EMSB Teachers Recognized For Excellence
On the occasion of English Montreal School Board Teacher Recognition Day on May 7, eight teachers were presented with special awards from La Cage Brasserie Sportive, as well as certificates and gift cards to Chapters/Indigo. The winners were profiled on television by promotion co-sponsor CityNews Montreal.
The EMSB launched this ceremony seven years ago to coincide with National Teachers Day in the United States and recognize this profession towards the end of the academic year.
The EMSB received many nominations from parents for the awards, which fall into three categories. Groupe Sportscene, which owns La Cage, awarded $100 gift cards to teachers Vicki Theophilopoulos from Sinclair Laird Elementary School in Park Extension (youth sector); Joseph Romano from John Caboto Academy in Ahuntsic (physical education) and the team of Lea Zuravlyov, Mauro Corneli, Itzhak Raz, Patrick Bramm, Silvia Bilotto and Galina Gatsko (adult sector) representing the mathematics staff at John F. Kennedy Adult Education Centre in St. Michel.
Kindergarten teacher Vicki Theophilopoulos has provided calm, caring and intelligent support to children, parents and colleagues alike, not only through the period of COVID-19 but throughout her tenure at Sinclair Laird. “This is a unanimous decision,” said Governing Board Chair Amanda Liste. “She has been and continues to be rock, and a precious one at that! In my years as a Sinclair Laird parent, I can say that Ms. Vicky is loved by all and is an outstanding educator. She is always calm, considerate and caring. My son loved her from day one and she has always been very supportive in any interaction I've had with her since Kindergarten.”
Ms. Vicki, whose mother Mary was a longtime principal and educator, has been an elementary school teacher at the EMSB for the past 14 years, 11 at Sinclair Laird and prior to that Cedarcrest, Parkdale and Dunrae Gardens.
“I was greatly inspired to become a teacher because of my mother,” Ms. Vicki commented. “She spent her entire career as a teacher and administrator for the EMSB. Seeing her dedication and faith in our EMSB schools and the fulfillment this profession brought her really rubbed off on me. It made me realize at a young age that I shared the same passion. Growing up, my mother’s high school students and work colleagues became like members of our extended family. When witnessing that sense of community and the impact you can make as a teacher, it made it an easy choice for me to follow in her footsteps.”
Ms. Vicki says that one of the things she likes the most about teaching are the relationships she cultivates with her students and the gratifying feeling of seeing them thrive. “My students are always excited to learn, curious and joyful,” she says. “This sense of wonder and their energy never ceases to amaze me. I also work with such wonderful people who support one another and show endless dedication to our school and students. They make coming to work a real pleasure.”
Acknowledging how challenging the pandemic has been for teachers, she says, “teaching with a mask on and trying to socially distance from the children has been difficult. That being said, my students have shown remarkable resilience and have adapted so well regardless of the restrictions in place. Despite COVID, we still manage to have fun learning and we laugh on a daily basis. That sense of normalcy and joy is what we are all in need of during this pandemic.”
Mr. Romano, who has been with the EMSB since 2013, is recognized as a true team player and has been a great leader for the school. This is his second year at John Caboto, He has previously worked at three other primary schools: St. Dorothy, Dante and Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Recognized as a selfless and dedicated individual, he is determined to improving the school environment. Passionate about his work, he is committed to offering extra- curricular activities that benefit students physically, emotionally, and socially from the moment they walk into the building until the day they graduate.
Mr. Romano is a great mentor, coach, motivator, and supporter, as he challenges students to maximize their potential, convincing them that they can do anything they set their minds to. He believes in them before they believe in themselves! Mr. Romano encourages students and gives them a reason to come to school feeling happy. The entirety of his work revolves around building leaders and instilling a passion for learning; he does this by always putting the interests of the students first. This value, intrinsic to his nature, is recognized and appreciated by the students and staff at John Caboto Academy.
“Growing up, I always aspired to become a Physical and Health Education Teacher,” Mr., Romano says. “When I was a student, many of my favorite memories happened during Physical and Health Education class. This inspired me to encourage the next generation to understand the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and promote lifelong learning of which they can share with their families and friends outside of school. Teaching Physical and Health Education allows me to create a sense of community and encourage and instill a passion within the students to be physically active on a regular basis regardless of one’s individual abilities. I want to provide students with the opportunity to learn many different sports and physical activities. Physical Education is about discovering which physical activities students love and feel passionate about in order for them to stay active for a lifetime.”
Principal David Servello emphasizes how Mr. Romano is always first to offer help to the community in any way that he can. In fact, it can be said that his contributions to the community as a whole and to the school specifically, are a reflection of his own priorities as an individual. These priorities have translated in the realization of many accomplishments during his short time.
Mr. Romano has partnered with families in the community to ensure students get everything they need to succeed. He is always emphasizing the importance of healthy living and staying active, therefore he has reached out to the city and requested that they install more bicycle racks intended to encourage families to bike ride to school. He also requested to have a tennis court built in the park right beside the school.
As for the pandemic, Mr. Romano recognizes that the COVID-19 restrictions have been challenging. “The students have seen their extra-curricular activities suspended and have also missed out on the many fun and exciting learning opportunities within the school environment,” he said. “It’s definitely been a unique experience trying to find ways to organize COVID-19 safe activities at school. We are all working hard and continue to strive to make the most of this difficult and challenging time for our students.”
“The world needs more selfless teachers like Mr. Romano, who continue to inspire our students and demonstrate that teaching is truly a passion,” said Special Education Technician Tina Filippone, who nominated him. “He is an exceptional teacher and leader who has demonstrated a commitment to the school from the moment he walked through the doors! He brings an incredible positive energy to JCA that is contagious. He empowers our students to be critical thinkers, dreamers, and innovators. He is the heart and face behind many projects at our school. His continued contribution and dedication make it possible for our students to thrive and to be happy to be at school. We admire his excellent work ethic and integrity and strongly believe he deserves to be recognized for all of his dedication.”
The Math Team at John F. Kennedy Adult Education Centre
Lea Zuravlyov, Mauro Corneli, Itzhak Raz, Patrick Bramm and Galina Gatsko teach students at the Secondary I to V levels. John F. Kennedy Adult Education Centre offers Basic English courses and an academic program which can lead to a DES (Diploma of Secondary Studies), as well as pre-requisite courses for CEGEP and professional programs leading to a DEP (Diplôme d'études professionnelles).
“The Math Department is recognized for their personalized approach to helping to students succeed.”
says Henrique Santana, a tutor who nominated the team. “Cumulatively they have been teaching in the adult sector for over 25 years. They are team of committed educators who as passionate about teaching adult learners. They are up to date in their teaching methods, using current technology tools to support students.”
Principal Elizabeth Lagodich notes that the group particularly enjoyed the holistic approach at JFKAEC with helping students succeed. “They work closely with re-education counselors and tutors to identify student needs,” she said. “Constantly working to hone their pedagogical skills through participating in regular professional development and professional learning communities. They love what they do and it shows.”
Galina Gatsko has been teaching and tutoring at JFKAEC for five years. “I love JFKAEC because it feels like a one big family - administration, students, support staff, teachers,” she says. “As a team, we support each other a lot. We have Math department meetings and my colleagues are very generous with their personal time. The most important part of the team support is talking to each other constantly, communicating outside of the work setting, exchanging ideas, worksheets and knowledge, trying to listen to each other and visiting each other's classes, suggesting improvements.”
Mauro Corneli has been at JFKAEC for a year now and previously taught at James Lyng Adult Education Centre and Centennial Academy. “It would be a tremendous task to list the things I like about teaching at JFKAEC,” he says. “Luckily, I need only identify what I like most. This would have to be the privilege of working with fantastic students from a multitude of different backgrounds, and the opportunity to share with them a passion for mathematics and learning to the extent they can tolerate my excessive nerdiness. The professional relationships built with the students at JFKAEC have been immensely valuable, and I hope the students benefit and learn from being in the classroom as much as I benefit and learn from them.
“JFKAEC was an integral part of my teacher training as I was working to get certified, and the math team remains ones of the best collaborative teams I have worked in both in education and outside of education. We share resources, discuss strategies, and the math teachers here were immensely supportive when I first started teaching in adult education. Even while teaching at other schools, I kept in communication with members of the JFKAEC math team. Members of the team have also observed my classes and offered invaluable feedback.
Lea Zuravlyov has been teaching at JFKAEC since March of 2018. She has taught in the EMSB adult sector since 2005. “I like the family atmosphere that we have at JFKAEC that is conducive to learning,” she says. “We are one big team - the teachers, the students, the staff and the administration who work together to help our students achieve their academic goals and we all support and motivate each other on a daily basis, especially in a difficult time like now, with this pandemic.
Patrick Bramm just recently joined JFKAEC. ‘I have working in the developmental services sector in Toronto for the past 10 years as a music, life-skills, employment educator,” he says. “I have really enjoyed the positive energy and enthusiasm of the students and staff team. Everyone has been extremely welcoming and helpful. I hope to continue on at JFK for some time.
Silvia Bilotto has been with JFKAE for seven years. Prior to that she taught at St Pius X Adult Education Centre before that for 21 years. “I love the students at JFKAE,” she says. “They are always willing to learn and participate in the lesson. They always make it a learning experience for me.
Itzhak Raz is also a newcomer to the JFKAEC team . He has been in the profession elsewhere for 25 years. “It is a good atmosphere, “he says. “I appreciate how helpful and supportive the administration has been.”