Sparks of Excellence Award

2019 Award Recipients

Catherine PorterCatherine Porter has been a LINC CLB 1 classroom instructor (with a focus on Literacy) for 23 years for the Toronto District School Board teaching learners from 64 countries, most refugees from areas of conflict. Catherine strives to make daily classes interactive, experiential, and safe learning experiences for learners adapting to life in a technology-rich urban environment. As much in awe today by the resolve, determination, and fortitude of her students, Catherine encourages each one to recognize every incremental acquisition of settlement independence and English skill to foster confidence in learning. Catherine has shared her classroom with Seneca College teachers-in-training, providing mentorship to instructors considering this diverse, challenging and rewarding level.

In 2014, Catherine applied her distance education teaching experience with the Peel District School Board to her personalized Edulinc platform, creating a tool to promote digital literacy with Pre-Benchmark and Foundation Literacy learners. Since then she has shared her Edulinc teaching tools at TESL conferences, in a webinar for Tutela, as well as participating in TCET panel webinars on blended learning.

Advocating that information be accessible to learners with minimal English, Catherine has worked with organizations to develop domestic abuse, legal assistance, and sexual health instructional materials; has piloted these in her class; and created team teaching opportunities to extend their reach.

Since 2015, Catherine has been a member of the TDSB’s PBLA Lead Instructor team and has had the opportunity to work collaboratively on researching, developing, and presenting workshops and discussion papers for colleagues as well as provide PBLA support to over sixty instructors.

 

Alizon ThuotAlizon Thuot has taught adult ESL in Ottawa since 2002. In 2006, she was hired by OCISO to teach their first LINC class dedicated to foundational literacy. Her experience with this unique group of learners, who were not used to traditional classroom teaching methods, led her to pursue an MA in Applied Linguistics and Discourse Studies at Carleton University, focusing on literacy as well as best practices for a creative, task-based approach. In her final course at Carleton, she developed a Webinar for Tutela on Project-Based Teaching for Adult ESL Literacy Learners. She then taught Literacy at Algonquin College’s TESL program, an applied setting where she combined academic theory with theme-based classroom projects.

With the support of her co-workers, management, and volunteers, Alizon’s many diverse projects include weekly volunteering at the local Salvation Army, reading and singing with students’ children, building an outdoor vegetable garden from scratch, maintaining an indoor hydroponic tower garden, and using the produce from the gardens to create healthy recipes. She enjoys documenting the projects with photographs and capturing the moments as they happen, moments that foster language development and increase self-esteem through shared experience and working together.

 

Susan WebbSusan Webb’s journey began in 1995 as an English language teacher with the Toronto District School Board where she helped newcomers all over Toronto, teaching everything from settlement to workplace ESL classes. 2009 marked the start of her involvement in projects like the TCDSB’s LINC 5-7 Classroom Activities, COSTI’s English Training in the Workplace curriculum and LearnIT2teach. Through these, Susan realized that she could help more people in the sector.

Susan joined the Centre for Education & Training in 2015 as their Coordinator of Language Curriculum Training Services. In this role, Susan revels in helping teachers all day long!

Teachers from various parts of Ontario join Susan at her webinars once or twice per month to benefit from her own or from guest-presented sessions. They also enjoy meeting and sharing their teaching tips and ideas with colleagues across the miles.

Susan goes to great lengths to help her participants interact, stay engaged and increase their technology skills in the webinar environment via clear, concise documentation on how to use the webinar conferencing software, a range of energetic audience participation activities and useful technology applications.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature with a Minor in Italian Language, a TESL Certificate from George Brown College and an Honours Diploma in Technical Communication from Seneca College.

It is Susan’s pleasure to serve the teachers of Ontario’s language training sector. As always, she is powered by prayer.

 

Nominations are open in the summer each year, and winners are announced in the fall.