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Board Awards – 2019

Board Awards – 2019

Rainbow District School Board paid tribute to dedicated employees and community partners on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 with the presentation of Awards for Outstanding Contribution to the Co-Curricular Program, Community Partnership Awards, the Go Green Globe Awards, Awards for Excellence, the Barbara Konarek Memorial Award and the William N. Roman Teacher of the Year Award. Employees with 25 years of service were also recognized.

“With the presentation of these awards, we continue a rich tradition of honouring excellence in Rainbow Schools,” said Board Chair Doreen Dewar. “We are proud of our employees and community partners for their commitment. On behalf of the Board, I would like to congratulate all award recipients for their outstanding achievement.”

“The contributions of our individual award recipients vary, but they all have one thing in common,” said Director of Education Norm Blaseg. “They are dedicated employees and dynamic educational partners who go above and beyond the call of duty to reach minds and touch hearts in our schools and the communities that we serve.”

Rainbow District School Board Chair Doreen Dewar and Director of Education Norm Blaseg presented the awards.


CoCurricular - MC

Matthew Cootes – Teacher – Lasalle Secondary School

As the Program Leader for Sport and Healthy Active Living and Arts at Lasalle Secondary School, Matthew Cootes leads by example. A strong advocate for health and fitness, he has coached various teams to encourage student involvement in co-curricular activities, including volleyball, swimming, soccer, football, cross-country and track and field. As Program Leader, Matt Cootes works tirelessly to organize tournaments for students with students, facilitating experiential learning opportunities. His love for sports has an impact across the city and the province – from schools, to local soccer clubs, to Laurentian University during track and field season, to local and provincial athletic associations, where he serves as an active participant. Matt also works with Board staff and colleagues to manage school website content, ensuring that school news is shared and student achievements are celebrated. This year, Matt led an international trip to his native Australia and New Zealand, giving students in the SHAL program a cultural experience they will never forget. For his commitment to student success on and off the field, Matt Cootes is most deserving of an Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Co-Curricular Program. Congratulations!

CoCurricular - LF

Larry Frank – Teacher – Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School

Larry Frank is a quiet leader who recognizes that experiences beyond the classroom deepen understanding and develop character in students. As Program Leader of Social Sciences, nurturing an appreciation for history is an important part of his co-curricular program. For several years, Larry planned and organized Remembrance Day Ceremonies and student trips to Europe, including a pilgrimage to Vimy Ridge in 2017. Larry is equally as committed to the growth of students through positive experiences in athletics. Over the years, he has coached a variety of sports in school gymnasiums and arenas across the city. From volleyball to hockey and softball to soccer, Larry has contributed countless hours to students. In recent years, he has focused his energy on the girls’ hockey program at Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School. This year, he made history by co-leading the Lo-Ellen Park Girls’ Hockey Team to a gold medal at NOSSA, followed by a silver medal at OFSAA. His positive attitude, generous spirit and endless patience have fostered student excellence inside and outside of the classroom. Congratulations!


Sean Green – Teacher – Lockerby Composite School

Throughout 20 years as a teacher, guidance counsellor and coach at Lockerby Composite School, Sean Green has forged strong relationships with students that have transcended the classroom. He has created close-knit teams whose players have competed at the highest level of provincial high school basketball, bringing pride and praise to his school and community. Sean Green has not only coached and convened junior and senior girls’ basketball, he has also served on the Sudbury District Secondary Schools’ Athletic Association (SDSSAA), including the Transfer Committee. Beyond basketball, Sean has coached high jump to prepare Lockerby athletes for local and provincial meets. Most recently, he has been a track marshall, helping to organize runners prior to their races. The team photos and memorabilia in Sean Green’s office are a testament to the relationships he has built with students over the years and continues to build to this day. Many former athletes stay in touch, the highest reward for a dedicated teacher and coach. They praise him for his role in their development as athletes and as students, lessons that have carried them into adulthood. Congratulations!


Dan Smith – Teacher – Charles C. McLean Public School

A respected teacher with the Board since 1995, Dan Smith is the epitome of leadership and dedication. Dan has a true love for sports and physical fitness and he values overall sport development in youth. More importantly, he recognizes that participation in sports has a positive influence on students, from physical, social and academic perspectives. Dan works diligently with students to help them apply the skills they learn in school, placing a strong emphasis on resiliency and commitment as the foundation for hard work and success. He also builds strong relationships with students, parents/guardians, colleagues and administrators. In his 24 years as an educator, Dan has coached and convened a variety of tournaments and teams including basketball, 3-pitch, flag football, volleyball, soccer, cross-country running, and track and field. He also gives generously of his time to organize and train volunteers for sporting events, giving students access to a variety of opportunities. On a board-wide level, he has been a member of the Island Schools Sports Committee and a member at large on the SDSSAA’s Executive and Transfer Committee for many years. For his exceptional leadership, Dan Smith is most worthy of an Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Co-Curricular Program.


Lori Yauk – Teacher – Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School

A valued staff member at Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School, Lori Yauk’s energy is contagious. Her passion for fitness and student involvement in sport continues to inspire. For the past 17 years, she has promoted, organized and coached Grade 7 and 8 cross-country running and track and field. Students have earned numerous championship banners for outstanding results. Lori’s ability to convince even the most reluctant runner to lace-up and join the team is more impressive than the accolades, fostering healthy active living for learning and for life. Lori celebrates success, and, in the process, emphasizes the importance of commitment, perseverance and a positive attitude. Tenacity is a trait she holds in high regard and students rise to the challenge. Athletes would say that Lori Yauk’s favourite word is “team”. She has high expectations for good character in sport, evident by the way she role models encouragement of all. Classmates cheer for every cross of the finish line. For her immense contribution to student achievement and well-being, Lori Yauk is most deserving of an Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Co-Curricular Program.


Kelly Vane – Teacher – Princess Anne Public School

Kelly Vane is a champion for students. As a teacher in the Intensive Support Program, she dedicates herself to improving student outcomes, giving time and energy to ensure success for all. Beyond the classroom, Kelly works with students as a coach and mentor. As the school’s resident volleyball and tripleball coach, Kelly not only leads teams, but also organizes tournaments in partnership with other schools. A mentor to students even beyond their years at Princess Anne, Kelly works with alumni to help run tournaments, providing important leadership opportunities to students. Kelly coaches the cross-country running team, supports the school track team, leads the school choir and organizes the Remembrance Day Ceremony. In addition, Kelly leads an annual dodgeball tournament, drawing students from Intensive Support Programs from across the Board to participate in a day of fun, excitement and camaraderie. This has been a remarkable success as the tournament celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. For her care for students, tireless efforts to promote opportunities, and natural ability to see the potential in all children, Kelly Vane is a most deserving recipient of an Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Co-Curricular Program. Congratulations!



John Cook – Volunteer

John Cook spent the majority of his career in education as a Grade 8 teacher at MacLeod Public School. From the skating rink he built each winter, to the twinkling lights in the hallways during the festive season, John was committed to his students and did what he could to ensure their school experience was memorable. Although retired for many years, John Cook’s passion for the Board, its schools, its students and its staff never wavered. Kind and generous, John Cook annually sponsors bursaries and awards at Lockerby Composite School, Lo-EIIen Park Secondary School and MacLeod Public School. He volunteers his time, contributes to the annual Christmas food drive, donates prizes for school events, and attends the Joan Mantle Music Trust International Dinner to support music education. John Cook has a talent for mentoring young people, especially in music, and continues to spend evenings and weekends teaching piano. John has served as a role model for many school administrators, providing support and encouragement. He has devoted his entire adult life to making the community a better place for all. For his many contributions, John Cook is most deserving of a Rainbow District School Board Community Partnership Award. Congratulations, John!


Trevor Kestle – Miller Maki, LLP

A lawyer at Miller Maki, LLP in Sudbury, Trevor Kestle has been involved with the Mock Trial Competition as a coach and planning team member since 2006. Over the years, he has influenced more than 30 teachers and 1,000 students who have benefited from this exceptional learning opportunity. Students trade the classroom for the courtroom, donning legal gowns to prosecute and defend a case. In the process, they test their critical thinking skills and gain an appreciation for the judicial system. Trevor Kestle has not only coached many mock trial teams, often to victory, he has worked tirelessly to recruit lawyer coaches in Sudbury, Espanola and Manitoulin. To give students an authentic experience, he collects gowns from colleagues for students to wear, and has spent countless hours crafting grant proposals to obtain funds to cover the costs of medals, plaques and other prizes to recognize participants. Students and teachers appreciate his positive attitude, pleasant demeanour, and approach to mentorship. They also value his commitment of time and energy, giving students an opportunity to practice skills, build citizenship and explore careers. Rainbow District School Board is pleased to salute Trevor Kestle of Miller Maki, LLP. He is most deserving of a Community Partnership Award.



Queen Elizabeth II Public School

Staff and students at Queen Elizabeth II Public School are proud environmental stewards. Students perform conservation audits and participate in waste-free days. The schoolyard is home to a community garden. Students care for and plant seedlings, and water and weed the plants. Families generously volunteer their time to maintain the garden during the summer months. Produce grown helps support the school’s breakfast and snack program and cooking club, and a portion of the produce is donated back to the community. The garden also serves as an outdoor classroom where students investigate the lifecycle of plants, biodiversity and healthy eating. Students in Grades 1 to 6 took part in an Earth Rangers School Assembly, where they learned about the innate connection between children and animals. Students also explored Greater Sudbury’s regreening and revitalization by participating in a presentation of “The Sudbury Story”. For their efforts, Queen Elizabeth II Public School earned a silver certification with EcoSchools, and now, a Rainbow District School Board Go Green Globe Award. Congratulations!

Accepting the award from Board Chair Doreen Dewar and Director of Education Norm Blaseg were, from left, Principal Paula Mackey, students Amanda Sajnovic, Victoria St. Amour, Kailey Payette, Jewel Hare and Cloey Dunbabin, and teacher Cara Durigon.


Lasalle Secondary School

The Lasalle Secondary School Green Beans earned a silver EcoSchools certification for their environmentally sustainable practices. The school grounds are home to five large raised garden beds. Built in June 2018, the gardens provide fruits and vegetables to sustain the school’s food bank and breakfast program, and supports families within the school community. To prepare for planting, students nurture seedlings in a science lab during the colder months. Students learned to build and maintain an indoor hydroponics garden, a method of growing plants using waste from fish rather than soil. Students feed the tilapia daily, and monitor the acidity levels delivered to the plants. When produce is ready, students prepare and cook meals in food and nutrition classes. Teachers use curriculum-based activities to teach students how greenhouse gases are connected to our ecological footprint, and students have pledged to make their individual footprint smaller. This year, earth science classes participated in the Earth Day celebration at Laurentian University. For building students who care about the world in which they live and fostering “enough for all forever”, Lasalle Secondary School is most deserving of the Go Green Globe Award.

Accepting the award from Board Chair Doreen Dewar and Director of Education Norm Blaseg were, from left, teachers Lance Gorman and Catherine Carriere, students Emily Henry, Samantha Thompson, Mercedes Marlok and Lauren Rajala, and Principal Maureen McNamara.



Barb Beaton – Educational Assistant – Queen Elizabeth II Public School

Barb Beaton is regarded as an Educational Assistant who fulfills her role with love, respect and dignity. A strong advocate for students with special needs, Barb sees students in her care as unique individuals and has an innate ability to bring out the best in them. She sets high expectations and they rise to the challenge. Throughout her 30-year career with the Board, Barb has demonstrated a willingness to collaborate with colleagues. She contributes to staff meetings, in-school team meetings, case conferences and Applied Behaviour Analysis meetings. As part of a pilot project, she worked with staff to plan and deliver academic, emotional and social skills programming to students. Generous with her time, Barb leads many extra-curricular activities at Queen Elizabeth Public School. She also organizes invitational sports tournaments, fun activity days, and school fundraisers. For many years, she spearheaded breakfast clubs and snack programs, recognizing that nutrition nurtures learning. Barb Beaton’s contribution to all aspects of school life, both inside and outside of the classroom, has had a positive and powerful impact on student learning and the overall school community. Conscientious, dynamic, co-operative and motivated, Barb Beaton models exemplary service to students. She is an ideal candidate of an Award for Excellence.


Karen Burgess – Computers in Education Co-ordinator – Centre for Education

Karen Burgess worked with Grade 7 and 8 students before joining the secondary panel. Within a few years, she was appointed Program Leader of Business and Computer Studies at Sudbury Secondary School. Karen readily supported colleagues as they ventured into the new frontier of computer software to support teaching and learning. She easily transitioned into the role of Co-ordinator of Computers in Education, where she had an opportunity to lead the implementation of technology across all schools. She introduced colleagues to new ways to manage student information, including attendance and grades. She also introduced new assessment practices for student success. She continued to build teacher capacity through professional learning, staff meetings, training sessions, webinars and one-on-one support, keeping pace with new programs and applications to enhance student learning. Karen played a lead role in the implementation of the myBlueprint education planner, Google Apps for Education, and GSuite, giving students access to leading edge tools. A champion for 21st century teaching and learning, Karen Burgess most recently launched the Coding Quest initiative in Rainbow Schools. Students learn to code and, in the process, build skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Karen Burgess is the consumate educator whose patience, poise, professionalism and practice make her an ideal candidate for an Award for Excellence.


Lucia DeFaveri – Teacher – Sudbury Secondary School

As Program Leader of Student Services, Lucia DeFaveri plays a pivotal role in Guidance at Sudbury Secondary School. To students working through the trials of adolescence, she offers a listening ear, an open mind, an empathetic heart, and a reassuring voice, all without judgement. She meets students where they are and goes the extra mile to provide whatever support is needed, whether it’s a pep talk, bus passes or food vouchers. She also goes above and beyond to prepare students for their postsecondary journey. Regular meetings, planning sessions and conferences are held to ensure students have everything they need, be it paperwork, mandatory courses or social/emotional readiness. Lucia is generous with her time, assisting with auditions, registrations and data. She also contributes to extra-curricular activities and overall student well-being through many school initiatives where students feel valued for who they are. Over the years, she has worked countless hours on graduation and prom, celebrating student achievement and creating long-lasting memories. For being that constant caring adult to hundreds of students, Lucia DeFaveri is a most deserving recipient of an Award for Excellence.

Don Gray

Don Gray – Information Technology Support Technician – Information Services

As Information Technology Support Technician, Don Gray takes quiet pride in his work with schools. Since joining Rainbow District School Board in 2001, he has earned an exemplary record of service, including 14 years without missing a day. Effective and efficient, Don goes above and beyond to assist schools on Manitoulin Island with their technology needs, evident by the technology rich learning and teaching environment schools enjoy. He shares ideas on how to keep technology up-to-date and, most recently, has been instrumental in working with administration on a renewal strategy for interactive technology and computing devices in the classroom. There is a one-to-one student to computing device ratio in schools he supports, including Little Current Public School, Assiginack Public School, Charles C. McLean Public School, Central Manitoulin Public School and Manitoulin Secondary School. Turnaround times for tech support are excellent, demonstrating his commitment to maintaining a high functioning end-user environment and user experience. Always willing to go the extra mile to implement the right solution for students and staff, his expertise has had a positive impact on teaching and learning and, ultimately, student success. A role model in Information Services, Don Gray willingly shares best practices with peers which benefits students across Rainbow Schools. Don Gray is an ideal candidate for an Award for Exellence.


Marlene McCulligh – Secondary Administrative Assistant – Lockerby Composite School

Marlene McCulligh greets visitors to Lockerby Composite School with a warm smile and welcoming words. As office supervisor, she is a vital part of the school community, an individual who has had a positive impact on students, staff, parents/guardians, colleagues and the public. Marlene has made it her mission to educate students about the importance of being respectful at all times, social skills they carry with them long after they graduate. Knowledgeable about school policies, procedures and practices, Marlene constantly anticipates the needs of staff and readily responds with a high level of efficiency, ensuring that deadlines are met. She is also a role model and mentor to peers, providing leadership and support. Colleagues enjoy her pleasant disposition and sense of humour. Administrators appreciate her ability to cope under pressure, regardless of the demands of the busy office environment. Generous and kind, Marlene is the hub of the school beyond her day-to-day role. She actively participates in fundraising activities, volunteers for school sports, supports students in need, serves as a school ambassador, and contributes to the well-being of the community. For her dedicated service, Marlene McCulligh is most deserving of an Award for Excellence.


Craig O’Kane – Maintenance Supervisor – Facilities Department

Craig O’Kane has served as an electrician with Rainbow District School Board for the past 14 years and was recently promoted to the position of Maintenance Supervisor. Based at the Maintenance Shop, he is an integral part of the Board’s Facilities Department which is fundamental to the smooth operation of schools in Sudbury, Espanola and Manitoulin Island. In fulfilling his daily duties and meeting his responsibilities as an electrician, Craig demonstrated a strong work ethic, reflected in the high level of service that he provides. Craig O’Kane did more than keep the lights on and the computers powered. He readily identified potential concerns that could impact student safety and took appropriate measures to address them. Safety, as always, is first and foremost. Craig O’Kane’s competence in his trade is surpassed only by his positive attitude, which made him an ideal candidate for his current role. Respected by peers and supervisors, he is willing to go the extra mile to ensure optimum learning environments for students and staff. He is regarded as conscientious, reliable and trustworthy, traits that are highly valued in all fields of work and fostered in Rainbow Schools. Craig O’Kane is most deserving of a Rainbow District School Board Award for Excellence.



Erin Burns-Costello – Special Education Resource Teacher – Churchill Public School

Erin Burns-Costello has guided students in her Intensive Support Program class with kindness. A fierce advocate for students with special needs, she believes in their potential and nurtures their growth. Students describe her as the “best story reader ever”, a “crazy spoons player” and, most importantly, “a wonderful teacher”. Erin is protective of her students and has their best interests at heart, fulfilling her role with great love, patience, care and compassion. She takes time to know students as learners and as young people who are each unique. After her grandmother passed away, Erin and her family created the Nora Keaney Memorial Award to recognize and celebrate a graduating student in the ISP class at Churchill Public School. Erin recently moved to the role of Special Education Resource Teacher where she shares her knowledge and expertise school-wide. She contributes to the life of the school and the community through the Fall Harvest Feast, Christmas Concert, Breakfast Club, Relay for Life and Kids Helping Kids Food Drive, role modeling the importance of giving back. For her ability to connect with students of all abilities, Erin Burns-Costello is an ideal candidate for the Barbara Konarek Memorial Award.



Petra Demeyere – Teacher – Algonquin Road Public School

A purposeful educator who embraces new research, Petra Demeyere knows where students are in their learning and how to move them forward. In her classroom, she has mastered evidence-based pedagogical practices – precise and personalized instruction, which responds to individual needs, the ‘gradual release of responsibility’ model, which fosters independence, and scaffolding, which builds on prior knowledge. Petra brings together all available resources to maximize student success – from extra help during nutrition breaks, to support staff, tutors and volunteers in the classroom, to manipulatives, to technology, to assessment data – and engages parents/guardians in the journey. Colleagues say Petra Demeyere lives in the “above and beyond world” both inside and outside of the classroom. She challenges students with intense curriculum, expands their potential through focused interventions, sets high expectations for herself and her students, forges strong relationships, and models a growth mindset. She also plays a lead role in school events, from fun fairs to track meets, contributing to a vibrant school community with grace and gratitude. An exemplary teacher and true champion for children, Petra Demeyere is most deserving of the William N. Roman Teacher of the Year Award. Congratulations! Donna Rudakas presented the award on behalf of the Roman Family along with Board Chair Doreen Dewar and Director of Education Norm Blaseg.