2017 Canada's Outstanding Principals Biographies

Wayne Annis | Download picture
Keswick Valley Memorial School
Anglophone West School District
Burtts Corner, New Brunswick

Wayne Annis is a passionate advocate of inclusionary practices, purposeful engagement and increased learning opportunities for all students. Students participate as active citizens in a variety of community volunteer roles, including volunteer firefighters and recreational coaches, to build self-confidence, resilience and self-regulation.  Collaborating with the Keswick River Society, Wayne facilitated a school-wide Innovation in Education initiative with an eco-focus entitled Project Create. Wayne uses a ‘Purposeful Team’ approach with staff, while applying student achievement data to make informed decisions to establish goals, inform their improvement plan, and monitor students’ progress. Early learning is a high priority at his school. Wayne helped facilitate a community partnership with Child-Parent LINKS, which provides free access to interactive learning experiences for students. Wayne also held information workshops for parents to build their capacity to support the learning and developmental needs of their children.

Matthew Bedard | Download picture
Seawood Elementary School
Anglophone South School District
Saint John, New Brunswick

Matthew Bedard brings a holistic approach to education, enhancing the academic and social needs of all students. He works hard to maintain trusting relationships with students, parents and staff, using the skills he gained as a certified regional and national coach, as well as expertise in Threat and Trauma Assessment, Suicide Intervention, Emergency First Aid, Human Rights training. He sees the potential and possibilities in all students and staff, and has instituted a number of school-wide initiatives to build collective capacity.  This includes the Mind Up Curriculum to build self-regulation and social/emotional well-being, Arts programs and multi-age grouping to enrich curriculum outcomes. Seawood Elementary has evolved as a high-achieving school, with improved academic outcomes that are consistently higher than the district and province.

Bev Bjornson-Kowalchuk | Download picture
Emerald Ridge Elementary School
Prairie Valley School Division No. 208
White City, Saskatchewan

Bev Bjornson-Kowalchuk integrates her passions for Art and special education to serve the needs of all of her students. Her achievements include the successful opening of Emerald Ridge Elementary School, leading the process from design to reality, and working with staff to create a shared culture promoting academic excellence, resilience, and respect. Bev ensures that parents, through the School Community Council, are actively involved in the school’s implementation of vision and mission, and makes it a point to involve all key stakeholders including community groups and agencies. Bev engages her staff by forming Professional Learning Communities within Learning Fields, exploring aspects of increasing students’ learning outcomes, including the integration of technology. Her accomplishments have been recognized divisionally and provincially, and she has been described as “an educational leader with a high degree of integrity and ethical conduct.”

Aubrey Bolt | Download picture
Tuugaalik High School
Kivalliq School Operations
Naujaat, Nunavut

Aubrey Bolt makes a positive difference in the Naujaat community. As the former principal of Tusravik School, which served grade K-12 students at the time, Aubrey developed trusting, respectful relationships with parents and community members as he began to introduce new programming, while honouring Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, Inuit Guiding Principles. Students benefitted from additional shop and art courses, learning coaches and other increased student support, such as culturally responsive activities, incentive programs, and celebrations recognizing improved attendance and achievement. His leadership resulted in student attendance increasing from 50 to 80 percent and earned him the honour of leading the newly-created Tuugaalik High School. Recognizing existing community needs, Aubrey established a breakfast program and he works closely with staff to develop culturally appropriate extracurricular activities that actively engage students and the community. He has also worked district-wide on Inuit language programs and has designed targeted supports and interventions for students.

Carolyn Carroll | Download picture
Harry Camsell School and Princess Alexandra School
South Slave Divisional Education Council
Hay River, Northwest Territories

Carolyn Carroll is an agent of change whose professional career is deeply rooted in the Northwest Territories, where she currently leads two schools in Hay River. With a majority of the students at Harry Camsell School with Indigenous backgrounds, Carolyn recognizes the importance of the school “reflecting the culture of the community” and spearheaded a number of culturally responsive programs. Carolyn builds professional capacity of teachers to impact student learning. They collectively set goals, share and analyze data, plan targeted interventions, and engage students in inquiry-based learning. Results at the school are positive with over 90 percent of parents expressed positive satisfaction, up from 60 percent in 2008. Gains are due to “high expectations, close monitoring and a commitment to improvement,” making Carolyn an outstanding principal.

Tony Carvey | Download picture
Institut collegial Vincent Massey Collegiate
Pembina Trails School Division
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Tony Carvey is an empowering and mentoring leader at Vincent Massey Collegiate since 2014. He is currently spearheading massive renovations, transforming the 50-year-old school into an accessible, inviting 21st century learning space. Tony and his team set high standards and expectations for themselves, making Vincent Massey recognized as one of Winnipeg’s top three schools. With a culture of empowerment, a focus on mental health and wellness, and a staff team approach to apply student data to address diverse needs, all students at the school are able to learn and be successful. Tony grows leaders and builds capacity with staff as a coach and mentor. As a result, fewer students are leaving before graduating and provincial assessment achievements are up. Staff step up, take responsibility and instill strategies in students that enable them to articulate their voice, needs, and learning.

Flora Cifelli | Download picture
Dante Alighieri Academy
Toronto Catholic District School Board
Toronto, Ontario

Flora Cifelli exemplifies leadership at all school system levels. At Dante Alighieri Academy, Flora spearheaded a new building project, creating an inviting, rich learning environment for students, complete with an inter-faith garden and dedicated faith spaces. Intentional programming, breakfast/nutrition offerings and cross-curricular supports are provided, including Aboriginal education and 21st century learning technology and principles. Through relationship building and the use of student achievement data, Flora has built a strong support network between the Academy and its community elementary schools to proactively identify students’ learning needs in order to ease student transition into secondary education at Dante Alighieri. Flora also acts as Toronto Catholic District School Board’s representative to China and established a sister school relationship, linking the two countries. Additionally, she thrives as the Supervisory Principal of Continuing Learning for International Languages and is a system leader for collective bargaining, health and wellness, and adolescent literacy.

Rita Dickson | Download picture
Louise Dean School
Calgary Board of Education
Calgary, Alberta

Rita Dickson is a visionary leader at Louise Dean School for expectant and parenting teens. Rita has created a secure, safe, welcoming learning environment for her students to work towards a high school diploma or certificate, while affording them flexible scheduling for maternity leaves, counselling or lifestyle challenges. Rita and the school’s multidisciplinary staff include teachers, social workers and psychologists who interact as teacher mentors and trusted adults throughout each student’s high school journey. Collaboration is strong with community and health partners, corporations and government. Rita instituted more flexible and personalized programs in careers, technology, childcare, parenting, legal and Indigenous education, as well as credit recovery courses. Targeted assemblies are driven by students’ input and needs. Learner Bursaries for financial assistance are offered and partnerships are established with post-secondary institutions for more effective transitions. Louise Dean School is a success with credit accumulation and graduation rates increasing.

Susan Forbes | Download picture
St. James the Greater Catholic School
Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario
Smiths Falls, Ontario

Sue Forbes is an inspirational leader. She ensures students and adults feel safe and empowered, and makes it a priority to know and greet each and every child at her school. To improve student achievement Sue incorporates data analysis and targeted interventions such as guided reading, specialized programs, and provincial assessment booster groups. She is optimistic and energizes her staff using a “Stop, Start and Continue” methodology and schedules sessions for relaxation and team bonding to boost morale and trust. Sue has also been actively involved in the Eastern Ontario Staff Development network and within the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario. Efforts by Sue and her staff have resulted in more students self-reporting positive feelings on resiliency and mental health surveys, and provincial assessment scores are up by 12 percent for writing and 10 percent for math. “Sue sees solutions, not obstacles, and brings a positive attitude to school each and every day.”

Michael Franklin | Download picture
GROW Alternate Education Centre
Cariboo-Chilcotin School District No. 27
Williams Lake, British Columbia

Mike Franklin’s priority is improving students’ success. Currently, Mike effectively leads adult education, distance education, the Alternate School program, and the international program for British Columbia’s Cariboo-Chilcotin School District No. 27. He meets daily with staff to reflect, examine data and re-calibrate practices to better meet students’ evolving needs. Mike is actively involved in his students’ journey and seeks out opportunities for students to interact in new and different ways, such as working in bike shops, participating in mountain bike rides, yoga, kick-boxing, and engaging with First Nations Elders. Mike was recognized in the local news for his outreach efforts and also received an $8,000 grant to establish a respectful, inclusive, culturally relevant First Nations classroom. Mike is a gifted leader, understanding that his students and staff require safe, kind, inviting, and trusting learning spaces to grow, thrive, and succeed.

Monday Gala | Download picture
C. W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute
Toronto District School Board
Toronto, Ontario

Monday Gala is an effective leader creating a culture of adaptability, openness and resilience. He builds teachers’ professional capacity to influence student learning, using informational technology, student achievement data and committees, led by staff, to close gaps and raise student outcomes. He is actively engaged with community agencies to provide support for the school. Focused on equity and inclusiveness, Monday de-streamed Grade 9 and 10 classes offered at the academic level and ensured that Afrocentric content and culturally responsive approaches form part of the curriculum. Academic tutors, experiential learning and opportunities to earn post-secondary credits are also offered. During his tenure, student achievement results, credit accumulation and graduation rates have increased.

Christine Gannon | Download picture
St. Philip School
Calgary Catholic School District
Calgary, Alberta

Christine Gannon is an educational leader who instills a passion for the Arts and social studies at St. Philip School. Christine blends Arts with a “Reggio Emilia Inspired” philosophy of inquiry, discovery and exploration to complement the range of arts options at the school. Christine also introduced the Unthinkables program, allowing students to express their frustrations, anxiety and fears through art. Using animal therapy and human-animal companionship, Christine partnered with a community organization to spearhead an animal-assisted literacy program and self-esteem group involving Gizmo, the school’s therapy dog. The program has created a safe and nurturing environment to help reduce stress, improve attention and inspire students to become lifelong readers and achievers. Through the school’s Champion program, every student has an identified trusted adult in the school, supporting students’ risk-taking and their ability to feel valued. Such innovative leadership has the school consistently ranked as a top performing school.

Denise Gotell | Download picture
St. Thomas More School
Ottawa Catholic School Board
Ottawa, Ontario

Denise Gotell has held a wide variety of leadership roles within the Ottawa Catholic School Board. Denise’s advocacy for special education and equity, and the belief that all students can learn, thrive and achieve, has led her to champion assistive technology. Denise is an innovator, promotes student voice and choice, and explores avenues, including social media, for collaboration and engagement. At St. Thomas Moore, she placed signs throughout the school that read, “yet…” creating a buzz about what it could mean. It was a transformational time, with both teachers and classrooms experimenting and collaborating. The learning environment became flexible, setting the stage for new strategies for deep pedagogical learning. Today, students interact with maker spaces, living green walls, Dot and Dash robots, and Lego stations. Denise mentors and coaches other leaders, builds community, keeps current with research, and is a positive agent for change.

Cheri Haberstock | Download picture
Westview School
South East Cornerstone School Division No. 209
Estevan, Saskatchewan

Cheri Haberstock is described as an innovator, a doer and a champion. She draws on her expertise from teaching Core French and English Language Arts to collaboratively set priorities and directions for Westview in order to improve student outcomes. Under Cheri’s leadership the school constructed an inclusive playground space including a Cozy Cocoon for students with autism, equipment for students with mobility challenges, as well as inviting spaces for all students to explore and grow. Cheri spearheaded the fundraising to make this a reality. The Arts are highlighted at Westview through Cheri writing a musical drama performed by the grade 6 to 8 students each year, as well as the Christmas play for the younger students. Her creativity and commitment inspire others. Cheri has created a culture of excellence in Westview School through creative, congenial leadership.

Alison Hancox | Download picture
Palliser Beyond Borders
Palliser Regional Schools
Lethbridge, Alberta

Alison Hancox is an award-winning leader of Palliser Beyond Borders – a unique learning community that bridges a new on-line school with four existing Outreach schools representing small rural communities. The school offers flexibility, personalization and hybrid learning. A culturally-sensitive model allows selected students to work off campus and attend Outreach for instruction. Materials are available in Spanish and German to accommodate parents' language needs. Collaboration with community partners is integral to Alison’s work. Family Community Liaison Counsellors provide support to high-risk youth, who are able to learn at their own pace. The school is visible on social media and Alison blogs and tweets about students’ achievement. Under Alison’s leadership, the school has grown from 27 students to 671 in June 2016, and high school completion rates soared from 65 percent to 97 percent in three years.

Craig Howe | Download picture
John English Junior Middle School
Toronto District School Board
Toronto, Ontario

Craig Howe successfully leads John English Junior Middle School, which serves a community with diverse needs. Under his leadership, the school has adopted an inquiry approach to learning and a school culture where teachers are encouraged to use culturally relevant materials to respond to students’ interests and needs. Craig uses technology to ignite learning. He works closely with the school’s community and school council to make available iPads, stop animation cameras, Smart Boards and other tools to actively engage students in 21st century learning. He also encourages professional training for teachers to effectively incorporate the technology to support students’ learning. Creative student programs involving robotics, Ukulele, sports and arts makes learning experiences memorable. The school is also part of Toronto District School Board’s Hockey Academy for Grade 5 students, in which Craig champions an 8-week coaching program. Under Craig’s leadership, John English has become the hub of the community.

Erin Johnston | Download picture
Prince Street Elementary School
Prince Edward Island, Public Schools Branch
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Erin Johnston’s enthusiasm, dedication and experience across all levels of teaching allows her to affect change. Under Erin’s leadership, Prince Street developed strong community partnerships, including those with Big Brothers Big Sisters and the University of Prince Edward Island. She instituted a clothing bank and breakfast programs, and provided additional opportunities for families in need. Erin leads by example, mentoring and coaching staff to engage in quality planning for instruction and offering relevant, timely feedback. Prince Street’s goal is improved outcomes in reading, writing and mathematics. Thanks to Erin’s leadership, reading scores are up, student leadership increased, and students feel more positive about learning.

Anne Laflamme | Download picture
École secondaire publique Le Sommet
Conseil des écoles publiques de l'Est de l'Ontario
Hawkesbury, Ontario

Anne Laflamme is the innovative leader behind École secondaire publique Le Sommet. Anne implemented the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program at Le Sommet, which combines global focus with academic excellence using an inquiry approach that blends international and intercultural values. To retain students, Anne and her team collaborated with community partners to build four Specialist High Skills Major programs in rural programming, health education, culture and the arts, and business sports. Le Sommet hosts an International Hockey Academy to encourage students to complete their studies and play sports. In partnership with MIRA Foundation, students collaborate in the training of service dogs for people with visual disabilities. Anne recognizes the potential in each staff member and encourages teachers to enroll in professional development courses to develop their leadership skills. Anne is a leader who inspires others to learn and excel.

Carol-Anne Larade | Download picture
John MacNeil Elementary School
Halifax Regional School Board
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

Carol-Anne Larade’s diverse educational career includes teaching and leadership experiences from elementary through high school and careers in both Alberta and Nova Scotia. This has shaped her belief that “every student can be successful when their needs are met in a culturally responsive and respectful manner.” As principal of a diverse inner-city school, Carol-Anne has worked diligently with staff to build their capacity to recognize their students’ strengths and meet their varied needs. Among the initiatives she has spearheaded at John MacNeil are a restorative justice program; a Caring School Community program focusing on social-emotional skill development; the Incredible Years program, which helps parents promote positive social, emotional and academic performance; and a variety of family nights to assist and engage parents/guardians. Carol-Anne cultivates positive, trusting and respectful relationships with all members of the community to transform learning for students at John MacNeil.

Mary Lazaris | Download picture
Twin Oaks Elementary School
Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board
Laval, Quebec

Mary Lazaris knows every one of her school’s 537 students by name, and leads her staff in modeling an inclusive approach to education, especially for students with special needs. Twin Oaks has a sensory room and mindfulness program, reflecting Mary’s efforts to create a learning community for all. With her background in early learning and her experience as an elementary teacher, she has established a collaborative environment at Twin Oaks Elementary School, in which learning is intentional and risk-taking and creativity among the teachers are encouraged. Students are empowered to contribute, as part of the school’s commitment to teamwork and learning, by serving on the Student Innovative Learning Technologies Committee, reviewing students’ suggestions for ideas, and action plans to improve digital technology in Twin Oaks.

Karan Leal | Download picture
St. Patrick Catholic Elementary School
Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board
Peterborough, Ontario

Karan Leal is described as a “gifted leader, spiritual guide and friend.” From personally delivering food baskets to parents in need, to sending countless number of students to summer camps that they would not otherwise be able to afford, Karan creates opportunities to support diverse needs in her school’s community. St. Patrick is also a community hub thanks to her efforts. Christmas pageants are held in locations for the whole community to enjoy, the school is more involved in local activities, and the media are always alerted to student success at St. Patrick. Karan’s full support allowed St. Patrick staff to spearhead a board-wide robotics tournament. Karan and her staff focus on improving math skills and provincial assessment scores using student achievement data and integrate new evidence-based learning to serve her students’ diverse needs. She creates safe spaces for staff and students to collaborate and explore, celebrating small and large victories.

Darren Lentz | Download picture
Kingsway Park/Hyde Park Public Schools
Lakehead District School Board
Thunder Bay, Ontario

Darren Lentz’s passion for sports and recreation has been a driving force in his educational career, which includes working in On-Reserve First Nation schools in Northern Ontario and in Sioux Lookout, before moving to Thunder Bay. A hands-on leader, Darren draws on his experience to create a strong sense of community at Hyde Park and Kingsway Park public schools to support at-risk students, providing sensory rooms and building strategies to de-escalate behaviours. He is passionate about integrating First Nations learning, focusing on the “Seven Grandfather” teaching in assemblies, projects and ongoing classroom lessons. Darren seeks out relevant, authentic learning experiences for students to build self-esteem and community, developing partnerships to provide them with a wide variety of opportunities. He serves on the Minister’s Principals Reference Group, and teaches the Native Language Instructor Program for the Lakehead University as well as the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Additional Qualification courses.

Lynn Leslie | Download picture
St. Martha School
Calgary Catholic School District
Calgary, Alberta

Lynn Leslie has been a trustee, teacher and an administrator for Calgary Catholic School Board dedicating her professional life to improved outcomes for all students. St. Martha is a diverse school in which 70% of the students are English Language Learners. Lynn began by building teachers’ capacity and providing time for collaboration. Teachers are encouraged to apply a range of strategies to differentiate the learning and meet the diverse needs of St. Martha’s students, while continuously monitoring and refining their teaching practices. To increase academic achievement, Lynn and her team implemented a student wellness program, and a series of innovative and engaging math programs. Student and parent engagement are encouraged thanks to Lynn’s integration of technology in the school’s new Learning Commons as well as digital communications platforms to keep parents connected.

David Locke | Download picture
Holy Spirit High School
Newfoundland and Labrador English School District
Conception Bay South, Newfoundland and Labrador

David Locke is a leader who builds trust with staff, students and the broader school community. He is intentionally visible in the halls and classrooms of Holy Spirit High School, interacting and connecting with his 900 students, often referring to them by name. Since his arrival, the graduation rate at Holy Spirit has consistently been near or at the top of the province. Additionally, the percentage of students in the non-academic stream has been decreasing. Dave is committed to building capacity among staff. He has been working on differentiating instruction, providing early interventions to meet the needs of the most challenging of students. Dave has been a driving force in effectively incorporating technology, recognizing the possibilities in PowerSchool and Google Classrooms.  Dave understands student and staff well-being, is accessible and responsive, and exemplifies all aspects of learning at Holy Spirit.

Nancy Matthews | Download picture
Riverview Middle School
Anglophone East School District
Riverview, New Brunswick

Nancy Matthews has been recognized provincially for her outstanding educational leadership. She is a published author on topics such as change management and data-driven decision making, applying such practices at Riverview. Nancy coaches, mentors and models life-long learning. She created a Student Voice leadership group and developed with staff a Harry Potter week, where the adults, in costume, used Harry Potter as a vehicle to explore literacy, creativity and thinking. Nancy also introduced healthy nutrition and champions the integration of technology. Due to Nancy’s leadership, over 87 percent of teachers feel supported, an increase from 22 percent in 2007, and over 87 percent feel they have a voice in decision-making. Student achievement has also increased on district and provincial assessments.

Gail McDonald | Download picture
George Fitton School
Brandon School Division
Brandon, Manitoba

Gail McDonald places the needs of students first, guiding her teachers with the question, “how will this course of action promote student success?” Gail believes every child can learn, but she is acutely aware that each child learns differently, requiring a continuum of supports based on student needs and strengths. With a diverse student population at George Fitton School, Gail and her teachers travelled throughout the community to better understand where the students come from, so they could support them on their learning journey. Student data is gathered, jointly shared and discussed. Staff collaborate to grow their skills and knowledge. Gail supports student-centred learning and gives students the voice and ability to articulate their own learning needs. Gail is creating cultural change and making those changes into norms and embedded practices.

Cheryl McInnes | Download picture
St. Joan of Arc School
Calgary Catholic School District
Calgary, Alberta

Cheryl McInnes brings a broad national and international experience to her current position. She focused on effecting “deep cultural change” at St. Joan of Arc, gathering input from all stakeholders and drawing upon data from previous teachers’ surveys to systematically plan improvements that would address the diverse learning needs of students. Cheryl’s efforts have resulted in improved collaboration among teachers and improved engagement among parents, who are seen as partners in the learning process. Technology has been effectively integrated into classroom learning, including online resources, green screens, gaming platforms and document cameras. As a result of the cultural change, student outcomes have improved, and student volunteering and input has increased.

Angelo Morelli | Download picture
École K. B. Woodward Elementary School
Surrey Schools
Surrey, British Columbia

Angelo Morelli believes that all students can reach their full potential with a high standard enriched education.  At Woodward, Angelo works with a diverse community, serving the needs and aspirations of all students. He led the re-design of the school’s learning environment, spearheading the modernization and beautification of an aging, neglected building. He tackled the culture of learning through counselling and mentoring and spoke about pride and positivity in weekly assemblies. Angelo developed a music program involving all students, and exposed the Grade 7 school band to a variety of instruments and music, such as African drums, to reflect a diversity of cultures and experiences. Student achievement outcomes are improving, respect and trust have increased, and bullying and disruptive incidents decreased.

Craig Myra | Download picture
École Chebucto Heights Elementary School
Halifax Regional School Board
Halifax, Nova Scotia

Craig Myra has used his skills and expertise to build inclusive learning environments at École Chebucto Heights. Craig takes the time to know his school community and build trusting relationships. He develops strategies to promote student achievement and success that are based on input from the entire student community. Craig effectively engages the School Advisory Council and parent community and worked to ensure that learning is culturally responsive and based in the real world, with opportunities for hands-on and experiential learning. He has championed a program to build on teachers’ creativity and innovation, created structures to promote collaboration and professional growth among teachers, and acts as an instructional leader for his peers.

Lorrie Peterson | Download picture
Jack Hulland Elementary School
Yukon Department of Education
Whitehorse, Yukon

Lorrie Peterson is leader who creates a collaborative culture among her staff. They use monthly meetings to share professional practice, gather data, share strategies and implement opportunities to build professional capacity to impact learning. Lorrie also encourages staff to build their skills through national professional development activities and bring their knowledge back to the school to support student learning. Lorrie instituted the school’s Character Education Program (CHEP), which focuses on seven essential virtues: empathy, conscience, self-control, respect, kindness, tolerance, and fairness. The program continues to grow in both actions and meaning. Lorrie and her staff reach out to engage parents and the community, mobilizing over 80 local businesses to provide supports and opportunities for students and their families.

Lucille Plante | Download picture
École élémentaire catholique Bernard-Grandmaître
Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est
Ottawa, Ontario

Lucille Plante has been highly effective in developing partnerships and sharing decision-making to involve all the stakeholders in the process of change. Lucille began with an improvement plan that focused on three areas: numeracy, identity building, and caring and safety. She formed a School Council committee for each priority and established structures to aid teacher-to-teacher collaboration. She selected five teachers to provide leadership and mentorship to their peers, and professional learning teams are now the norm, allowing teachers to collaborate on their practice. Lucille continues to mobilize the school’s community to ensure change is sustained and student outcomes improve.

Sylvain Plourde | Download picture
Learning Support Services, Special Education
Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est
Ottawa, Ontario

Sylvain Plourde has been the central coordinating principal since 2011, reporting to the Superintendent of Special Education and supervising and coordinating a team of over 40 professionals. Sylvain sits on Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est’s (CECCE’s) Special Education Advisory Committee; actively networking throughout the province. His team’s focus is to reduce achievement gaps and serve the needs of all students. While recognizing CECCE’s excellent student outcomes, including a graduation rate of 96%, Sylvain reminds staff there is always room for improvement. Sylvain is committed to “doing everything in his power to help students succeed, and his attitude and visible engagement inspire his colleagues.”

Alida Privett | Download picture
Mar Jok Elementary School
Central Okanagan Public Schools
Kelowna, British Columbia

Alida Privett is an early adopter of technology, integrating inquiry with science. She opened and successfully leads Mar Jok Elementary School, an innovative, 21st century learning environment, boasting moveable glass walls and flexible learning spaces. Through Alida’s leadership, the school exemplifies cultures of inquiry and collective learning to nurture students in reaching their full potential through educational discovery. Student e-portfolios are used, allowing for personalization, targeted supports and three-way parent, teacher and student conversations. An innovative, inquiry-based Learning in Depth (LiD) program was introduced for students on the autism spectrum, and monthly Student Advisory Meetings focus on students who are experiencing challenges. Evidence of learning excellence at Mar Jok continues to grow, as students take more ownership for their success.

Anna Sanalitro | Download picture
Pierre Elliott Trudeau Elementary School
English Montreal School Board
Montreal, Quebec

Anna Sanalitro has been a teacher, mathematics consultant, and administrator at both the elementary and secondary school levels. In 2014, Anna accepted the principalship at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Elementary, a school with diverse student needs. She began by engaging all stakeholders to provide input and participate in the change process and used her expertise to focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics). She upgraded the school’s technology, removed barriers to collaboration, and created two classrooms focusing on social, emotional and educational development. Supports are also in place to maximize learning opportunities for students with special needs. Anna introduced acceleration as an approach to support underachieving students, and encouraged the use of an outdoor classroom to provide authentic learning experiences, supported by community volunteers. Not surprisingly, enrollment and achievement have increased under Anna’s leadership.

Loui Silvestri | Download picture
Sunningdale Public School
Halton District School Board
Oakville, Ontario

Loui Silvestri’s expertise is in French and technology, and he has used both as a teacher, teacher-librarian and administrator. Under his direction, Sunningdale Public School’s intentional focus on mathematics has resulted in provincial assessment results (EQAO), at or above 80%, for both the primary and junior divisions. Loui and his team have implemented a number of school-wide initiatives to create a supportive yet challenging learning environment. Loui and his staff are working with the Halton board to shape the quality of French immersion instruction and learning. Approaches such as guided instruction, literacy centres and the use of data walls reflect the use of evidence-informed practices. Loui serves as an Elementary Provincial Councilor for the Ontario Principals’ Council, and leads the District’s new teacher induction program.

Belal Taha | Download picture
Trillium Woods Public School
York Region District School Board
Richmond Hill, Ontario

Belal Taha specializes in computers, drama and mathematics. As former principal at Mackenzie Glen Public School, Belal used his expertise to create an engaging learning environment for students. The library morphed into a learning commons with “maker-space” to create, invent and learn, a Lego wall and green screen. Grade 7 and 8 students are permitted to bring their own devices to school and student voice and choice are valued. Student achievement is consistently monitored and learning issues are raised early by staff teams, resulting in accommodations, growth plans and interventions being applied more effectively. In addition, he instituted two student support centres for math and language. The school also provided a Breakfast Program, and after-school and summer programs to assist at-risk learners. As a result, school attendance improved as well as student outcomes. Belal now leads the school community of Trillium Woods Public School.

Jacqueline Taylor | Download picture
Ellison Elementary School
Vernon School District No. 22
Vernon, British Columbia

Jacquie Taylor is a champion, advocating for her students and families at Ellison Elementary, many who face diverse challenges. Jacquie works closely with staff to address these challenges to positively impact student learning. A variety of nutrition programs were instituted and social work and counselling services were increased, focusing on emotional health. She introduced a “Walking School Bus” involving parent volunteers accompanying students walking to school. Jacquie helped form community agency partnerships to provide additional supports and acquired technology, texts and musical instruments for students. The School-Based Team regularly reviews students at risk, implementing targeted interventions. Jacquie also provides common planning time so teachers can collaborate to better serve the diverse learning needs of students. As a result, regular attendance has improved and there is significant growth in literacy achievement.

Andrea Taylor | Download picture
M. M. Robinson High School
Halton District School Board
Burlington, Ontario

Andrea Tayler’s career spans a variety of settings, gaining expertise in physical education, mathematics and science, and working with at-risk students. At M. M. Robinson High School, she has been successful in implementing the Community Pathway Program (CPP) – a new program for students with exceptional learning needs. School building renovations ensured accessibility and created an inviting, safe learning environment. Andrea collaborated with school and District staff to create communication and transition plans for students and their parents/guardians. Andrea and the school team instituted indoor and outdoor learning commons to extend inclusion and equity. Student success is celebrated at Excellence and Welcome Back assemblies recognizing all pathways to excellence. Andrea has also integrated 21st century learning by increasing access to technology and communication. As a result, provincial assessment scores in literacy and mathematics have increased.

Helmut Tinnes | Download picture
Doon Public School
Waterloo Region District School Board
Kitchener, Ontario

Helmut Tinnes has more than 20 years’ experience as principal in both elementary and senior schools across the region. When he led Mary Johnston Public School, Helmut established a ‘safe, caring and inclusive team’ to collectively work on closing achievement gaps of students, many with diverse learning needs. He introduced 21st century learning techniques pioneered by Google and the Perimeter Institute, where staff collaborate, problem solve, innovate and communicate. The school created a learning commons, green rooms for audio and video recordings, and developed more experiential opportunities for authentic learning. Helmut has recently been appointed to lead the opening of a new elementary school in Waterloo Region District School Board. While in transition, he leads as principal at Doon Public School.

Geordie Walker | Download picture
Hillcrest High School
Ottawa-Carleton District School Board
Ottawa, Ontario

Geordie Walker builds trusting relationships and seeks innovative and respectful approaches to improving student achievement. He serves on the Special Education Advisory Council (SEAC) for Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) and instituted the first Learning Disabilities Assistance program for the Board. He also led its first Safe and Caring District-wide committee. At his former school, Rideau High School, Georgie and his team focused on improving outcomes for at-risk learners. Student Success programs were established and increased opportunities for credit recovery. Geordie also opened multi-faith prayer rooms and held parent workshops. In 2014, Geordie worked with the community to bring a healing and sharing lodge into the school. Manido Onji (Place of the Spirit) was the first of its kind in Ottawa and offers First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students a safe place to gather and support one another. Geordie now leads the school community of Hillcrest High School.