The Faculty of Education has announced the recipients of this year’s Don Galbraith Pre-Service Teacher Award of Excellence presented by the Science Teacher Association of Ontario (STAO). Teacher candidates were nominated by their course directors based on criteria of exceptional creativity, commitment to teaching, willingness to engage in new methodologies, skills at research and production of curriculum materials, and interpersonal skills for effective teaching.
While only one winner was selected for each division, all nominees produced work of incredible value and quality that is reflective of the commitment to excellence, critical pedagogy and creativity that is emphasized throughout the Faculty of Education at York University.
“Our sincere congratulations to all nominees and recipients on their achievement and our thanks for their contributions to the profession and development of rich learning opportunities for students,” said course director Jocelyn Shi. “Through their work they have highlighted the many ways that science education can be made more fulsome as they emphasize a critical integration of culture, sustainability and creativity in the pursuit of meaningful learning and student engagement.”
Intermediate/Senior Award recipient: Saya Szparlo
Entry: Exploring Sustainability through School Gardens in Ontario (Grade 9 unit plan)
“I am an enthusiastic and curious educator whose goal is to continue to strive for positive social and environmental change,” said Szparlo. “I plan to do this by furthering my education at York University in the master of education program combined with an environmental sustainability education diploma beginning fall 2020. Upon graduation, it is my hope to establish a strong community in a school that values my passion for social and environmental change through local hands-on projects. I plan to continue my learning, welcome opportunities to grow and to start an exciting career.”
Junior/ Intermediate Award recipient: Caleb Wesley
Entry: The thirteen moons: The lunar cycle significance for Indigenous nations (Grade 6 lesson plan)
“My immediate future plans include returning to York part-time to continue my studies in the Faculty of Science. I also intend on applying for the TDSB to become an occasional teacher for September,” said Wesley. “Aside from working as an occasional teacher in the classroom and being a student at York, I’ll be dividing my time between biostatistical research with Well Living House at St. Michael’s Hospital and volunteer work in 2SLGBTQ+ community organizations. Long-term, my goals are to work with Indigenous students in the TDSB and continuing my work in bridging Indigenous ways of being in nature with the science curriculum. I would also to one day teach in the Waaban Indigenous Teacher Education Program, helping other Indigenous educators bring engaging science content to their classrooms. Hopefully, I can be part of the change that supports Indigenous students in pursuing careers in STEM.”
Primary/ Junior Award recipient: Dorothea Bailey-Leung
Entry: Sustainable Energy and STEAM design thinking (Grade 6 culminating task)
“When I was growing up, there weren’t a lot of discussions about how science impacts communities and why we should care. Since becoming a teacher candidate at York, I have discovered that this disconnectedness is what drives progress without meaning, without compassion, without end,” said Bailey-Leung. “We have a unique opportunity to connect science education to other subjects and bring to focus the big picture. Doing so would help young students connect with “the point of it all,’ to continually ask ‘why,’ and most importantly, to learn, grow,and change in order to become the best custodians of our planet. In the future, I hope to become a teacher who continues to be mindful of our planet, who never stops asking why, and who will teach my students to do the same.
“My entry, a comprehensive lesson sequence on sustainable electricity generation, taught me to be mindful of how we make, use (and waste) electricity, and how we can pursue green energy solutions with our students in a fun, accessible and meaningful way.”
The following teacher candidates were also recognized as nominees:
Yasmine Abdelaal – Entry: Integrating Multicultural Content in Science: Meet the Elements (Grade 9) and Molecular Genetics (Grade 12 biology)
Rawan Ibrahem – Entry: Investigating the impact of electricity production on Indigenous communities and the environment (Grade 6)