OCT OEEO

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12 Professionally Speaking | March 2017 Professionally Speaking welcomes letters and articles on topics of interest to teachers. We reserve the right to edit letters for length and to conform to our publication style. To be considered for publication, letters must provide the writer's daytime phone number and registration number. Address letters to: The Editor, Professionally Speaking at ps@oct.ca or 101 Bloor St. W., Toronto, ON M5S 0A1. letters to the editor Inclusivity a Combined Effort I was overjoyed to see the December cover story, Promoting Inclusivity, which had a strong emphasis on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) inclusion. Featuring a Catholic school board and Villanova Catholic High School's gay-straight alliance is a huge boost to what Catholic schools, as well as other publicly funded boards, have been able to achieve since the inception of the Safe Schools Act. While reading this article I was expecting an acknowledge- ment of the work our teacher unions have done for students across Ontario, its own members and for the College. For example, it was a partnership between Egale Canada and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association (OECTA) that has provided professional development to hundreds of teachers, administrators, students, parents and the College itself about how to create safer and accepting environments for LGBTQ students in Catholic schools. Through Egale, this outreach to Catholic schools continues. As the Ontario teaching profession continues to make schools fully accepting of and safer for LGBTQ students and colleagues, it is important to note the many organizational threads that contribute in a robust way to this positive and proud work. —Kevin Welbes, OCT, is a retired teacher and former special project co-ordinator, Equity and Inclusion, for OECTA at Egale Canada Human Rights Trust. More Diversity Training Needed All teachers need more training to support divers- ity and inclusion in schools. In "Creating Inclusive Schools," Jennifer Lewington does a wonderful job of informing the readers of what our universities are doing to train future teachers to meet the needs of our diverse student population. But more must be done to educate current teachers. We need our provincial government, school boards and unions to work together to provide them with professional development that will meet the needs of Aboriginal students, LGBTQ students and those identified as having learning challenges. We have the scheduled professional development (PD) days — now we need money and effort to put in effective training to meet these students' needs. The public will see this as PD days well-used. What makes the Ontario education system great is that it strives to educate and care for all students. — Alan Wayne McFarlane, OCT, teaches LLS classes at Cobourg Collegiate Institute, Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board, in Cobourg. Paying Tribute I was delighted to read Dan Levy's comments about his former teacher, Anne Carrier, OCT, in "Class Act," in the December issue. Years ago, I worked with Anne in the English department at Northern Secondary School in Toronto. She also taught my three children. Dan Levy's words echo those of so many of the students who passed through Anne's welcoming door. She was the most profes- sional teacher I have ever met — in her research, delivery, care, attention, insight, and interest in her students and colleagues. Anne, as a teacher knowing what teachers need to know, contributed to the development of both the College's standards and AQ guidelines. On behalf of all of the lives Anne transformed, I wish to thank her for making school a wonderful place to foster deep relationships and learn about life from literature. —Patricia Goldblatt, is a retired teacher in Toronto and a former program officer at the Ontario College of Teachers. 30 Professionally Speaking | December 2016 31 December 2016 | Professionally Speaking PHOTO: BRENT FOSTER Schools across Ontario are investing in measures to promote safe learning spaces for increasingly diverse classrooms. Though strategies vary, they share a focus on professional standards of practice, community outreach and student engagement. BY JENNIFER LEWINGTON I n 2012, Dallas Mahaney was an openly gay Grade 10 student at St. Thomas of Villanova Catholic High School in Lasalle, Ont., southwest of Windsor. Though not personally bullied, he worried that homo- sexual youth are at greater risk of suicide than their peers. That year, with Ontario set to pass Bill 13, an- ti-bullying legislation entrenching the right for students to ask for a gay-straight alliance (GSA) club, Mahaney was refused when he made the request at his school. But that September, with the law in place and the blessing of school leaders, an enthusiastic newly arrived vice-principal worked with Mahaney and others to es- tablish a GSA club in the first week of school. Later, the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board provided buses for students to attend a local equity conference. What changed? Danielle Desjardins, OCT, the vice-principal who spearheaded the initiative, says the new club was consistent with board policies to promote safe schools and her own professional beliefs. "As a heterosexual female leader, I have the ability to be a voice for these students," she says, now principal of Safe Schools, Equity and Inclusion at the Windsor-Essex board . "I see it as my ethical obligation." The willingness to look at sensitive issues through the eyes of others — including students from the les- bian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community (LGBTQ) — proved transformative at Villanova. The 1,200-student high school now provides a gender-neutral washroom –– increasingly the norm in boards across Ontario –– and allocates a room as a permanent "safe space" for gay-straight alliance mem- bers. Since 2012, club membership has climbed to about 40 students who meet weekly over lunch. As well, Windsor-Essex provides teacher workshops on inclusive education, including one led by a practising Catholic who is gay, says Michael Seguin, OCT, a board superintendent for Equity and Inclusion, Faith and Teacher Leadership. "We decided to get out of the gate early," he says. "Villanova became the flagship of where we were going as a Catholic system." Board officials cite the school's social inclusion strategies, in part, for reduced incidents of bullying and student discipline over the past five years. Earlier this year, Villanova won an Ontario Premier's Award for Accepting Schools as "a strong champion for social justice in southwestern Ontario." "[Ontario schools] are making progress and I look at it optimistically," says Chris D'souza, a school board equity strategist who teaches an equity course at Brock University's faculty of education. While praising provincial strategies on equity and inclusion –– and the introduction of anti-bullying legislation in 2012 –– D'souza describes school efforts as "scattered all over the province." That puts Ontario teachers, who subscribe to the College's standards of practice (including a commit- ment to students, professional knowledge and learning leadership) and ethical standards of care, respect, trust and integrity, on the front line to fulfil the province's aspirations for safe, caring schools. "I don't think you can expect [students] to perform academically if for some reason they are being mar- ginalized, ostracized, bullied or taunted," says Robert Casey Slack, OCT, a superintendent of education with the Rainy River District School Board in northwest Ontario. Creating inclusive schools, he says, requires being aware of who is "not at the table" and making adjustments to ensure all voices are heard. With 40 per cent of students self-identified as Aboriginal, Rainy River hired two "Indigenous leads" to assist teachers and schools in infusing Indigenous culture and history in the curriculum. As well, the board supports culture initiatives, including mentoring, and teacher professional development. R E M A R K A B L E T E ACH E R 27 December 2016 | Professionally Speaking 26 Professionally Speaking | December 2016 PHOTO: VANESSA HEINS Schitt's Creek star Daniel Levy attributes his success in television to the English teacher who taught him the subtleties of subtext. BY RICHARD OUZOUNIAN T he 800,000-plus Canadians who tune in to the CBC comedy series Schitt's Creek have plenty of reasons to watch, but what arguably keeps them coming back for more is the show's heavily bespectacled and highly talented Daniel Levy. His performance as David Rose, the charmingly dazed hipster son of Catherine O'Hara and his real-life father, Eugene Levy, has solidified his stardom after a decade of hosting programs like MTV Canada's flagship show MTV Live and The After Show. Although Levy co-created the offbeat comedy series with his SCTV-veteran father and writes many of the scripts, he traces the origins of his career as a comic writer not to his gene pool but to his time spent in an OAC1 English class at North Toronto Collegiate Institute. "High school was a tricky time for me," recalls Levy. "I had high hopes but lacked the confidence to go out there and make things happen. I knew I wanted to write, to create, to have my voice heard but I had no idea how to do it." But then Anne Carrier, OCT, came along at just the right moment in 2001. "I remember Dan sitting on the right-hand side of the semi-circle seating arrangement that I liked to put students in," says Carrier. "His demeanour caught my attention because he was calm and engaged in a class that was full of very intense students, who were primarily interested in the marks they would get." The fact that Levy made such a strong initial impression on Carrier had nothing to do with his father's celebrity status. "I didn't know he was Eugene Levy's son," she insists. "I often taught students whose parents had a high profile but I preferred not to know. I wanted to get to know the person first. And when I did get to know Dan, I thought to myself, 'This is a very well brought up young man.'" Levy may have impressed Carrier, but she had the same effect on him. "Ms. Carrier had an innate ability to make you want to strive, both academically and intellectually. She created a safe space for ideas to be shared, concepts to be discussed and opinions to be expressed without fear of failure or embarrassment." Carrier's approach was not only pedagogically sound, but informed by a piece of astute psychological intuition. "What teenagers really want is to be taken seriously," says Levy, "and we definitely felt that when we were in her class." Class ACT

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