Toronto District School Board
John Polanyi CI Teacher Wins Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence

John Polanyi CI Teacher Wins Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence

Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Categories: Great Things, Happenings @ TDSB, School Web Stories

John Polanyi CI teacher Rahim Essabhai is one of eleven teachers across Canada, and one of just five Ontarians, to be recognized with the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence this year. “I am extremely humbled, and overwhelmed by receiving this award,” said Essabhai.

Since 1993, the Prime Minister's Awards for Teaching Excellence have honoured exceptional educators in Canadian elementary and secondary schools. The TDSB has been fortunate to have a number of past winners over the years, including another current John Polanyi CI staffer: Vernon Kee. 

For Essabhai, it isn’t the first time he has enjoyed widespread recognition. In 2014, he led his students to a gold medal performance at the Students for the Advancement of Global Achievement (SAGE) National competition and followed that up by competing at the World Cup event in Moscow, Russia. In 2012 he worked with students and teachers to fundraise more than $40,000 to help build a school in Nicaragua.

Essabhai leads the Integrative Thinking (I-Think) Leadership Program at JPCI, a program offered in partnership with The University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. Integrative thinking is an innovative approach to creative problem-solving that teaches students how to combine contradicting ideas to form better solutions to complex challenges. "His course is now regarded as one of the most prestigious and sought after courses in our school community,” said JPCI Principal Aiman Flahat. “The reputation of this program is quickly spreading globally largely due to the commitment and creativity of Mr. Essabhai and the team from Rotman."

In addressing this year’s winners, Prime Minister Trudeau spoke of his own past experience as a teacher and how proud he is of that background. “Regardless of whatever job titles I may hold throughout the course of my life, I will always be first and foremost a teacher,” he told the award recipients and others assembled for the recognition ceremony. “That sense of ambition, of having an extraordinary impact on the world that we get to build every day in the classroom, is both an awesome responsibility and a humbling opportunity,” he continued. “There is no question that you change lives.” 

L'Amoreaux Collegiate Institute science teacher Grantley Blenman was also recognized at this year’s event, receiving a Certificate of Achievement.

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