York Faculty of Education student wins language teaching award

The future for Sandra Ferris looks bright. A student in York’s concurrent bachelor of education program in the Faculty of Education, Ferris recently won the Helen G. Mitchell Award from the Ontario Modern Language Teachers’ Association.

The award is given annually to honour one graduating student from each Faculty of Education in Ontario who best demonstrates the attributes of a potentially outstanding classical, French as a second language or international language teacher. The award winner must demonstrate excellence in both the academic program and practicum and apply effective second language methodologies, leading to success in the classroom.

Ferris attributes much of her success to her practicum experience where she taught a wide array of students from different backgrounds with different learning styles. “I started in a Grade 3 English at Jackman during which I learned a lot about art, thanks to my mentor,” she comments. “In that same school, I enjoyed teaching Grade 6 French immersion as well, and had the opportunity to introduce them to my fellows in France – a fantastic chance for city English students to discover a francophone country through countryside eyes of Grade 5 students in France. They are still pen pals and my mentor decided to keep the exchange going, which I am very happy about."

Ferris is hoping to obtain a French immersion teaching position in September 2010 and has plans to pursue a masters of education in the next few years.

“Sandra is an extremely talented new teacher who embodies the qualities of what we would like to see from a graduate in our new French BEd program housed at Glendon College,” says Karen Devonish-Mazzotta, a course director in the Faculty’s concurrent program at Glendon. “She has a keen interest in teaching second language from the position of a teacher dedicated to issues of social justice and equity. In her time with us at Glendon, Sandra reflected critically on how she could be a change agent in the evolving, transforming and highly political context of French immersion and French core. We are very proud that she has received this honour and we look forward to hearing about her endeavours in the future.”

“I really want to make a difference in one child’s life as much as possible simply because children are worth it…they are our future,” says Ferris.

For more information about the Helen G. Mitchell Award, visit the Ontario Modern Language Teachers’ Association Web site.