Nomination Process & Timelines

Nominations for Canada's Outstanding Principals are now closed.

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Process Overview

  1. Nominations are invited from school boards, colleagues, parents, teachers, students and all community members. Principals in federally or provincially funded public schools only are eligible. Deadline for nominations is in late October.
  2. First round judging takes place by each provincial principals' association.
  3. Final judging is completed by a National Selection Committee composed of leaders from government, business and education.
  4. Winners are announced in late January or early February.
  5. The awards gala dinner is held in Toronto during the last week of February to coincide with the five-day executive leadership program at Rotman School of Management, where award winners participate in co-operative dialogues with leaders from education, government and business. They also participate in advanced problem-solving sessions, co-operative learning activities and simulation leadership events.
  6. A congratulatory advertisement appears in a leading national newspaper featuring a photo of each winner.

Note: Nominations are submitted to provincial or territorial local associations. See Local Association Addresses for nomination submission address information for the appropriate Association.


Nominees should demonstrate innovative leadership, an entrepreneurial spirit and should have done something truly remarkable. They should also have the career potential and willingness to have an even more important impact on publicly funded education in the future. Nominations must include a Leadership and Student Achievement Personal Case Story about the nominee’s leadership experience in establishing deep, cultural change in a school that led to improved student achievement. This case story should illustrate a successful partnership that actively engaged staff, parents and community.

Nominations must include Supporting Letters from at least three of the key stakeholders to support the case story : school staff, (secondary school) students, district supervisory officials, parents, local business members, members of the community at large, and social agency partners. One letter must be from a parent. All nominees that are forwarded to the National Selection Committee will be informed of the results, by The Learning Partnership, in January or early February. The successful nominees will be recognized for their unique contribution to education in Canada at a gala celebration event, hosted by The Learning Partnership, during the five-day program in Toronto.

Travel (air and ground), accommodation expenses, the opening dinner, the gala awards celebration dinner, breakfasts and lunches will be paid by The Learning Partnership. However, meals on free evenings are the responsibility of the winner.

Criteria for Leadership and Student Achievement, Innovation and Letters of Support
Personal Case Story Illustrating Leadership and Student Achievement  
  • Establishes a future-orientated common vision for improved student achievement and enlists and motivates others to make it operational.
  • Demonstrates understanding and political awareness of the complexities—barriers and challenges—of change.
  • Develops an action plan to move towards the desired change initiative or innovation.
  • Establishes structures to support professional learning teams focused on the desired change.
  • Demonstrates effective communication skills to build and extend relationships to support the action plan.
  • Identifies key players (may include outside agencies or business partners) required to effect the improvement highlighted.
  • Focuses all stakeholders on improvement of student achievement.
  • Acquires the necessary resources and professional development to support the change initiative or innovation.
  • Establishes structures to sustain and institutionalize the change initiative.
  • Establishes structures to foster ongoing participation in school decision-making.
  • Reflects sensitivity to the unique needs of the community.
  • Demonstrates knowledge of current research, best practice and provincial/district direction on improving teaching and learning.
  • Uses data (community/parental/student/staff) to make decisions and monitor the effectiveness of the initiative/innovation.
  • Reviews progress and revises plan based on data feedback.
  • Continues to consult, communicate and work collaboratively with partners.
  • Explores and develops opportunities for future partnerships.

Criteria for Letters of Support 
  • Stakeholders represent key groups within a school community.
  • Letters reflect a variety of successful solutions/interventions.
  • Letters demonstrate positive impact of the principal on students.
  • Letters provide evidence of ongoing relationship building.

Criteria for Leadership and Innovation
  • Introduces new ideas or methods or has new ideas about how something might be done.
  • Develops an action plan to move towards the desired change of initiative or innovation.
  • Acquires the necessary resources and professional development to support the change initiative or innovation.
  • Establishes structures to sustain and institutionalize the change of initiative.
The successful nominees will also:
  • Engage in a multifaceted leadership development experience with their colleagues from across Canada in an executive program at the University of Toronto's internationally recognized Rotman School of Management.
  • Contribute to an opportunity to share best practices with their colleagues.
  • Be energized to begin the journey of expanding their impact on their communities and building a personal agenda for community engagement.

Program Advisory Committee

Luciana Cardarelli, Catholic Principals' Council of Ontario
Paul Lacalamita, Catholic Principals' Council of Ontario
Ian McFarlane, Ontario Principals' Council
Wayne Hill, Catholic Principals' Council of Ontario
Brian Serafina, Ontario Principals' Council
Peggy Sweeney, Ontario Principals' Council


National Selection Committee

Teresa Blum

Past President
Ontario Federation of Home and School Associations

London,  Ontario

Teresa Blum is an active parent within the Ontario community having been the President of the Canadian and provincial Home and School Federations. The Federation represents the “voice of parents” as they work diligently to have that voice heard. In her roles as president of both associations, she has helped Canadian and Ontario parents work within their schools providing advice and training on how the system works, has offered ways to help make changes to the curriculum and regulations through lobbying various ministries at the provincial level of government.


Charla Dorrington

Second Vice-President
Canadian Home and School Federation

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Charla (Cambee) Dorrington is a parent who resides in Dartmouth Nova Scotia. She is the retired President of the Nova Scotia Federation Home and School Associations and also is the Past 2nd Vice President for The Canadian Home and School Federation. Cambee is a retired military member who served her country for 14 years and has been involved in Student Advisory Councils since 1995. Cambee has four children, her youngest son recently graduated in 2015 from high school. Currently she works for Commissionaires Nova Scotia as the Operations Assistant to the Director of Operations and is the secretary for the Army Navy Airforce Branch Unit 349.


Deana HeltonDeana Helton

Area Director
Calgary Catholic School District

Calgary, Alberta

Deana Helton is an area director with Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD) in Calgary, Alberta. For more than 34 years, Deana has held a wide-range of positions within both New Brunswick and CSSD from teacher, guidance counsellor, supervisor and principal. As a former Canada’s Outstanding Principal recipient, Deana is passionate about the effect of strong leadership on student success and staff engagement. Her experiences in education have enriched her both personally and professionally.

Dr. Cecilia Reynolds

Deputy Provost and Associate Vice-President
Memorial University of Newfoundland

St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador

Following 17 years as an elementary and secondary teacher in Ontario, Cecilia Reynolds completed her PhD at OISE/University of Toronto. As a faculty member of Brock University from 1986-1998, she was the Director of Women’s Studies and Chair of the Graduate Department of the Faculty of Education. She then moved to OISE/University of Toronto to serve as Associate Dean of Academic Program from 1999-2003. She was elected to the first Governing Council of the Ontario College of Teachers and served as the Chair of the Accreditation Committee. Her research has focused on gender issues in education and she has published three books on this topic.

Susan Schmidt

Susan Schmidt

Assistant Superintendent, Student Services
Pembina Trails School Division

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Susan Schmidt is an Assistant Superintendent of Student Services in Pembina Trails School Division in Winnipeg, MB. Susan has been a classroom teacher, Resource teacher, Reading Recovery™ teacher and served as a school principal in three schools. Susan is a former COP winner and is passionate about public education. Susan champions inclusion for all, literacy and creating safe and caring communities.
James Scongack

James Scongack

Vice-President, Corporate Affairs
Bruce Power

James Scongack is currently the Vice-President of Corporate Affairs for Bruce Power, Ontario’s largest independent electricity producer and operator of the largest nuclear facility in the World.

Reporting to the President and CEO, the Vice-President of Corporate Affairs is responsible for media/investor relations, external communications, employee communication, community relations, corporate social responsibility, aboriginal affairs, environment and sustainability and stakeholder relations.


Ardith Shirley

Director of Professional Development
New Brunswick Teachers' Association

Fredericton, New Brunswick

Ardith Shirley has served as an ESL tutor, classroom teacher, vice-principal and principal. In addition to her teaching and tutoring experiences at all three levels in the New Brunswick school system, she has also served as a lecturer and internship supervisor in the Education Department of Saint Thomas University. In 2007, she became the Director of Professional Development of the New Brunswick Teachers' Association, where she is involved in the promotion of a professional culture, the creation of and advocacy for professional development opportunities for teachers and principals and other issues related to teacher certification and equity.

Duncan Sinclair

Vice Chair, Thought Leadership and Dean
DU North

Vancouver, British Columbia

Duncan is the Managing Partner, British Columbia at Deloitte. He has over 26 years of experience in public accounting and has worked with clients on assignments related to assurance services, operational reviews, mergers and acquisitions transactions, strategy development, business process improvements, corporate governance assessments and corporate restructuring.

Mario Tirelli

Retired Director General
English Montreal School Board

Montreal, Quebec

Mario Tirelli is a career educator who has served as teacher, vice-principal and principal at both elementary and secondary level schools. As a school board administrator, he has served as Regional Director, Deputy Director General and Director General. He retired, after 38 years of 'service to students', as Director General in July 2010. He is currently active as a volunteer on local, provincial and national educational committees.

For more information, contact:

Jon Powell
Canada's Outstanding Principals' Program Manager
416 440 5112
Nomination Tips
  • Start as soon as possible
  • Select a Lead Nominator who can assign the various tasks, i.e. securing the Letters of Support
  • Involve the Candidate. Often the Candidate possesses all or part of the information required
  • Involve other school and community members in the process
  • Review the Criteria for Leadership and Student Achievement and Letters of Support. The Criteria for Characteristics of Canada’s Outstanding Principals and Innovative Leadership are listed at the beginning of each section
  • For advice on completing the Nomination Package, contact other local winners or provincial winners

In collaboration with:

B.C. Principals' & Vice-Principals' Association
Association of Yukon School Councils, Boards and Committes