Former U.S. president Bill Clinton, poet Maya Angelou and media phenomenon Oprah Winfrey are just some of the accomplished individuals who credit a teacher with making a pivotal difference in their lives.
Across Canada, countless teachers and school counsellors are playing a similar role today. Here are four remarkable examples:
Selena Davidson Eno, a teacher at Bayview Community School in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, is the 2015 recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s Teaching Award.
During her 17-year career, Davidson Eno has taught many subjects, including core French, healthy living and art, but her greatest passion is helping students develop physical literacy. An effective advocate for the importance of involvement in extracurricular activities, she works hard to engage students in athletics and worked with Mahone Bay Centre to develop an after-school program for junior high girls.
Also a role model to her students, she runs half-marathons, plays soccer, basketball and hockey, and is a certified yoga instructor, which she integrates into her elementary and junior high level teaching. Outside of the classroom, she coaches soccer, elementary basketball, cross-country, and track and field.
Mary Courchene was born and raised on the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba. Despite being taken from her home as a young child to become a residential school student, she went on to earn degrees from Brandon University and the University of Manitoba, followed by a remarkable career in education as an elementary and high school teacher, counsellor and as the dean of Aboriginal Education at Red River College. She was a founding member of the Manitoba First Nation Education Resource Centre and an original member of the Urban Aboriginal Teachers Committee.
After her first retirement in 2003, she accepted a position as the elder in residence for the Transcona and Seven Oaks school division. Recently retired for the second time, Courchene was awarded the Canadian Teachers’ Federation Outstanding Aboriginal Educator Award in 2014. She continues to be an active volunteer, serving as an elder and board member.
Donna Foulkes, the mother of two hockey-obsessed sons, left the business world to become a secondary school teacher in Peel, Ontario.
In 2011, with a team of like-minded colleagues, Foulkes started UnderOneWoof, a dog daycare at West Credit Secondary School.
While bringing the joy of canine companions into the school, the program teaches students how to thrive in a work environment. Students in the program learn about the animal care industry and acquire the skills required to be successful in this rapidly growing field.
UnderOneWoof has proven to be an effective pathway for engaging high-risk students and helping them to attain credits.
Dale Callender has helped high school students and their families face complex challenges for more than 18 years. He is a youth counsellor with Delisle Youth Services (a member of Children’s Mental Health Ontario), which partners with educatorsto bring innovation and support to youth with mental health issues in the schools. A valued advocate and mentor to students at Northern Secondary School in Toronto, Callender is the author of “When Matt Became Jade,” a story published by the Association of Childhood International about gender transition in high school. He also speaks regularly to audiences and on film on topics such as the impact of violence on learning, bullying and fitting in, and is the recipient of a Krista Sepp Memorial Mentoring Award.
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