16 teachers recognized at 2016 Excellence in Teaching Awards ceremony

Media Release: 
Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Last evening, 16 teachers employed with the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board (CCRSB) were honoured by CCRSB and the Nova Scotia Teacher’s Union (NSTU) for their unwavering commitment to student success at the 2016 Excellence in Teaching Awards ceremony. Accompanied by family and friends, the 16 teachers were feted for their creativity, kindness and dedication to their craft.

“The Excellence in Teaching Awards Ceremony is always a special evening,” says Trudy Thompson, CCRSB Chair. “It is always a wonderful opportunity for CCRSB, as a system, to collaborate with the Nova Scotia Teacher’s Union and recognize the amazing educators that make a lasting difference in the lives of students. Tonight’s recipients represent the best of the teaching profession; they are dedicated, compassionate, innovative and always, always focused on what is best for their students.”

Each year, the NSTU and CCRSB come together to recognize those teachers within the school board who truly exemplify excellence in teaching. Each recipient’s nomination must be supported by letters from school administration, a colleague and a member of the local community (this can be a student, parent/guardian or another community member). This is the 18th year for the awards program.

The 2016 Excellence in Teaching Awards recipients are:

Amanda Bonvie, New Glasgow Academy
As a Grade 2 teacher at New Glasgow Academy Amanda makes differentiation of instruction the norm, not the exception. No matter the ability of a student, she dedicates herself to delivering curriculum in a manner that resonates best for that individual. Amanda is the facilitator of NGA’s Grade 2/3 Professional Learning Community and works tirelessly to ensure that all PLC members collaborate in meaningful and effective ways. Her classroom was used as a pilot site for CCRSB’s new, Grade 2 formative assessment, an easy decision for such a gifted and natural teacher. Currently enrolled in a Masters of Leadership, with a focus on mental health, Amanda takes what she is learning and transfers it directly to her classroom. Respect, empathy and understanding are not foreign concepts to her students. A parent has this to say about Amanda, “She goes to great lengths to foster healthy relationships between the students; to encourage social growth and independence; and to make learning FUN while she does it.”


Anne MacDonald-Martin, Tatamagouche Elementary School 
Anne MacDonald-Martin is a master teacher. With 30 years of experience first as a Physical Education teacher and now as a Grade 2 teacher, her well of experience runs deep. When you walk into Anne’s classroom you are enveloped by a sense of warmth, caring and deep respect. As Tatamagouche Elementary’s Race, Cross-Cultural Understand and Human Rights advisor, Anne works to educate and empower all members of the school community. Anne’s classroom is a safe place where differences are embraced and celebrated. Anne is dedicated to enriching the school experience for all students. She also acts as a mentor and advisor to colleagues. Her calm demeanour and willingness to learn inspires others to greater heights. Her colleague has this to say, “The most incredible gift Anne has is her heart and soul. We are honoured and truly amazed at her dedication to the teaching profession.”


Barbara Campbell, Cobequid Educational Centre 
“I feel lucky and honoured that I get to work with Barb, she teaches with integrity, humour, wisdom and empathy. Barbara’s students and our school community is made better because of her commitment to teaching.” That quote is from one of Barbara’s colleagues in the English Department at CEC; the sentiment conveyed is echoed by every person who contributed to Barbara’s nomination. Barbara’s classroom is a safe, respectful place where students can ask questions, make mistakes and truly enjoy the journey of learning. She has instilled a deep appreciation for literature in her students thanks to her zeal and passion. Her colleagues report that you can often hear yelling coming from Barbara’s room as she immerses herself, and her students, in the character of the ‘Old Capulet’ from Romeo and Juliet or another classic text. In Barbara’s classroom learning feeds the mind and the soul.


Bonita Lockhart, Frank H. MacDonald Elementary School 
Bonita sees the positive in each and every one of her students. Her quiet, calm demeanour helps to guide her Grade 4 students – and her colleagues – to achieve meaningful success. Chosen by administration to act as a teacher-mentor, Bonita is exceptional at demonstrating and executing differentiation in her classroom. No matter what needs a student walks into her classroom with, she adjusts and refines her instructional practice to ensure that each student has every opportunity to succeed. A dedicated member of her school community, Bonita runs a knitting club and a ukulele club for students. She is also an active member of the Association of Teachers of Exceptional Children, and brings her experiences from the ATEC back to Frank H. for all to share. Through her positive attitude and classroom environment, Bonita promotes independent, thoughtful and respectful students.


Christie Glenn, Winding River Consolidated School 
Christie Glenn’s Grade Primary classroom is an interesting space. On any given day her students can be found shopping in the grocery store, caring for pets at the veterinarians, or making something delicious to eat in the kitchen! This play-based approach to learning allows students to incorporate reading, writing, reasoning and social interaction in a fun, relatable manner. Currently enrolled in her second master’s degree focused on early elementary pedagogy, specifically play-based instruction, Christie takes an innovative approach to her classroom instruction and is eager to share her over-flowing knowledge with her colleagues. She knows and understands her students as individual learners. This knowledge allows her to focus her instruction to meet a student’s individual need and to tailor her assessment to allow them to demonstrate what they know, consistently building on their success. Christie inspires everyone around her to always do their best and to reach for the stars.


Jane Duynisveld, Pugwash District High School 
Each year Jane Duynisveld welcomes a new cohort of Grade 7 students into Pugwash District High School. She quickly becomes their “mother hen” ensuring that they feel welcomed, safe and at ease in their new home. As a teacher of English and social studies, she instills a love of literature, reading, civics and heritage in her students. But Jane’s classroom is also a place where the tenets of social justice take root. Students are respected and offer respect in return. Jane has the wonderful ability to see the positive in everything and to infuse that positivity into her practice. Her exceptional approach to instruction has been essential to PDHS’ successful approach to Student Success Planning and her willingness to mentor and collaborate with her colleagues is the reason that so many cannot imagine PDHS without her. Her colleague has this to say: “Jane. . .is a truly magical teacher and she is truly an enchanted fellow educator and friend.”


Jennifer Eisener, Elmsdale District School 
As a Grade 1 teacher at Elmsdale District School, Jennifer Eisener is known for truly understanding the connection between a student’s social and emotional development and their academic success. She motivates her students to engage in the process of learning and empowers them with the confidence to recognize themselves as capable people who have the ability to learn and to make meaningful contributions. As one of Elmsdale District’s Race, Cross-Cultural Understanding and Human Rights advisors she is an active advocate for cultural diversity and social justice for students and staff alike. Jennifer creates a respectful classroom environment, built on relationships that have a foundation of mutual trust. A parent of one of Jennifer’s students had this to say: “Her passion for teaching shines through on a daily basis, as well as her genuine love for her students. Elmsdale District is lucky to have such a fine teacher in their school.”


Jennifer Field, EB Chandler Junior High School 
“Mrs. Field is like having a mother at school. She is so caring and kind to all of her students. I always know that if I need help with school, or with ANYTHING, she will be there! And, she makes learning make sense and fun! I really love her!” That came from one of Jennifer’s Grade 8 integrated French students. Lunch and after-school times find Jennifer in her classroom with groups of students working on French speeches, extra help, special projects, fundraising for cultural trips or just having a good chat. This winter Jennifer organized a cultural trip to Quebec for Grade 8 students. She kept parents connected through daily updates and photos. More importantly, she made sure that every student could go on the trip, assisting with individual fundraising efforts. Jennifer has high expectations for her students, and they rise to meet them everyday thanks to her exceptional skill.


Jennifer Hines, Amherst Regional High School 
One of Jennifer’s favourite quotes, says a colleague, is “What we learn in joy, we never forget.” Colleagues and her students agree that Jennifer’s teaching reflects this sentiment and is one of the many reasons so many students call her their favourite teacher. A French Immersion teacher, specializing in mathematics and science, one can imagine that Jennifer does not have a lot of time on her hands; but you would never know it based on her commitment to her students and her school. She cares deeply for her students and works to ensure they have the best support at school, and at home. Go by her classroom at lunch time and she will be there, with a room full of students chatting, helping or quietly providing much-needed support. Jennifer recently completed her Masters in Diverse Learners, once again showing her students – through action – that success is always possible.  


Jo-Ann van Vulpen, Pictou Academy 
As the lead teacher for the Options and Opportunities, or O2, program at Pictou Academy Jo-Ann van Vulpen leads by example. Jo-Ann provides her students with the opportunity to grow, to try and try again under her careful guidance. Students sometimes enter Jo-Ann’s classroom with little confidence in themselves and few supports. These same students gain not only the skills they need to graduate high school, but also to be successful outside of school, in the working world. All students in Jo-Ann’s class are treated with respect and dignity, and her expectations for them are high. She spends many hours after-school helping students with their school work, showing them through deliberate support that success is always possible. After 30 years at Pictou Academy, Jo-Ann is a constant, reliable and solid presence for staff and students alike. Her contributions to her school community are boundless!


Kelly Bonnell, Bible Hill East Court Road School 
As a Program Support/Early Literacy Support teacher at Bible Hill East Court Road School, Kelly Bonnell works to provide a safe, welcoming and caring environment where her students can find success academically and socially. Parents and her colleagues agree that Kelly does more than just teach her students, she takes the time to get to know and understand them as individuals. Kelly is a leader at Bible Hill East Court. She is a valued voice and active participant in the Student Success Planning Process, working collaboratively with all staff to ensure that relevant data is being collected, analyzed and responded to in the best interests of all students. To quote one of Kelly’s colleagues, “She is a wonderful example of what teaching is all about; ensuring our students, their learning, and their social-emotional well-being is at the forefront.”


Kristy Hoeg, Cumberland North Academy 
As the Grade 2/3 teacher at Cumberland North Academy, Kristy Hoeg’s her sunny personality and genuine love for teaching spills over to other classrooms and to her colleagues. Her students set goals for themselves and have regular check-ins with her to reflect and stretch themselves in both mathematics and English language arts. Kristy uses a relational approach in her classroom. Desks are arranged in a square to allow students the ability to easily flow in and out of circle conversations and to see and interact with one another. Parents report that Kristy’s monthly newsletter, calendars, notes and emails home keep them in touch and engaged with their children’s learning. One parent had this to say about Kristy: “Mrs. Hoeg will always be more than just a teacher to us. She is a superstar and we will always be her biggest fans!”


Mathieu Gauthier, North Nova Education Centre 
A life-long learner, Mathieu Gauthier went above and beyond to do what was needed to allow him to teach Advanced Placement Chemistry. This dedication means that hundreds of North Nova students have had and will have the opportunity to expand their learning – and the life-long opportunities that brings – thanks to Mathieu. An important aspect of teaching is the ability to motivate and engage students, to keep them interested and focused. Mathieu accomplishes this through his great humour, deep belief in a relational approach, and the integration of technology in his classroom. Perhaps the highest compliment any professional can receive is learning that they have inspired someone to pursue a similar career path. Well, Mathieu has achieved that: “One of my goals,” says a current student, “is to become a teacher one day, a goal that has only been encourage and strengthened by Mr. Gauthier’s example.”


Mike LeBlanc, Cyrus Eaton Elementary School 
As a Physical Education teacher working at two elementary schools, Mike LeBlanc noticed that many of his students did not participate in any organized, after-school activities that got them up and moving. Knowing the life-long benefits that regular physical activity brings, Mike took immediate action to remedy the situation, securing a $40,000 grant for Cyrus Eaton Elementary to introduce students to activities like skiing, skating and swimming. His work did not stop with the grant. He also organized a team of volunteers and expert instructors to ensure that his students had every opportunity to learn to love physical activity. Mike approached his fellow teachers at the beginning of the school year and worked with them to incorporate these new physical pursuits directly into classroom instruction in other areas. That is just one incredible example of the dynamic leadership and enthusiasm that Mike brings to work each and every day.


Nicole MacInnis, Walter Duggan Consolidated School 
As a Grade Primary teacher at Walter Duggan Consolidated School, Nikki MacInnis is entrusted with shaping the minds of young learners, preparing them for the bright future to come. Nikki’s love of learning and teaching is evident every day. Her colleague says, “She is the epitome of quality teaching practices and has a tremendous grasp of what our youngest learners need to be successful, emotionally, socially and academically.” When the updates to the Grade Primary to 3 curriculum was first introduced Nikki rose to the challenge, representing CCRSB and her school at the provincial training session. She then prepared and delivered an exceptional training program on the curriculum to her colleagues at Walter Duggan and continues to act as resource to them now. Nikki also works to help her fellow teachers become comfortable with and more fully integrate technology in their classrooms through “Tech Club Thursday”. 


Sherisse West-Lynds, North River Elementary School 
Sherisse West-Lynds is, according to all accounts, the Energizer Bunny! Whether preparing detailed instructional strategies for her classroom, working on individual learning goals for students, organizing parent-based scrapbooking nights, information sessions or running and cycling clubs, Sherisse’s energy cannot be contained. As a Grade Primary teacher at North River Elementary, Sherisse makes it her mission to help instill the concepts of social justice, respect and caring in her young learners. To help her students better understand relational theory and the concepts of social justice, she introduced a class guinea pig and inspired other teachers to do so as well. Sherisse has a talent for peacekeeping. Whether in conversation with a colleague, a parent or students, she has an innate ability to make all involved feel they have been understood and listened to, and that their points were valued and respected. Through her teaching and modelling of the relational approach, her students ‘talk the talk and walk the walk’.

The Chignecto-Central Regional School Board is comprised of 17 board members and 2,700 staff all striving to develop independent, lifelong learners in a student-centered environment, with high expectations for all. CCRSB serves almost 20,000 students from Primary to Grade 12, throughout the counties of East Hants, Colchester, Cumberland and Pictou.


For more information, contact:

Debbie Buott-Matheson, Communications Manager 
Chignecto-Central Regional School Board

Office: 902-897-8911
Cell: 902-956-8079

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ChignectoCRSB 
Twitter: @CCRSB_Official