Pages - Applause
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Applause! is the monthly recognition of significant achievements and contributions by staff, students and community partners at a York Region District School Board Public Board Meeting.
Recognition of achievements is based on alignment with the organizational goals outlined by the Trustees’ Multi-Year Plan in combination with the criteria set out in Staff Awards and Student Awards policies.​
  • March 2020
    • ​Romeo Dallaire PS Student to Play at Carnegie Hall

      Romeo Dallaire Public School student Lincoln Haggart-Ives, will head to New York City in June to play at Carnegie Hall.

      Lincoln is a finalist in the American Protégé Music Competition, a competition for young musicians, actors and singers that gives them an opportunity to showcase their unique talents. When Lincoln plays his violin in the winners’ circle at Carnegie Hall, he will perform a rhapsodic piece by Csárdás, written in 1904 for violin, mandolin or piano.

      Lincoln earned a place in the winner’s circle after his mother submitted an audition tape on his behalf. He was up against the largest number of competitive applicants on record, with entries from various parts of the United States and 58 other countries.

      ​University of Waterloo Financial Literacy Contest Success

      The University of Waterloo offers high school students the opportunity to develop confidence and competence in making financial decisions by testing and challenge their knowledge of personal finance and wealth management through the Financial Literacy Competition (FLC).

      Approximately 850 students representing 39 different schools across Canada participated in the December 2019 competition. The FLC is offered to Grade 9, 10 and 11 students enrolled in high schools across Canada (excluding Quebec).

      The results of the December 2019 Competition are in and Middlefield Collegiate Institute (MCI) has earned the #1 ranking and is the recipient of the Top Performing School prize. In recognition of this achievement, the school will receive a cheque for $500 to be used for classroom enhancements related to financial literacy and/or celebration activities for the contest participants.

      In addition, two students in the Middlefield CI Introduction to Business class, Shreyas Nyapathi and Harrish Uthayakumar, achieved top 10 results in the provincial contest. Both Shreyas and Harrish will receive $75 cash prizes as well as University of Waterloo Financial Literacy Competition certificates.​

  • February 2020
    • Black History Month Recognition - Matthew Eastman

      ​In honour of Black History Month, York Region District School Board is highlighting and celebrating stories of Black Excellence throughout the month of February. Celebrating Black excellence is a way for our Board, to recognize the many contributions of our Black students and staff.

      Matthew Eastman is a Grade 12 student and a leader at Thornhill’s Stephen Lewis Secondary School (SLSS). In the fall, he started the Black Student Union at SLSS. The club is focused on raising student voice of the school’s Black students and ensuring that all students at SLSS have a voice. 

      With the help of his teacher sponsor, Matthew is working with Vaughan African Canadian Association. Matthew took the lead to find the teacher sponsor, rally students and work with administration to make the club a reality.

      ​Caretaking Team Goes Above and Beyond to Support Community Vigil

      An emotional community vigil, attended by approximately 3,000 people, was held at Dr. Bette Stephenson Centre for Learning to honour the victims and show support for all those affected by the January 8 plane crash in Iran, a tragic event that has deeply affected the York Region community.

      The caretaking team at Dr. Bette Stephenson Centre for Learning went well above and beyond normal job duties to ensure that the Board was prepared to welcome so many people to the vigil. Under the guidance of Drew Kerr, Supervisor of Facilities, the team helped staff by providing flashlights and safety vests and mapped out the outdoor field into designated zones. They also helped escort young families through the school to escape the January weather.

      The caretaking team includes Drew Kerr, John Bisogno, Angelo Tucci, Kristina Anderson, Randy Clark and Thomas Cooper. Their professionalism and level of care was deeply appreciated by YRDSB colleagues and community members who attended the vigil.

  • December 2019
    • ​Middlefield Collegiate Institute Teacher Recognition

      Claudette Rutherford is a compassionate and action-oriented inclusive leader and role model for all of her students.  However, because of Claudette’s identity as a person of African Caribbean heritage, she is committed to transformative education, and she has had an incredibly positive impact on Black students and families.

      Claudette contributes greatly to the Middlefield Collegiate Institute community as exemplified in the holistic support and thoughtful mentorship she provides as staff advisor to the African Caribbean Club (ACC). Through ACC, she offers students access to unique cultural enrichment year round and helps students develop school wide Black History Month programming.

      Claudette is also a leader and mentor for staff in the York Region District School Board. Over the past two years Claudette has partnered with Inclusive School and Community Services (ISCS) staff to deliver workshops and programming, including anti-Black racism workshops at the Board’s Equity Symposium during the 2017-18 and 2018-2019 school years. She is part of ESSAC’s Data Diversity sub-committee and has worked on a program designed to create awareness about different cultural identities in two schools with differing demographics.  Claudette along with three other teachers from Middlefield and Sutton District High School led equity learning for the students.

      Claudette has roles beyond her professional career as a teacher that serve YRDSB students well. She is the Youth Director for the Markham African Caribbean Canadian Association. As Director, she operates subsidized summer robotics and literacy camp for elementary school students. In February 2019, Claudette started a mentorship program called KinnectYouth for Black youth in foster care after seeking out and securing Ministry funding.

      In the 2017-2018, Claudette designed and organized the MACCA Youth Empowerment Conference and she worked in partnership with York Region District School Board ISCS staff to select teachers and students to present at the Conference. In April 2019, YRDSB students from multiple high schools had the pleasure of attending the Black Male Youth Legacy: Design Your Future Conference at York University that was co-planned and co-led by Claudette and Christoff Kyere.  Besides YRDSB students, the 150 participants also came from high schools in Toronto and the Greater Toronto area. Conference participants were inspired that they were capable of achieving greatness and they were given opportunity to design their future with culturally responsive and relevant support. 

      Claudette has worked to support parents/guardians of Black students in the York Region District School Board and beyond. Claudette organized and chaired the inaugural meeting that was held at the Aaniin Community Centre in April 2019. Her contributions have resulted in the positive promotion of the Board and the development of community partnerships.​ 

      ​North Star

      December’s North Star recipient is George Del Bianco from Richmond Hill High School.  George was nominated for this award by his colleague Huron Chu.

      Below is Huron’s nomination:

      George is the kind of department head that teachers wish about having. The science department at Richmond Hill High School is a tight knit family largely because of the way that George brings us together.  He encourages us to take risks and support each other to make the best out of each 75 minute period.  There is no bigger cheerleader than George.  Not only do we go to George for school advice, he also cares about us as people and we seek his wisdom in life outside of school. 

      He is always willing to listen and lend a hand.  I cannot count the number of times that George has come to speak to different teachers after a tough day. Just this weekend, a colleague of ours lost their father unexpectedly.  As soon as George found out, he made sure that our colleague would not have to worry about school and organized coverage within the department so that students would not suffer either. 

      He helps us see the bigger picture and what it really means to be a good teacher.  He is the kinds of guy that will give up his weekend/evenings to come help you with anything.  No PA day passes without a feast where 20 teachers eat together, (a rare occurrence in a school with staggered lunch periods.)  Some say that 'great leaders eat last' and George is representative of that in the literal sense and metaphorical sense when he can be seen cooking up a storm or manning the grill at our gatherings. 

      I feel so lucky to have worked with George all these years and he is truly deserving of the North Star Award.​

  • November 2019
    • Solar Oven Challenge Champions

      Lester B. Pearson Public School in Aurora has won first place in a national energy competition.

      GreenLearning Canada hosts a renewable energy challenge for Canadian classes every year which challenges participants to build, test, and bake with solar ovens. Students use the solar oven construction plan provided by or they can choose to design their own plans. It is designed to teach students about solar heat, solar electricity and other clean energy technologies as well as culinary arts, food safety and culture. Classes ranging from Grade 3 to Grade 12, and from science classes to environmental clubs, compete in the annual Challenge.

      Two Grade 7 classes, led by teacher Elisabeth Brigid Duggan, participated in this year’s Solar Oven Challenge. Using mostly recycled materials from the school’s recycling bin, the students designed their own plans and each class tested their solar ovens outside several times using several recipes.

      The students invited their Grade 3 and 4 reading buddies to participate and helped raise awareness of solar energy within a collaborative learning environment. The challenge was also an opportunity for teacher Elisabeth to make a connection with the Grade 3 First Nations curriculum and the Grade 7 history curriculum.

      The solar ovens were judged based on criteria such as maximum temperature reached, unique designs, originality of recipes and the use of social media. Both classes concluded that their biggest challenge using solar ovens in Southern Ontario was this year’s late spring, the lack of sunshine, the amount of cold weather and the continuous rain and cloud.

      The class documented their learning and shared it with the Lester B. Pearson PS community through an Instagram account that was used to post pictures of their progress. The solar ovens were also put on display during the school’s Arts Night in the spring.

      ​North Star

      November’s North Star recipient is Darren Abenstein from Stephen Lewis Secondary School in Thornhill.  Darren was nominated for this award by Zachary Teitel who teaches at Unionville High School.

      Below is an excerpt from Zachary’s nomination:

      Darren is the model that all new teachers should be learning from. He epitomizes the old teaching maxim, "They may not remember what you taught them, but they will remember how you made them feel." 

      Darren's compassion and care for those he works alongside extends to his colleagues. He is continuously looking out for the teachers around him, whether supporting them on a curricular level (e.g. offering to collaborate or give extra time to newer teachers) or regarding staff mental health and well-being (e.g. checking in with colleague's that seem stressed; buying bagels for the entire office after a tough day).​

  • October 2019
    • Teachers of the Year

      The Teacher of the Year Award honours teachers who exemplify the Board’s Mission, Vision and Values as well as other practices that support success in the classroom and schools. The Teacher of the Year Award recipients, Andrea Häefele of Highgate Public School and Elizabeth Pereira of Milliken Mills High School, have demonstrated a strong commitment to supporting student achievement.

      Andrea Häefele, Highgate Public School

      Andrea is an advocate for outdoor learning opportunities and plans, implements and supports staff in outdoor physical education lessons. She has worked with staff members and students to advocate for accessible playgrounds close to the school, and successfully appealed to the Town of Markham to resurface the play areas so that all students could have use of the facilities.

       She often engages students as leaders of the Student Champions (formerly Breakfast Champions) where they support the breakfast program. Through this program, more than 80-90 students receive a hot breakfast daily and access to healthy and nutritious snacks. In addition, Andrea has partnered with the Equity Team to build workshops for the junior students on ableism in order to identify the discrimination and impact that occurs when students are targeted because of their differences.

       Andrea provides support to families and staff by sharing her knowledge of support services for special needs students. Andrea engages parents and grandparents by bringing them in to teach events - such as the Dragon Dance, multicultural assemblies and “From ME to WE” - or inviting community members to knit scarves and mittens for primary students during the winter Olympics in 2018. As well, she has undertaken a unique school-wide presentation where people with disabilities, or an advocate, are part of a panel and share their narratives.

      Elizabeth Pereira, Milliken Mills High School

      Elizabeth has been at Milliken Mills High School (MMHS) for 30 years and has been Subject Head of Moderns for 15 years. She works diligently to ensure that the Spanish and French language curriculum is engaging, culturally responsive and relevant for all learners. Her work with the Spanish Centre of Toronto, Glendon College, the YMCA and Spanish Resource Centre at York University has provided invaluable academic and career resources to students. In 2018, MMHS received certification for its International Baccalaureate program (IB). During the summers, Elizabeth contributed many days and evenings at the school in order to create an exemplary IB French curriculum.

       Elizabeth has worked with a small team of teachers to support the needs of students of African heritage at the school by developing the Nubian Excellence Club. The student group focused on issues affecting students such as anti-Black racism with a focus on the development of advocacy skills. She has been a long standing member of the Alliance of Educators for Black Students, initiated its annual fundraiser (for scholarships) and parent conference.

       When the boys’ basketball program was in jeopardy due to the loss of a coach, Elizabeth was ready and willing to take on the role of staff advisor to ensure that the team could continue. She also provides free tutoring for JK-12 students who have struggled with reading and writing in English and French.

      North Star

      ​October’s North Star recipient is Linda Cabral from Alexander Muir Public School in Newmarket. 

      Linda was nominated for this award by Dorothy Schmauder

      Below is an excerpt from Dorothy’s nomination:

      Linda exemplifies everything this award is about. She IS the social committee; often planning events, collecting money and honoring everyone’s special life moments. She is the teacher EVERY teacher goes to for sympathy, empathy and advice. She always makes time for everyone. She cancelled an after school appointment so she could stay late finish her own work because she used her time on the PA day to help other teachers. She is unselfish in her time, energy and resources. If a teachers needs ANYTHING, their first stop is Linda Cabral. If she doesn’t have it, she will find it for you. 

      She makes everyone feel special and important, offering compliments and praise which helps builds our morale. She spends her money on others; for years she bought milk for everyone’s morning coffee, never asking to be reimbursed.  I am sure she spends her own money on social committee obligations as well. 

      As a result of her kindnesses, she has formed many friendships outside school where her helpfulness has included babysitting, moving help, prep work for school and decorating. Linda is the heart of our school and without her we would be bereft. 

      She has been this kind of staff member her entire career, at every one of her schools.

  • October 2018
    • ​Markville Secondary School Places Second in Provincial Envirothon

      A team of students from Markville Secondary School placed second in a province-wide Envirothon hosted by Forests Ontario.

      The competition had a total of nearly 200 participating schools, with only 21 moving on to the provincial competition at the University of Waterloo. The Markville SS team, named Plant Daddys, took first place in the regional competition in April, advancing them to the provincial competition where they finished in second place.

      Students applied and expanded their knowledge of the environment in a variety of team-based tasks and workshops, designed to prepare students for future green careers.

      The Markville team of students consisted of:

      • Winnie Lin
      • Alena Parkinson
      • Rachel Ruffo
      • Florence Sy
      • James Yuan

      ​Local Students Receive National Recognition for Science Projects

      Four York Region District School Board students placed among the top young scientists in Canada at a national science fair.

      Six students from the Board were selected from the York Region Science and Technology Fair to attend the Canada-Wide Science Fair. Held in Ottawa, Ontario, this event brings together 500 young scientists to showcase their solutions to global issues.

      At the Canada-Wide Science Fair:

      • Harry Parmar from Maple High School won a gold medal and the Innovation Award for his project: SYN-VIOLA: The Power of Novel, Designer Bacteria in Real World. 
      • Kamron and Sabrina Zaidi from Richmond Hill High School won a silver medal and the Nutrients for Life Award for their project: The Effect of Surface Tension on Plant Growth in Fogponics. 
      • Austin Wu from Richmond Hill High School won a bronze medal for his project: A Novel Approach to Combat Cancer by Altering Levels of Sphingomyelin in the Cellular Membrane.
      Both fairs are a valuable opportunity for students to expand and apply their learning. Students combined their scientific knowledge with their problem solving skills to come up with innovative solutions to global issues.

  • September 2018
    • Teacher of the Year

      ​The Teacher of the Year Award honours teachers who exemplify the Board’s Mission, Vision and Values as well as other practices that support success in the classroom and schools. The Teacher of the Year Award stands as a symbol of the high regard in which York Region teachers are held and serves as a beacon of excellence for others to follow.

      This year’s recipients are Jasdeep Khaira from Ross Doan Public School (Richmond Hill) and George Christoforou (not pictured) from Sutton District High School.

      Jasdeep Khaira is a Grade 1 and 2 Reading Recovery teacher at Ross Doan Public School. She is also on the Leadership Team, Literacy Team, and Equity and Inclusivity committee. She has taken the lead on various activities that promote equity and inclusivity such as preparing a display case in the front foyer that represents the multiple traditions and celebrations which the school community recognizes. Jasdeep’s class performed a Lion Dance for the school to celebrate the Lunar New Year. She has been instrumental in helping staff on equity issues, in collecting and analyzing equity driven data and helping to set the school equity goals for the year. Jasdeep has volunteered her time to organize the school Play Day, Autism Awareness Month and the Greater Good Club to name a few. She has helped all staff work collaboratively to set school goals for continuous student improvement using assessment data to drive instruction.

      George Christoforou has been a hospitality teacher in the Technological Education Department at Sutton District High School since 2008. George and his students operate the school cafeteria. He arrives at school at 6:00 a.m. every day to begin his prep work and shopping duties for the day. George spends many hours each week ensuring he gets the best deals on food for the cafeteria without compromising on quality. He has been pivotal in applying for educational grants to ensure that healthy options like the fresh salad bar and sub/wraps are available to all students. George collaborates with the community classes to grow fresh produce in the school’s greenhouse which is used in the salad bar. This supports students’ understanding of curriculum expectations and engenders a sense of pride and accomplishment. George provides food at events like graduation, school council forum, semi-formal and the school’s annual turkey dinner for the community. This year, he worked with student volunteers to prepare and serve over 650 turkey dinners to members of the Sutton community.

  • June 2018
    • ​Vaughan Fire Chief Retires

      The York Region District School Board greatly values its partnership with Vaughan Fire and Rescue Services (VFRS). Fire Chief Larry Bentley has been very passionate about working with schools and students and has supported several educational initiatives in the Vaughan community to educate staff and student about fire safety and prevention. 

      VRFS runs an adopt-a-school program that is aimed specifically at community classes. Chief Bentley has encouraged his crews to work closely with special needs students in order to promote student and staff safety. Over the years, VRFS has developed a strong presence in Vaughan schools that can be attributed to the leadership of Chief Bentley.  

      Chief Bentley is retiring from Vaughan Fire and Rescue Services this month after joining the VRFS in 1979. Last year, he was honoured by his fellow chief officers for developing partnerships with stakeholders and providing valuable contributions to the community around educating residents on fire prevention. Some of the fire safety initiatives include Alarms for Life, After the Heat, promoting home escape planning, summer camps and library programs, distributing fire safety educational materials, releasing public service announcements and connecting with residents through social media.

      ​Provincial Award for Accepting Schools Recipient

      Johnny Lombardi Public School in Woodbridge is one of 10 schools across the province to be recognized this year for creating safe and accepting learning environments. The Premier’s Awards for Accepting Schools celebrate school teams that have shown leadership and innovation in creating safe, inclusive and accepting schools.   

      Johnny Lombardi PS received the award for its work to build a respectful and inclusive school culture where everyone feels welcome and valued since opening in 2016. 

      This work includes:

      • Creating a Students Advocating For Equity (S.A.F.E.) team made up of students and staff dedicated to promoting well-being and developing a safe and inclusive environment. 

      • Offering a variety of resources to encourage student and staff learning about different cultures, mindfulness and mental health, including daily, school-wide Mindful Moments. 

      • Fostering a sense of belonging for all students through initiatives like the Buddy Bench, which supports students who are looking for a peer to play with and fosters friendship and inclusion, and the Zen Den, a safe place students can access when feeling anxious, in need of support or a quiet spot to reflect.

      • Initiating a conflict resolution circle to address conflicts and help students solve problems. 

      • Providing leadership opportunities for older students to support younger students at recess.

      Johnny Lombardi Public School is the sixth school in York Region District School Board to receive the Premier’s Award for Safe and Accepting Schools in the last five years. It also received a 2018 School of Character Award from the Character Community Foundation of York Region.  ​


      Students at Aurora High School have written and composed an original 30 minute play made up of a series of vignettes inspired by the #metoo movement and grounded in personal narratives. The students were invited to perform their original, collectively created play, Womanly in the Ontario Showcase of the National Theatre School Drama Festival in Cambridge, Ontario (formerly known as the Provincial Showcase of the Sears Ontario Drama Festival). 

      The Ontario Showcase is the third and final stage of the festival. It is meant to celebrate the top 12 shows of Ontario. Over 300 schools entered the festival from various regions around the province and after two stages of the festival (the District and the Regionals), only the top 12 shows go on to the showcase. 

      Womanly came away from the festival winning four Awards of Excellence, including two Outstanding Production Awards and was the only YRDSB school to advance to the Ontario Showcase. Womanly is an example of "devised theatre," or what was once referred to as an "anthology' - a collection of movement, spoken word, music, and narrative scenes all intertwined and centred on a given theme. 

      As is suggested by the play's title, the theme is based on concerns around the status of women in today's society and the impact of sexism on teenage girls against a backdrop of broader, systemic injustices faced by women.

      ​North Star

      This month’s North Star recipient is Deborah Godin from Bogart Public School in Newmarket. Deborah was nominated by her colleague, Maria Thomaidis:

      I nominated Deb Godin because of the following reasons:

      • when I transferred into Bogart, she was the one who made me feel welcomed and helped me integrate seamlessly into the school culture

      • she always has my back; it is an important piece in teaching when you feel supported by your colleagues (the social-emotional piece)

      • she is the intermediate teacher lead, and organizes everything for our division; outings, meetings, and presentations.

      • she keeps us apprised of any workshops that would support our interests or that would benefit our teaching

      Deb is not your standard "cheerleader" teacher or colleague, but at the end of the day, she makes my daily experience one that I enjoy and look forward to

  • May 2018
    • ​The Government of Canada History Awards

      Presented for the fourth consecutive year, the 2017 Government of Canada History Awards honour the work of university and high school students (in Grades 10 - 12) who, through their writing, have shown an interest in great moments in Canadian history. In all, more than 800 student submissions were received from across the country. In the High Schools category, the 2017 Government of Canada History Awards recipients each receive a $1,000 prize—divided between partners for team submissions. 

      Students were required to submit an original piece of writing of no more than 1,000 words in length in the form of a historical essay, a historical work of fiction or digital content. The submissions had to address one of the following topics: reconciliation with indigenous peoples, the First World War, Expo 67, Canadian identity or the development of a new national historic site. 

      Submissions were also required to demonstrate original research, historical analysis, a good knowledge of the subject matter and critical thinking skills. The winners were selected by an independent jury made up of history educators.

      The YRDSB recipients are:

      Student School

      Doris Zhou and Albert Zhu Bayview Secondary School

      Nazanin Soghrati Bayview Secondary School

      Alexandra Cooper Bill Crothers Secondary School

      Lauren MacDonald Bill Crothers Secondary School

      Savannah Skeete Bill Crothers Secondary School

      Damien Ho         Markville Secondary School

      Arthur Chen         Markville Secondary School

      Michael Wilson         Markville Secondary School

      Mishaal Lakhani         Markville Secondary School

      Cheryl Cheung         Markville Secondary School

      Robert Cai                 Markville Secondary School

      Helen Wong         ​Markville Secondary School​

      The Government of Canada History Awards were created in 2013. Their goal is to connect youth to their history by honouring the work of outstanding students who show an interest in great moments in Canadian history. The awards are administered by Canada’s History. Canada’s History is a national charitable organization whose mission is to promote greater popular interest in Canadian history, principally through its publishing, education, and recognition programs. 

      ​York Regional Police Chief for a Day

      Grade 5 student Jin Zhou, from Henderson Avenue Public School, is this year’s winner of the annual York Regional Police Chief of Police for a Day Contest.

      Jin was one of five finalists who delivered an essay they wrote before a panel of judges in March 2017. This year’s essay topic was: How does York Regional Police demonstrate leadership to ensure the community feels safe and secure?

      In April, Jin was part of a swearing-in ceremony where he took the helm from Chief Eric Jolliffe and was responsible for the management of more than 2,200 sworn officers and civilians. While carrying out his duties, Jin wore a specially-made Chief of Police uniform. He was escorted to a variety of activities within York Regional Police, including a tour of the new training facility, Air2, the Emergency Response Unit and Canine Unit. 

      Later in May, he will present his essay to more than 1,000 guests at the 26th Annual Police Appreciation Night. The Chief of Police for a Day Contest is sponsored by the York Regional Police Appreciation Night committee, the Markham, Richmond Hill and Vaughan Chinese Business Association and Shanahan Ford of Newmarket.

  • April 2018
    • Cornell Village Staff and Students Support Hospital Foundation

      Cornell Village Public School Grade 3 student Jacob Tzogas demonstrated leadership and initiative by rallying his peers and teachers to help support the Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation’s Buy a Bear program.

      Jacob was visiting a family member at the hospital when he spotted several teddy bears in a “bear tree.” Intrigued by the bears, Jacob learned that hospital patrons can buy a bear for a patient and the money goes towards the purchase of life-saving equipment.

      Wanting to help support the Buy a Bear program, Jacob pitched the idea of a friendship button-making campaign to his classmates and to his teacher, Laura Crouse. He made a slideshow which was shown to the two Grade 3 classrooms.

      All 40 Grade 3 students pitched in to help support the program. They put up posters, made announcements and found various ways to help out. Both Grade 3 teachers, Laura Crouse and Sarah Irgolino, gave up their recess time for two weeks in February to help the students raise money.

      Altogether, the staff and students at Cornell Village Public School raised $500 for Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation’s Buy a Bear program.

      April's North Star

      ​April’s North Star recipient is Khadijah Rawji from Roselawn Public School. The North Star award honours teachers who contribute to the well-being of their peers and the morale of their workplace. The award is based on nominations from fellow teachers only.

      Khadijah was nominated for this award by her colleague Lisa Jaskolka. Below is an excerpt of her nomination:

      I feel very lucky to have Khadijah as a coworker. She goes above and beyond to engage in conversations daily with staff and students to see how they are doing and if there is any way to support them. She is always looking for ways to collaborate with other staff to share her knowledge, skills, and ideas. 

      As a new teacher, I appreciate her offering to assist me with areas that I have worked on improving...Khadijah is an active member of our social committee and she consistently tries to organize new and fun ways for staff to get together to bond, socialize and unwind. 

      It is such a pleasure working with Khadijah.

  • March 2018
    • The Learning Partnership Outstanding Principals

      Donna Ford, Principal of Roselawn Public School and Krysten Cameron, Principal of German Mills Public School have been named two of Canada’s Outstanding Principals by The Learning Partnership.

      Ford and Cameron are among 40 principals from across Canada who have been honoured for their outstanding contributions to publicly funded education. The program recognizes principals who demonstrate innovation, leadership and employing creativity in finding solutions and opportunities within their school communities.
      Donna Ford, of Roselawn Public School in Richmond Hill, explores ways to acknowledge and reduce anxiety and mental health issues for students. Together with her team, she has developed a mental health protocol through the Mentor and Advocate for Student Health and Wellbeing (MASH) team. Families are also invited to attend assemblies that recognize students for positive gains in their learning behaviours.

      Krysten Cameron, of German Mills Public School in Thornhill, models a growth mindset and champions inclusion for students with special needs. Recognizing the importance of an inviting learning environment, Krysten acquired flexible seating options, including standing tables, exercise balls, and wobble seats. She also leverages digital technologies to extend learning beyond the classroom.

      Donna and Krysten received their awards at the Canada’s Outstanding Principals awards gala in February.  All of the recipients have the opportunity to attend a five-day executive leadership training program on leadership and management practices at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. Principals also participate in The World of Work: Equity and Inclusion where they have the opportunity to learn from leaders in business, health and education.

      Bur Oak Secondary School Students Achieve Success at Rotman High School Market Simulation Challenge and Ryerson Y2 Entrepreneurship Competition

      Two Grade 12 students at Bur Oak Secondary School, Mubin Qureshi and Johnny Jiang, have embraced innovation, creativity and entrepreneurism to enhance their business studies. Both students entered and won two highly regarded competitions - the Rotman High School Market Challenge (Stock Market Simulation) and the Y2 Entrepreneurship Competition at Ryerson University.

      The High School Market Simulation Challenge provides Grade 12 students with an introduction to simulation based learning and challenges them to compete against each other. Mubin and Johnny competed against 30 teams from Boards across the province.

      Students began the competition by participating in a session designed to introduce them to the financial markets and the Rotman Interactive Trader (RIT) software. Students then applied the knowledge they learned in a competition that is modeled after the Rotman International Trading Competition (RITC) for university students.

      The Y2 Entrepreneurship Competition is open to secondary school students who are interested in building their entrepreneurial, leadership and business skills.

      The competition is broken down into two consecutive Saturdays. On the first day, students take part in several mini-workshops around design thinking before learning about building a pitch presentation for investors. On the second day, students learn about effective speaking skills for entrepreneurs before being given time to finalize and rehearse their pitch. The students then deliver a final presentation of their pitch to a panel of established entrepreneurs and “angel” investors.

      The judges pick their top two teams who win a dinner with a serial entrepreneur or senior technology leader, where they have the opportunity to learn from the mentor and receive feedback on their pitch.

      Participants come from across Ontario to take part in the competition.

      ​North Star - March

      Patricia Dipede teaches at Stouffville District Secondary School. She was nominated for the North Star by her colleague Marek Przemieniecki.

      Below is an excerpt of the nomination:

      Pat has demonstrated real leadership in her department, running programs for students and teachers alike that help us all succeed and do better...Pat has also spent the majority of her career supporting her peers, including being an OSSTF committee member, running our elections, chairing our OSSTF meetings, and generally having an open door that allows any and all staff to drop by, have a chat over a warm cup of coffee or tea, and help us figure out what we need to do to be better, in every sense of the word. 

      Pat is without a doubt, the ideal teacher to be considered for a North Star award.

  • February 2018
    • Student Music Scholarship Concert

      For the last 25 years, Mr. Jim Thomas has been an advocate and champion of musical education in Whitchurch-Stouffville.

      Every year, Mr. Thomas has organized the annual Student Music Scholarship Concert which aims to showcase the musical talents of students in the Whitchurch-Stouffville area. This year’s concert featured more than 500 students representing eight Whitchurch-Stouffville schools and raised over $6,300. Each participating school received $750.

      Over the past 25 years, more than $120,000 has been raised with all monies going to schools to assist with their music programs.​ 

      Canada 150 Citizenship Award Recipients

      In November, the Member of Parliament for Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill, awarded Canada 150 Citizenship Awards to Teacher-Librarian, Robin Morrison-Claus and Teacher, Stephen Lanning of Regency Acres Public School.

      Morrison-Claus and Lanning were recognized for their commitment to Thought Leadership through their creation and implementation of the Regency Acres PS classroom sized Makerspace which allows whole classes to explore STEM concepts. STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) learning opportunities allow students to explore their critical thinking skills and introduces them to real world problem solving scenarios.

      Robin and Stephen have inspired a huge pedagogical shift that has inspired new learning for Regency Acres PS  students. Morrison-Claus is currently organizing a full day BrainPower! STEAM Conference where students can further explore STEAM subject areas as they relate to their everyday world and future career possibilities.

      The Canada 150 Citizenship Award is an initiative carried out by Members of Parliament across Canada to recognize individuals who have worked hard to better their community, their country, and have made important contributions that are bigger than themselves.​ 

      OSLCars Short Film Festival
      ​Three York Region District School Board schools beat out competitors across Ontario to win at the 6th annual OSLCars Awards.

      The OSLCars Short Film Festival provides awards annually to Ontario schools and student councils at the Ontario Student Leadership Conference held in Niagara Falls.

      Pierre Elliott Trudeau High School won in the Best Overall Film category.

      The theme of the 2017 conference was Red, White, Ignite: The Next 150. In order to win the competition students had to submit one original video with a maximum of four minutes. Over 2,000 students from across Ontario travelled to Niagara Falls to watch the top two films in each of the categories at the Ontario Student Leadership Conference held November 5-7, 2017. ​​

      February North Star
      Chris Vroom from Stouffville District Secondary School is February’s North Star recipient. Chris was nominated for this award by his colleague Jack Hammond.

      Below is an excerpt from the nomination:

      Chris is the consummate professional, who is ready and able to step into the breach to ensure that every teacher, most of whom are LTO's, is supported, valued, and appreciated.  Chris is a beacon of erudition, whose extensive, deep, and broad insight into so many areas of study make him the go-to guy for any question.  His first concern is always for others, and his gentle demeanor, lightning quick wit, and gentlemanly courtesy make it a privilege to work with him.

      Chris never fails to maintain his positive outlook, his professional standard of excellence, and his genuine care of those around him.  This school, and his colleagues…are blessed by his presence.

  • December 2017
    • YRDSB Teacher Leads Design of Accessible Washroom Trailer

      Derek Bunn who teaches special needs students at Sutton District High School has been instrumental in the design of a new fully accessible washroom trailer.

      The trailer, which complies with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, features an adult size changing table, a lift system, adjustable ramps and extra space to give caregivers room to change individuals and administer food and medication.

      Derek was inspired to design the trailer after working with special needs students and witnessing the difficulties and challenges they faced when attending events. He approached various municipalities and organizations for financial support and with the help of a federal grant was able to secure the $140,000 needed to build the trailer.

      The accessible washroom trailer will be maintained by staff at the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville, who will also coordinate bookings for fairs and other community events across York Region. Along with the bookings, Whitchurch-Stouffville staff will handle the towing and setup arrangements.

      The trailer was put into use at the 2017 Invictus Games held in Toronto and is expected to be available for outdoor events next year.​

      YRDSB Wins Big at the OSLCars Awards



      Three York Region District School Board schools beat out competitors across Ontario to win at the 6th annual OSLCars Awards.

      The OSLCars Short Film Festival provides awards annually to Ontario schools and student councils at the Ontario Student Leadership Conference held in Niagara Falls.

      The three YRDSB award winners are:

      ·         Best Representation of School – Bill Crothers Secondary School

      ·         Best Use of Conference Theme – Markham District High School

      ·         Best Overall Film – Pierre Elliott Trudeau High School

      The theme of the 2017 conference was Red, White, Ignite: The Next 150. In order to win the competition students had to submit one original video with a maximum of four minutes. Over 2,000 students from across Ontario travelled to Niagara Falls to watch the top two films in each of the categories at the Ontario Student Leadership Conference held November 5-7, 2017. ​

      December North Star

      December’s North Star recipient is Stacey Sadacharan who teaches at Alexander Mackenzie High School. She was nominated for this award by her colleague Tiffany Kattis:

      Stacey is a department head at our school and has always chosen her courses last.  She allows us to pick and receive our first course choices and she teaches whatever is left behind.  She sacrifices her lunch, prep, and afterschool time to help her staff members and students.  

      She has built a network within our school by joining various councils so that we are a well functioning school.  She acknowledges everyone in our team by simply having an open door policy.  Stacey always thinks of others and how to showcase their talents. 

      She is a person who is positive and wears a beautiful smile, even when times are tough.  Whether we celebrate birthdays (or other engagements), going out for lunches, and joining numerous committees, Stacey always has the time to listen and guide her staff and students.  

      She is a very thoughtful person and has always been a North Star at our school.

  • November 2017
    • Doodle 4 Google National Finalists

      The Doodle 4 Google contest is designed to encourage Canadian students to use their creativity and create their own interpretation of the Google logo. The contest features entries from JK-Grade 12 students from across Canada whose submissions reflected the theme “What I See for Canada’s Future is...”

      York Region District School Board led this year’s Google Canada 150 contest in finalists with three students in each of the age groups. The three finalists were:
      • Lei (Leo) Cao from Coledale Public School (Kindergarten – Grade 3)
      • Flora Hu from Doncrest Public School (Grade 4 – 6)
      • Carol Zhou from Markville Secondary School (Grade 7 – 9)
      Their doodles touched on themes of technology, the environment, and diversity in envisioning the future for Canada.
      Although the three national finalists did not win the national competition, the students’ artwork is featured in the Doodle 4 Google online gallery and on the Board’s Google Apps for Education (GAPPS) webpage

      North Star

      November’s North Star recipient is Ryan Gobin from Crosby Heights Public School.

      Ryan was nominated by Parisa Foroodi. Below is an excerpt from the nomination:
      Ryan is an ideal role model for new teachers in his school building. When teachers come to him to discuss student strengths and needs he always makes time for them in the moment they need it even when he is swamped with work.
      He changes the school dynamics wherever he goes by becoming a positive beacon to anyone who gets the pleasure to interact with him on a daily basis.
      He loves to organize events for staff outside of the school building and is always thinking about how to improve the lives of other teachers around him. He has set up lunch and learn sessions for his school colleagues and brought in guest speakers into the building for evening sessions.
      His door is literally and figuratively always open and the approachability you feel once you enter makes colleagues come back time and time again. He never once expects thanks for what he does, and simply does it because he enjoys assisting his colleagues to improve their teaching practice and their overall well-being.
      He is always creating a climate at his school that replicates his positivity whether it’s creating a parfait breakfast for the teachers, playing mellow music in the staff room… Ryan Gobin is the perfect match for the North Star Award because all his action of past, present and future exemplify what this award is about. ​


  • October 2017
    • ​Local School Receives Premier’s Award for Accepting Schools

      Black River Public School was one of 10 schools across the province recognized for creating safe and accepting learning environments. The Premier’s Awards for Accepting Schools celebrate school teams that have shown leadership and innovation in creating safe, inclusive and accepting schools.  

      Black River P.S. received the award for their work to address the needs of their school population by setting high standards for character and inclusivity and creating safe spaces in the school. This includes:

      • Infusing the BEAR Spirit (Be Excellent and Respectful) throughout the school through assemblies, spirit days, and events and fundraisers that support the local community.
      • Encouraging acceptance, setting high expectations and providing opportunities for all students to succeed and get involved in school activities.
      • Providing “the Zone” space where students can find a quiet spot to concentrate or calm down, solve problems, have conversations and participate in activities that promote well-being.
      • Teaching students strategies for self-regulation.

      Black River Public School is the fifth school in York Region District School Board to receive the Premier’s Award for Safe and Accepting Schools in the last four years.

      ​First Book Canada

      In an effort to provide new reading materials to all students, First Book Canada created a publishers’ clearinghouse which donates large quantities of free books to thousands of schools and programs serving communities in greatest need.

      Community Resource Facilitators from the Inclusive School and Community Services Department reached out to First Book Canada in 2011. The first few years of that relationship saw approximately 5,000 books a year ending up in the hands of students in school communities with the highest needs. By 2014, the number had grown to over 10,000 books a year with several YRDSB schools participating in unique whole class reading programs.

      By 2015, several YRDSB departments, First Book Canada, and their Bank of Montreal (BMO) and Compugen partners, developed a Chromebook Pilot Project that saw 120 new Chromebooks donated to the families of students in Grades 5-6 at Sutton Public School and Black River Public School.  For the past three years First Book Canada donations have provided all of Building Blocks for Kindergarten students with their very own new books.

      As of this past school year, over 100,000 books have made their way into the hands of students.


      ​North Star

      Jane Mitchell from Nobleton Public School is October’s North Star recipient. 

      Jane was nominated by her colleagues Janet Simmons-Megraw, Rebecca O'Kurily, Taylor Yeoman, Clarizza Isit and Carolyn Lepp.

      Below is an excerpt from the nomination:

      If a new staff member is welcomed into the school, Jane Mitchell offers constant support and assistance whenever it is needed.

      Her empathetic ear and kind heart allows her to connect with staff and her experience helps to provide guidance to other staff members. She is always willing to share her knowledge, but she also has a growth mindset to learn new things herself and from others. She will drop whatever she is doing to help anyone at any time.

      In regards to making the school environment a pleasant place to work, Jane Mitchell will go above and beyond to ensure that all staff are feeling welcomed and supported, even those staff members who are not always recognized, such as the secretaries, support staff, and the custodians.

  • September 2017
    • Teachers of the Year

      The Teacher of the Year Award honours teachers who exemplify the Board’s Mission, Vision and Values as well as other practices that support success in the classroom and schools. The Teacher of the Year Award stands as a symbol of the high regard in which York Region teachers are held and serves as a beacon of excellence for others to follow.

      This year’s recipients are Margit Muller from Pierre Elliott Trudeau High School and Tisha Nelson from Aldergrove Public School

      Margit Muller is the Head of ESL at Pierre Elliott Trudeau High School where she works tirelessly to empower the newcomer community, build partnerships and challenge students to take risks in their learning.

      Tisha Nelson’s goal at Aldergrove Public School is to engage the community, ignite learning and inspire leadership. She excels at motivating learners, fostering inclusion, inspiring innovation and building community.

      Ontario Student Trustees' Association (OSTA-AECO) Award Recipient

      The Ontario Student Voice Awards are a set of six scholarships presented by the Ontario Student Trustees' Association (OSTA-AECO) that pay tribute to the hard work, dedication, and caring nature of the province’s most exceptional students.

      The mission of the Commitment to Justice Award is to honour the achievements of students who show immense commitment and enthusiasm for justice. Richmond Hill High School student, Jathusha Mahenthirarajan is the recipient of the Commitment to Justice Award because of her outstanding involvements. 

      Jathusha founded Ontario’s first chapter of GirlTalk, a peer-to-peer mentoring program designed to empower girls. Jathusha has also impacted her community largely through founding a youth-led organization called L.I.G.H.T. (lead, inspire, grow, hope, transform).  L.I.G.H.T. works on initiating rich and honest dialogue about topics like assimilation, racial profiling and discriminatory grounds where access to resources is limited. L.I.G.H.T. has hosted over a dozen events including free art camps for low-income, newly immigrated and refugee children, a mentorship program and a mental health walk. The aim of this organization is to change public perceptions of young people from being the problem to the solution by modeling it themselves. L.I.G.H.T hopes to change the service sector to be more open in regards to youth-led projects and voices in decision-making processes. 

      Jathusha has had international impact through traveling to Kenya to build a surgical wing and running a conference at a girl’s orphanage in Sri Lanka. She is a Because I am a Girl speaker and has made presentations on issues such as child marriage, gender-based violence and education. She was chosen to step into the role of federal Cabinet Minister of Status of Women for a day and had the chance to consult with Madame Sophie Gregoire Trudeau due to her impact on gender equality.

      In addition to OSTA-AECO’s award, Jathusha is the recipient of several other awards including:

      • TD Scholarship for Community Leadership
      • Terry Fox Humanitarian Award
      • National Girl Talk Leader of the Year
      • Ontario Student Voice Commitment to Justice Award
      • York University Governors' Awards of Distinction: John Proctor Scholarship
      • York University Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies Entrance Award
      • Nahome Berhane Scholarship for Leadership & Inclusion
      • Students Making an Impact Award (from Benson Kearly Inc.)


To submit a nomination, or for more information, please contact​.


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