2016 Mary A. Samuel Leadership in Education Award Winner: Anne Marie McDonald
Limestone District School Board
By Krishna Burra
Anne Marie McDonald is, first and foremost, an outstanding human being who enriches the lives of those students, families, and staff with whom she has the opportunity to work. However, she is also an outstanding educator who has high expectations for all students and staff, and advocates strongly for those who most need a voice.
Principal McDonald has demonstrated, time after time, a strong vision and resiliency in supporting the consolidation of students and staff from her previous school, Queen Elizabeth Collegiate, and her new school, Loyalist Collegiate. Placing the interests of those students who need us most at the forefront of her vision for equity has provided critical leadership for the communities she serves.
Having grown up in the communities she serves has provided Anne Marie with the first-hand experience and knowledge of what her students need from school. Her continual effort to make the provincial vision of Achieving Excellence come to life for her students is beyond admirable. She and her team consistently provide the best possible conditions for their students to achieve excellence, ensure equity, and achieve well-being.
Anne Marie is a very worthy recipient of this award because of her daily contributions and efforts to advance equitable and inclusive education for all of her students.
Krishna Burra is Superintendent of Education – Schools and Program at the Limestone District School Board.
October 10 is World Mental Health Day. This day reminds us that as advocates for student well-being, we must actively support youth who experience challenges anywhere on the mental health spectrum. Complex mental health difficulties such as attention deficit disorder (ADD), depression, and anxiety are just some examples of what many students every single day. As a positive step forward, the Ontario Well-being Strategy for Education now mandates that we must continue to build inclusive spaces for all of our youth in schools.
The Ontario Ministry of Education defines wellbeing as “a positive sense of self, spirit and belonging that we feel when our cognitive, emotional, social and physical needs are being met. It is supported through equity and respect for our diverse identities and strengths. Well-being in early years and school settings is about helping children and students become resilient, so that they can make positive and healthy choices to support learning and achievement both now and in the future.”
We’ve put together some tips on what you can do to promote well-being in the classroom for students facing mental health challenges.
Respect the student’s diagnosis, but remember to see them beyond the diagnosis as well. They are a person before they are their diagnosis. There are many more aspects to their identity that need to be seen, heard, and given space to come forward.
Address any discrimination based on mental health in the classroom promptly
Encourage peers and students to challenge the stigma surrounding mental health
When creating a lesson plan, consider if it is accessible for all the needs in the classroom
Talk about inclusion with students and teach them what it means
Help all students to acknowledge their unique gifts and talents
Encourage students to ask you for support and help so they don’t feel isolated
When you’re not sure what to do, ask colleagues and industry professionals for help!
Inclusion is not bringing people into what already exists; it is making a new space, a better space for everyone. – George Dei
Pioneers sharing a feast and living alongside Indigenous Canadians were popular images when we think back to how we learned about Thanksgiving. These first lessons helped shape an idyllic story of Canada that often hid our nation’s complicated relationship to its original inhabitants. If we were to look at this narrative from the perspective of the various First Nations who had contact with European settlers, would our national story be different?
A critical look at history reveals that the version which is often known reflects the reality of those who had the power to conquer, exploit and marginalize. It is also written by the ones who had the words to document or the tools to popularize their understanding of the world. When history is examined from the perspective of the colonized, exploited and marginalized, it often illustrates a different version of how events were experienced.
The story of Thanksgiving is a reminder that Canada exists because of its relationship with First Nations communities. When we think about this relationship, how do we reconcile with this longstanding power imbalance?
For example, can we honestly be proud to have some of the best living conditions in the world, while many Northern communities do not have access to adequate housing or clean drinking water? The legacy of residential schools, the alarming number of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, ongoing land claims or unrecognized treaty rights, the suicide crises across communities and disproportionate incarceration rates are just a few of the many issues that we as a nation need to address. These are not just aboriginal issues; these are Canadian issues.
Tips for Educators
As educators, there are many opportunities to bring a critical lens when addressing the role of First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities in Canadian history.
This can involve shifting the point of view from the perspective of European settlers to the experiences of First Nations communities during First Contact.
Allowing students to explore a counter-narrative is not only a critical thinking skills but also creates opportunities for opening dialogues about colonization as a lived experience. Informing students about Indigenous perspectives can also include inviting a community member or Elder for an education assembly.
When integrating indigenous knowledge into the classroom, make sure that they are respectful to the cultural practices of the First Nations communities. For example, the eagle feather is a sacred object that should not be used without the guidance and/or consent of an Elder or community member.
It is highly recommended to create a working relationship with a local Native Friendship Centre or seek out organizations that do not culturally appropriate Indigenous knowledge.
If possible, visiting a Cultural Centre curated by a First Nations community presents knowledge from an Indigenous perspective.
On Thanksgiving Day Let’s…
As we gather with family and friends over Thanksgiving, let’s acknowledge whose land we borrowed in order to build up one of the wealthiest countries in the world. As we express our gratitude for all the things we have, let’s recognize that our nation’s abundance should be shared by all. As we pray, meditate or reflect, let’s focus on how an injury to one, is an injury to all. When First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities make demands to be heard, let’s listen first, then ask, what we as a nation can do?
Calling all educators! Scroll down to check out this 5 min podcast on how to easily promote equity in the classroom!
Equity and education is one of my passions. As a former elementary school teacher, I remember some of the challenges of putting social justice into practice while in the classroom. Examining the hidden curriculum and the many blind spots it presents is one of the many ways to create a more equitable classroom.
Topic 1: What is the Hidden Curriculum?
When looking at the hidden curriculum, it’s first important to separate it from the formal curriculum. This is the programming developed by the Ministry of Education and includes the learning objectives, educational content, expected outcomes and assessments.
It is implemented in every publicly funded school in Ontario and is also known as the standardized curriculum.
The hidden curriculum refers to everything outside of the formal curriculum that students learn when they go to school. This includes how they should interact with each other, teachers and administrators; how they should perceive their place in the world; how they should view others and what behaviours are acceptable and unacceptable.
At times, it is in the hidden curriculum where prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination influence classroom practices.
Whether intended or not, students learn positive and negative messages through the attitudes and beliefs of the educators around them as well as the institutional practices that create their learning environments.
For example, the overrepresentation of female teachers in elementary school can transfer traditional gender stereotypes about what jobs are suitable for women and men. Even though this is may not be the intent of principals when hiring teachers, it still conveys the gendering of the teaching profession.
Another example relates to the underrepresentation of teachers of diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds. When students of colour do not see their diversity represented in teaching staff and administration, what does this communicate to them?
From not seeing themselves reflected in adult role models to learning about social authority, these messages are conveyed when learning environments are not as diverse as their student population.
Topic 2: Using equity to challenge the hidden curriculum
With this understanding of the hidden curriculum, how can educators be more mindful of those blind spots so that classrooms are more inclusive?
The initial step is to look at our biases, recognize that we have them and that they do inform our behaviours. Now here’s the good news, our biases can be changed if we challenge them.
The easiest way to do so is to listen to and learn from marginalized voices. The lived experiences of others can sensitize us to their experiences of oppression so that we can be more conscious; this is particularly important for educators who work with marginalized students.
Our biases can also be challenged when we think about the educational content that informs young minds.
While I was a classroom teacher, I used to apply a set of “whose” questions when lesson planning and using resources.
Some of these included:
Whose knowledge counts?
Whose voice gets heard?
Whose values are taught?
With a few of these questions, I was able to find resources that provoked critical thinking about issues relating to power and privilege. If I could not find resources, I would use existing resources and spin them critically.
As an example, try asking some “whose” question about a map of Canada.
Whose ideas of the world created that map?
Could there be other perspectives which would have drawn the map differently?
If so, which perspectives?
When we ask critical questions, we begin to notice other ways to understand our nation’s history. Seeing history and geography from other perspectives not only supports critical thinking but also creates the opportunity to include voices that have often been marginalized from our national narrative.
When we look at what shapes our thinking, we can begin to change it. This is particularly important when we are trying to challenge inequity in schools. When we examine all of the learning that is outside of the formal curriculum, educators have a point of entry into creating more inclusive and equitable classrooms.
Are you passionate about social justice work? Are you energetic and excited about engaging youth?
Harmony Movement (www.harmony.ca) is the leading provider of diversity education in Ontario. We are a not-for-profit organization that addresses equity issues and promotes inclusion by educating and empowering youth, educators, social service providers, communities, and business organizations. We offer diversity education workshops, programs, conferences and projects to schools, communities and workplaces across Ontario.
The successful applicant will work closely with the Harmony Team to develop programs and workshops that address fundamental equity and diversity issues. Our programs explore personal and group identities, stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination, media literacy, a history of inequity in Canada, personal empowerment, as well as taking leadership for equity, inclusion and social change. This position reports to the Director of Equity Education.
The critical function of this position is to facilitate in an interactive, educational and empowering manner, using a variety of activities and tools to keep programming current and relevant to all participants involved.
Develop and facilitate leadership, diversity and anti-discrimination education programs and workshops for youth, educators, as well as community, social services and business organizations.
Collaborate with school, community and business clients to assess needs and to develop relevant programming.
Work in collaboration with the other Program Officers and Managers to outreach, develop and maintain relationships and opportunities with school, community and business partners.
This is a province-wide position that requires regular travel in the GTA and across Ontario, and will often involve overnight stays.
Other duties as assigned.
Post-secondary college or university degree and/or a minimum of three years related work experience.
Experience in facilitating workshops and working directly with diverse youth and adults with a variety of learning styles and needs within a workshop, classroom or conference setting.
Have a personal and professional interest in teaching equity, inclusion and social justice issues to youth and adults. Knowledge of anti-oppressive concepts and their application.
Excellent presentation and workshop facilitation skills to engage his/her audience in a classroom, workshop or conference environment.
Strong communication and interpersonal skills, as well as writing and research skills and a demonstrated ability to edit and proofread.
Able to work independently and in a team within a flexible, professional and self-supervisory environment. This position involves flexible hours to include weekday evenings and occasional weekends.
We are filling part-time or full-time positions. Salary will be competitive and commensurate with experience and education level.
If you are interested, please submit your resume together with a cover letter (PDF or Word format) of no longer than one-page summarizing why you are passionate about diversity education and why you would be an excellent candidate for this position.
Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Harmony Movement is committed to fostering a workplace that reflects the diversity of the communities we work with. Applications from all qualified candidates are welcome. We strongly encourage applications from people of diverse ethnoracial and cultural groups, Indigenous people, people with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ community.
We thank all applicants for their interest, however, only those selected for an interview will be contacted. If contacted for an interview, please inform us should accommodation be required.
Taking steps towards creating a safe and inclusive school environment, where all students are set up to succeed, can at times seem like a daunting task. Here are 5 simple ways to support you in creating a positive school climate from day one.
Improve your School’s Aesthetics
Consider:Is the visual environment inclusive of and accessible for all for students, staff and families? Tips: - Ensure all print media uses accessible language for all English speakers. - Avoid small fonts and crowded pages which make reading difficult for everyone. Also consider using the font Open Dyslexic. - Make sure that photos of people used in media such as posters include a diversity of identities.
Improve Accessibility of School Spaces
Consider: Are all spaces accessible to all students, staff and families? Tips: - Create a gender-neutral washroom/change room. - Create a prayer/meditation room. - Ensure that all essential services are located conveniently.
Build a Sense of School Community
Consider: Are there plenty of opportunities for students, teachers, and families to interact with each other and become more involved in their school community? Tips: - Create events that allow the larger community to interact with your school community. - Make students and families aware of opportunities to volunteer and get involved. - Create opportunities to engage a diverse spectrum of interests.
Build Character through an Equity Lens
Consider: Do students have the necessary skills to respectfully discuss difficult topics such as privilege and discrimination? Tips: - Help students to develop an equity lens by teaching them how to respect all identities. This fosters compassion and respect. - Teach students the proper terminology for people of different identities.
Empower All Student Voices
Consider: Are all student voices, identities and abilities reflected in school events, clubs and teams? Tips: - Take an active role in empowering students of all identities to participate in clubs, teams and activities. This will ensure all student voices are heard. - Ensure that school activities and clubs meet a wide range of student interests beyond just sports and arts. - Create a student equity group such as a Social Changemakers Club, GSA, or Anti-Racism Club. - Establish and utilize a feedback system where students can offer suggestions and improvements to their school community.
Thank you to everyone who joined us on November 5 Harmony Education Foundation and Harmony Movement celebrated the 2015 Harmony Awards Gala. We were thrilled to celebrate the achievements of educators, students and community members who are doing exceptional work creating more inclusive and equitable schools and communities.
Starr Trudeau is an Ojibway Aboriginal and was born and raised in Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation but later moved to Sudbury, Ontario where she currently attends Northern Ontario’s only all-girls school, Marymount Academy. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, and loves being outdoors where she goes camping, swimming, and fishing. Starr really puts an emphasis on her academics as she maintains an above 90% mark average and has been on the Principal’s List for academic excellence for many consecutive years. She is co-president of her school’s Film Festival and co-hosts the festival’s gala night. She also participates in various extra-curricular activities such as volleyball, softball, golf, and badminton, and also volunteers her time in various non-profit organizations like CIBC Run for the Cure and Pet Save. With her kind, enthusiastic, empathetic, and humble behaviour, she is a leader within her school and community as she dedicates herself to making everyone feel included and appreciated. She enjoys partaking in various FNMI events and taking pride in her culture. She takes the initiative to learn more about her culture every day by learning the Ojibway language and sparking conversations with her grandparents in their native tongue. She is working on a very special project with a group of local students in lobbying the provincial government to include a mandatory Canadian Indeginous study component to the social sciences curriculum in elementary schools, written and developed from the Indeginous perspective.
TiCarra Paquet is a Mi’kmaq Aboriginal from a reservation in New Brunswick called Metepenagiag First Nation. She currently lives in Sudbury Ontario, and attends Marymount Academy, Northern Ontario’s only all-girls school. TiCarra is a devoted student who strives for academic excellence and is proud to be featured on the school’s honour roll. She partakes in a variety of extra-curricular’s such as Basketball, Volleyball, Softball and Tennis. Moreover, she has an interest for film, being that she is co-president of the Reel Girls Film Festival Committee, a short film showcase and contest at her school. However, TiCarra has a primary interest which is deep rooted in several non-profit organizations such as Pet Save, CIBC Run for the Cure, and her school’s Marymount Catholic Charities Council. TiCarra was recently appointed to the Minister’s Student Advisory Council, where she, along with sixty other students from all over the province, provide student voice to the Minister of Education on a variety of educational topics. TiCarra is a very outgoing, person who has a passion for First Nations awareness and rights. TiCarra is the co-founder of the initiative, Our Home And Native Land, and she wishes to see her goal of Mandatory Indigenous Studies be added to the elementary curriculum.
Lucie Cullen is the principal at Marymount Academy in Sudbury, Ontario. She is proud to be Métis and is proud of Starr Trudeau and TiCarra Paquet for taking the initiative to want to affect change in the elementary social studies curriculum.
Duration:9 month contract with 3 month probation period and possibility of extension
Closing Date: November 16, 2015
Start Date: December 1, 2015 (flexible)
The Office Manager plays an integral role in the smooth and efficient running of the day-to-day activities at Harmony Movement, ensuring organizational effectiveness and efficiency. The Office Manager is responsible for marketing and outreach activities, event planning, and supporting the team in a variety of capacities including professional development and Human Resources initiatives.
Our ideal candidate values diversity and inclusion and demonstrates a commitment to fostering a just and caring society.
Acts as the gateway person for taking orders and mailing out resources, books and materials that have been ordered
Prints contracts and sends invoices in order to collect on orders
Responsible for inventory management, ensures enough stock is ordered to meet demand
Marketing and Outreach
Ensures that Harmony Movement has a social media presence
Markets all events through affiliated organizations and seeks out partnerships where Harmony Movement message can be showcased
Responsible for email correspondence and maintaining email database
Actively seeks online publications where Harmony can provide information to their website (blogs, newsletters)
Monitors social media daily, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram
Drafts and prepares email blasts, and newsletters sends to managers for approval, in order to connect with community members, educational institutions
Maintains the company website with regular updates
Arranges Professional Development days, coordinating the event by arranging date, topic, lunch and speakers
Responsible for office maintenance in terms of ordering supplies and ensuring the office runs smoothly
Coordinates Human Resources initiatives involving confidential information such as sector screenings for employees and ensuring policies are adhered to
Responds to staff inquiries and finds more efficient ways to streamline office processes
Researches employee suggestions and following up with information
Takes minutes at board meetings
Fosters positive relationships with Board members, supporting good governance
Assists with other projects as assigned and supporting team on project deliverables
Other duties as assigned
Works in collaboration to coordinate the annual Harmony Movement Fundraising Gala
Supports with all logistics related to event planning; securing site, resources and plans with vendors
Provides support in planning and coordinating workshop events with internal staff
May be asked to assist with on-site coordination for conference events, ensures that all plans run efficiently, addressing any issues and providing resolution
Environment, Pace, and Challenges
Continuously evolving educational environment
Fast-paced and flexible work environment
Must be responsive to change
Great camaraderie, a fun place to work!
Position Outcomes/Objectives and Standards of Performance
Ability to bring energy, creativity and community relations expertise that will impact the Harmony Movement office in a positive manner
Enhancing the personal and professional development of Harmony Movement employees by encouraging growth and development through planning of events
Maintaining a well-run, organized and efficient environment that is pro-active and meets deadlines.
Helps anchor the team by managing competing priorities with tact, ensures the office is conscious of upcoming events, and what each person’s role and responsibilities are. Does this by following up with employees and delegating when necessary.
Ensures professional execution of all related special events
Using advanced planning skills, anticipating problems, and suggesting immediate resolutions.
Exhibit entrepreneurial skills including the ability to multi-task, and proven ability to meet goals, be a team player who has the ability to work with a diverse group of individuals and meet organizational needs.
Is self-motivated and able to influence those in the environment by seeking out resources to broadcast the Harmony Movement message via social media.
Required Behaviour, Skills, and Knowledge
Qualifications and Skills
Post-secondary diploma required, (preferably in Marketing, Public or Community Relations) and two years of experience in special events planning, preferably in the not-for-profit sector
Ability to work well independently on several projects concurrently, and possess excellent communication, organizational and creative thinking skills.
Experience in planning and implementing events including expertise in attracting volunteers and partnerships.
Software proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel, and Power Point, is required; knowledge and experience in social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
Strong initiative and customer service orientation
Organizing, prioritizing skills, problem solving, and attention to detail is imperative
Demonstrated level of flexibility
Knowledge of equity and social justice issues
Commitment to diversity and inclusion
To apply for this position email resume and cover letter to email@example.com or fax to 416-385-2644.
The Harmony Social Changemaker Award recognizes an individual or group of youth who have participated in Harmony student programming and are doing amazing work in equity and social justice in their schools and communities. Award recipients have taken action to counteract discrimination, bullying or other areas to create a safer, more inclusive society and have plans to make further social change. Over the years, award winners have been granted $1000 to be used towards a proposed event/initiative that works to combat discrimination.