Category Archives: School of the Year Award

2017: Cardinal Leger

2017 HARMONY SCHOOL OF THE YEAR AWARD

Cardinal Léger Secondary School
Brampton, Ontario

By Heather Reid

Located in the heart of Brampton’s Flower City, Cardinal Léger is Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board’s oldest secondary school. Alongside Brampton’s evolving cultural diversity, Léger is proudly building a welcoming school community for students from diverse backgrounds and cultures.

As a school, we are at the forefront of social change, social justice, equity, diversity and inclusivity within the board. Through community outreach programs like the Knights Table, Food for Children, and the Gift of Giving back, our students actively model Léger’s values of equity and inclusivity.

To enrich our cultural awareness and promote learning among our school community, staff and students have shared their experiences from the Nicaragua Social Justice trip and the YMCA Cultural Exchange to Nunavut.

At Cardinal Léger, we recognize that identity is a highly personal experience and it’s our job, as a school, to create safe spaces where all are included. The grade nine Native Studies course, the Unity Club, and Lancers against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia are just some of examples of such spaces. Supporting people with different gender identities, sexual orientations, interests, talents, physical abilities, and political points of view is core to our values.

Our school’s Red Feather Project honours and remembers the Murdered and Missing Women and Girls in Canada. This is a perfect example of how community partners, students, and staff have taken ownership and responsibility for allyship with Canada’s Indigenous communities. The Red Feather Project is expanding beyond our school to other educational institutions.

Cardinal Léger would like to thank the Harmony Movement for recognizing our school’s efforts to infuse inclusivity and equity into every aspect of our student’s educational experience.

Heather Reid is a Digital Arts and Photography Teacher.

Video: Cardinal Léger Secondary School award acceptance.

2016: Terry Fox Public School

terry-fox2016 School of the Year Award: Terry Fox Public School

Ajax, Ontario

By Deirdre Morgenstern

Terry Fox Public School is attended by about 400 students from Kindergarten to Grade 8.

After completing the Harmony Movement Social Changemakers Conference and educator leadership sessions, our staff and students were inspired to take school community engagement to a new level.

Student leaders keenly plan and deliver classroom activities and mentor younger students to continue the discussion of equity, diversity and inclusion.

Terry Fox PS has led initiatives for Pink Shirt Day, bullying prevention, Down Syndrome and Autism Awareness, as well as Black History, Islamic History, and Aboriginal Heritage months. Students have raised over $3,200 to drill a well in Zimbabwe. This year, leadership students successfully submitted a $2,500 SpeakUp Grant to run “Unity in Our Community: Learning Together in 21st Century Schools” featuring Wes Williams and Jeewan Chanicka.

Kayana, a student at the school, says, “We have worked very hard and I am very proud to not only say that I was able to help but that there are others who are continuing on that path of respect, kindness and inclusion.”

Members of the school staff have embedded culturally responsive and relevant pedagogy into resources, lessons and extra-curricular activities. Some initiatives have included creating a freedom quilt with 2D shapes and patterns in math class using the Five Pillars of Islam to teach empathy; an African “mash up” of songs with the Glee Club; and performing with the Step Team.

Our staff completed “equity walkthroughs” from the perspective of diverse student and family identities, explored their own unconscious biases, and delved into the concept of privilege as it relates to students.

Our students have moved from being held back by anger and frustration to looking forward and planning for social change. They have presented at the board level, participated in conferences, been nominated for courageous leadership awards, applied for grants, created inclusive art together, organized community events and their efforts and achievements have been covered by local media.

Students, staff and parents alike have been empowered to share their voices in every aspect of our school. The barriers that prevented them from doing it before are gone and as a school with an amazing diversity of identities and cultures, our students talk, plan and act in ways that respect and celebrate each other.

Deirdre Morgenstern is a Principal with the Durham District School Board in her second

Video: Terry Fox award acceptance.