22 2016

The Learning Partnership Honours Educators and Community Leaders for their Commitment to Early Learning

April 22nd 2016
A great education begins with outstanding early learning experiences and educators that support families and children as they start their educational journeys. Through The Learning Partnership’s Welcome to Kindergarten™ Awards for Partnership Excellence, we are pleased to recognize eight teams and individuals across Canada for their exceptional commitment to, and going above and beyond for, early childhood education.
These awards honour the contributions of individuals, agencies and school teams who have demonstrated excellence in collaborating with schools and communities, supporting parents and children in the transition to kindergarten, and advocating for The Learning Partnership’s Welcome to Kindergarten™ program.
Calgary Bridge Foundtion for Youth In School Settlement Program, 2016 Honouree
Comox Valley School District, 2016 Honouree
Margaret Park Early Years Team, 2016 Honouree
“Early education is extremely important because it lays the foundation for future academic and social success,” says Akela Peoples, President and CEO of The Learning Partnership. “The Learning Partnership recognizes those individuals and agencies that play such significant roles in getting our young children excited about, and well prepared for, school.”
Honourees are chosen by a national selection committee consisting of members from across Canada with extensive knowledge and interest in early years initiatives. They have graciously donated their time and expertise to help us recognize partnership excellence in our Welcome to Kindergarten™ program.
St Francis Xavier Catholic School Team, 2016 Honouree
Sandy Giles
Sandy Giles, 2016 Honouree
Devona Coutinho, Honourable mention 2016
Graziella Bellissimo-Bougadis and Bepina Hila, Honourable Mention 2016
Oakridge Junior Public School
Oakridge Junior Public School - Early Years Team, 2016 Honouree

2016 Honourees

Calgary Bridge Foundation for Youth In-School Settlement Program
Kingsland Centre, Calgary Board of Education
Calgary, Alberta

For empowering newcomer families transition seamlessly to life in Canada. With more than three years on the Welcome to Kindergarten Program Advisory Committee, their commitment to early learning is unquestionable. This year, they’re bringing Welcome to Kindergarten bags and books to newly arriving Syrian refugee families to help vulnerable children to engage in early literacy activities at home.

Comox Valley Intergenerational Project
Valley View Elementary School

Courtenay, British Columbia
For fostering mentorship opportunities and relationships between kindergarten students and the adult community during the project’s inaugural year at Valley View Elementary School. As described, “during the course of the entire school year, the students participate in a variety of activities with the older adult residents, including art, music, theatre and storytelling. As a direct result of the relationships with these older adults, [the] children have learned respect, care and empathy towards a generation who lived very different lives.”

Margaret Park School Team
(Jolene McFadyen-Nein, Tara Ewanchuk, Debbie Talling, Lisa Johnston) and partners: Seven Oaks School Division, Early Years Coalition, Family Dynamics and Barb and Clarence Nepinak
Margaret Park School
Winnipeg, Manitoba

For fostering collaborative relationships with a variety of community partners and effectively implementing the Welcome to Kindergarten™ program within their school. Through implementing the program, both the kindergarten and preschool programs have collaborated with numerous community initiatives, including West Kildonan Library, Family & Schools Together Canada and Seven Oaks Settlement Services. The result? More diverse educational experiences, more inclusive classroom environments and higher opportunities for family involvement.

The Early Learning Kindergarten Program Team (Sabrina Aversa-Ginevro, Milena Falcicchio, Tommasina Lio, Denise Padovani, Joanne Alves, Dianangela Gutierrez, Paola Ritacca)
St. Francis Xavier Catholic School
Toronto Catholic District School Board
Toronto, Ontario

For their dedication in strengthening the relationship between educators and parents to empower young learners to excel both at school and at home. Their work is described as ‘welcoming’ as the team strives to remain connected to families. “One of the tools that they have been using to reach out to parents is a program called ‘Remind.’ [It] allows teachers to electronically send home photos and notes about the work in the classroom each day so that parents can talk to their children about the day’s activities and reinforce some of the lessons of the classroom.”  

Sandy Giles
Coordinator, Parenting and Family Literacy Centres
York Region District School Board
York Region, Ontario

For her dedication in making the Welcome to Kindergarten™ program a truly collaborative process for children and families starting the transition to school. She has implemented the program at 155 schools across York Region and facilitated learning sessions for 90 full-day kindergarten educators. She created colourful posters that were used for the implementation of the Welcome to Kindergarten program throughout York Region to guide parents in their engagement with their children. These posters are now used by all the WTK programs nationally..

Model Schools for Inner Cities - Early Years Team (Heather Groves, Principal; Rod Zimmerman, Vice-Principal)
Oakridge Junior Public School

Toronto District School Board
Toronto, Ontario

For its unwavering support to parents and dedication to bringing bright starts to students experiencing emerging obstacles and challenges as they begin their educational journeys. Oakridge’s partnership with Model Schools for Inner Cities also responds to the needs of the community’s diverse demographic, as the community reportedly speaks about 29 different languages. As described, “the richness of experiences, culture and histories is recognized by the partnership as an opportunity to bring parents together to learn from and share with one another.”

Honourable mentions

Devona Maria Coutinho, FDK teacher
St. Rene Goupil Catholic School
John E. Stépanian, Principal
Toronto Catholic District School Board
Scarborough, Ontario

For her dedication in responding to the needs of each and every student, as well as her focus on inter-professional collaboration. She believes in facilitating the involvement of parents, teachers and students themselves in ensuring the best possible learning experience. Her work has been described as “very efficient as she was able to balance her time as a teacher and as a mentor for other students.”

Graziella Bellissimo-Bougadis and Bepina Hila, FDK team
St. Mary of the Angels Catholic School
Toronto Catholic District School Board
Toronto, Ontario

For their outstanding leadership and dedication to ensuring that all students have the best possible learning experience. As described, “from the warm and inviting classroom to the reassuring structure that is maintained to help create order and expectations, these two women are always there for their students.”