2015 Canada's Outstanding Principals Biographies

Adrienne Blumenthal
Porters Lake Elementary School
Halifax Regional School Board
Porters Lake, Nova Scotia

Backed by 22 years of experience at the Halifax Regional School Board, it is building strong relationships, fostering shared leaderships and the belief that every student deserves quality education that contributes to Adrienne Blumenthal's success. With a thorough understanding of curriculum and effective pedagogy, Adrienne is recognized for developing a co-teaching model at Porters Lake Elementary School between resource and classroom teachers to co-plan, teach, debrief and identify next steps for instruction, while using technology-based tracking systems to collect critical assessment data. The success of the model resulted in an increase in student achievement and greater collaboration among teachers. It also sparked strong interest from other schools to implement similar practices in their classrooms. Adrienne is known as a technology leader in her Board, a strong advocate for her school community, and a highly-respected leader among her colleagues who creates a culture that is focused on teaching and learning for everyone.

Lara Chebaro
James Robinson Public School
York Region District School Board
Markham, Ontario

Lara Chebaro is an accomplished educator and administrator. She has served on various district-level professional committees to improve student achievement and is passionate about equity, special education and literacy. She integrates this passion at James Robinson Public School – a place with a diverse student demographic, including language, culture, and religion. To meet different student needs, her school hosts transition and support classes for students with autism, learning disabilities and multi-exceptionalities. Her school champions environmental stewardship and uses technology to engage learners. She also runs the Reverse Integrated Multi-Exceptionalities Site (RIMES) pilot program that extends the school year into July and allows for academic upgrading, additional inclusion opportunities for students with developmental delays and complex needs. Scores on provincial assessments have improved for students involved in RIMES, with the project moving from pilot status to expanded services and permanent funding. Lara is a true model of caring and innovative leadership.

Elizabeth Churchill
Elizabeth Park Elementary
Newfoundland and Labrador English School District
Paradise, Newfoundland and Labrador

Elizabeth Churchill has been a stand-out leader in various roles, both in classrooms and throughout the school system. Elizabeth has created a strong foundation for Elizabeth Park Elementary with a positive learning culture that is based on the vision that “Each Person Excels.” Elizabeth is recognized as an exceptional leader who works hard to keep this vision at the forefront. From an Environmental Garden that is cared for by students and their families, to building a school-wide literacy program and targeted instructional practices – all through open and honest relationships with teachers and parents – Elizabeth’s leadership has made a positive impact on student achievement. In two years, Grades 3 and 6 English Language Arts results have been above the district and provincial levels. Elizabeth’s expertise is evident more than ever in the grassroots development of this new school community, where students feel safe and proud to come to school every day.

Claude Dansereau
LaurenHill Academy
English Montreal School Board
Ville St. Laurent, Québec

Claude has worked in a variety of positions across the school board. Claude focuses on offering all possibilities for students to reach their own potential. His dedication was recognized with the Hilroy Fellowship for Innovation for his work at Connections, an Outreach School and an Outstanding Achievement Award for transforming Westmount High to a highly successful school. He is supportive, an active listener, and understands the possibilities in innovation. Claude launched an actual furniture refinishing factory at Connections to teach real-life skills and show new possibilities in education to formerly disengaged students. He established a specialized program at Westmount High for at-risk elementary students that aimed to improve their foundational skills – a project that inspired the production of a movie, capturing the school’s efforts to keep four potential dropout students in school and the relationships Claude built with them. As his colleagues state, “Claude gets the right things done.”

Jason Dupuis
École secondaire catholique Garneau
Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est
Ottawa, Ontario

From his first teaching job 16 years ago, to educating children in Malaysia, then back to his hometown as Principal of his former high school, Jason Dupuis’s career path exemplifies his deep commitment to education. He spearheaded the successful digital shift at his school and has helped the Council of Catholic Schools Central East (CECCE) frame its vision of 21st century learning involving technological integration and innovative pedagogy. His school is also selected to participate in a pilot project that pushes the role of new technologies in learning. Jason inspires students’ interests in sports, arts and culture. He supported the establishment of a hockey program requested by his students and is involved with the Culture en fête project, an annual student performance promoting Franco-Ontarian culture. Jason believes in the success of his students and works to instill in them a love of learning.

Cathy Empey
Holy Cross Catholic School
Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario
Kemptville, Ontario

Cathy has been teaching at Holy Cross since 1982. She has worked in a variety of leadership roles and knows the staff, students and community extremely well. Under her leadership, Holy Cross is a “warm, safe, respectful environment” and Cathy is “well loved and respected by all.” At Holy Cross rich, authentic learning is integrated intentionally across subjects and grades, involving collaboration and trusting relationships among staff. The results of this approach have been successful and recognized provincially. The staff also works together using student achievement data; co-learning, and co-assessing, to support independent and collective student learning. Targeted interventions were used to address students struggling with Geometry and Spatial Sense. As a result, current provincial assessment data demonstrates that these strategies and actions have led to improved student results.

Marcie Gomes
St. Henry School
Calgary Catholic School Board
Calgary, Alberta

Marcie believes that “the content of education is ever changing; but its purpose becomes the constant foundation upon which we educate”. To bring about change at St. Henry, Marcie conducts ‘fireside chats’ for students and staff to raise issues and she also solicits different perspectives from community stakeholders, including artists, social workers and even grandparent reading buddies. Under Marcie’s leadership, St. Henry has become data-driven and assessment literate, gathering and analyzing student outcomes to inform teaching and learning. St. Henry’s community is diverse with complex needs. Through Marcie’s advocacy, the school now has access to a family support worker, a First Nations, Metis, Inuit worker, teacher assistants and a Diverse Learning Teacher. Student misconduct reports have dropped by 60%, student and staff absenteeism has declined dramatically and now there is 100% turn-out for parent-teacher conferences. Marcie’s dedicated leadership has transformed St. Henry into a caring and inclusive place of learning.

Tamara Grealis
Georges Vanier Secondary School
Toronto District School Board
Toronto, Ontario

Tamara is a hands-on principal, committed to quality programs and instruction, as well as effective student and parent engagement. Tamara created a Super Student Council with heads of clubs and teams and meets with students monthly, making sure their voice is heard. With a diverse student population, Tamara is committed to equity and ensures students feel safe and valued by supporting anti-racism initiatives, gender-free bias, and the Gay/Straight Alliance. Vanier offers cross-curricular literacy activities, including lunch time workshops and help sessions for students. She also established one of the first e-learning centres and she champions a Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) program as a way to prepare students for various career pathways. One of the school’s innovative SHSM programs incorporates science, visual arts and animation. She is well respected by everyone at her school, which remains a place of innovative learning and equity due to Tamara’s inspirational leadership.

Parker Grimmer
Queen Charlotte Intermediate School
English Language School Board
Charlottetown, Pince Edward Island

Parker Grimmer is committed to building partnerships to support student learning. He focuses on recognizing and supporting the range of student learners and has community partnerships to acquire additional support for students. Parker is considered to be a leader who “walks the talk” and can support and give collegial feedback to his faculty. His involvement of the District Literacy Team ensures that Parker keeps current with evidence-based practices. Parker creates a culture of assessment where he and his staff monitor student outcomes as measured by the provincial assessments in Grade 9 literacy and mathematics. The school is data-driven and the faculty uses professional committees and student data to influence their practice. He uses moderated marking and believes that best instructional strategies can be used by all teachers. Parker’s influence has made him a profound catalyst for change.

Cathy Gukert
École Mountview School
Red Deer Public School District
Red Deer, Alberta

Cathy Gukert has 37 years of experience in education and is an outstanding and dedicated principal. As a consultant and presenter for Alberta Education, Cathy has served two of the largest elementary settings and has worked endlessly to create cultures that recognize and build upon student strengths. She has an extraordinary ability to create teamwork among her staff and has focused on building opportunities for equity in education. An exceptional method that Cathy has used is the process in which her teachers are invited to view data together in order to build student learning profiles and examine how the data can impact student programming for success. She is a progressive and forward thinking educational leader who is best described as “not the type of principal you work for, but the type of principal you work with!” Cathy is an astonishing supporter capable of implementing innovative strategies.

Carol Hall
Nose Creek School
Calgary Board of Education
Calgary, Alberta

Carol is a passionate advocate of inclusive education, focusing on creating opportunities to improve learning for students with specialized and diverse needs. Nose Creek boasts the district’s first French Program for all grade 5 students; an Autism Spectrum Disorder Cluster Program and two Paced Learning Programs for students with mild cognitive disabilities. Carol encourages staff to engage student voice and provide leadership opportunities to build students’ skills and self-esteem. Nose Creek uses technology for co-learning between teachers and students. Social media is used extensively. Staff and students use iPads to simultaneously project their work. Carol and her staff engage students in decisions about improving their school. These innovations have resulted in Grade 6 and 9 results being significantly above provincial levels and a marked improvement in survey results measuring student and parent perceptions on school climate. As her colleagues describe, Carol is “pioneering, piloting and innovating”.

Nevin Halyk
Wadena Elementary School
Horizon School Division No. 205
Wadena, Saskatchewan

Nevin is a transformative leader with a passion for teaching history and chemistry. Both capable and talented, Nevin’s natural ability to collaborate has built trust and commitment to engage students in their learning. He has embraced the Response to Intervention program and champions science fairs, where his ability to blend student leadership and love for science has inspired his students to excel. Nevin’s enthusiastic leadership and strong interpersonal skills have helped develop a range of programming including sports through the Arts to make his school a place where students can follow their passions and expose their potential. His strong connections with his students and staff have helped them develop new interests and skills and improve their sense of self-efficacy. His love of learning truly inspires others.

Della Healey
Mount Pearl Intermediate
Newfoundland and Labrador English School District
Mount Pearl, Newfoundland and Labrador

Della began her teaching career in a remote community in Labrador, where she designed and delivered a unique course on Newfoundland-Labrador culture. Committed to developing inviting learning environments, Della builds connections and maintains trusting relationships with students and their parents. Della also uses technology in conjunction with the Accelerated Reader Program to boost literacy skills. The school’s Learning Resource Centre is stellar, thanks to her efforts. In addition, Della pays as much attention to staff learning as student learning. She encourages her teachers to explore learning activities from the Banff Centre to the Geneva Autism programs. She shares her professional reading and attends professional conferences and workshops as part of knowledge mobilization among her staff. With her guidance and staff’s hard work, Mount Pearl’s academic results are consistently at or above the district and province.

Peggy Hobson
Henry G. Izatt Middle School
Pembina Trails School Division
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Peggy is the driving force that makes Henry G. Izatt Middle School (HGI) a place for 21st century learning. The school uses Enterprise Wireless and the students use a variety of mobile devices to conduct inquiries and research. Peggy began the HGI’s Student Technology Leadership Group, which expanded to a summer session for the Pembina Trails school division. Peggy uses grade level teams to promote moderated practice. She created “a flextime block for every grade,” allowing teachers to address individual learning needs and pursue cross-curricular inquiries. Students use the time to meet community leaders and for self-initiated field trips. Grade 7 teachers and students run a bike repair shop to build real-world experiences. Staff and students have morning meetings to nurture trusting relationships. Students know that staff at HGI supports their learning needs and interests, leading to better attendance and academic success. All this bears witness to Peggy’s leadership.

Ken Hoglund
École Stonewall Centennial School
Interlake School Division
Stonewall, Manitoba

As a life-long learner Ken leads by example. Stemming from his belief in the importance of a second language, Ken introduced mandatory French for all students in grades 7 and 8. École Stonewall offers a dual track of both French immersion and an English stream. Ken recognized the need for ‘life skills’ for some students and introduced a program to meet those needs. Ken is committed to inclusive education and believes that with the right support, all students can learn. For him, inclusion allows students to increase their self-esteem and flourish by being part of a class and the whole school. Other students learn to become “more understanding and supportive” through working with friends with special needs. This deep cultural change is reflective in Ken’s commitment to celebrating all students’ improvements and learning during a “Day of Celebration for All”.

Louise Johnson
Loch Lomond Elementary School
Anglophone South School District
Saint John, New Brunswick

Louise is dedicated to building teacher skills, serving her students and nurturing parent engagement. She has initiated programs like Mother-Daughter Book Club, parent literacy nights, and Mother Goose for children from infancy to 5 years, to build children’s love of reading and writing. Louise promotes bilingualism at her dual-track school. She increased French signage and works at making French week activities more meaningful. Louise also fosters a culture of caring. The school’s motto is ROAR – Respect, Others, Accept, Responsibility and the mascot is ‘Roary’. She uses multi-age classrooms so students across grades can learn from one another and mentorship is encouraged with student leaders by developing teams that help teachers with younger students at recess, lead community projects and help to promote health and wellness. Louise has great school spirit and makes a point to ensure that both students and teachers are having fun while learning.

Roberta Jones
Holland Road Elementary School
Halifax Regional School Board
Fletchers Lake, Nova Scotia

From a very young age, Roberta knew she wanted to teach and inspire others. Today Roberta creates schools that are magical for students, where the environment dances with art, music, enthusiasm, adventures and innovation. Not surprisingly, her area of expertise was early literacy. In a previous role Roberta spent eight years learning from her students about sustaining culture and creativity. She builds trusting relationships with students, staff, families and the community. Roberta is data-driven, looking at areas of strength and need. With her teachers she constantly assesses how current practice is serving students’ needs. Gathering data on early literacy, Roberta helped design an early reading program with improved descriptive feedback to target struggling students. The program was successful in closing achievement gaps. As one friend said, “Roberta never gives up on a child.”

Kevin Kuiack
Our Lady of Grace Catholic School
Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board
Angus, Ontario

Kevin is an experienced educator, with leadership roles at Prince of Peace on Canadian Forces Base Borden and at his new school, Our Lady of Grace, which became an amalgamation of three formerly distinct schools. His leadership has allowed Our Lady of Grace to emerge, flourish, and become a successful reality. Kevin puts the needs of students first, spending hours meeting with parents, community agencies and other stakeholders. He serves on district and provincial professional organizations focusing on mathematical literacy, special education and First Nation, Metis and Inuit educational issues. Kevin improves student achievement by continuously finding funding for Chromebooks, levelled books and other resources dedicated to a variety of learning needs. He has tremendously raised provincial assessment scores and has even acquired resources to provide services to families whose homes were devastated by the tornado that swept the Barrie region. Kevin leads by modelling care, collaboration and focused action.

Murray Kuntz
St. Mary's High School
Bruce Grey Catholic District School Board
Owen Sound, Ontario

Murray Kuntz has over 20 years of experience with a focus on Business Studies. Murray is an active community member and continues to serve on numerous school board committees. He encourages his staff to remain focused on student achievement for the entire learning community. His schools have consistently met and exceeded provincial graduation targets and credit attainment. Murray also embraces change for 21st century learning. He advocates the use of technology and supported staff in developing multimedia instructional units, now available worldwide on iTunes U. He is also recognized for creating an engaging culture with the school’s First Nations partners. He embedded First Nation culture into areas of curriculum and initiated annual staff trips to the First Nations community to experience how they live and meet with key community members. Murray is a forward thinker, dedicated to ensuring that all his students are successful graduates for the 21st century.

Lea Lamoureux
Kaw Tay Whee School
Yellowknife Education District No. 1
Dettah, Northwest Territories

Lea personifies transformational leadership. When she came to Kaw Tay Whee, all students were reading below grade level. Attendance, school finances and enrollment all reflected a school at-risk. Lea’s leadership and dedicated support from her staff and community transformed the students in her school. There are library and classroom resources to support a Balanced Literacy program. Students wrote and illustrated a book through clay animation. A new computer lab helps students develop reading, inquiry and writing skills, resulting in 80 percent of students now reading at or above grade level. Alarm clocks were even distributed to each family to support the ‘On Time by 9’ initiative. Lea also forged key partnerships with the community which funded innovative programming such as robotics and the use of SMART Boards. Lea’s leadership has helped students at Kaw Tay Whee become stewards of the environment and literate members of their community.

Peter LeBlanc
Erin Public School
Upper Grand District School Board
Erin, Ontario

The seed of Peter LeBlanc’s educational career was planted early when he taught math to his Grade 12 classmates. He is now a recognized leader in his school board, knows the names of all 340 students at his school, and believes in connecting with students on a personal level. His passion for building global citizenship skills results in highly-engaged students who learn real-life lessons, gain social justice, and compassion for others. He supports an annual "ERINSPIRATION WEEK" involving inspirational guest speakers and his school won a Staples/Earth Day Canada national contest, receiving new technology due to their eco-friendly initiatives. Peter is data-driven and focuses on the needs of each student. He builds strong bonds with parents and collaborative partnerships, including students writing for the local newspaper and working with local store owners on a water conservation initiative. Through Peter’s leadership, students are happily engaged and thriving in every way.

Sonja Lonsdale
Joamie School
Qikiqtani School Operations,t
Iqaluit, Nunavut

Sonja Lonsdale models a balanced life as an administrator, mother, and colleague. She is the school’s lead learner, continuing her Masters of Education through University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) and serving on numerous territorial committees. Her school offers a bilingual program (Inuktitut and English) and has obtained third party funding for nutrition programs to support students’ ability to learn and work with others to build their leadership skills. Sonja has also tackled the tricky problem in the community of safe student pick-up by melding school buses and anxious parents in carpools, which resulted in bringing order from chaos and setting the tone that a safe school environment is important. Sonja maintains connections with her students and staff, and is proactive in engaging with parents and the community. She is the force behind establishing a deep, cultural change in her school community that has led to improved student achievement.

Jean MacLean
Watson Lake Secondary School
Yukon Education, Public Schools Branch
Watson Lake, Yukon

Jean has worked in a variety of First Nations communities before taking on the Principal role at Watson Lake Secondary – a small, isolated school with a wide range of learners requiring multi-grade classes with unmet needs. Wanting to integrate technology to support diverse learners and increase both student and teacher engagement, Jean instituted blended learning, where students interact with curriculum and move at their own levels with teachers acting as facilitators. School climate and student outcomes are improving and the program has been adapted by other schools. Jean has worked to establish deep relationships with her staff. Together, they tackled the challenge with Grade 10 students getting increasingly disengaging, with some even dropping out, by changing the programming and giving students more voice and choice for pathways including the skilled trades. Jean’s leadership has created a culture of hope and possibilities; the school is now becoming a source of pride to the community.

Kim Maybury
Walter Scott Public School
York Region District School Board
Richmond Hill, Ontario

Kim Maybury uses her expertise as an administrator and instructional coach to improve learning. Kim was an early adopter of “Growth Mindset” and supports co-learning in various staff learning communities especially in mathematics and literacy. Under Kim’s leadership, her team develops rich writing tasks for kindergarten through grade 8 levels, mirroring the provincial assessments. They gather and analyze a variety of data sets to make sure they raise the bar and close learning gaps for all students. Her staff also incorporates learning goals and success criteria. They design mini-lessons, and co-create descriptive feedback to use with students. Such efforts have resulted in a steady increase in scores, across all three components of the provincial assessments. The school now uses QR codes to share information with parents and Kim has created thinking routines as part of the school’s adoption of visible learning. Kim is an exemplary leader for her school community.

Grant McKinnell
Major Ballachey Public School
Grand Erie District School Board
Brantford, Ontario

Grant consistently demonstrates an unwavering commitment to students, staff and community. He is a visible administrator who does a daily walk to every class and has led school participation in a wide variety of extra-curricular offerings and field trips enriching students’ academic experiences. Grant has partnered with the City of Brantford and community agencies to provide a range of additional support services. He created The Wish Closet, a space within the school for processing donations for the community, and even made a Clothes Closet available for students in need. Grant is a technology advocate who writes blogs and encourages his teachers to maintain classroom websites. The school also uses iPads to build academic skills. Grant’s impact at Major Ballachey truly extends beyond the walls and halls of the school where his skills as a leader shine.

Greg McLeod
John A. Leslie Public School
Toronto District School Board
Toronto, Ontario

Greg McLeod’s experience as an administrator, teaching instructor and school board coach in mathematics and science, as well as his international work to support principals in Qatar, brings great depth and breadth of knowledge to his school. Greg is a gifted instructional leader at his school, focusing on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) as the basis for inquiry learning, and is also the lead principal for the MaRs Institute Partnership with the Toronto District School Board. He is an “out-of-the-box thinker” who keeps current with pedagogical trends and challenges his staff to be creative and take risks. He strongly encourages exploration of evidence-informed practices and believes in building students’ skills to be problem-solvers, innovators, and good global citizens. As a result, student engagement and academic outcomes from provincial assessments are increasing. Greg seeks possibilities and makes them happen.

Emma Nichols
Queen Alexandra Middle School
Toronto District School Board
Toronto, Ontario

Emma Nichols has extensive experience with inner-city schools and is the perfect fit for leading students in a community recognized as a priority neighborhood, needing support for issues related to poverty, mental health and violence. Within two short years, she has transformed her school to one that is praised internationally for its work on equity, global citizenship, ‘inquiry’ based learning, technology integration and use of field studies and urban education for its student demographic. Her courageous leadership has resulted in improved achievement in attendance, learning skills, numeracy and literacy. Students now see themselves as ambassadors of their school and future leaders. Emma embraces technology and recognizes that for adolescents, technology is about connecting people and ideas. She even integrated live Twitter feeds during school assemblies – a form of innovative documentation adapted to fit the adolescent experience. Emma is “what everyone would wish for as a Principal of a child's school: caring, intelligent, thoughtful, dedicated, and an example to youth to whom she is entrusted.”

Flora Nordoff
St. Matthew Catholic Elementary School
Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board
Binbrook, Ontario

Flora opened St. Matthew as a new community school in Binbrook and it has grown rapidly from 287 pupils to over 800. She has taught at every grade level in a variety of subjects including Core French. Flora encourages gathering and analyzing student data to influence teaching and learning. Results on the provincial assessments have increased dramatically and are now considered “stellar.” The Grade 6 reading scores increased from 60% of students meeting or exceeding the provincial standard in 2009-2010 to 89% in 2012-13. The School Improvement Plan (SIP) acts as the school’s roadmap. Flora invited experts to work with staff on gender-specific learning strategies, with pertinent information incorporated into the SIP so staff would use common approaches and shared language. Students at St. Matthew know they are in a supportive and learning environment thanks to Flora’s endless dedication.

Randy Palermo
Thistletown Collegiate Institute
Toronto District School Board
Toronto, Ontario

Randy is an inspiring leader focused on seeking new opportunities to increase graduation rates and create post-secondary success, not only for his school but across the province. His school is located in a challenging neighbourhood, regularly facing issues related to disengagement and drop-outs. Under Randy’s leadership, the staff use a variety of innovative programming to keep students engaged, including a schoolyard gardening initiative in partnership with a local charity, a bike repair program that helps students build real-life skills for life after high school and two Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) programs in Hospitality and Tourism and Arts and Culture. Both SHSM programs have won accolades and awards. Thanks to Randy’s tireless efforts, Thistletown results on secondary literacy tests are currently higher than the school board and provincial levels. The magnitude of Randy’s impact is immeasurable.

Margaret Paxton
École Squamish Elementary School
Sea To Sky School District No. 48
Squamish, British Columbia

Margaret is an experienced educator in both the elementary and secondary sectors. She has been a district literacy coordinator, providing innovative programming for various grades to build critical literacy skills for students. Margaret has been transformational in expanding the district’s focus beyond traditional academics. She champions social emotional learning into curriculum, weaving programs such as TRIBES and Roots of Empathy into students’ school experiences, and has developed collaborative student groups on social justice issues. Her commitment to supporting healthy, secure students extends to Margaret’s support for the Strong Start program and partnerships with community daycares and community agencies to address the needs of vulnerable students. Margaret is a lead learner and is curious about finding new ways to realize impacts and looks to research and evidence-based practices. Margaret has presented her research at conferences and serves on the district’s Instructional Leadership Team. She exemplifies effective, innovative leadership.

Francis Poole
Strathcona Christian Academy Elementary School
Elk Island Public Schools
Sherwood Park, Alberta

Francis believes that first and foremost, teaching is about caring, academically and socio-emotionally. At SCA Elementary, staff, the community and students have created a caring culture. The school of 600 students is a public-private collaboration and is thriving under Francis’ leadership. Every day, Francis greets each student by name. He knows their families and is connected to the community. Academic learning is priority, and the school is consistently one of the top 25 elementary schools in Alberta. The school improvement plan helps create a culture of excellence. It emphasizes reading literacy and promotes global citizenship partnerships with orphanage-schools in a developing country. Technology at SCA Elementary enriches learning. Student work is innovatively displayed using video equipment. The school developed technology learning modules including graphic design, robotics and computer programming. Francis and his staff partner with the community and use innovative pedagogy. Francis remains committed to encouraging innovative thinking among teachers.

Sally Potts
SCDSB Education Centre
Simcoe County District School Board
Midhurst, Ontario

Sally Potts is an exemplary educator, accredited in a variety of areas with a focus on special education, and has hosted one of the board’s first autism programs. She develops “a culture of care, respect, high expectations and inclusion.” In her current position of system-wide leadership for special education, Sally brings the same dedication and focus. She leads her team in ensuring all students have opportunities to learn and grow throughout their educational career. Sally has also spearheaded mentorship opportunities between elementary and secondary schools and has worked with community agencies to remove systemic barriers to increase additional resources and support for students. Sally is also heavily involved in addressing mental health and trains teachers in self-directed learning strategies to enhance autonomy and independence for students. Students now thrive because of Sally’s leadership, dedication and vision.

Jim Rogers
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School
Ottawa Catholic District School Board
Ottawa, Ontario

Jim is an experienced administrator who believes in creating collaborative learning environments for students and staff. He works to reduce teacher isolation and creates structures and opportunities for teachers to co-plan and co-learn. Jim reached out to parents and developed workshops on inquiry learning in math from home. He involved parents in supporting their children’s mathematical learning and worked to de-mystify mathematical inquiry. Student achievement on provincial assessments soared and the school received the Doctor Bette M. Stephenson Recognition of Achievement Award. The school is now focused on experiential learning to provide authentic learning experiences for students. The school’s efforts were recognized by The Learning Partnership with an Enterprising Spirit Award. Jim’s thoughtfulness was evident in the testimonials from parents and staff members. Jim is knowledgeable about improving teaching and willingly shares his expertise across the district. He makes a difference for students and their families every day.

Alka Sahai 
Captain R. Wilson Public School
Halton District School Board
Oakville, Ontario

Alka is an exceptional leader and administrator, involving her school community in creating inviting and safe environments for students to learn. She is data-driven and uses perceptual data to assess if student engagement aligns with the school’s direction. Alka believes that students need to feel secure to learn and models her expectations for her school. Her enthusiasm, greetings and genuine interest in her students create a positive energy in the school. Under Alka’s leadership, teachers co-learn and explore strategies for 21st century learning to increase student success. Students are invited to bring their own devices, as well as use the school’s 3D printer to encourage creativity and inquiry. Results are consistently improving, with math assessments at 10% above the provincial level for both Grade 3 and 6. Alka is an empowering principal who works on realizing possibilities.

Raquel Steen
École KLO Middle School
Central Okanagan School District No. 23
Kelowna, British Columbia

Capitalizing on her experience of teaching students from Grade 1 to adult learners, Raquel has created an effective learning environment and a culture focused on excellence at École KLO Middle School. She created multiple leadership opportunities for students and now one-third of them are part of these programs. The percentage of Aboriginal students meeting or exceeding the standard on district writing assessments has increased from 72% to 84%. To ease anxiety among Grade 8 students, Raquel designed an exposition project to design interactive stations that represent aspects of middle school success. Raquel regularly shares her expertise in team building, school culture and facilitation training, with colleagues at a district, province and national level. As one supporter wrote, Raquel “positively impacts the lives of every student in her school community and beyond”.

Christopher Vuorensyrja
St. Mary Catholic School
Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board
Massey, Ontario

Christopher is deeply rooted in his school community and is an active leader at his school board. He leads a small, rural school with students of various individual needs – many of whom were struggling academically. Today, the school is thriving, with provincial scores increasing and morale at an all-time high, thanks to Christopher’s efforts to level the playing field for students. Under his leadership, staff made a concerted effort to enhance teaching strategies and increase and utilize all available technologies to improve student achievement. Chris is also very active in the community, building strong partnerships with local agencies and departments, as well as the Biidaaban School of the Sagamok First Nations community, encouraging partnerships through sport and culture. He also pursues Ministry or Board projects and utilizes available technologies to stay connected and avoid isolation that can occur within a small, rural school. Christopher is a leader who believes in his students and inspires positive change.

James Wahl
St. Francis Community School
Regina Catholic School Division No. 81
Regina, Saskatchewan

James has been at a variety of Saskatchewan Catholic schools, specializing in curriculum and instruction especially on professional learning communities. James considers unique opportunities as a way to demonstrate a sense of originality and overall excellence of service to the community. He believes that innovation must be actionable and demonstratively productive in terms of student achievement outcomes. These innovative initiatives include his ‘3-Way Goal Setting Conferences’ which began as a school-based project but has now spread district-wide. He has implemented 21st century learning in St. Francis, which uses Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) as a way to improve student learning. James’ insight on student needs has helped his staff work as a team, developing trusting, shared strategies targeted to increasing student achievement. He leads a cyclical approach that involves assessment, data interpretation, and purposeful instruction. James demonstrates, through his leadership, that learning is about the journey rather than the destination.

Wilson Warren
All Saints All Grade School
Newfoundland and Labrador English School District
Grey River, Newfoundland and Labrador

Wilson has worked in three provinces as well as South Korea. In Wilson’s schools, academics come before school events. Wilson is data-driven. He monitors and preserves ‘instructional time’ to optimize learning opportunities. Technology is another area of focus for Wilson. Access and use begins in the primary grades and is woven through the older grades. Grade 3 students make webpages and present PowerPoint presentations. Senior students are involved in the ‘Center for Distance Learning and Innovation’ and engaged in environmental stewardship projects such as marine coastline cleanup and recycling. Wilson establishes a collaborative culture “for improving teaching and learning” using evidence of student work. The school’s results are at or above the district and province and the school’s graduates go on to post-secondary studies. Students respond to his innovative programming and staff to his instructional leadership. Every day, Wilson and his staff make a positive difference to students, parents and their community.

Chris Woodcroft
Resurrection Catholic Secondary School
Waterloo Catholic District School Board
Kitchener, Ontario

After a stellar athletic career that reached Olympian status, Chris channeled his perseverance, exemplary work ethic, resilience and thirst for learning into a career in education. Chris takes a holistic approach to learning, focusing on the student mind, body and soul. He promotes nutrition and healthy active living, involving mental health, obesity and intramural sports. In addition, Chris ensures academic awards and perfect attendance are highlighted within the community and student success is celebrated in front of their peers to build pride, self-esteem, resilience and self-regulation skills. Chris also works closely with staff on school improvement, ensuring that plans are used as a road map for student achievement and well-being, as well as enhancements to instructional practice. As the result of his leadership on “differentiated instruction” the staff was motivated to re-evaluate their assessment and evaluation practice to better service kids. Chris leads with energy, passion and enthusiasm and is an inspiration to those around him.

Bonnie Worrall
Geary Elementary Community School
Anglophone West School District
Geary, New Brunswick

Before becoming principal at Geary Elementary, Bonnie completed her Master’s degree in Administration and earned her principal’s certificate – all while teaching full-time and raising three boys. Under Bonnie’s leadership, staff work in teams to mark student writing, assess reading skills, and examine ways to target specific concerns as identified in provincial and district math assessments. She works collaboratively with staff on School Improvement Plans, Positive Learning Environment Policies, and Comprehensive School Safety Plans. She instills leadership qualities in her students early by giving them roles such as playground pals, library helpers and managing a recycling program. Bonnie’s strong partnerships within the Geary community have enabled the school to purchase classroom and library books, fund school trips and theatrical performances. Bonnie is the epitome of a leader who cares about her school community.