2017 Winning Teachers

September 26, 2017

OTIP (Ontario Teachers Insurance Plan) and the Ontario Teachers’ Federation (OTF) have recognized three outstanding Ontario teachers with the OTIP Teaching Award for excellence.

On Tuesday, September 26, the following educators received the OTIP Teaching Award.

2017 Winning Teachers

September 26, 2017

OTIP (Ontario Teachers Insurance Plan) and the Ontario Teachers’ Federation (OTF) have recognized three outstanding Ontario teachers with the OTIP Teaching Award for excellence.

On Tuesday, September 26, the following educators received the OTIP Teaching Award:

Colleen Shaw

North Bendale Junior Public School, Scarborough

Colleen Shaw, who taught at North Bendale Junior Public School in Toronto last year, received the OTIP Teaching Award in the Beginning Teacher Category.

Colleen was responsible for a support program for students with behaviour challenges and low cognitive levels. Colleen accepted students as they are and provided them with the tools to achieve success. She created a student-centered classroom in which students learned through personalized instruction that allowed them to make their own choices. The result was that they owned their learning, became more motivated and looked forward to coming to school.

Colleen expanded and enhanced their learning experience with such activities as writing and Skyping with pen pals around the world; using the mind-up curriculum and daily meditation, yoga, breathing techniques for focus and calm; providing leadership opportunities such as organizing/advertising various spirit days; and involving students in community events such as putting together donation bins for students in need.

By creating digital resources, presentations, and projects together with other teachers and students, Colleen made classroom activities resemble the real world. When students were arriving at school hungry, she started a classroom breakfast program. She liaised and formed partnerships with local community schools and businesses to create community experiences such as cooking classes and skating programs.

Colleen facilitated communication with parents/guardians through digital and online means, phone calls, and face-to-face meetings to ensure regular communication was accessible for everyone.

As well, she co-planned professional development for the other special education and junior level teachers. She collaborated with the learning coach to use big ideas from the curriculum to reach all students.

When her nominator for the award asked her why she wished to teach, Colleen replied, “to make a difference in a place where everyone is welcome.” And Colleen does make a difference. The students love to come to school and they are treated with dignity, respect and feel valued and cared for.

Colleen Shaw is an excellent example of the new, inspired teachers in Ontario’s classrooms.

Victor Barker

Port Colborne Secondary School, Port Colborne

Victor Barker, Port Colborne Secondary School, won the OTIP Teaching Award in the Secondary Teacher Category. Victor, a teacher of welding, gave countless young people the encouragement and the skills to succeed in life. His support of his students and his belief in their abilities, while at the same time recognizing their limits, not only gained their respect but also drove their desire to achieve.
Victor wanted more for his students and developed a clearly defined path to their success. As a role model and mentor to many at-risk youth, Victor focused on preparing transitional-aged youth for life after secondary school. Victor developed partnerships with industry that would ensure program success and assist students in gaining hands- on skills. This led to many students finding jobs after graduation from high school.

A key to Victor’s students’ success and growth was his insistence that students be respectful of one another while, at the same time, learning in his classroom. Victor promoted anti-bullying campaigns, healthy lifestyle training, respect for differences and diversity education.

Victor played a major role in the Specialist High Skills Major, Manufacturing Program in which students were given the opportunity to compete. His students won nine Southern Ontario, eight provincial, and three national welding awards.

Victor was a ‘doer’ and a ‘giver.’ He started the Broken Spoke bike program to help students understand the working mechanics of bikes, while learning the importance of reducing landfill and most importantly helping others in need. To date, over 1,000 bikes have been donated to the community and overseas. To encourage students to think about issues impacting the environment and express them through art, students created masterpieces by recycling metal pieces for the Green Art Show hosted by Community Artists Niagara. He encouraged students to make and donate gifts to local community not-for-profit organizations.

A statement by one student summarizes Victor’s contributions, “You have taught me that getting work done is the most valuable sense of accomplishment. You have taught me that everyone has skills to develop and that, just because a student doesn’t thrive in a classroom, it doesn’t mean that they have nothing to offer the world.”

Helen Wolfe

Nelson Mandela Park Public School, Toronto

Helen Wolfe received the OTIP Teaching Award in the Elementary Category. Helen’s teaching was guided by the belief that it is vital to understand students’ lives beyond the classroom – that is important to go beyond mere learning to caring for the child’s home life.
This philosophy was to the benefit of the students at Nelson Mandela Park Public School in Toronto.

Understanding how the issues of poverty and racism can affect learning, Helen made sure that her classroom and teaching reflected the culturally diverse neighbourhood of Regent Park. The classroom walls were covered with materials from her students’ countries and speakers and books reflected the cultural and racial diversity of the students. Parents and members of the community were welcomed to visit and share their stories and their talents. She created a unique mentoring and tutoring program with a group of multicultural doctors.

Helen believed that often students are the best teachers and allowed them to drive the curriculum. An example is the Snake Exploratorium. Helen brought in several rubber snakes which generated hundreds of questions about snakes. The result was a classroom snake museum with all areas of the curriculum on display.

Helen kept current on the latest technology to be able to share her knowledge with her students. She worked to ensure that the students have the tools available to move forward in their technological pursuits. Helen expanded school and other community spaces to allow those students who didn’t have computers at home to continue their learning.

Helen created a tech group for girls, Girls Crack the Code, which met regularly to 3d print wearables, work on robotics, and learn to code. These girls have been invited to give workshops in Detroit, talk on tech panels, and interviewed on the radio about diversity issues. Girls in this program often were accepted into the elite high school STEM program and top university engineering programs.
Helen’s career and life has been dedicated to her students, parents and community. She went above and beyond to ensure that her students found their way to becoming the people they wanted to be and had the foundation for meeting the challenges of the 21st century.

©2017 TeachingAwards.ca