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Rainbow District School Board honours excellence in education

Rainbow District School Board paid tribute to its dedicated employees and community partners with the 2020 and 2021 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 and 35 years of service were also recognized.

The annual Board Awards honour esteemed staff and valued community partners who make Rainbow Schools great places to be. “These awards represent a rich tradition of honouring excellence in Rainbow Schools,” said Board Chair Doreen Dewar. “We are proud of all recipients for their commitment. On behalf of the Board, I congratulate all recipients for their outstanding achievement.”

“On the frontlines or behind the scenes, award recipients are champions for children and youth,” 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, enabling students to achieve their full potential.”

AWARDS FOR OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO THE CO-CURRICULAR PROGRAM

2020

Karen Passi – Teacher – Lasalle Secondary School
As a long-standing coach and teacher at Lasalle Secondary School, Karen Passi has helped many students find success in cross-country running, cross-country skiing and alpine skiing. Karen is always willing to step in to take over when another coach is unable to attend an event, and her volunteer work is second-to-none inside and outside of school. Students, staff and families appreciate her availability, kindness and expertise.

A tireless advocate for the co-curricular program, Karen meets with students before and after school to keep them engaged in training. Karen has chaired and been part of many athletic teams and associations including Chair of the 2019 OFSAA Cross-Country Running Championships in Sudbury and Chair of the Fielding Memorial Cross-Country Running Invitational in 2019. Karen is also an invaluable member of the SDSSAA Track, Cross-Country and Alpine Ski Committees. Karen’s efforts garnered her a NOSSA Pete Beach Award nomination in 2020. Karen Passi is a true champion for student health and well-being. Congratulations!

Kim Chezzi – Teacher – Lively District Secondary School
Kim Chezzi is a driven and dedicated teacher whose passion for student achievement is evident by all who know her. Kim takes pride in teaching science and physical education at Lively District Secondary School and enjoys helping students reach their goals on and off the field. No matter how big or small the ask, students, colleagues and families can always count on Kim for support and encouragement.

Over the years, Kim has contributed to school sport associations in many ways, including as an SDSSAA Executive Member, NOSSA representative to OFSAA, NOSSA Executive Member, and currently serving as the NOSSA rep to OFSAA. She is also a past member of OFSAA Hockey and Golf Sport Advisory Committees. Since 2000, Kim has coached girls hockey and co-ed golf, leading both teams to championships. Kim has also coached girls soccer and futsal, as well as boys volleyball and co-ed bowling teams. Congratulations on your Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Co-Curricular Program, Kim!

2021

Sherry Green – Program Leader Sports and Physical Education – Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School
Always up for a challenge, Sherry Green is relentless in her pursuit to keep kids moving. As Program Leader of Sports and Physical Education at Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School, she uses a combination of physical activity and innovative curriculum to enhance the overall health and well-being of students and staff. An excellent coach, she has led many teams to numerous regional and provincial championships, including volleyball, track and field, alpine skiing, cross-country running and badminton.

Sherry introduced new courses to re-engage senior female students in physical education, and secured grants for fun outdoor activities. She models and instills in others the importance of giving back and is an active member of sport governance, serving as Convener for SDSSAA and NOSSA girls volleyball. Under her leadership, Lo-Ellen Park Athletics enjoys a high participation rate, which is a true testament to her positivity, commitment and support of students and coaches. The first to recognize and celebrate others, Sherry is most deserving of a 2021 Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Co-Curricular Program. Congratulations!

COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP AWARDS

2020

Adanac Ski Club
Alpine skiing is one of the Sudbury District Secondary School Athletic Association’s (SDSSAA) oldest contested sports, with championship records extending as far back as 80 years. Throughout the decades, the Adanac Ski Club has been a constant partner, supporting the sport in many ways. The Club has made local, school-based ski and snowboard events possible through volunteers, timing and training equipment, technical coaching and official direction, and even course set up and tear down.

The Adanac Ski Club has helped high school races run to a technical standard enjoyed by club skiers, and, over the years, has facilitated the development of racers to enjoy success at the NOSSA and OFSAA levels. Eight championships have been hosted since 2013 and Rainbow Schools have garnered top spots in all but one Level I team championship, and all but two Level II team championships. Rainbow District School Board thanks members of the Adanac Ski Club for helping students reach their athletic potential. Congratulations! The Community Partnership Award was accepted by Terry Del Bosco.

Canadian Federation of University Women
The partnership between Rainbow Schools and the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) has had a significant impact on students and families. CFUW members spearheaded the Adopt-A-Family Outreach Program in 2005 as a way to support local families in need during the Christmas holidays. In January 2016, members expanded the program, collecting, sorting, bagging and distributing thousands of travel-sized essentials to schools for students, including soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrushes and various creams.

In December 2020, with generous donations from CFUW members as well as 30 community partners, the Adopt-A-Family Outreach Program supplied gifts, toiletries and food vouchers to 28 families, which includes 108 students in Rainbow Schools. Through it all, health and safety remained at the forefront. What an amazing feat in the midst of a global pandemic! Members vow the program will continue as long as there is a need. The CFUW is most deserving of a Community Partnership Award. Congratulations! The Community Partnership Award was accepted by Barbara Booth.

2021

Dr. Tara Baron – General Pediatrician – NEO Kids
A General Pediatrician in Greater Sudbury, Dr. Tara Baron studied at McMaster University and trained at the Hospital for Sick Children. Following five years at Sick Kids in Toronto, Dr. Baron moved to Sudbury in 2004. An Associate Professor at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Dr. Baron is involved in teaching all levels of medical education and is the Program Director for the pediatric training program. She also coordinates fourth-year medical students during their pediatric rotation.

In an effort to find creative ways to improve health care delivery for children, Dr. Baron has hosted school-based clinics at Princess Anne Public School and Chelmsford Valley District Composite School, as well as outreach clinics on Manitoulin Island. Dr. Baron appreciates the opportunity to collaborate with schools to deliver quality health care to students. For their part, schools enjoy having Dr. Baron on their team supporting student achievement and well-being. Thank you, Dr. Baron. Congratulations on this most-deserving award!

Wendy Larouche – Learning Disabilities Association of Sudbury
Wendy Larouche has been a long-standing partner with Rainbow District School Board in her role as Resource Facilitator with the Learning Disabilities Association of Sudbury. A support for parents, Wendy shares her expertise and offers a critical service when children are newly diagnosed. This includes guidance during the diagnosis meetings, the Identification, Placement and Review Committee process, and Individual Education Plan. Highly trusted by families and school staff, Wendy’s strong interpersonal skills help parents and students navigate the world of special education with ease. To see her in action is inspiring, going the extra mile to ensure students reach their full potential.

Wendy served as Chair of the Special Education Advisory Committee for seven years, and provides input on the Board’s Special Education Plan. She delivers presentations that are relevant, engaging and informative, organizes special group sessions and guest speakers, and collaborates on various initiatives. Wendy Larouche is never too busy for a family or child in need. Thank you, Wendy, for being an advocate for students. Your support is greatly appreciated.

St. Peter’s United Church
It takes a village to raise a child, and the congregation at St. Peter’s United Church works tirelessly to support Sudbury Secondary School with donations to the Value Vault. For 15 years, church members have helped students meet their basic needs, enabling them to focus on their education. At any time of the year, especially during holidays and throughout the pandemic, members have answered calls to supply hygiene and toiletry products, non-perishable foods, handmade mittens, hats and scarves, gift cards, bus passes, treats and even small appliances. They also hand deliver items to the school.

The kind-hearted congregation of St. Peter’s United Church gives consistently and anonymously. Their generosity enhances the learning experience, allowing students and families to feel a sense of comfort and stability in challenging times. At Sudbury Secondary School, the smiles on students’ faces bring staff the greatest reward. Rainbow District School Board joins with Sudbury Secondary School in acknowledging the collective humanitarian efforts of St. Peter’s United Church, a most-deserving recipient of a Community Partnership Award. Congratulations!

GO GREEN GLOBE AWARDS

2020

Adamsdale Public School
Staff and students at Adamsdale Public School have remained consistent in their environmental efforts, certifying Silver and Gold through EcoSchools in 2018 and 2019 respectively. The school’s Eco Team performs waste reduction energy audits, delivers announcements, inspects waste and compost, and teaches proper sorting and other eco-friendly practices. Students also took part in a Planet Protector Academy assembly.

To celebrate Earth Day, green activities are enjoyed by all, including litterless lunches, lights out, and neighbourhood and schoolyard clean-ups. All classes have Good On One Side (GOOD) bins, and students are encouraged to refill their water bottles donated generously from Ramakko’s and Tupperware® at the school’s water filling stations. Students grow seeds in their classes to plant in the school garden as well as the Minnow Lake Community Garden. They enjoy collaborating and creating meals using the fresh ingredients. Congratulations Adamsdale Public School for your outstanding environmental stewardship.

Sudbury Secondary School
Fast fashion is a clothing industry trend that keeps sales and consumption high. Sudbury Secondary School counters that trend by up-cycling textiles rather than throwing them out. Students bring in gently used clothing to the school’s Value Vault to swap with items brought in by others. This concept promotes an eco-friendly lifestyle by exchanging quality used and vintage fabrics, often made of natural fibres like wool, leather and cotton, and reducing the amount of micro-plastics and other pollutants entering waterways. This supports the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals of Responsible Consumption and Production.

Students enjoy planting tomatoes, cucumbers and herbs, and learning in the school’s outdoor classroom. They also participate in a recycling program that diverts recyclables from landfills. For their efforts, they garnered the very first Go Green Globe Award in 2007-2008. They also earned EcoSchools certifications from 2018 to 2021. Congratulations Sudbury Secondary School for continuously promoting sustainable practices for learning and for life.

2021

Manitoulin Secondary School
Manitoulin Secondary School earned a Platinum certification in 2020 – the highest level possible with EcoSchools Canada. Extensive renovations increased student access to the outdoor courtyard, home to fruit trees and garden beds filled with colourful vegetables grown by students in the Specialist High Skills Major in Agriculture. A bee colony helps local pollinators and honey production, and the school’s active greenhouses produce flowers, vegetables and herbs for the community.

Students collect weekly recycling from classrooms to divert waste from landfills. They host schoolyard cleanups each spring and fall, and extend their reach for Earth Day to include ditch cleanups across Manitoulin Island, adjusting waste handling techniques for increased protection during the pandemic. Used batteries and electronics are collected for recycling, and natural materials such as metal straws and wood toothbrushes are sold to reduce plastic waste. Students gained greater perspective on environmental initiatives at a local Green Conference, and have taken part in water walks from all ends of Manitoulin Island to promote clean water. Congratulations!

Valley View Public School
Valley View Public School opened in September 2007 as the first Green School in Northern Ontario, boasting many ground-breaking eco-friendly features to reduce energy consumption, including a geothermal system, radiant floor heating and water reuse system. School life is also built on sustainability. Students spend some 950 hours annually learning outside. A group of Grade 3 students collects recycling and compost weekly, and classes salvage Lunch Mate containers and markers through corporate programs.

During remote learning, staff have worked diligently to continue environmental education. Students enjoyed various at-home projects with a green focus such as composting experiments, outdoor scavenger hunts, and art using recycled materials. Students planted wildflower seeds for the pollinators, cleaned up their yards for Earth Day, and studied recyclable items for the blue bin. The Go Green Globe Award recognizes the efforts of the entire Valley View community in working towards an EcoSchools certification. Congratulations!

AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE

2020

Richard Duffy – Intermediate Numeracy Consultant (7/8) – Centre for Education
Never satisfied with the status quo, Richard Duffy has made it a habit to continuously examine, question and adapt his teaching practice to best meet the needs of learners. The ultimate goal is to close the gap for students who are at risk of not completing their education. With his wealth of knowledge and unmatched work ethic, he has developed literacy and numeracy diagnostic tools to support these efforts. Richard has spearheaded the creation of resources, supervised writing projects, and led professional development in mathematics and literacy. His influence is evident in the Board’s use of his intervention strategies.

He has also been recognized for his outstanding contribution to the elementary basketball program, where he continues to mentor, convene and organize tournaments. Every summer, Richard rolls up his sleeves as the site lead for the Intermediate Summer Learning Program. A difference-maker who is passionate about celebrating student success, Richard Duffy has the ability to inspire staff to create lasting change in their practice for the benefit of students. Congratulations!

Heather Gaffney – Principal – Student Success and O’Connor Park
Heather Gaffney has dedicated her near 30-year career to student achievement as a teacher and administrator. Her work at Chelmsford Valley District Composite School, Lockerby Composite School, Sudbury Secondary School, Lasalle Secondary School, Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School and, again, at Lockerby Composite School led her to her current role as system Principal of Student Success and O’Connor Park. Her primary focus is to identify and close learning gaps.

Well-versed in educational research, the use of data, leading edge resources and innovative strategies, Heather leads a team of educators dedicated to student success. Open and honest, Heather is an excellent communicator with an attention to detail. A fearless leader, Heather takes pride in tackling challenges, and inspires others to be creative and find ways to help students learn and thrive. Heather is the ultimate champion for student success, an innovative educator who works with a team of caring staff dedicated to making a difference. The epitome of professionalism, Heather Gaffney is an ideal candidate for an Award for Excellence. Congratulations!

Henry Girard – Teacher – Espanola High School
Students have always been excited to attend Henry Girard’s technology classes at Espanola High School. Whether it’s building cardboard boats or fabricating metal stoves, Henry finds purposeful and creative ways to engage students in hands-on learning and push their limits. As the Program Leader in Technology, he inspires students to explore viable career pathways in the automotive, manufacturing, electrical and design industries. He also recognizes the importance of strong literacy and numeracy skills in all subject areas and enjoys spending time with students who require extra support.

Students with special needs have a special place in Henry’s heart. He is proud of a recent graduate diagnosed with autism who is now working towards a modified Fabrication Diploma at Sault College. Henry’s office door is always open to students – with a meal and hot drink ready, and a safe space to dialogue. Dynamic and enthusiastic, he encourages students to have pride, to always give but not expect in return, to never give up on anyone, and to be trusting of others. For his compassion and passion, he is truly deserving of an Award for Excellence. Congratulations!

Jennifer Leblanc – Teacher – Markstay Public School
Whether it’s focusing on academics or mental health and well-being, Jennifer Leblanc has her pulse on all of the students in her care. In her 15 years with the Board, Jennifer’s positive attitude continues to shine brightly. She prides herself on being one of many teachers in her classroom, nurturing students to be leaders in their own educational journey.

Jennifer has worked diligently to implement a math tracking system at her school to help colleagues monitor student progress across all grades. Her weekly math challenges keep students engaged and make math fun. Jennifer understands the power of a growth mindset to develop curious, creative, resilient and self-regulated individuals ready to take on the world. When she is not in the classroom, Jennifer organizes school functions, leads the Go Green team, coaches cross-country running, and serves as a mentor for new teachers. Jennifer Leblanc is a most-deserving candidate of an Award for Excellence. Congratulations!

2021

Catherine Bell – Teacher – Princess Anne Public School
Catherine Bell has worked with Rainbow Schools for 16 years as an Educational Assistant and a teacher in primary, junior, resource and summer learning. Throughout her many roles, her dedication to student success has never wavered. An excellent communicator, Catherine is always willing to take risks to advocate for student needs. She meets regularly with staff to share best practices and learn new ways to support students. She also goes beyond the call of duty to be involved in school functions.

During the pandemic, Catherine has worked tirelessly to meet her students where they need her the most. She has engaged them with Leveled Literacy Intervention lessons and one-to-one support. She even created her own Lexia videos. Students are inspired and nurtured by Catherine’s positive attitude. Her kind, caring nature, and her sincere belief in every child’s ability to succeed make her an outstanding educator most deserving of an Award for Excellence. Congratulations!

Lorrie Leger – Teacher – Sudbury Secondary School
Teacher Lorrie Leger is a true advocate for students, going above and beyond to ensure they have the resources needed to succeed. Lorrie Leger is the driving force behind Sudbury Secondary School’s Value Vault as well as the breakfast and snack bin programs, securing funds, purchasing food and preparing meals. She also applied for the Ugliest Schoolyard Contest to transform the school’s courtyard into a green oasis, and campaigned to add basketball courts to promote healthy, active living.

Lorrie organizes Bingo fundraisers to support Special Education field trips, equipment and technology. During her time as Literacy Program Leader, she made sure reading was a priority. She added book bins to classes and created the Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) campaign. Lorrie is selfless, extremely approachable and well-respected by her colleagues. Kind and compassionate, she recognizes the importance of well-being to student achievement. Congratulations!

Leslie MacLellan – Psychometrist – Centre for Education
Leslie MacLellan gives her all to help make a difference for students in Rainbow Schools. A seasoned psychometrist, Leslie is open-minded, receptive, kind, caring and empathetic, all qualities that make her an asset to the Board’s Psychology team. She is the first one to work each and every day, and her tenacious appetite to squeeze in more work for the benefit of students is always admired and appreciated.

A natural team player, Leslie works closely with various staff to ensure students are assessed respectfully and efficiently. She seeks ways to improve services and continuously supports colleagues in meeting the demands of the job. Leslie is the go-to for many who are grateful for her patient nature. Her psychological assessments are second-to-none. Thoughtful and engaging, Leslie MacLellan has had a profound impact on students, parents and staff. Leslie is most deserving of an Award for Excellence. Congratulations!

Norm Blaseg – Director of Education – Centre for Education
Norm Blaseg served as Director of Education of the largest school board in Northern Ontario during a time of significant change. Under his leadership, which spanned more than a decade, Rainbow District School Board revitalized existing schools, built new schools, enhanced programs and services, and expanded community partnerships, always with a focus on student achievement and well-being. Indigenous education, special education, mental health, equity and inclusion, parental involvement, student engagement, professional learning and curriculum development flourished.

In the past year, this work continued amidst the backdrop of a global pandemic where the health and safety of students, staff and families has been first and foremost. Norm Blaseg leads with purpose and passion, making people the priority. With committed trustees, dedicated staff, supportive parents, amazing students and valued partners, he is most proud of what everyone accomplished together in the shared vision of Reaching minds and Touching hearts in Rainbow Schools in Sudbury, Espanola and Manitoulin Island. Norm Blaseg ends his distinguished service in public education on August 31, 2021 with a solid foundation and rich legacy. Congratulations!

Heather Thirkill –
Executive Assistant to the Director of Education – Centre for Education
Heather Thirkill began her career with Rainbow District School Board as an Administrative Assistant in various schools, including Churchill Public School, Lasalle Secondary School, Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School and Lockerby Composite School. In 2003, Heather was hired as the Executive Assistant to the Superintendent of Special Education, and for the past 10 years, Heather has worked alongside senior administrators and elected officials as Executive Assistant to the Director of Education. She records minutes for the Board and Executive Council, and is integral in planning, implementing, and archiving resolutions, practices and procedures. As the corporate historian and navigator, she is the daily go-between on political and operational interactions.

Resilient and intuitive, Heather is a supreme communicator and problem-solver. She is not only dependable and dedicated, she displays patience, wisdom and a strong work ethic. She is also selfless and caring, always checking in on colleagues and going the extra mile to offer support. Her good humour and kind nature can be felt in every corner of the Centre for Education. Heather Thirkill is most deserving of an Award for Excellence. Congratulations!

BARBARA KONAREK MEMORIAL AWARD

2020

Carole Burke – Intensive Support Teacher – Redwood Acres Public School
Carole Burke has devoted 23 years to teaching in Rainbow Schools in the primary, junior and intermediate divisions. She currently works with our most vulnerable students as an Intensive Support Teacher at Redwood Acres Public School. Carole’s calm demeanor and positive energy are favorable to the learning needs of her students, and her attention to detail keeps her classes running smoothly. Students thrive in her care, evident by a group of Kindergarten students with autism who are learning to speak and gesture.

Carole maintains beneficial relationships with staff, students, families, administration and community agencies. She takes initiative and welcomes new challenges with open arms. She is a mentor to colleagues, runs weekly ISP meetings, and celebrates student success. She also devotes extra time to students inside and outside of the classroom. A true champion for all children, Carole Burke is most deserving of the Barbara Konarek Memorial Award. Congratulations, Carole!

2021

Lisa Scharf – Intensive Support Teacher – Jean Hanson Public School
Lisa Scharf is a dynamic, professional, co-operative and self-motivated teacher in the Intensive Support Program at Jean Hanson Public School. From writing and art, to outdoor activities and life skills, Lisa knows her students’ true strengths and challenges them to trust their abilities. She differentiates lessons so students are confident, and adds more academic expectations as students break learning barriers.

A strong team player, Lisa is compassionate, confident, committed and caring. She works with staff to bring best practices to her students, and acts as a mentor to new teachers. Lisa demonstrates the belief that all students have the right to an education in a safe and caring environment. She works to help students achieve success inside and outside of school. Some of her students have won awards for their academic achievement. Congratulations, Lisa! You are most deserving of the Barbara Konarek Memorial Award.

WILLIAM N. ROMAN TEACHER OF THE YEAR AWARD

2020

Darren Foy – Teacher – Algonquin Road Public School
Students speak with fondness about Darren Foy. He has added value to my life. He has given me chances that would not be available without him. I am extremely grateful for his going beyond the curriculum. Parents are equally as effusive, likening Darren Foy’s vocation in education to the dedication an artist feels towards their craft. As a Special Education Resource Teacher, parents appreciate his kindness, compassion, empathy and willingness to listen and learn. He gives students the time and space to explore, experiment and take risks. His colleagues say he cares about each child, sets high expectations, builds school community, is passionate about his work, purposeful in his practice and generous with his time at school and system levels.

Over the years, Darren Foy has empowered students to create and innovate through hands-on learning in science and technology from Grades 1 to 8. His classroom at Algonquin Road Public School has been transformed into a growth mindset factory with 3D printers, scroll saws, drill presses, a CNC router, hand tools and more. It’s a maker space where students, and often families, hone their skills in robotics, make cardboard boats, launch rockets and elastic powered cars, watch fish hatch, and build book holders and Adirondack chairs. Inspired by their mentor, students have won many medals at local and provincial skills competitions. An exceptional teacher, Darren Foy epitomizes what it means to bring learning to life. The Roman family joins with Rainbow District School Board in congratulating Darren Foy, the 2020 William N. Roman Teacher of the Year.

2021

Sabrina Briscoe – Program Leader of Special Education – Chelmsford Valley District Composite School
The ultimate caring adult, Sabrina Briscoe builds relationships to support student achievement and well-being. This ability has enabled her to create a culture of reading at Chelmsford Valley District Composite School. Tools like the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System and Lexia Rapid Assessment are used to determine needs. Individually targeted interventions, such as Levelled Literacy Intervention Kits, Lexia PowerUp, and Empower Reading, are used to respond to these needs. With the goal of reaching as many students as possible, this two-fold process of assessment and intervention requires creative timetabling solutions, organization, and innovation to implement and sustain, as well as continual flexibility in responding to needs as they change.

Beyond Sabrina’s responsibilities as Special Education Program Leader, she has also led the K to 12 reading intervention strategy for all. Additionally, Sabrina leads professional learning during staff meetings and professional activity days, helping to guide teachers in their understanding of assessments and accommodations in the development of differentiated instruction. Most importantly, reading is made a priority in all subject areas, across all grades. With support and dedication from the entire C.V.D.C.S. team, reading enthusiasm is woven into the fabric of the school, building fundamental skills for learning and for life. The Roman family joins with Rainbow District School Board in congratulating Sabrina Briscoe, the 2021 William N. Roman Teacher of the Year.

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Media Contact:

Nicole Charette, Senior Advisor,
Corporate Communications and Strategic Planning,
Rainbow District School Board, 705-674-3171, ext. 7217.

Board Awards Tribute
2020 and 2021