OCT OEEO

PS_September_2017

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G R E AT T E A C H I N G 27 September 2017 | Professionally Speaking PHOTOS: MARKIAN LOZOWCHUK BY JESSICA LEEDER I t's just a regular spring afternoon at M. M. Robinson High School but as principal Andrea Taylor, OCT, walks the hallways, a buzz begins to grow. Crossing a second-floor mezzanine that overlooks a lineup of global flags hanging in the foyer, Taylor calls out to several students whom she knows by name. They lift their heads at the sound of her voice and smile at the sight of her — a petite beacon in a red leather jacket. She knows just what to say to get the teens to drop their guard: she strikes up easy conversations about what they're doing, learning, looking forward to as she moves past wood and machine shops and onto cosmetology, where students are learning how to do manicures and up-dos. Pausing at the gym doors, Taylor watches for a moment as a group of phys-ed students take instructions on how to play wheelchair basketball. When the game is over, a group of five rosy-cheeked girls encircle Taylor, chattering with excitement at her invitation to explain what it feels like to make baskets when you cannot use your legs. What they're showing is empathy; seeing it in action practically makes Taylor burst with pride. For the past five years, the principal [who is now in a new job within the Halton District School Board] has been reshaping the high school into a place of equity that offers inclusive, diverse and respectful education. "No one here is better than anyone else. We all do it together," Taylor says firmly, outlining an oft-repeated mantra that has galvanized both staff and students. "We have no cliques and there is minimal bullying." To view our Great Teaching video archive, visit oct-oeeo.ca/GTvideos Principal Andrea Taylor, OCT, sets an inclusive tone while transforming a misunderstood high school into a force to be reckoned with. Change Agent of

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