3 Winnipeg principals among Canada's 40 best for 2018

Every year, the Learning Partnership — a national charitable organization dedicated to supporting publicly funded education in Canada — hands out 40 awards to exceptional principals across the country. This year, three of them are at Winnipeg schools.
Troy Scott is principal of Acadia Junior High School. He started teaching in 2002 at Fort Richmond Collegiate and soon became the one of the youngest principals in the Pembina Trails School Division. (Pat Kaniuga/CBC)

Three Winnipeg school principals have been named among Canada's most outstanding.

Every year, the Learning Partnership — a national charitable organization dedicated to supporting publicly funded education in Canada — hands out 40 awards to exceptional principals across the country.

The award is given to principals who demonstrate innovation, outstanding leadership and creativity in finding solutions and opportunities in their school communities.

They are nominated by parents, colleagues and community members, and then chosen by a national selection committee.

This year's crop includes two principals from Winnipeg's Pembina Trails School Division and one from the Louis Riel School Division.

The three winners from Winnipeg, with citations from the Learning Partnership, are:

  • Michelle Lawrence, Oak Park High School

Pembina Trails School Division

Michelle Lawrence spearheaded a divisional initiative called Making the Move, which involved the restructuring of 15 schools, says a citation from the Learning Partnership. (Submitted by the Learning Partnership)

A leader who has been charged with strategically realigning schools to improve student learning. Lawrence spearheaded a divisional initiative called Making the Move, which involved the restructuring of 15 schools. The aim was to create a more responsive and effective learning environment requiring restructuring and collaboration across the schools. Lawrence was able to institutionalize these changes at Oak Park High School by reaching out to the stakeholders across her own school community and recrafting a new mission and vision. Lawrence effectively utilizes, analyzes and acts upon data that is included in the school plan. Lawrence brings innovation to her instructional leadership practice, effectively using technology, evidence-based practices, and exploring data in new ways.

  • Troy Scott, Acadia Junior High School

Pembina Trails School Division

Troy Scott works with a diverse population and many newcomers at Acadia Junior High School. (Submitted by the Learning Partnership)

Scott is the principal of a diverse school where 56 per cent of students are newcomers and over 50 languages are spoken. In partnership with the local high school, he and his colleagues have introduced an after-school peaceful village program to connect newcomer students to their school community. This program aspires to teach literacy strategies, extend the school day, assess participants' literacy skills, build academic vocabularies through tutoring, develop friendships, and embed music, arts and sports programming. It also helps students to set objectives, build leadership skills, and link respectfully and responsively to participants' families. Scott ensures that there is a myriad of academic programming and extracurricular opportunities offered to meet the diverse range of learners' needs. Scott has transformed Acadia into a responsive, caring, supportive community.

  • Charles Tinman, Niakwa Place School

Louis Riel School Division

Charles Tinman encourages diverse opportunities, with a learning commons, a community garden with heirloom plants and a robotic program at Niakwa Place School, which has become a community hub. (Submitted by the Learning Partnership)

Tinman is an advocate for the arts and an explorer of the unknown, constantly pushing students toward deeper learning. Students have enriched opportunities to participate in the arts, including live productions and performing before live audiences. In language arts, teachers participate in moderated assessment, providing additional supports based on students' individual needs. Tinman encourages diverse learning opportunities, involving a learning commons, a community garden with heirloom plants and a robotic program. He has also transformed the school into a community hub. Newcomer parents, who may be educated and skilled in their homeland, are invited to the school at lunch hour to volunteer, share skills, and enhance their English-language fluency. Tinman encourages critical thinking, collaboration and sharing within a supportive community that now extends beyond.

"As much as I appreciate this award, the greatest career reward I have ever been given is the opportunity to help children learn, teachers teach and parents parent," Lawrence said in a news release from Pembina Trails.

Her first year teaching was spent at Acadia Junior High, where she taught Grade 8 math and science to a young Scott, first vice-principal and now principal of the school.

"Whether it be starting my career as a science teacher at Fort Richmond Collegiate or being a leader in this division over the last 10 years, I have always been surrounded by amazing mentors and cheerleaders," said Scott, who started teaching in 2002 and became one of the division's youngest principals.

As someone who grew up in the area, he has seen it evolve culturally "into a very diverse community," which has driven his desire to represent and honour that through special programs like the peaceful village.

"We have to adjust and adapt to those needs [of newcomers] and we've found, through research and a lot of collaboration with partners, that this is a way to really engage kids in their school," Scott said.

All 40 winners will receive their awards at a gala In Toronto at the end of the month, where they will also be given a leadership training program at one of Canada's top business schools, the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management.