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TCDSB Cele​brates Innovation and Excellence 

Exemplary Practice Awards 2020

Each year the TCDSB is proud to celebrate the development and implementation of exemplary and uniquely innovative school-based practices in our learning communities.  
The Innovative Exemplary Practice Awards highlight outstanding efforts within our Catholic school communities, which address the diverse needs of our students. These projects serve as an inspiration for all the schools within our system and we hope that this year’s winning projects will encourage the replication and further development of future projects. These projects 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.

Congratulatio​ns to our seven school communities who are this year’s recipients of Exemplary Practice Awards:

Tin box with wooden hand-painted "I Believe" buttons
  • St. Sebastian – We Believe Art Installation: Staff worked collaboratively with students, families and a neighboring TDSB school, to collect tree branches from the surrounding community. The collected branches were then cut into hundreds of small wooden rounds which school and community members decorated in order to be formed together as a beautiful cross that is on display at the school.

  • Holy Cross​ Share Tech Team - Food Waste Awareness Campaign: Initiated in response to the billions of dollars worth of consumable food Canadians throw out every year, this campaign aimed to educate students on the environmental and economic impacts of food waste; to reduce food waste levels at their school and help raise funds for the Second Harvest. Within four months of the campaign, the Team managed to successfully meet all its goals.
  • St. Raphael Project X - A Place for All to Learn: Project X challenges students to make their community more accessible for all. Students engage in an inquiry-based examination of barriers to accessibility that exist in their daily life. They meet with accessibility advocates and use a design process to create digital models of infrastructure innovations that could make their community more accessible. Students then 3D print their models and reflect on potential improvements to their designs. The entire process is documented in a multimedia presentation that shares their design and new learning with their community.
  • Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts - 21C Learning Commons Student Hub: The CCAA library has been transformed into an extension of the classroom that fosters equity, diversity, and cultural identity as well as student success. It provides student opportunities to develop skill such as inquiry, collaboration, communication, and knowledge co-construction. It also serves a safe place for students to de-stress with various supports to help the Carter community find their calm.
  • Jean Vanier - The Virtual Classroom Project: Through this project, experiential learning opportunities are offered to students as an incentive to increase their academic success. Students use programs like Google Expedition to virtually explore exotic environments, look up close at the bonds in a DNA strand, see gladiatorial battles in ancient Rome or become Romeo or Juliet as they roam around Verona.  Students make their own content and upload their videos to YouTubeVR, which generates a legacy of learning for all to benefit from.  By partnering with Lenovo Canada and Google for Education, students’ academic results are rising as they become the stewards of technology in the classroom.
  • Monsignor Fraser - Building Community: When students arrive at Monsignor Fraser College, they are usually nearing the end of their secondary school journey. Consequently, they have left behind a familiar and formative setting and enter a temporary place. So how do teachers build community when they have students for such a short time? The teaching staff from the English and Visual Arts department formed a focus of inquiry that examined strategies for building community in the classroom by collaborating on class projects. Monsignor Fraser College students have created numerous mixed media works and three interactive installations. Their works have appeared in public platforms like Nuit Blanche Toronto and the Textile Museum of Canada. 
  • St. Joseph’s College - The Intergenerational Storytelling Project: This partnership between St. Joseph’s College School and The Sisters of St. Joseph pairs two students with a Sister for 10 weekly visits at the O’Connor residence. Students engage in narrative inquiry and gain an appreciation for the wisdom and contributions of the Sisters. Additionally, students learn about the therapeutic value of storytelling for people with dementia and advanced age from healthcare staff. The Sisters continue their mission work by educating younger generations to help them become effective communicators, reflective thinkers, and responsible citizens. 
Business Leadership Award
This year, we have the addition of the Business Leadership Award, presented to an outstanding TCDSB Business Leader who has demonstrated a strong commitment to their Catholic leadership role and who has distinguished themselves in their career or accomplishments. 

Congratulations to this year​’s Business Leadership Award recipient: 

Andrea Coke

Chief Speech-Language Pathologist  

Andrea is a lifelong learning with 20 years of clinical and management expertise in health, education and private sector settings.  She is committed to Catholic education and provides professional and administrative support to member of the TCDSB Speech and Language department and the Deaf/Hard of Hearing department who supports student with special needs.


Andrea’s philosophy as a servant leader is to keep the student at the heart of all decisions and to invest the time it takes to build authentic relationships with students, parents, colleagues and community partners by honouring the home, school and parish connection. She has worked tirelessly to create opportunities to integrate the voice of parents, particularly those from marginalized groups, into the learning plan for their child.


Andrea models gospel values throughout her work and remains committed to ongoing engagement and collaboration with education partners to meet TCDSB’s Multi-Year Strategic Plan’s goals of inclusion, excellence and innovation.​


We are grateful and appreciative of all that Andrea has accomplished for our school communities. Congratulations Andrea!

Dr. Ji​m Saraco Staff Leadership Award
We are also honoured to present the Dr. Jim Saraco Staff Leadership Award, presented to a current employee of the TCDSB who shares their talents and demonstrates the foundational principles for this award in supporting the TCDSB community, including:
  • Leadership traits of Dr. Jim Saraco: kindness, patience, stewardship of relationships and resources;

  • Core values of Jim: respect for all, compassion and respect for the leadership that each staff member brings to the organization;

  • The TCDSB vision of witness, faith, innovation and action which Jim embodied.

Congratulations to this year’s Dr. Ji​m Saraco Staff Leadership Award recipient:

Davide Garofalo

Instrumental Music teacher and Band Director, Bishop Allen Academy


Mr. Garofalo is a dedicated educator whose passion and leadership qualities are exemplified in his relationships with his students, colleagues, parents and the community at large. 


Mr. Garofalo uses his musical gifts and talents to build relationships with his students in order to help them learn about their own strengths and develop as Catholic students. He goes above and beyond hosting weekly band practices after school and giving up his lunch hour to offer extra help to students in need. 


Mr. Garofalo demonstrates amazing initiative, creativity and perseverance in creating positive change in the community. He works with his students and others to facilitate stewardship in the local community with initiatives throughout the year, for example organizing the Bishop Allen Band’s performance this past December at a community Christmas dinner for people in need.


Mr. Garofalo is a visionary and a forward-thinking problem-solver who is not afraid to push boundaries respectfully. He is an inclusive educator who teaches and incorporates many diverse forms of music and teaching styles. He regularly collaborates with other staff and departments to support and promote school programs and student work. 


There are many examples of how Mr. Garofalo is an advocate who gives a voice to those who may not be able to speak up for themselves. Mr. Garofalo fosters student mentorship, taking students in the band program to visit elementary schools to help inspire, help and teach students music. He has also initiated visits from the Humber College band, encouraging mentorship opportunities for his band students.


Mr. Garofalo is an inspiration to all of us through his continued service to others, especially his students. Congratulations, Mr. Garofalo!​