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Central Etobicoke High School
Ensuring that students have access to the right resources in a safe, comfortable and supportive environment is essential to Willard Arrindell. Each day, he supports up to 50 students needing computer accommodations and his work behind the scenes – scanning, editing, downloading, collaborating and training – is what sets each student up for success. Recognizing the complex needs of his students, he has created visual schedules of daily events that capture and fascinate the students each morning in the school foyer. By opening the gym before school and during lunch he allows the students to take part in the various clubs he supports. He is a highly regarded team player who is always eager to lend a hand and be a role model for his students. Willard’s positive attitude, professionalism, willingness to learn and improve make him a key and valued member of the Central Etobicoke HS team.
Lunchroom Supervisor and Casual Childcare Attendant
Vickram Bachan is a champion of equity, student achievement and well-being and, of service excellence. A TDSB alumni, Vickram first came to the TDSB as a volunteer and for the last three years, has worked at McMurrich JPS. In all of his roles, he has made a positive contribution to school life. He is an equitable, reliable and compassionate employee who engages with students on a personal level, including knowing the birthdays of all students in the lunch program. His efforts to engage and support students include launching “The Lunchies” to recognize students who exhibit excellent behaviour and cooperation during lunch, to creating the Harry Potter Fan Club to promote literacy, and organizing school events. Vickram has helped bring enthusiasm and fun to the school communities he has been a part of.
Monica de Jersey
Downsview Secondary School
Active, involved, engaged and busy – all in the name of student success – are just a few words to describe Monica de Jersey. She starts her day running the school’s breakfast club with a group of students she has trained and provided leadership roles to. She invests many hours to make this club a warm and welcoming environment for staff and students. At lunch, she is the staff leader for the Dare 2 Inspire club which raises awareness and funds for people in need while engaging students in social justice. In addition to organizing bake sales, annual 16 km walks and collecting spare change in the classrooms, she orchestrates the Student of the Week program which empowers students and creates a positive school climate. In the classroom, she is known as a favourite for teaching the Positive Peer Culture program, and regularly connects with alumni and feeder schools to continue to build the school community. Monica is always willing to lend an ear or a hand to a student or staff member in need and always with a smile on her face.
Woodbine Middle School
Tyler Gmyrek always puts his students first. He is eager to find ways to connect with each of his students, often using music as a common ground to reach them and provide an outlet for their creative expression. He runs many extracurricular activities including the band which has more than 60 students and this year, won Gold at the Kiwanis Music Festival. He also runs the Glee Club and has begun teaching students how to play the steel pans. He organizes a leadership and anti-bullying overnight conference for the students. He is also the staff advisor of the Student Council and organizer of the year-long Quest of Bine initiative that divides students and staff into 4 teams for event days and builds school spirit. Tyler’s involvement and creativity is respected by the students and in turn, they are engaged and work hard to make sure they are reaching the standard he has set for them.
Lasburn Gordon, Sarah Foster, Emily Portelles, Harjinder Mundi
Child and Youth Counsellors
Caring and Safe Schools
This group of four Child and Youth Counsellors truly go above and beyond to support some of the neediest students. Each of these counsellors have spent countless hours connecting students to schools, programs and community supports that enable these at risk students to make positive changes in their lives and see a future filled with possibilities. These counsellors have been a caring adult who help the students with transition, empower them to be advocates for their own lives and provide them with successful strategies to achieve their best. As a celebration for the students and an inspiration for others, for the past three years, this group has planned and overseen the Caring and Safe Schools Recognition Awards which honours students from across the Board who have overcome great obstacles in their lives.
West Humber Collegiate Institute
For the past 17 years, George Liolis has worked with and supported at risk students with a variety of exceptionalities. He holds high expectations for each and every student and engages their different learning styles through a combination of engaging lessons, differentiated instruction and exciting experiences. He is always working to better support his students. He volunteers two nights a week allowing students to take part in after school activities that promote friendship and well-being. This includes coordinating with families, agencies and Wheeltrans to ensure they get home safely. He is responsible for the development of new curriculum that is age-appropriate and supports students with special needs. George’s imagination and creativity is infectious to both staff and students and he carries out his work with enthusiasm, competence and dedication.
John Polanyi Collegiate Institute
Mary has a knack for seeing an issue or a need, and then doing everything she can to improve it. She launched an after-school program to help support struggling students with credit accumulation which has now helped dozens of students recover multiple credits and achieve academic success. She helped support student athletes by developing an academic after-school program to enhance opportunities for athletic scholarships. And, she mobilized a team to start a breakfast program and sought out $85,000 in annual funding that now fuels a thriving program that serves more than 800 students daily. She provides guidance and motivation and treats the students as she would her own. Mary’s efforts have helped support thousands of students and has made her a role model and valued asset to the school community.
Dr. Cynthia McCall
Dr. Cynthia McCall is regarded by both colleagues in her profession and by the people she works with in schools as a passionate, dedicated champion of students and an innovative supporter of the Board’s focus on achievement, well-being and equity. A resourceful, committed and optimistic person, Cynthia’s research has benefited some of the neediest students and their families. Her efforts to teach people how to understand and support each student’s unique psychological and learning profile helps everyone best support their achievement and ensure they are a valued part of the school community. Cynthia’s use of data and research has supported her work in a number of schools which have measurably increased students’ sense of belonging, attendance and academic achievement.
Chine Drive Public School
For 18 years, Joe O’Gorman has been the caretaker and “chief problem solver,” at Chine Drive PS. Joe is energetic, resourceful and thoughtful, striving to keep an impeccably clean school conducive to student learning and well-being. He pays attention to the pulse of the community and is always quick to step in where needed and ensures that the school is running effectively and safely for the staff and students. His attention to detail and making those around him comfortable does not go unnoticed – it may be washing a student’s snowsuit before recess, drying wet mittens, clearing all the sidewalks of snow for accessibility, or lending a hand before events. Joe takes pride in his work and the result is a happier and safer school community.
Sloane Public School
Douglas Penfold’s continual advocacy in all areas of the teaching curriculum, equity, character education and social justice has influenced and transformed the learning and thinking of students, staff and community members at Sloane PS. His teaching practices are the hallmarks of cultivating active, global and compassionate learners and change-makers. Douglas is an inspiration and makes a substantial difference in students’ learning, understanding and growth towards excellence by engaging them in year-long, school-wide social justice inquiries that advocate for respect, compassion and equality for marginalized groups and issues. A collaborator, Douglas works with students, staff and parents to engage and support and inspire others to make a difference.
James S. Bell
Matthew is a true partner in a school. As a caretaker, he is diligent, hardworking and proactive, taking the time to make suggestions to benefit the facility and then also taking action to do it. He works collaboratively with students and staff to implement programs that benefit everyone, including increasing the school recycling program and supporting the EcoSchools initiatives. Matthew’s positive attitude and energy extends far beyond the role of caring for the school building and into supporting students where he can. When students at James S. Bell MS wanted to start a skateboard club, Matthew volunteered sharing his knowledge of construction and woodworking and encouraging students to secure funding through grant writing, increasing their engagement in school.