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Trustee Innovation Award

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2023-2024 Trustee Innovation Award

The Trustee Innovation Awards recognize individuals who use creative and innovative practices in their schools or workplaces, and inspire others to think about how they can adapt new practices and grow. Any UCDSB individual is eligible to be nominated.

2022-2023 Winners


Jennifer Anderson, Teacher  

Pleasant Corners Public School, Vankleek Hill:  

At Pleasant Corners Public School, Jennifer Anderson is a teacher who has a significant impact on her students’ lives. Her ability to reach every student through creative, innovative and personalized learning inspires them to pursue their dreams and interests, exemplifies her dedication to their success. One notable project involved teaching her Grade 5 and 6 students about entrepreneurship through Real-World Learning. They established a "pop-up" hot chocolate business, applying real-world math skills, business planning and marketing techniques. The endeavour raised $3,000 for Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). Anderson's commitment to teaching entrepreneurship has resulted in the development of 10 enterprises at the school supporting local businesses and a bursary at Vankleek Hill Collegiate Institute. This bursary aids students pursuing business and entrepreneurship in their post-secondary education, creating opportunities for future generations of entrepreneurs.  

Anderson’s dedication to teaching entrepreneurship and empowering her students to become successful young entrepreneurs through fun and educational ways has not only provided them with valuable skills and experience but has also made a meaningful contribution to the community.    

Robyn Ableson, Teacher  

Gananoque Intermediate and Secondary School, Gananoque: 

Robyn Ableson is a teacher at Gananoque Intermediate and Secondary School (GISS) who has been a champion of arts education within the school and community for over a decade. She has been instrumental in developing partnerships and collaborations to provide students with diverse opportunities in the arts. Ableson’s efforts have resulted in the creation of an Arts and Culture Specialist High Skills Major at the school starting in the 2023-2024 school year.  

One recent project spearheaded by Ableson was a semester-long partnership with Thousand Islands Playhouse (TIP). Students enrolled in the Exploring the Arts course produced a theatrical production from scratch, gaining real-world experience in various aspects of theatre production, including set design, construction, props, costumes, sound/lighting, front-of-house, and acting techniques. Ableson's guidance in this partnership allowed students to explore skilled trades from a unique perspective, while also fostering creativity and innovation.  

Ableson has facilitated meaningful learning experiences for local elementary schools and organized theatre workshops for Grade 5/6 students in the area. Her expertise spans multiple areas, making her an exceptional teacher who inspires innovation among all her students. 


Graeme McTavish, Teacher 

Glen Tay Public School, Perth: 

Graeme McTavish excels as a teacher at Glen Tay Public School, going above and beyond to create an engaging learning environment. His efforts are evident in the enthusiastic and excited faces of his students. McTavish incorporates music and instruments, encourages sports activities, and fosters engagement both inside and outside the classroom, such as organizing star gazing evenings. 

His classroom is filled with ukuleles that students learn to play and sing along with, integrating music into various subjects. By infusing his passion and interests into the curriculum, McTavish enriches the learning experience. He has combined different subjects, creating meaningful connections that enhance students' knowledge and skills. With his dedication, McTavish has established a supportive environment for learning, instilling confidence and a love for school among his students. 




Crystal Seguin, Teacher 

Kathleen McDougald, Teacher 

Emily MacMillan, Teacher  

Trinity Flaro, English Language Learner (ELL) Instructor 

Loes Breuers, English Language Learner (ELL) Instructor 

Rebecca Legue, English Language Learner (ELL) Instructor 

Nadiya Asif, Instruction Supervising Monitor  

Cynthia Seguin, Acting Site Principal 

Bridgewood Public Schoolsatellite classes at the Dev Hotel, Cornwall: 

The Bridgewood team at the Dev Hotel is an exceptional group of educators dedicated to supporting English-learning children from war-torn regions. Crystal Seguin, Kathleen McDougald, Emily MacMillan, Trinity Flaro, Loes Breuers, Rebecca Legue, Nadiya Asif, and Cynthia Seguin created inviting classrooms that foster a sense of belonging, safety, and overall well-being. Collaborating with the community, the group provides enriching experiences like fire station visits, soccer coaching, and gardening to help the children connect with their new surroundings. Their innovative methods bridge communication gaps among multilingual students, integrating real-world learning and technology for effective language acquisition.

The classrooms have Zip Grow towers where they grow their own produce and have partnered with another community group to build raised gardens at Dev Core to plant produce for the families that live there to access. In the classroom, teachers focus on oral communication and use songs, games and repetition to build vocabulary. Technology has helped to provide creative ways to teach students who arrive with little to no English. By focusing on building high-frequency vocabulary, the students are better prepared to enter the mainstream classroom. This learning space also allows the students to become acclimatized to Canadian culture, in a more focused learning environment.  

Their efforts inspire others and showcase the Upper Canada District School Board's commitment to supporting newcomers to Canada and creating inclusive learning environments. 


Ashley Blanchard, Educational Assistant 

Carley Vanderhulst, Educational Assistant 

Tammy Somers, Educational Assistant 

Kelly Saunders, Educational Assistant 

Russell High School, Russell: 

Apartment 217 is a transformative project at Russell High School, led by Ashley Blanchard, Carley Vanderhulst, Tammy Somers and Kelly Saunders, that has had a profound impact on providing students in the life skills classes with the tools they need to thrive beyond the classroom. Apartment 217 serves as a fully functional apartment where students and staff apply real-world skills such as making beds, personal grooming, grocery shopping, and washing dishes. The students’ literacy and numeracy skills are applied in practical ways that help prepare them for post-secondary life. The staff's tireless efforts in planning, preparing, and maintaining this space have created a welcoming and authentic environment that instills pride and agency within the students. With Apartment 217, they have turned a conventional classroom into a true home.  

The team personalized the space with framed photos of the students on the walls, reflecting their individual personalities and fostering a sense of belonging. In Apartment 217, students celebrate birthdays, collaborate on cooking meals together, and even invite guests for valuable learning experiences. Throughout the second semester, students corresponded with local Canadian Armed Forces member Lt. Saunders while he was away from the community at CFB Borden. He replied to their letter-writing with photos and videos of his cohort sharing their appreciation for the students’ kind words. They welcomed him home with a celebration meal in the apartment, where he shared photos and stories from his time away. Students learned more about military life and skills and the exchange was an invaluable experience far beyond any theoretical classroom lesson.  

This dynamic space adapts to the needs of each student cohort, allowing for updates and modifications to reflect the current occupants. The positive responses from parents, who appreciate seeing their children apply their skills at home, and community members who are impressed by the authenticity of the learning experiences, underscore the success and potential impact of Apartment 217. This innovative model can be shared and replicated throughout the district, empowering students to develop relevant life skills in a supportive and engaging environment. 


Katharine Wolff, Teacher 

Larry Mosgrove, Teacher 

Katharine Day, Teacher 

Nathan Gonyou, Teacher 

Norm Decou, Teacher 

Carleton Place High School, Carleton Place: 

Teachers Katharine Wolff, Larry Mosgrove, Katharine Day, Nathan Gonyou and Norm Decou at Carleton Place High School have demonstrated exceptional dedication to students and the community through a recent Real-World Learning and cross-curricular initiative called Bear Necessities. This project involves creating a school retail store where students can design and sell school clothing and merchandise, providing them with choices and a platform for self-expression.   

The business involves several classes including Communications Technology, English, Business, Construction Technology, and French. The recent purchase of a dye sublimation system (dye printer and heat presses), a computerized embroidery machine, and supplies will enhance the school's Communications Technology curriculum and provide valuable entrepreneurship experiences. Additionally, students have partnered with Sweet Sanctuary Animal Rescue to promote the sanctuary's work through merchandise and collaboration with the local newspaper. The project has successfully connected various subject classes and aims to expand further by incorporating tech classes for constructing animal shelters and informational plaques.  

A strong relationship has been forged between the sanctuary owners, school staff, and students, ensuring ongoing support for the sanctuary while fostering sustainable business practices within the school. The close integration of the project and the Bear Necessities retail shop with various classes enables staff to continually enhance their expertise and develop their capacity year after year. The dedication and innovation demonstrated by this group of educators have not only enriched their own subjects but have also inspired other staff members to explore the potential of real-world learning in their own classrooms. 


Glen Truelove, Wood and Auto Shop Teacher 

Robin Bridgman, Green Industries Teacher 

Ashley Lawrence, Food and Nutrition Teacher 

Matt Visser, Grade 7/8 Teacher 

Athens District High School, Athens: 

Athens District High School (ADHS) teachers Glen Truelove, Robin Bridgman, Ashley Lawrence and Matt Visser have embraced the Real-World Learning goal of the Director's Work Plan: engaging community partners effectively and inspiring students to participate in transformative Real-World Learning projects.  

Truelove has created opportunities in various areas, such as constructing benches for the International Plowing Match and Lanark Highlanders Rugby Club, engaging in timber frame construction, and being instrumental in applying for and receiving a grant for a metal CNC Machine and metal lathe. Bridgman and Visser collaborated with Thousand Islands Watershed Land Trust and one of their local properties Glen Elbe. Bridgman’s students worked on plant identification, pre-colonial species, landscape architecture, pond ecology, endangered species and climate change. Visser’s class created interpretive signs that will help visitors to the property understand the unique history of the property. The signs, which were created using the school’s laser cutter, are bilingual and have QR Codes attached to them so that visitors to the Glen Elbe property can have more information available to them if they are interested. Visser and Lawrence collaborated on a project with a local food bank. Their project, called "Dinner in Minutes" sees students create a series of "Hello Fresh" style recipe cards that can be packaged with donation kits to the local food banks, which allow for the food banks to provide a healthy, tasty and nutritious full meal option for families.   

These teachers' efforts and innovative projects have left a lasting impact on the students.   

Kari Sloan, Teacher 

Tracey MacTavish, Educational Assistant 

Lorie Knox, Teacher 

Lisa Kirby, Educational Assistant 

Stacey Rivoire, Teacher 

Angela Parks-Gibson, Educational Assistant Sarah Rudge, Vice-Principal 

Duncan J. Schoular Public School, Smiths Falls: 

Duncan J. Schoular Public School teachers and educational assistants Kari Sloan, Tracey MacTavish, Lorie Knox, Lisa Kirby, Stacey Rivoire and Angela Parks-Gibson and Vice-Principal Sarah Rudge have demonstrated creativity and innovation through a real-world and play-based learning project. This project focuses on nutrition and wellness for students in Grades 5 to 8. Through Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), students are taught sustainable indoor gardening techniques, expanding their knowledge and promoting healthy eating habits. Additionally, the project encourages cultural exploration by introducing students to diverse foods and recipes from around the world, fostering a deeper understanding of different cultures. 

  Within this project, three classes embarked on different but complementary endeavours. In Knox and Kirby’s Grade 7/8 class, students learned about sustainable growing systems. Meanwhile, Rivoire and Parks-Gibson's Grade 5/6 class became culinary experts, sharing their knowledge through meal preparation, a cookbook, and cooking videos created by the students. This culinary adventure includes visits to local restaurants, where students gain insight into various cuisines and food preparation techniques. In Sloan and MacTavish’s Grade 7/8 class, they collaborated with the local food bank to raise awareness and develop recipes using items commonly received in food bank boxes. Their project, known as Falcon's Feed, aims to highlight the essential items needed at the food bank by placing logoed labels on shelves in a local grocery store.  

This project has not only equipped students with practical skills but has also instilled in them a sense of community engagement, as some students aspire to teach younger students about the importance of healthy eating and nutritious foods.

Nomination Information and Criteria
Submitting a nomination is easy – simply fill out the online nomination form. Please be detailed in your answers and provide photos or links to supporting information if applicable to give the judges as much information about your nomination as possible.

Nomination criteria

  • The individual demonstrates creativity and innovation in the particular project, practice, technique or tool that increases student or colleague achievement.
  • Elements of the project, practice, technique or tool are sustainable and can be continued in the future.
  • Elements of the project, practice, technique or tool can be shared and replicated by others within the school district.
  • The individual has made a positive and lasting impact on their students or colleagues.  

There are six Categories/Groups (in alphabetical order):
1.      Administration & Managers
2.      Facilities/School-System
3.      Students
4.      Support Staff
5.      Teachers
6.      Team/Group (for any of the groups above)

Need inspiration? Here are some of our past winners! 

2021 Trustee Innovation Award Winners

2020 Trustee Innovation Award - Kevin Kennedy

2020 Trustee Innovation Award - Ani Lalonde

Trustee Innovation Award - Westminster FI Kinder Team

Have questions? 
Contact Lisa Workman at [email protected]

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