2016 Award Recipients

2016 Sparks of Excellence Award Recipients

Ruth EngleRuth Engel has been an ESL Instructor with the Upper Grand District School Board for over 25 years. She entered the field with over 13 years of experience teaching mentally challenged children and adults. She taught nursery school and daycare, as well as, upgrading for adults. She took advantage of her TESL training while teaching. She implemented the methodology she had learned and saw how successful it was.

Ruth may literally have been born into this career. She is the daughter of immigrants who gave birth to her in Toronto before they had a chance to learn the language. English is not Ruth’s first language. Like most immigrants from this era, her father was working multiple jobs to make ends meet while her mother stayed at home to raise her children. Ruth witnessed first-hand some of the challenges her mother faced establishing herself in Canada, without the fundamentals of the English language. As Ruth learned English, in our school system, she was able to help her parents with things we take for granted, such as ; setting up bank accounts, writing cheques, buying groceries, getting telephone service, paying bills, finding employment, and countless other challenges.

This experience made Ruth empathetic to people’s needs and sparked her to become the helpful, caring and supportive person she is today. Her students and colleagues all benefit from her generosity, endless energy, and resourcefulness. Ruth is the first to volunteer for trips, special events and holidays, and even the dreaded fund raising. She is known as the “go to” person for virtually everything. The majority of her students are new immigrant adults, who have settled into the Guelph area, with a larger emphasis on refugees over the past few years.

When need be, she lends her ear to those experiencing trauma, (as so many immigrants do) puts the less fortunate in-touch with the help they require, and personally arranges for employment for many of her students. Ruth loves giving our newcomers a welcome and refreshing start to their new lives.

Ruth gathers, collects, researches, implements and shares all the resources she can for teaching. She seldom teaches fewer than 3 levels in her classrooms, but engages everyone. Her classes are fun, she is full of joy, energy and vigor, and she looks forward to every minute in the classroom. Ruth believes her students also bring the world to her. Ruth embraces their cultural diversity, their commonality and feeds off their energy. She finds great satisfaction in watching her students achieve their goals inside and outside the classroom.


Kelly MorrissyPresence. Authenticity. Compassion. These are three values Kelly Morrissey holds most dear in her quest to become the best ESL instructor she can be.

Kelly officially entered the field in 2010 as a pronunciation instructor at the YMCA of Windsor. Unofficially, however, she has been a teacher her entire adult life. Whether tutoring Latin, patiently supporting software users who have low computer literacy, or writing a procedure manual to train coworkers in an office environment, she has repeatedly stumbled into teaching roles. Having heard her colleagues’ admonition, “you should be a teacher” again and again, Kelly finally recognized teaching as her calling and got her TESL Ontario accreditation in late 2009.

Kelly joined the TESL Windsor executive board in 2010 as a member at large, a position she held for the next five years. In 2016 she was recognized for her outstanding contribution to the board, in part for taking on a tech support role from 2014-2016 and revamping the affiliate website.

Still at the YMCA, in 2012, Kelly landed the position of ESL literacy instructor. She soon found herself challenged by the paucity of modern ESL literacy materials that follow best practices. Her passion for excellence drove her to begin creating her own series of activity packs to supplement existing readers. She is happy to be able to share these worksheets freely with her fellow settlement English teachers via her website and blog, “The Joy of ESL.”

Kelly is well aware that none of us got where we are today--nor do we ever develop professionally--without mentors. She feels blessed to have had TESL educators reach out to give her a hand up and is always eager to mentor newer teachers. She has also given of her time in the way of workshops for TESL Windsor, TESL Ontario, and a webinar for the ESL Literacy Network. She is co-author of an article in the spring 2015 issue of Contact Magazine.

In her day-to-day teaching role, Kelly considers herself fortunate to work for the YMCA of Canada, an organization that screens all new hires against a mission statement and values that strongly resonate for her on a personal level. Working with others who share her commitment to philanthropy is a source of great satisfaction. It means that while she comes in early and stays late to ensure clients have access to hot water, tea and coffee, she is not alone. Whether colleagues are giving up lunch breaks to give newcomer women a floor hockey team, helping students launch a non-profit to give back to the community, or are donating art supplies to create a peaceful, safe space for those experiencing the effects of PTSD, all work as a team committed to helping clients navigate their new lives in Canada. With supportive leadership and colleagues like that, Kelly looks forward to Monday as much as she does to Friday.