Back row (left to right): Ida Drouin, Gisèle Quenneville, Alison Wojkowski, Marcia Brown, Adam Gesjorskyj, Education Minister Leona Dombrowsky, Katie Cole, Kevin Bush and Dawn White; Front row (left to right): Dagney Gardiner, John Atherton, Darryl Shannon, Léa Lacerenza, Kathy Douthart, Brent Robillard, Premier Dalton McGuinty, Donna Saunders, Carmelina Martin, Paul Alcamo, Lori Anne Kado, Julie Toskan-Casale and Tara Hester
Teacher, John Fraser Secondary School
Peel District School Board
Carmelina Martin is a charismatic arts educator with an infectious passion for dance. She has inspired creativity in her students for more than 17 years. Whether choreographing the school dance showcase, spearheading a provincial youth dance conference or leading workshops, she knows how to engage students. Carmelina exposes students to the professional world of dance by inviting guest artists into her classroom. She is committed to professional development and works tirelessly to educate and mentor teachers across the province. Carmelina has also contributed to the Ontario Arts Curriculum.
Teacher, Medway High School
Thames Valley District School Board
As Head of the English department at Medway High School in Arva, Katie Cole is the kind of teacher that students respect, parents praise and colleagues admire. She works with students who need the greatest support and delivers outstanding credit completion rates. She is a leading member of the School Improvement Team and is involved in many extracurricular activities, from school drama productions to volleyball. But Katie's greatest contribution is a teaching resource she developed – Critical Media Literacy: Addressing Violence in the Media – which is now available in every school across the province.
Teacher, St. Johns School
Halton Catholic District School Board
Kathy Douthart has been a kindergarten teacher and neighbourhood legend for more than 25 years. She is a selfless, compassionate educator who has touched the lives of many. Kathy instils confidence in her students and makes them feel loved from the moment she meets them. Kathy has a contagious, positive attitude and an innate ability to light up any room. She wears her heart on her sleeve and creates a nurturing learning environment in her classroom. Kathy is every parent's dream kindergarten teacher.
Teacher, St. John's College
Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board
Adam Gesjorskyj is an innovative teacher who understands what it takes to help students excel at math. He has helped improve EQAO scores at his school by creating a supportive learning environment through “math cafés” and after-school help programs. He is also a gifted guitar player who founded the school's guitar club – a club that has given students opportunities to pursue their passions and show their talents. Adam's ability to engage students both inside and outside the classroom is truly inspiring for students and staff alike.
Teacher, Thousand Islands Secondary School
Upper Canada District School Board
Brent Robillard is respected in his school community for creating authentic learning opportunities for his students. He developed innovative Writer's Craft courses where, as a published author, he inspires students and guides them as they write and publish their own novels. In addition to challenging his students academically, Brent also helps them become well-rounded citizens. He co-founded the school's International Studies Program – a set of eight classes that culminate in a 15-day humanitarian trip to Nicaragua – to help students learn about global citizenship and leadership.
Teacher, W.H. Morden Public School
Halton District School Board
Helping her students find their place in the world, Alison Wojkowski makes a point of knowing at least two special things about each one of them. Filled with boundless energy and a passion for teaching, she created hands-on learning activities like “Grocery Grab” that allow students to plan purchases and determine expenses. Alison has developed partnerships with the Halton Learning Foundation, Halton Region and private businesses. Also, her environmental leadership has helped the school achieve Gold Eco Certification in 2010.
Dawn I. White
Teacher, Grove School
Durham District School Board
Bringing together Native Studies and Special Education has allowed Dawn White to inspire everyone around her. In her first year of teaching, Dawn created an Aboriginal Student Advisory Council which advocates for Aboriginal education, empowers students and gives them opportunities to showcase Indigenous culture. She also created an “Indigenous Fusion Camp” where environmental education is taught from an Indigenous point of view. Building strong connections within her school community has had a positive impact on her students, their parents, her colleagues and the First Nations community.
Teacher, James S. Bell Junior Middle School
Toronto District School Board
Dagney Gardiner's students consider her classroom a “home-away-from-home.” An advocate for students with behavioural and social-emotional difficulties, Dagney joined James S. Bell Junior Middle School in 2008 as an intermediate behaviour teacher. She quickly developed an innovative classroom fitness program that helps students increase their focus while reducing negative behaviours. The program received coverage in the Toronto Star and was featured on CBC. She is leading a demonstration classroom where other teachers can learn from her work.
Teacher, ALPHA II Alternative School
Toronto District School Board
John Atherton is an innovative, stimulating and visionary educator. He has a reputation as an outstanding mentor who inspires and drives teachers and students to be their best and to love and share their learning. During his time as an instructional leader at the Toronto District School Board, he established the GTA Physics Teachers' Alliance. In 2007, John launched the “Eureka Conference” which was attended by 600 classroom teachers – an event described by many science teachers as the most useful professional development event they ever attended.
Principal, Sir Guy Carleton Secondary School
Ottawa-Carleton District School Board
Kevin Bush promotes an inclusive learning environment at this vocational school with 500 students. He established the “Respect Club” and using the theme of “knighthood”, created a culture of chivalry, respect and honour at the school. He ensures students take empowering risks and pride in their accomplishments as individuals and through collective celebrations such as Academic Achievement Nights and weekly invites to “Lunch with the Principal.” Kevin also facilitated the opening of a health clinic inside the school and built relationships in the wider community that enhance opportunities for students.
Educational Assistant, Greenholme Junior Middle School and North Albion Collegiate Institute
Toronto District School Board
Marcia Brown, an educational assistant in Toronto, dedicates her time and energy to helping young children succeed in and out of the classroom. Every school day, Marcia collaborates with classroom teachers to plan innovative ways to engage students through their personal interests and talents. In addition, Marcia volunteers at North Albion Collegiate where she coordinates the Young Women on the Move Program. She is also a member of the Toronto District School Board's Inner City Committee.
École élémentaire catholique Saint-Jean/Pavillon La Croisée
Conseil scolaire de district catholique de l'Est ontarien
With 34 years of experience under her belt, Ida Drouin has a keen sense of her community's needs. Over the years she has introduced an entire generation of students to choir and has helped organize food and clothing drives for the needy. With the help of her colleagues, Ida prepared a spaghetti luncheon- including dessert- for 650 students! No task is ever too big for this extraordinary secretary. Her joie de vivre, positive energy and dedication to her students and staff make everyone feel welcome and appreciated.
Educational Assistant, Blessed Trinity Catholic Secondary School
Niagara Catholic District School Board
An inspirational woman with more than 18 years experience as an educational assistant, Donna Saunders believes that every student can learn and succeed. She works tirelessly to create activities that teach students about life skills and challenges, regardless of their exceptionality. Donna helped two students in special education build their confidence by encouraging them to join the swim team. She is the driving force behind the school's breakfast program. Thanks to Donna, inclusion is not just a concept, but a reality at Blessed Trinity.
St. Jerome Separate School
Toronto Catholic District School Board
Léa Lacerenza has dedicated her career to teaching students with severe learning and reading difficulties. Her contribution to the field of learning disabilities has re-energized hundreds of teachers and empowered thousands of struggling learners. Through a research partnership between the Toronto Catholic District School Board and the Learning Disabilities Research Program at the Hospital for Sick Children, Léa was able to develop the Empower Reading programs. These evidence-based remedial programs, used across Canada and the United States, ensure successful readers, improved health and brighter futures.
Bloorview Authority School Team
Teachers, Bloorview School Authority
Paul Alcamo and Lori Anne Kado work with a diverse group of students and bring out the very best in every child they teach. As the teachers at Bloorview School Authority's Integrated Kindergarten Program, they lead a class that enables students with disabilities to learn with their peers. They use innovative ways to deliver the curriculum so that every single child can participate and learn – from designing inclusive playgrounds to digging for dinosaur bones in the classroom. They turn their classroom into a welcoming and respectful community of students, staff and families.
Toskan Casale Foundation
In 2001, together with her husband Victor Casale and brother Frank Toskan, she started the Toskan Casale Foundation, a family foundation dedicated to supporting and strengthening local, community-based social service agencies and is the innovator of the internationally successful Youth and Philanthropy Initiative (YPI). YPI is a high school program that since its launch has provided over 120,000 students with a real philanthropy learning experience that researches and benefits local, community-based social service agencies. The program is engaging and enabling young philanthropists to donate millions to community-based charities.
Northern Lights Secondary School Team
Teachers and staff, Northern Lights Secondary School
James Bay Lowlands Secondary School Board
Staff members at Northern Lights Secondary School are some of the most hardworking professionals in the province. Working in a remote community that has experienced many devastating youth suicides, they have rallied together to support students and their families. Despite the small size of the school, teachers and support staff have developed countless activities to keep students engaged. From the daily breakfast program to the Husky Bucks recognition system, these dedicated people are doing everything they can to inspire and support students. Working together, they have improved morale at the school and given students the confidence and opportunities to help them thrive.