Deaf, Milton (Provincial Schools)

Heather Gibson's dedication and leadership have raised awareness of Deaf bilingual education (American Sign Language [ASL] and English). She led the design, development and field-testing of the first ASL curriculum, and established ASL instruction for families and bus drivers to help them better communicate with students. She actively encourages teachers and staff to take strong leadership roles and collective responsibility for student success and achievement. One of the first Deaf, ASL-using female principals in Canada, Gibson is a strong role model and mentor for students.

Excellence in Leadership - Jonathan Young, Teacher, Elliot Lake Secondary School, Elliot Lake (Algoma District School Board)

Jonathan Young's commitment to helping students achieve and celebrate success inspires an enthusiasm for learning. A well-respected literacy champion and mentor, he works with school and board staff to support literacy instruction for all students across the curriculum. The silent reading program he helped to re-establish has everyone in the school - even visitors - reading every day. And, thanks to his success and leadership with literacy results, he was asked to assist with the school's efforts to improve numeracy results as well.

Lifetime Achievement - Eleanor Currie, Teacher, West Carleton Secondary School, Dunrobin (Ottawa-Carleton District School Board)

For over 40 years, Eleanor Currie strived to connect with each and every student in her class. She made it a personal quest to help each student learn to the best of his or her ability. She is admired for her motivation to help students achieve, and her passion for teaching has not wavered throughout her career. An energetic and enthusiastic learner herself, she is a mentor and role model for staff. Currie is the teacher that valedictorians thank, students remember and parents respect.

Team of the Year - Special Needs Education Assistants, Sacred Heart High School, Stittsville (Ottawa Catholic District School Board)

Team members: Leanne Acorn, Joanne Alton, Nicole Carley, Joy Denomme, Cathy Heer, Amanda McBain, Melissa Moffat, Brad Murray and Linda Raaymakers

Thanks to these education assistants, some of the school's most exceptional students have the opportunity to earn credits, develop valuable life skills and participate in school activities with peers, giving families fresh hope for their children's futures. They established an Autism Awareness Week at the school to foster understanding and fundraise for Autism Ontario's "Together for Autism" campaign. The team advocates for their students, is a valuable resource for staff and guides students to reach their potential in all aspects of their lives.

Selection Panel

The independent selection panel includes a teacher, support staff member, principal, student and parent. Together, this diverse group maintains the integrity of the selection process, evaluates nominations and recommends who may receive the awards.

Akela Peoples is the current chair of the panel. Peoples is an entrepreneur, visionary leader, trainer, author and motivational speaker. In 1997 she founded Youth in Motion (www.youth-in-motion.ca), which offers highly sought-after career and personal development programs including motivational career conferences, mentoring programs and a new national awards program called Top 20 Under 20.

Peoples holds two undergrad degrees, a master's degree in educational administration and was featured on the University of Toronto - Ontario Institute for Studies in Education's website as one of their inspiring alumnae. In 2005, she was named one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada by the Women's Executive Network. She was the youngest ever recipient of the YWCA's Women of Distinction Award in 2002 for Entrepreneurship. Peoples has also received many awards for her leadership in education including the Toronto Sun's Women on the Move Award.

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