York teacher candidate Yanika Coto shines as recipient of Helen G. Mitchell Award

A year-two teacher candidate in York University’s Faculty of Education has been honoured with a prestigious award for dedication to, interest in and passion for second language teaching.

Yanika Coto with York U Course Director James Steele

Yanika Coto, a junior/intermediate French as a second language (FSL) teacher candidate from the Keele campus, received the Helen G. Michell Award during the 2017 Ontario Modern Language Teachers’ Association Spring Conference.

The event, which took place March 31 to April 1, hosted more than 600 FSL and international languages teachers from across Ontario. It is the largest annual event of its kind.

Attendees enjoyed their choice of over 80 workshops, a keynote speech from Indigenous educator Jan Hare, networking, and outstanding professional learning from experts in second language pedagogy and peers from across the province.

The conference also celebrated leaders – and future leaders – in second language education at the Saturday awards breakfast.

Among luminaries from the Ministry of Education and the Canadian Association of Second Language Teachers who received recognition, one graduating student from each Faculty of Education who will be qualified to teach FSL or an international language is awarded with the Helen G. Mitchell Award.

“It was an honour to receive this award, and I especially want to thank James Steele who has equipped me with practices and strategies that have prepared me as a FSL teacher,” said Coto. “The two-year consecutive program at York has been life changing for me and I’m immensely grateful for the opportunities and for the continuous support as I look forward to a career in the profession.”

The Course Director and OMLTA Conference Chair for this year, James Steele, explained the selection process.

“We have over 70 teacher candidates graduating from our concurrent and new, enhanced two-year programs this year with French or Spanish as a teachable from both our Keele and Glendon campuses,” he said. “It was extremely difficult to choose just one star student from this group, so between the two other FSL course directors and myself, we nominated nine students. Each nominee submitted a paragraph that spoke about their educational philosophies for second language teaching and how they feel that they could make a strong impact on young people in their new roles. These were judged without any identifying factors; Yanika was our clear winner from the outstanding group of nominees.”

York teacher candidate volunteersOver 40 York teacher candidates also volunteered their time to assist with the conference, gaining fantastic professional learning opportunities while still students at the Faculty.

“I am very proud that so many of our students took part,” said Steele, noting it was the largest group of student volunteers from any Faculty of Education by a wide margin. “Their commitment to honing their craft and engaging in professional learning is a testament to their desire to be among the best educators in the province.”

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