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Remarks By Dalton McGuinty, Premier Of Ontario On Premier's Awards For Teaching Excellence Statement to the Legislative Assembly

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Remarks By Dalton McGuinty, Premier Of Ontario On Premier's Awards For Teaching Excellence Statement to the Legislative Assembly

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Office of the Premier

Mr. Speaker, I rise to announce a celebration -- a celebration that is new and different and long overdue.

It's time, Mr. Speaker, to celebrate excellence in teaching.

I am announcing today the Premier's Awards for Teaching Excellence.

Next to parents and families, who play the most important role of all, teachers are the greatest single influence over our children's future.

Each school day, society presents teachers and school support staff with our most precious resource: our children, and our most challenging task: moulding them into good citizens and capable workers.

It's a tough job, especially when we send those children in groups of 25, 30 or more, and when we attach some pretty hefty strings to the task -- the challenges faced by families that are new to Canada, who struggle to speak the language, or cope with a new culture; the heartbreak and displacement associated with separation and divorce, health problems and learning challenges.

We ask our teachers to teach math and reading, to lead the healthy body talk and the bake sale, to pass on conflict resolution skills and good eating habits, to coach sports and put on the play, to fill many roles, and, at the same time, be role models.

We present them with countless challenges.

But we also, Mr. Speaker, entrust to them limitless potential -- the potential of every student to dream, to achieve, to excel ... to learn.

Great teaching can unlock that potential.

Think about the moments a great teacher can author:

  • The moment a boy realizes he can read a book.
  • The moment a girl realizes she can master math.
  • The feeling of winning a race for the first time -- or just the feeling of being in the race for the first time.
  • The realization that a bully can be stopped, if everyone stands up to the bully.
  • The notion that there is a world beyond your neighbourhood, beyond high school -- and that you can not only go there, you can do great things there.
  • The instant you take centre stage, or take centre court, or take your place at a science fair -- and experience what it's like to have people rooting for you, applauding you, even cheering you.

These moments, Mr. Speaker, are teaching moments -- great teaching moments.

So it is entirely fitting that we celebrate great teaching -- and great teachers.

We will celebrate enterprise in teaching -- teachers that inspire the spirit of innovation in our children by demonstrating innovation in the classroom.

We will celebrate teachers and support staff who foster leadership by teaching what it means to lead.

We will celebrate teachers who involve and engage parents, who energize the community, who demonstrate an understanding of the fact that none of us can educate a child as well as all of us can educate a child.

We will celebrate teachers who show a special ability and commitment to teaching children with special needs.

We will celebrate teachers who best prepare children for their entire lifetime.

And we will celebrate teachers who have spent their lifetime achieving great things in teaching.

We will celebrate teachers who make great strides in teaching literacy and numeracy.

We will celebrate new teachers.

And we will celebrate the staff, aides and assistants who support excellent teaching.

Mr. Speaker, we will celebrate teachers by singling out outstanding individuals in each of these categories -- as an example of the fine work done by so many teachers, right across our province.

And we will name one elementary and one secondary teacher as Teacher of the Year, as an example of the tremendous work done by so many teachers, each and every year.

This is, Mr. Speaker, a small gesture, but an enormously significant one.

As a good teacher might remind a young pupil, Speaker, saying "thank you" is a small thing, until you neglect to do it.

I want our teachers to know, I want our parents and students to know: the neglect of the past is over.

A new future for public education has begun.

Mr. Speaker, if we get public education right, we get the best citizens, and we get the best workers, we build the strongest society and the most prosperous economy.

And excellence in teaching is fundamental to excellence in public education.

We will celebrate excellence in our teachers, Mr. Speaker, because we want excellence for our students, for our families, for our future.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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