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​Exemplary Innovative Practice Awards 2015-2016



The Innovative Exemplary Practice Awards showcase outstanding efforts within our Catholic school communities which address the diverse needs of our students.  These projects serve as an inspiration for all schools within our system and we hope that this archive of innovative projects will encourage the replication and further refinement of these practices. The student and teacher voices captured in these videos remind us to reflect on the impact that we have on a daily basis and the importance of promoting leadership at all levels of our organization.



  • Innovative 21C Practices
    • The Collective

      School:  Chaminade College
      Principal: Tony Augello
      Superintendent: Gina Iuliano Marrello
      Trustee: Sal Piccininni

      With the goal to celebrate and showcase student voices within a 21C landscape, The Collective is a digital/online publication of creative, critical and discerning voices at Chaminade College School.  The goal is to support students in “showing what they know” across all subject areas and provide an active discourse for creating, curating and connecting within a digital milieu.

      Link to "The Collective" Video

      BMTM Daily

      School:  Bishop Marrocco Thomas Merton
      Principal: Derek Chen
      Superintendent: Jim Saraco
      Trustee: Barbara Poplawski

      “BMTM Daily” is a short daily news program created entirely by students and broadcasted on televisions throughout the school and on a YOUTube channel (BMTM Daily).  Students and community members can view the program to obtain information regarding upcoming school/community events.  As well, “BMTM Daily” covers news (international, domestic and local) that students find to be important issues of the day.  The BMTM Daily team covers events such as school liturgies and assemblies and in turn, creating a daily archive of events at BMTM.  Students have also spun off BMTM Daily into other similar programs, such as a “BMTM Sports” program, which focuses on school, the TCDSB, and professional sporting events.

      Link to "BMTM Daily" Video

      Dragon's Den

      School:  Mary Ward
      Principal: Andrea Magee
      Superintendent: Kevin Malcolm
      Trustee: Michael Del Grande

      On November 26, 2015 280 students at Mary Ward C.S.S. presented their best business ideas for a competition which involved 16 student-created companies in Technology, Food, Go Green and Fashion & Accessory industries.  Each sector had four companies that were led by senior Business and DECA Leadership students.  Each company leader (CEO) recruited student-employees who contributed to their company through Marketing, Finance, Entrepreneurship and Technology.  Elementary students from nearby Epiphany of Our Lord and St. Henry Catholic Schools also participated.  In just four short weeks, these young entrepreneurs were challenged to experience a simulated team environment in the world of work.  They exercised their skills in collaboration, innovation, critical thinking, communication, productivity and accountability.  Students developed their talents and expertise as they built their portfolio of skills for their future.  Industry professionals joined the day to share their experiences, wisdom and expertise.  They also acted as judges for the final competition which was similar to a “Dragon’s Den” show.

      Link to "Dragon's Den" Video

  • Innovative Administrative Leadership
    • Innovative Collaborative Learning Cultures

      School:  St Andre / St Andrew / St Stephen / St Roch
      Principal: Joe Bria / Debby Culotta / Kathy Kubota-Zarivnij / Michelle Jackson
      Superintendent: Adrian Della Mora
      Trustee: Joseph Martino and Sal Piccininni

      As a group of principals in the same area and with similar school profiles, we decided to collaborate as a principal learning team to work on areas of critical need by way of collaborative inquiry, where all grade 7 & 8 teachers from all four schools as well as principals would study Mathematics for teaching to improve student achievement.  Collaborative inquiry questions included:  What mathematics must students understand conceptually with precision to be successful in their mathematic learning?  What math content do teachers need to study to implement effective lessons?  In order to streamline our efforts, we decided to make proportional reasoning our primary focus. Admirably, this initiative has served as a springboard for teacher networking and Principal dialogue focusing on enhancing numeracy instructional leadership.

      Link to "Innovative Collaborative Learning Cultures" Video

      Share Tech Team

      School:  Holy Cross
      Principal: Joseph Schnurr
      Superintendent: John Shanahan
      Trustee: Angela Kennedy

      The Holy Cross Share Tech Team (S.T.T.) is an easy to implement tech capacity building initiative, where students – our digital natives – are our IT experts.  A team of 15 junior and intermediate students is trained on how to use computer applications on different devices, and how to share their knowledge with other students and teachers.  Sharing happens through workshops that:
      • Are embedded in a regular lesson.
      • Promote 21C competencies (i.e. Collaboration, Knowledge Construction, Use of ICT for learning, Skilled Communication, Self Regulation).
      • Meet individual learning needs of students and teachers.
      Prior to in-servicing a class for the first time, the Share Tech Team teacher-supervisor and the host classroom teacher co-plan a task focussed on the content being studied at a given subject.  The task is designed to allow students to learn about tech tools and apply their knowledge as they complete their assignment.  During the workshop, the classroom is divided into groups of 3-4 students.  One to two S.T.T. members are assigned to each group, and they assist the trainee students, by coaching them on how to use the tech tools, troubleshooting when needed.  In the meantime, the S.T.T. teacher-supervisor provides individual assistance to the classroom teacher, who directs his/her own learning, deciding on what and how much information he/she wants to receive at this time.  After the first workshop sessions, Share Tech Team student-trainers are available to support classroom teachers and students upon request.  In conclusion, the Holy Cross Share Tech Team tech capacity building model is a solution emerged out of the “new normal” and it is also in alignment with our Catholic Expectations – besides supporting professional development at a cost and time effective manner, it gives our students and staff another chance to put their faith into action, by learning and sharing knowledge to enable one another to succeed.

      Link to "Share Tech Team" Video

  • Innovative Catholic Leadership
    • Play It Forward

      School:  St Sebastian / St Anselm / Father Serra
      Principal: Gianna Helling / Richard Walo / Beverly Pavan
      Superintendent: Jim Saraco / John Shanahan / Adrian Della Mora
      Trustee: Barbara Poplawski / Angela Kennedy / Joseph Martino

      Play It Forward is an initiative for the TCDSB Year of the Family. This initiative demonstrates Faith In Action Through Innovation. Throughout the 2015-2016 school year, students will participate in three online conversations Faith, Charity and Family. Schools will participate in a charitable cause/ initiative in their own community. Students will then share their experiences with a partner school through an online video dialogue.

      This project was shared on Twitter and on the TCDSB website at:

      Link to "Play It Forward" Video

  • Innovative Community Partnerships
    • Environmental Council

      School:  St John Paul II
      Principal: Michael Wetzel
      Superintendent: Geoffrey Grant
      Trustee: Nancy Crawford

      The Environmental Council at JPII has always been committed to causes impacting the environment and have supported these through initiatives related to education, activism and overall awareness. This year the EC is working to create an outdoor learning space on our school grounds that will serve as a pollinator garden to encourage the proliferation of pollinators in the environment. This project is a joint one with the UofT and Dr. Scott McIvor who is studying the role of bees in urban ecological design. Our students work with those of Dr. McIvor to create a space on our campus that will encourage pollinators and provide an invaluable and ongoing learning experience for our classes.

      Link to "Environmental Council" Video

      Health Heroes

      School:  St Angela
      Principal: Lee Burnie
      Superintendent: Adrian Della Mora
      Trustee: Joseph Martino

      The “Health Heroes” is an innovative project designed to integrate the services of 3rd Year University of New Brunswick/Humber College Nursing Students into the school environment.  As part of this initiative the Nursing Students, in conjunction with Student Leaders, Staff, Parents and Smithfield Community Centre devised a series of monthly events to promote health and wellness within the school.  The activities were student lead and centered on both the mind and body in an attempt to provide a holistic approach to student wellness.  The “Health Heroes” embodies what is possible when we work in collaboration to promote student wellness.

      Link to "Health Heroes" Video

      Caring Transitions

      School:  St Timothy
      Principal: Maria Meehan
      Superintendent: John Shain
      Trustee: Angela Kennedy


      Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God (Romans 15:7)

      Our caring transition project creates a welcoming school environment for our newcomer families.  A collaborative approach has been used that joins the efforts, skills and expertise of community members, who collectively witness the gospel value of hospitality, demonstrating warmth, understanding, and compassion to our newcomer students and their families.  The venture has celebrated and capitalized upon the diversity of our students, parents, staff, community members and outside agency representatives, all of whom have collective embraced our families, while easing the transition to a new school environment.

      Link to "Caring Transitions" Video

  • Innovative Mental Health Initiatives
    • Mental Health Mentors

      School:  Venerable John Merlini
      Principal: Dolores Rios
      Superintendent: Adrian Della Mora
      Trustee: Sal Piccininni

      The Innovative Mental Health Initiative at Venerable John Merlini focuses on bringing about an awareness of mental health in our elementary students.  We are finding that many students develop concerns in the areas of anxiety, resilience and motivation, beginning at ages as early as grade four.  We endeavor to involve all stakeholders in this process:  staff, students and parents. Just as we would not hesitate to bring a child to the doctor if they were physically ill, and we would discuss ways to make our body physically healthy, we want to do the same for mental health – talk openly and honestly about it and the factors that affect it. The fact that our students feel mentally healthy and act as advocates for this program are testaments to the effectiveness of this initiative.

      Link to "Mental Health Mentors" Video

  • Innovative Parent Engagement Initiatives

      School:  St Thomas Aquinas
      Principal: Maria Bernardi
      Superintendent: Gina Iuliano Marrello
      Trustee: Maria Rizzo

      This year at St. Thomas Aquinas School, our project, FRESH START:  Active Living- Healthy Eating, became an all-inclusive community project where staff, students, community helpers along with family members initiated, participated and encouraged developing new habits that focused on healthy eating and active living.

      School wide activities were introduced to model and integrate a healthier life style.   The school agreed to incorporate school wide DPA sessions, led by grade eight student leaders, in each homeroom.  These leaders programmed and created a realistic Daily Physical Activity for 20 minutes that incorporated a warm-up exercise, continuing with sustained moderate to vigorous exercise, and finally, finishing with a cool down movement.

      The Public Health nurse from Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention began facilitating classroom workshops and programs pertaining to Stress/Wellness and Substance Misuse Prevention workshops.  School staff hosted a Family Community night which also began with a keynote speaker from Public Health discussing Oral Health and what that looks like for children, as they begin to grow and what they can begin doing independently.  After the keynote session, parents had a choice of six different workshops to attend.  School staff organized and led various workshops for families in each category (3) Healthy Eating and (3) Active Living.  Parents were given a passport to get stamped to ensure there was participation in each category.

      The 6 workshops were:
      • Healthy Snack workshop
      • Healthy Lunches workshop
      • Smoothie workshop
      • Zumba workshop
      • You Dance workshop
      • Yoga workshop

      Parents were able to receive information about healthy snacks and healthy living, including ideas for active play and participation with their children.  Students became motivated and energized and enjoyed preparing nutritional snacks.  Packages were given to each family that included: recipes, Canada’s Food Guide, menu planner, website information for exercise activities, etc.

      Our school recently got approval from the Ministry to have the Snack Nutritional program incorporated into our community.

      Link to "FRESH START" Video

  • Innovative Safe School Initiatives
    • The STAAND Program

      School:  St Andre
      Principal: Joe Bria
      Superintendent: Adrian Della Mora
      Trustee: Sal Piccininni

      2. In order to address concerns and promote student leadership development, we partnered with Toronto Police Services to implement a weekly program at St. Andre. We named it the STAAND Program – “Students Taking Action against Negative Decisions”.  Our Mission is to cause a change in behaviour for those who bully others, having them become positive role models and advocates against bullying amongst their peers and school mates. To date, the program has nurtured healthy relationships and continues to serve as a foundation for other initiatives designed to enhance student engagement.

      Link to "The STAAND Program" Video

      WAVE Youth Action

      School:  Chaminade College
      Principal: Tony Augello
      Superintendent: Gina Iuliano Marrello
      Trustee: Sal Piccininni

      Our Leadership Class WAVE Youth Action Team, collaborated with the Safe and Accepting Schools Team (TCDSB) to raise awareness about Screen Addiction in children.  The team created an engaging workshop geared towards grade 3 students.  The components included benefits of technology, negative impacts, strategies to identify addictive behaviours and finally a board-wide challenge for all grade 3 students to turn off all media for 24 hours.

      Link to "WAVE Youth Action" Video

  • Innovative Special Needs Initiatives
    • BCN Café

      School:  Blessed Cardinal Newman
      Principal: John Tschernow
      Superintendent: Geoffrey Grant
      Trustee: Nancy Crawford

      BCN Café – Coffee Cart for Blessed Cardinal Newman Staff.  This pre-co-op alternative program is designed to prepare our special needs students for an off-site co-op placement.  It focuses on developing skills related to the workplace through the set-up and running of a small business.  The program is based on Experiential Learning, with literacy, numeracy and vocabulary development laying the foundation.  The program is designed to help students acquire and demonstrate interpersonal and social skills, self – awareness, entrepreneurial and communication skills.  Students also participate in many community-based outings, including coffee shops and the bank.

      Link to "BCN Café" Video

  • Innovative Student Leadership
    • TREE

      School:  Father John Redmond
      Principal: Lisa Tomeczek
      Superintendent: Douglas Yack
      Trustee: Ann Andrachuk

      Started in 2012, The Team of Redmond Eco-Enthusiasts (T.R.E.E.) is an eco-club at Father John Redmond C.S.S. & R.A.C. committed to promoting sustainability and stewardship T.R.E.E. has grown from a handful of members in 2012 to a 65-member team.  Some of the T.R.E.E. initiatives include:
      1. The Bright Idea Campaign
      2. The Leaf Pledge Activity, conserving energy both at school and at home.
      3. The Greening Garden project.  This year, T.R.E.E. held its first annual eco-conference called ‘Reflections on Water’, held on December 3rd, 2015.  Reflections on Water allowed over 650 students to participate in presentations and multiple workshops geared towards expanding their knowledge on water related topics.  To get a glimpse of our conference, you can visit our website at:!reflection-on-water/awvcb.

      Link to "TREE" Video

      Falcon Time

      School:  Francis Libermann
      Principal: Lisa McGuckin
      Superintendent: Kevin Malcolm
      Trustee: Garry Tanuan

      The Developmental Assets Team within our school has organized a leadership and community building monthly event called “Falcon Time”.  The entire student body has been paired individually with a teacher and peer mentor.  Within each group all grades are represented.  Every month the Developmental Assets student leaders organize and deliver a lesson to falcon groups along with their teacher mentor’s support.  The lesson always consists of a prayer, a community building activity and a monthly focus.  The monthly focus varies from Mindfulness, stop the Stigma, Student Success and Cultural Awareness.  “Falcon Time” has strengthened the school spirit within our school and has allowed time for key learning opportunities.

      Link to "Falcon Time" Video

  • Innovative Teacher Inquiry Practices
    • Math Mindset and Social Justice

      School:  St Sebastian
      Principal: Gianna Helling
      Superintendent: Jim Saraco
      Trustee: Barbara Poplawski

      This is the story of how teachers at St. Sebastian Catholic School used growth mindset research to foster engagement and deep learning for students.  Focusing on a number of math inquiries over a two year period, students explored the big ideas in math and pedagogy including: growth mindset, rich math conversations and culturally responsive pedagogy and math.  These experiences extended the learning by reaching out to local and global communities.  By engaging in rich learning opportunities through the lens of inquiry, students at St. Sebastian increased learning and achievement in math, writing and reading.

      Link to "Math Mindset and Social Justice" Video

      Innovative Collaborative Learning Cultures

      School:  St Andrew
      Principal: Debby Culotta
      Superintendent: Adrian Della Mora
      Trustee: Joseph Martino

      Over the past three years, the staff at St. Andrew has been engaged in deep professional development for Numeracy.  During the first two years, all staff engaged in Math Study Groups where math content knowledge for teaching was studies as well as co-planning, co-teaching, board annotation, learning goal and success criteria development was practiced and skills honed.  In addition to the Math Study Groups, our ELP and grade 1 teachers had the good fortune to work with Joan Moss and Bev Caswell from the Robertson Program of U of T/OISE in the study of Math for Young Children.  This took place until the Spring of 2014.  Last year we continued with our mathematics study in a collaborative inquiry which included all staff from K-8 and our seven ELL teachers.  The focus revolved around the study of Numeracy specific to our ELL populations and the cross curricular possibilities with language acquisition.  Kathy Kubota, our Math Program Coordinator, Brian Murray and Joanne Binns, from the LNS and Dr. Richard Barwell, from the University of Ottawa have all participated and contributed their expertise to our study.  This year, we continue as a staff to meet divisionally during our Math Study Groups in an effort to improve our instructional strategies so that our students can achieve at their highest potentials.  We have made huge gains in terms of transforming the staff into a learning community where we work, study collaboratively, and build capacity within other educational communities and forums by sharing our learning and most significantly we have made a positive difference in terms of student achievement.

      Link to "Innovative Collaborative Learning Cultures" Video