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Everyday heroes

​WSD is full of amazing teachers who are true super heroes every day in the classroom. here are several who won major awards in the 2016-2017 school year.

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Marjorie White, Dufferin School—Manitoba Certificate of Teaching Excellence

Whether her students are dressing up as pirates, math ninjas or superheroes, there’s never a dull day in Ms. White’s class. 

“My biggest competition is Disney…they’re doing something right when it comes to keeping kids’ attention,” Ms. White said. “So I tend to be very animated. I’ll dance, sing and rap, or we’ll dress up…I dare students to fall asleep in my class.”

Following recesses and lunch, Ms. White uses calming music and dimmed lights to set the stage for learning. Students are encouraged to be super learners in the classroom and super citizens in their school and community—such as offering a helping hand or showing kindness to others. 

Using the Seven Teachings of honesty, truth, wisdom, love, humility, courage and respect, Ms. White builds her students’ confidence and sets high expectations in a caring learning environment. Whether students come from war-torn countries or Winnipeg’s Inner City, they are all part of Ms. White’s Justice League of Learning.

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Jason Garton, Tyndall Park Community School—Premier’s Award for Excellence in Education

Amazingly, Mr. Garton is in just his fourth year of teaching; he has worked in Inclusive Education classrooms for all of those years. 

He is also a former high school dropout. Now, Mr. G is using his own life experiences to support students with emotional and behavioural challenges. He currently teaches in Tyndall Park’s Treatment Academic Program and previously taught at Earl Grey School’s Learning Assistance Centre.

“These kids do more before 8 AM than most people do in a day…they can really show you what resiliency is all about,” he said. “The biggest thing is that your past doesn’t define you. And we always try to separate the student from the behavior. The students are doing the best they can in that moment. You have to look past the surface, but you also have expectations of each student.”

Mr. Garton always strives to make his students part of the Tyndall Park community, through leadership opportunities, service learning and simply sharing kindness with others. Mr. G’s classroom is a safe, caring space where students can feel a sense of belonging; he credits the Educational Assistants and clinical staff in his classroom, as well as Tyndall Park staff and students for creating a welcome environment for all.

“Belonging is a word that we hear so much about, but it is so crucial for these kids. We have it in the classroom and we have it here at Tyndall Park as a school. We have other teachers and students coming to our classroom to hang out, and our students feel like they’re part of something bigger.”

He also thanks his administrators for allowing him to try out new strategies for his students.

“This year has been especially exceptional because the administration team is so supportive and believes in the kids and what we are doing to meet their needs,” Mr. Garton said. “Which allows us to take risks without a fear of failing. My teaching esteem has grown exponentially. They are truly awesome!”

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Leah Benoit, Sheena Gordon and Ken Hunter, École River Heights School—Manitoba Education Award for Outstanding Team Collaboration

Delivering phys. ed. and health education for approximately 500 Grade 7 and 8 students, Ms. Benoit, Ms. Gordon and Mr. Hunter have taken a collaborative approach. The trio find creative ways to support student learning and co-teach using each teacher’s professional strengths. Leah, Sheena and Ken strongly believe in inclusion and seek to offer the best curricular, intramural and extracurricular opportunities for all students. By offering different levels of intensity and empowering students to challenge themselves, these teachers are imparting life-long fitness habits to their students.

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Robert Schulz, Luxton School—Manitoba Council for Exceptional Children’s 2017 Teacher of the Year 

The students in Mr. Schulz’s Learning Assistance Centre classroom are not just a vital part of Luxton School, they are known throughout the community. Whether they are cleaning graffiti off local businesses, deliver compost to neighbouring homes or writing letters of appreciation to Winnipeg Transit drivers, his students are encouraged to make a difference. 

“We have a relationship with just about every business and organization in walking distance of this school, and I think that helps teach the students how to build relationships as well,” Mr. Schulz said.

Working with his classroom team, Mr. Schulz uses flexible strategies and goals to meet the needs of his students.

“There’s a wide range of academic levels in this class, but our goal is to support students’ learning wherever they may be,” Mr. Schulz said. “I want this room to be a fresh start and a positive space for any student who comes in here.”

That positive community attitude has extended through the entire school, as Mr. Schulz has helped Luxton achieve status as a Manitoba Action Level School for sustainable development.

“Luxton School is a gem in this community, and we have a wonderful blend of staff here. We have these really experienced, superstar teachers and then we have this up and coming generation of new teachers, and I guess I’m somewhere in the middle. I talked with Ken (Luxton Principal Ken Reimer) and said I would accept the nomination for the award on behalf of the school. I don’t know if I am comfortable with being Teacher of the Year, but I am comfortable with Luxton having the Teachers of the Year.” 

– With files from Manitoba Education and WSD’s Inclusive Education Department

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