Toronto District School Board
Skip to main content

Excellence 2018


Congratulations to all of the 2018 Excellence Award Winners!

Jian Feng Yang, Lunch Room Supervisor – Finch Public School

Jian Feng Yang is always ensuring that every voice is heard and creates a welcoming and accepting environment in her lunch room and on the playground. She has been a Lunch Room Supervisor at Finch Public School for the past five years, but she is also a site administrator for the international language classes at the TDSB. Jian Feng ensures that Finch PS is an equitable school and strives to make students who are newcomers fit in, as this is how Jian Feng became involved in the Finch PS community herself. She regularly translates between Chinese and English for those who struggle to understand either language. She also models language learning and comprehension through her own experiences since English is not her first language. Yet, despite her own language gap at times, she is able to communicate easily and understandably to the students, staff and parents. It is with the generous support of people like Jian Feng that Finch PS has been able to help many of their families and students work toward a brighter future.

Steve Whitaker, Teacher – Baycrest Public School

Steve Whitaker is more than just the physical education teacher at Baycrest Public School. He is the teacher that students stop to greet in the playground everyday and is a dedicated leader to furthering community initiatives that support student health and wellness. Steve leads the Sports Wellness and Achievement Network (SWAN) whose primary goal is to enhance awareness of wellness issues, and to establish more equitable access to sporting opportunities within the community. He involves principals, teachers, students and parents of five schools in the community. He has also involved community social workers and attracted the support of several sports leaders and their organizations. SWAN focuses on two main themes – creating a culture of health and well-being in the community that all students can experience and establishing pathways to sports excellence for students who have interest. It is opportunities and programs like these that would not be possible without Steve’s continued commitment.

#TDSBEd Twitter Chat - Larissa Aradj, Teacher – Lord Lansdowne Junior Public School and Arianna Lambert, Teacher  – Shaughnessy Public School

As social media becomes a part of our everyday learning, two educators have worked to build an online community where educators can connect and collaborate together. Two teachers – Larissa Aradj from Lord Lansdowne Junior Public School and Arianna Lambert from Shaughnessy Public School co-created and facilitate the #TDSBEd, a weekly Twitter chat that has recently celebrated its second anniversary. The #TDSBEd Twitter chat is a professional learning venue/platform that allows members to contribute to the collective learning by sharing their experiences and questions. The professional learning is personalized and people can enter in such a way that is relevant to them as educators. Chat topics are planned around relevant issues related to the TDSB Vision for Learning and Integrated Equity Framework and for the different chat topics guest moderators are invited to use to help provoke further learning. Visit here to learn more or to participate in the #TDSBEd chat.

My-Linh Hang Coleman, Teacher – Eastview Public School

My-Linh Hang Coleman is a proactive kindergarten teacher at Eastview Public School, whose enthusiasm for learning is infectious. My-Linh’s impact has been wide-reaching as she has helped to initiate, design and oversee the implementation of the Family of Schools K-12 character/global education program around the pillars of Free The Children known today as Me to We. With over 400 schools now participating in “WE Day”, it was through My-Linh’s modelling and feedback of the program in her classroom and school that helped paved the way for all elementary schools to engage in this programming. You can find My-Linh’s classroom focusing lessons that capture students’ passion, often using social justice issues as a hook to learning all while cultivating student leadership.

Lauren Hortie, Teacher – Oasis Alternative Secondary School

Oasis Alternative Secondary School is a small school that offers three distinct programs at three different locations for students who have experienced difficulty attending a traditional secondary school. And Lauren Hortie has become instrumental in the success of one of these programs – the OASIS Skateboard Factory. This program offers courses with a skateboard and street art focus where students earn credits by operating a socially responsible entrepreneurial business.Lauren is a co-designer of the Oasis Skateboard Factory program and has taken leadership in shaping highly engaging and memorable school experiences for at-risk youth for the past eight years. Lauren started off with Oasis Alternative School, first as an intern, then as a part-time teacher and now as a full-time teacher in the newly expanded program. Lauren’s work has contributed to an ongoing 90+% course achievement rate for students who haven’t previously earned credits and she has helped expand the diversity of the student body. Lauren Hortie is the exemplar of an excellent teacher who inspires and instills confidence in students every day through her compassion and creativity.

Munshu Wong, Media Specialist – Government, Public & Community Relations

No task is too much for Munshu Wong. Known as the on-call technical trouble-shooter or “magician” throughout the TDSB Board Offices, Munshu has come to the rescue at all hours of the day for everything technology related. Whether it is setting up for interviews and presentations, or ensuring Board and Committee meetings run smoothly, you will see him. There is no issue he doesn’t take on as you will also see Munshu prepared with every gadget and tool you would need for technical support. His impact goes beyond the physical building where he works and many TDSB communities see the evidence of his dedication. No matter the task, Munshu rises to the occasion and always offers a smile while resolving technical challenges.

Paula Burgess, Teacher – Georges Vanier Secondary School

Paula Burgess is the head of the Student Success program at Georges Vanier SS supporting students through credit rescue and credit recovery, but her classroom is much more than that. Paula has become the teacher that all students turn to, and staff look to for guidance, mentorship and solutions.“The Rack” is a clothing bank initiative started by Paula for the school community where she collects donations of clothing for the students. This has become a huge success over the last four years; as Paula has effortlessly dedicated her time to the Georges Vanier community and created a safe environment for students to visit. Recognizing the expense of prom and seasonal clothing, “The Rack” is a key example of a simple initiative that has been life altering for so many by providing students with the opportunity of formal wear for the prom, and winter clothing when it is cold. Paula’s commitment and generosity to the Vanier community is known to all and has opened doors for not only students but staff as well.

Laura Erwin, Teacher – John McCrae Public School

Laura Erwin is a determined and tireless change maker who is constantly working to inspire others to act on what is important to them. Laura’s influence on the John McCrae PS community can be seen in several ways as the Physical Education Leader, Library Resource teacher, Spirit Days and Eco-Club lead, and founder of the school’s breakfast club. These are only a few of the many initiatives and actions Laura has taken on, all while being an insightful and ambitious educator that continually seeks, explores and activates tangible programs to meet the needs of the students and community.

Carrie Ali, Caretaker – Fairmount Public School

Since her arrival to Fairmount Public School, Carrie Ali has had a profound impact on the school community. As a Caretaker at Fairmount PS, the building and grounds are in excellent and spotless condition, and the standard is upheld by the staff and students throughout the school. It is because of Carrie’s dedication to her work at Fairmount PS that there has been a notable shift in the conversations the children have about their space. Carrie is actively involved in school activities, giving generously of her time and has made a concerted effort to be present on school grounds when children are dropped off in the mornings. The school is more than just a physical building, but Carrie has helped create a place of joy, enthusiasm and pride. Thanks to Carrie’s enthusiasm and participation in extra curriculars far beyond her role, she has helped to not only improve the physical learning environment for our students, but helped to positively promote the well-being of the entire school community.

Judith Kramer, Principal – Dovercourt Public School

You only need to speak to Judith Kramer for a minute to understand how committed she is to Dovercourt Public School students’ achievement and well-being. As Principal, Judith not only has an instrumental relationship with her staff and students, but plays an integral role with the School Advisory Council (SAC) and parents/guardians along with welcoming all neighbours and community members to be a part of the Dovercourt Public School community. Whether it is supporting school technology upgrades, bringing in external partnerships, or ensuring that all students are given an equal opportunity to participate in activities and field trips, Judith has become an advocate and community builder to Dovercourt Public School.

Agnes Iliopoulos Executive Assistant and Chasta Assoon Legal Assistant/Law Clerk – Legal Services

Agnes and Chasta work together as a team within the Legal department at the TDSB. They have become invaluable to the Legal team during a time of significant change, but it is because of their tenacity, flexibility and commitment that they were able to help the department keep moving forward. Whether it is orienting new TDSB staff, or ensuring that time sensitive matters and legal responsibilities are handled efficiently, both Agnes and Chasta have always gone above and beyond to help pitch in to support the team. Putting the interests of the department and TDSB as their first priority, Agnes and Chasta’s eagerness and willingness to take on any task and their effortless team work have helped Legal Services continue to provide excellent service.

Lauren Pacheco, Child and Youth Worker – James S Bell Junior Middle Sports and Wellness Academy

Lauren Pacheco is the classroom Child and Youth Worker in the Behaviour Intensive Support Program at James S Bell JM Sports and Wellness Academy. She has been working in this program for the past six years and there is no denying the amount of devotion she puts into her role. Lauren has an unequivocal passion towards formulating positive relationships which engrosses the learning skills needed to nurture growth and works to find those teachable moments with her students in order to have them presently involved. Lauren is the school’s social committee representative, as well as the Health and Safety representative. The James S Bell community would not be the same without Lauren’s strong contributions and passionate nature to be involved and her ability to go the extra mile for those around her.