Learning Partnership honours York grad

Domenic Scuglia (BA Comb. Hons. ’80) had an extra reason to celebrate during the lead-up to Christmas, wrote YorkRegion.com Jan. 11.

Just days before the beginning of the holiday break, the St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic High School (Aurora) principal received a call from the public education advocacy organization The Learning Partnership, telling him he has been named one of Canada’s outstanding principals for 2011. He and this year’s other 31 honourees will be feted at a gala in Toronto next month.

It’s all been pretty overwhelming, says Scuglia with a slight shrug. The longtime educator leans back in one of his office’s high-backed chairs as he explains how some of the faculty and other staffers at the school approached him about submitting his name in the Learning Partnership’s cross-Canada search.

It was kind of an awkward conversation, Scuglia recalls, as he prefers to stay out of the spotlight and applaud others. Still, everyone seemed so gung ho about the notion, he wasn’t about to put a damper on their enthusiasm, he says. “The staff felt I was worthy and I wasn’t going to hold them back, but I honestly never thought that anything would ever come of it,” Scuglia says. “I was completely surprised when the Learning Partnership contacted me and told me.”

It’s nice to be recognized, Scuglia says, but he’s also quick to point out awards and other such honours are not the reason he does what he does. For him, it has always been about the students.

Following undergraduate studies at York University and teachers’ college at the University of Toronto, Scuglia landed his first teaching job with the York Catholic board at Newmarket’s St. Paul Catholic Elementary School in 1982.

Religion fodder for artist’s exhibition

Mississauga visual artist Asma Arshad Mahmood’s new exhibition, Three Yards of Dogma 2: Denied Favours, continues until Jan. 17 at the Art Square Gallery in Toronto, wrote The Mississauga News Jan. 10.

The display revisits the work Mahmood (MFA ’09), who was born in Pakistan, did for her master of fine arts degree in York University’s Faculty of Fine Arts. It is also a continuation of her research into the dynamics in South Asian and Muslim communities living in the West.

“I address the concepts of female emancipation and conflicting lifestyle that are imposed upon our women under the guise of twisted and misinterpreted religious text,” said Mahmood, also the director of Mississauga’s annual Telus Mosaic South Asian heritage festival. “Such (an exhibition) would be very complex to put on in Pakistan and India given the prevalent hysteria around Islam and blasphemy, but we are Canadians and as such I feel it’s important to raise (my) voice against these surges of inhuman draconian decrees which force millions of people like myself to move out of those so-called lands of Islam.”

In the show, Mahmood said she uses the traditional Pakistani garb known as the shalwar along with comedic reworkings of traditional Mughal miniature paintings to raise important questions.

Theories on causes of cross-dressing

I found the article about heterosexual cross-dressing to be very interesting, wrote Michael Gilbert, philosophy professor in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, in a letter to the Toronto Star Jan. 11 in response to a Jan. 9 story. As an out cross-dresser, I would like to applaud the Star, writer Helen Wolkowicz and especially Andrew/Linda for the sensitive handling of a much misunderstood and little considered activity.

However, Dr. Oliver Robinow’s statement that cross-dressing is the result of trauma such as divorce or abuse in early childhood is by no means universally accepted. To the contrary, there is widespread disagreement regarding the causes of heterosexual cross-dressing.

One currently popular theory, for example, attributes it to a “wash”, a sudden excess of hormones, at a critical point in fetal development. There are other theories as well. In short, we know that cross-dressing happens, but we do not know why.

Meet next fall’s newest education programs

Next fall, many new postsecondary programs will be offering innovative programs that tap into growing job markets, wrote Metro Jan. 10 in a feature on new study programs.

York University’s Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Environmental Biology explores conservation biology and biodiversity loss in connection with health, sustainability and public policy.