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Exemplary Innovative Practice Awards 2016-2017

EPA-Logo.pngThe 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 Gryphons Robotics Team

      School:  Chaminade College
      Principal: Tony Augello
      Superintendent: Michael Caccamo
      Trustee: Sal Picinninni

      The Gryphons Robotics Team, #2364, is designed to foster inquiry-based learning within the Chaminade community. Every year the team designs and builds a robot in 6 weeks that will compete locally, nationally and internationally. Last year, The Gryphons won their first Robotics Greater Toronto East Regional Championship and then, went on to compete in the World Championship in St. Louis, Missouri. During the rest of the year, the team focuses on several other goals and initiatives such as fostering strong relationships between team members (grade 9-12), alumni, industry professionals and sponsors. Our most important initiative is to share our interest of robotics and project-based learning with extended members of the community. It is clear to us that these types of activities help develop 20th century learning skills. Currently our students mentor and assist St. Andre's elementary school robotics team, and it is our intention to continue sharing our love for robotics and project-based learning, with more initiatives spanning further beyond our school community.

      Link to "The Gryphons Robotics Team" Video

  • Innovative Administrator Networking Practices
    • Partners in Pedagogy

      School:  Father Henry Carr
      Principal: Robery Merolle
      Superintendent: Adrian Della Mora
      Trustee: Joseph Martino

      Partners in Pedagogy is a tri-school partnership between Area 1 secondary schools that seeks to enrich and to strengthen both teachers’ and administrators’ pedagogical growth and instructional acumen.  This networked professional learning model is designed to support educators who are eager and willing to exercise a growth mind-set and instructional leadership.   Experienced teacher-mentors and other educational stakeholders, partner with new teachers to facilitate rich conversations and opportunities for collaboration, whereby teachers feel empowered and willing to evaluate their impact on student achievement and learning.  This partnership is premised on the knowledge that our strength as educators lies in our capacity to connect within and across communities, so as to build an edifice of spiritual, intellectual, physical, and most importantly human development capable of moving beyond our school walls and into the world at large.

      Link to "Partners in Pedagogy" Video

  • Innovative Catholic Leadership Practices
    • Madonna's Family of Schools

      School:  Madonna
      Principal: Joan Tschernow
      Superintendent: Michael Caccamo
      Trustee: Patrizia Bottoni

      As the well-versed African proverb goes, “it takes a village to raise a child”. Madonna Catholic Secondary School, together with our family of schools, St. Norbert and St. Robert, intuitively understand the importance of faith, community, and belonging for children and young adults. In light of the Year of the Parish, Madonna organized an initiative that provides students a platform to have experiential learning, and be “instructed in a curriculum that is rooted in Gospel values and informed by the Ontario Catholic School Graduate Expectations”. Through this initiative, students have had the opportunity to strengthen their faith connections, and find a comfortable home in their local parish. Giving our young people a sense of belonging strengthens their self-confidence, self-awareness, and identity in faith. This parish project, which creates a sustainable youth ministry, fosters youth in their faith development, and nourishes young people in a caring community of believers. Our program enlightens students to put into practice the Catholic Social teachings, which honour Community and the Common Good, Participation, and Solidarity. The youth ministry program at St. Norbert's Parish seeks to provide an inclusive environment where students are united in the love of Christ. Through experiential and collaborative learning, students encourage and challenge each other to grow in grace and knowledge to lead lives of faith, hope, and charity.
       Madonna C.S.S. students are role models for the younger grade seven and eight students who participate in the youth ministry. The program is beneficial for high school students who are able to implement true Catholic leadership, and for grade seven and eight students who have the opportunity to be mentored by older faith ambassadors. When a Catholic graduate looks back at their education in our system, it is our goal that they will remember their active participation in living gospel values at home, school, and parish. Inspired by prayer and the vision of the TCDSB, “we believe that Catholic Education is at its best when Families, Parishes and Schools play, pray, and work together to spread the Good News to all” (TCDSB Harmonizing Our Faith Prayer).

      Link to "Madonna's Family of Schools" Video

  • Innovative Community Partnership Practices
    • Student Voice

      School:  Msgr Fraser Isabella Campus
      Principal: Marcello Mancuso
      Superintendent: Vince Burzotta
      Trustee: Jo-Ann Davis

      The Community Partnership Program at the Isabella Campus of Monsignor Fraser College has produced children’s storybooks for elementary schools, murals for local businesses, a tapestry for the student gallery of the Textile Museum of Canada, a mixed media installation for Nuit Blanche Toronto 2016 and many other projects.    
       The program scaffolds relationships and connections between students and their community in support of student voice, engagement and agency.
       Students gain skills, knowledge and confidence as they engage the community, and in the important issues of their school, their community, their city and their country.
       The program is a cross-curricular collaboration of the English and Visual Arts departments.

      Link to "Student Voice" Video

      First Nation Studies

      School:  St Joseph College
      Principal: Helen Lesniak
      Superintendent: John Shanahan / John Shain
      Trustee: Jo-Ann Davis

      First Nations studies at St Joseph’s College school, brings social justice issues to the forefront.  The relevance of these studies allows students to empathize and identify with such issues as youth of the residential schools and the missing and murdered Aboriginal women through art, and first person resources.
       Students were able to experience 21st century learning as well as experiential learning.  The student voice was connected to the rest of the community while maintaining Catholic values, through a number of initiatives.   Students took charge of their own learning becoming teachers to the general public and the community sharing their knowledge and their opinions about the Native issues that we study as we develop our programme.

      Link to "First Nation Studies" Video

      Beyond The Classroom

      School:  St Sylvester
      Principal: Roy Fernandes
      Superintendent: Kevin Malcolm
      Trustee: Mike Del Grande

      Learning does not take place just within the walls of the classroom. Learning can, and should take place Beyond the Classroom. Our project aimed to immerse students in authentic experiential education. We wanted our students to be engaged in what they were learning.  You can talk about government, or you can visit Nathan Phillips Square and see the toll road debate in action while talking to your city councilor and the mayor. Why discuss health care when you can go to SickKids and see it in action?  You can read about our other experiences on our school website. Learning is meant to be exciting and enjoyable, and when you go Beyond the Classroom, that's EXACTLY what happens.

      Link to "Beyond The Classroom" Video

  • Innovative Mental Health Practices
    • Healthy Mind Healthy Heart

      School:  Christ The King
      Principal: Julie Aube
      Superintendent: Doug Yack
      Trustee: Ann Andrachuk

      By working with staff, students and the school’s Public Health Nurse, “Healthy Heart, Healthy Mind” focuses on building student developmental competencies and assets through various school activities, all of which encourage components of resiliency and positive mental health.  Monthly social-emotional learning themes such as Empathy, Self-Regulation, Self-Confidence, Acceptance, Goal Setting and Coping Skills have allowed the school to emphasize certain skills that students and parents can learn, develop and practice.  The implementation of the themes are comprehensive and therefore incorporated in a variety of ways including; curriculum, teaching and learning support and social and physical environment support.

      Link to "Healthy Mind Healthy Heart" Video

      Mental Health and Well Being

      School:  St Nicholas
      Principal: Leslie Karra
      Superintendent: Shawna Campbell
      Trustee: Nancy Crawford

      Focusing on student mental health and wellbeing was a priority for St. Nicholas Catholic School in the 2015/16 school year. Three innovative initiatives were the catalysts for this focus. Students were empowered to belong, to work as a team and to develop self-regulation skills through their participation in “One Circle, One Sound”, “Finding Assertive Solutions Together” and “See the Person Inside”.  “One Circle, One Sound” was a drum circle where members would drum while meditating, praying, and chanting all of which to build student confidence, resiliency, to express emotion and to build positive relationships. “Finding Assertive Solutions Together” was a partnership between the school, our social worker and the Youth Link, mental health, Agency. The FAST program focused on developing greater conflict resolution skills and problem solving skills in our Junior and Intermediate boys. “See the Person Inside” was a student driven project that focused on the mental health and wellbeing of youth. The project that turned into a published book encompassed the ideas and images from the students here at St. Nicholas. The journey of creating the book was shared by the students and their teacher at the first Stop the Stigma Elementary symposium. The momentum and work that began last year has carried forth into this school year.

      Link to "Mental Health and Well Being" Video

  • Innovative Parent Engagement Practices
    • Community Action Projects

      School:  Blessed Archbishop Romero
      Principal: Nancy Mancini
      Superintendent: Doug Yack
      Trustee: Frank D'Amico

      Community Action Projects challenges students to design and broadcast projects, in order to provoke thought and inform their peers about pressing issues facing them today.  It is about students teaching students about real-life concerns, and in so doing forging a stronger communal spirit at Blessed Archbishop Romero Catholic Secondary School.  These projects evolve with students engaged in collaboration with each other, and other relevant stakeholders, in a variety of self-selected formats.  The intention of CAPs is, not only to meet curriculum expectations within a 21st Century framework of classroom practice, but to help students find their voice in order to create healthier and more purposeful communities.

      Link to "Community Action Projects" Video

  • Innovative Special Services Practices
    • The Freedom Through Movement

      School:  St Dominic Savio
      Principal: Fernando Clotildes
      Superintendent: Shawna Campbell
      Trustee: Gary Tanuan

      The students in the Multiple Exceptionalities class at St. Dominic Savio are now actively participating in unique physical activities that enhance their ability to live fit and healthy lives. This opportunity was made possible by a generous grant of $10,000.00 from GoodLife Kids Foundation. With the funding, our school was able to purchase accessible equipment and also engage in a unique partnership with Variety Village.
       The program entitled ‘Freedom Through Movement’ provides specialized training to our staff to effectively use the adaptive equipment, tailor programming to the specific needs of our Multiple Exceptionalities students, and enhance physical fitness and development. This training will support future Multiple Exceptionalities students for years to come. The benefits of providing inclusive physical education go beyond learning that occurs in the gymnasium. Our video depicts the students increased ability to engage in physical activities, while enjoying a fun filled environment.

      Link to "The Freedom Through Movement" Video

  • Innovative Student Leadership Practices
    • LOVE Leadership

      School:  Loretto Abbey
      Principal: Anita Bartolini
      Superintendent: Peter Aguiar
      Trustee: Maria Rizzo

      Project LOVE was designed to engage students on a multitude of levels. In an effort to promote volunteerism, the project acknowledges exceptional volunteers within our school community. This emphasis on peer ministry translates into our Leadership Program. Working their way through the program, students focus on leadership at the school level and within the greater community before synthesizing their skills in leading our Mentorship Mornings and providing Grade 9 students with lunch-time tutoring and the tools for success in high school. These Leaders foster the mentorship in a two-year program that allows them to develop the Grade 10 Religion retreat.

      Link to "LOVE Leadership" Video

      SLAM Leadership Development Program

      School:  Bishop Allen Academy
      Principal: Stephen Carey
      Superintendent: Doug Yack
      Trustee: Ann Andrachuk

      Bishop Allen SLAM (Student Leaders and Mentors) is a leadership development program that allows students to gain leadership skills by intentionally leading and mentoring their peers over the course of a full school year.  Each of our 180 students is placed in a triad, (a group of 3-5 students), directly mentored by a teacher. In these triads, students foster a sense of belonging, engage bi-weekly in an innovative leadership curriculum and then initiate a social justice project in the community.  Our year culminates with the planning and execution of the grade 9 Orientation trip to Muskoka Woods in the fall.  In short: SLAM reflects many of the successes and challenges that leaders experience in whatever context they might engage.

      Link to "SLAM Leadership Development Program" Video

      Soccer Camp in Attawapiskat

      School:  Bishop Marrocco / Thomas Merton
      Principal: Erica Wilson
      Superintendent: John Wujek
      Trustee: Barbara Poplawski

      In June of 2016, I had the tremendous honour to accompany my coaches and team mates to Attawapiskat where we implemented a week-long soccer camp.  Through the game of soccer, we had the opportunity to make new friendships that we still nurture and cherish to this day.  Our goal was to help the youth of Attawapiskat but, in the end, we were the ones who were helped the most through the life-changing experience that has reshaped the way we see the world and, in particular, our Indigenous brothers and sisters.  We fell in love with the people of Attawapiskat and look forward to returning there, in June of this year, for our second annual soccer camp, a tradition we hope to maintain for many years to come.

      Link to "Soccer Camp in Attawapiskat" Video

      LOVE Leadership

      School:  St Brigid
      Principal: David Hogan
      Superintendent: John Shanahan / John Shain
      Trustee: Angela Kennedy

      St. Brigid Integrated Asset Leadership is a school wide initiative that focuses on integrating the Developmental Assets into the fabric of the school with the intent of having a positive influence on student self-esteem and motivation to achieve. The program incorporates a ‘House’ system as a way of organizing the various classes from Grades 1 to 8 across the age groups. This fosters community development throughout the school.

      Link to "LOVE Leadership" Video

  • Innovative Teacher Inquiry Practices
    • The West End Orchestra

      School:  All Saints, Father Serra, St Eugene, St Marcellus
      Principal: Tony Morsillo, Bev Pavan, Kirsten Carey, Connie Giordano
      Superintendent: Adrian Della Mora, Doug Yack
      Trustee: Joseph Martino

      The West End Orchestra is a string ensemble connecting students from four neighbouring, elementary schools - All Saints, Father Serra, St. Eugene and St. Marcellus. Under the direction of Instrumental Music Teachers, Gabrielle Torres and Ann O’Kane, the students in Grades 6 through 8 gather every Wednesday after school, at All Saints to rehearse and hone their musical skills.
       The West End Orchestra provides a unique, challenging opportunity for elementary Grade 6 to 8 string students outside of their regular classroom instruction.  It caters to the needs of all learners - Gifted, Extended French, students with various learning needs; those who take private lessons outside of school; those who have never had any formal music training; those who excel in music; those who want to improve; and those who are seeking new friends in a unique setting.  Our weekly rehearsals foster learning skills that can be applied to all areas of academics, as well as developing lifelong learning and social skills. This successfully helps our students in achieving excellence and meeting the Ontario Catholic Graduate School Expectations.
       The Orchestra also bridges a connection with a neighbouring secondary school.   Elementary students are coached by high school students from Fr. John Redmond and practice in "sectionals" for each instrument group - violin, viola, cello and bass.  As a result, the Orchestra has also performed at festivals and for our friends at community Seniors’ residences.  

      Link to "The West End Orchestra" Video