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UCDSB Trustee Innovation Awards
UCDSB Trustee Innovation Awards
Posted on 09/29/2016

Board Hosts 2016
UCDSB Trustee Innovation Awards

(Brockville) – The Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) recognized innovators Wednesday night from a custodian who created a mural which calms high-needs students to a teacher who flipped the learning model on its head, allowing students to instruct seniors, charities and local businesses in the wonders of social media.

The Board hosted its 2016 UCDSB Trustee Innovation Awards at its main office in Brockville. The annual awards were first announced in November 2012 to recognize staff for innovative teaching and work practices. The hope is that by shining a spotlight on innovative practices, they will be shared and used to improve the way the board delivers education and other services to our students. The first awards ceremony was held in September 2013.

Staff honoured during the ceremony were:

Lisa Elminowski, Teacher, Russell High School (RHS): Elminowski was recognized for creating safe spaces for the LGBTQ community within our board. She was a founder of the Russell High School PRIDE Alliance, a student group dedicated to creating acceptance of the LGBTQ community. She helped the group deliver a workshop at the UCDSB Equity and Inclusion Forum on how Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) clubs can be effective in small high schools. Under her guidance, the group has conducted awareness campaigns at RHS including everything from posters to buttons. The group hosted the GSA Empowerment Day at RHS which allowed students to discuss how GSA clubs enhance the school environment. The group’s work has led to the creation of all-gender washrooms at RHS, and even a same-sex couple nominated as “cutest couple” in the school’s Oscar awards. Other initiatives Elminowski has been involved with at the school are: Black History Month, women’s rights, and mental health programs.

Elijah Funston, Teacher, Perth and District Collegiate Institute(PDCI): This veteran teacher is known for helping students improve their learning through iPad technology. He has inspired new ways of thinking in the PDCI community about the use of technology as a tool for both teaching and learning. As the teacher leader of the school’s iCoach program, Funston played a leading role in the Mobile Organization Conference at PDCI. The January 2016 conference attracted more than 30 representatives of business and non-profit groups to learn how to use social media and other modern tools to advance their work. Taught by students from the iCoach program, delegates discovered how online tools such as Facebook, YouTube, iMovie and Prezi can boost their organization’s online presence, allowing them to attract and inform customers, and to work more efficiently.

Funston and his iCoach students also worked closely with four Grade 9 teachers at PDCI with the goal of improving student learning in geography, math, art and science. The classroom teachers collaborated with iCoach students to develop lessons using iPad technology.

Trina Dobbie-Boychuk, Teacher, North Elmsley Public School (NEPS): Dobbie-Boychuk is being recognized for creating a unique learning environment at her school that employs modern technology and advances student learning. Her Grades 4-5-6 class works out of many different spaces in NEPS, including a “home base” highlighted by comfortable furniture such as a couch, tub chairs and standing desks. Across the hall from the home base is a student conference room with large conference table, a media desk, green screen, a smart TV and an Apple TV. The students migrate there to work, as well as to share and consolidate their learning. Each student in her class has an iPad mini, and can throw his or her work up on the TV to share and discuss. Student can work individually or in groups. Students also learn in a “white room” with white tables and white boards, allowing them to work through math problems using modern approaches. Students also use the Learning Commons and even the area of the north-end doors, writing their thoughts on the windows in dry-erase markers. The different environments meet the varied learning styles and needs of Dobbie-Boychuk’s students, encouraging greater collaboration and engagement.

Laura Barnabe, Lead Custodian, Maxville Public School (MPS): While a custodian at Rockland Public School, Barnabe used her own time to design and paint a mural on the wall of the school’s calming room. The mural was designed so the colour would be relaxing and help reduce the anxiety among students who access the space. High-needs students now use the area to explore, relax, socialize and complete their work.

Ron Francis, Teacher, North Grenville District High School (NGDHS): This science teacher is being recognized for creating a classroom described as a physics and chemistry “playground.” He uses innovative tools to make physics concepts accessible. To explain the concept of wave motion, the teacher devised a “smoke-ring garbage can machine” that shoots smoke rings across his classroom to knock down stacked Styrofoam cups. In another innovation, Francis used a series of pop cans on a string to demonstrate that, if you have oscillations, over time they synchronize. He incorporates “Green Chemistry” in his instruction, purifying substances from reactions, and minimizing waste. This caring teacher was also instrumental in bringing the Robotics Club to North Grenville, and has taught several students how to fly the school’s drone.

In other meeting news Superintendent Valerie Allen and Principal of Teaching and Learning Anne-Marie Bulbeck presented an update on the UCDSB 2016 Summer Learning Program. The program helps students from Kindergarten to Grade 5 acquire essential Ontario curriculum skills in literacy and/or numeracy and to sustain and increase individual skill development during the summer. The goals of the program are: to increase students’ academic achievement; minimize summer learning loss and build student self-confidence; engage more students and parents in the learning process; and enhance teacher professional development. The program operated in 15 schools within the board. Allen said the three-week program resulted in significant gains in literacy skills. Provincial statistics evaluating the program’s effect across Ontario suggest students going into Grade 1 made the greatest improvement, with 27 per cent moving up one reading benchmark level.

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