June is often a time for celebration. New high-school graduates move on to the next chapter of their loves and new teachers graduate with their Bachelor of Education degrees, eager to enter into the classroom. For many teachers, June is a time to look back and celebrate successes and to think about the year ahead.
The Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg also uses the late spring to honour members of our community who have made valuable contributions to literacy in our province. We are pleased to announce the winners of the Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg's Awards and Scholarships, which were presented Thursday, May 31, 2018 at the Viscount Gort in partnership with the Manitoba Reading Association.
Katya Adamov Ferguson – Certificate of Merit
The Certificate of Merit Award recognizes persons of outstanding achievement in reading in the areas of research, classroom teaching or teacher education. Katya Adamov Ferguson has excelled and made significant contributions in not one, but all of these areas. Katya’s dedication and contributions to education and literacy are far reaching.
Katya is a gifted learner willing to collaborate with others to provide resources and to learn new skills. Katya holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree, Bachelor of Education degree (Early Years Stream), Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Education (with Special Education Certification) and just this spring completed her Master of Education (Curriculum Teaching and Learning Specialization). Katya has taught in the Winnipeg School Division since 2008 and is currently employed as an Early Years Literacy/Numeracy Support Teacher.
Katya is one of the outstanding educators in our province working alongside people who wish to be more responsive to our indigenous peoples. Katya’s thesis, “Power in Places, Policies and Pedagogies: One Teacher’s Critical Inquiry into Reconciliation” has had an enormous impact on educators. Katya has spoken on topics related to her research at the ILA conference in Boston in 2016, the Reading for the Love of it conference in Toronto this year, and at the recent University of Manitoba Grad Research Symposium. Katya provides a perspective her listeners can appreciate and is helping many make progress towards the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation process.
Since 2012 Katya has also used her knowledge to weave theory and research into practical resources for teachers. As a teacher-writer for Portage and Main/High Water Press she has authored teachers’ guides for the Seven Teachings Stories book series by Katherena Vermette and Tales from Big Spirit graphic novel series by David A. Robertson.
Katya is passionate about teaching, learning and creating high-quality and equitable learning opportunities and environments for all. RCGW is thrilled to recognize Katya with a Certificate of Merit award.
Barb Potkonjak – Certificate of Merit
Barb deserves to be recognized for her hard work, dedication and love of literacy. She embodies dedication to the profession and gives of herself to her students, families and colleagues.
Barb began her teaching career 35 years ago at Wellingham School teaching grade one, but for the past 24 years she has taught at St. Gerard School. Barb knows her students’ strengths and weaknesses and works with each child to help them feel secure in their learning. An avid reader, Barb models her love of literacy and brings it into the classroom.
Perhaps Barb’s most substantial contribution to the students at St. Gerard School is her phonological awareness program. She created a phonological test to assess each student and get a benchmark before the sessions begin. After that, training and information sessions are presented to parents to increase their understanding of phonological awareness. This not only helps the program run smoothly, but helps develop understanding of the reading process and the importance of fostering the love of reading at home. She encourages families to visit the library and to read to their children in their first language if English is not the family’s primary language.
When the 12-session program begins in January Barb organizes home sewn bags filled with activities that are delivered by highly trained Kindergarten parent volunteers. Her focus on alliteration, rhyme, segmentation and letter recognition come alive with a class mascot named Marty Moose who delivers a large envelope every week with a new letter sound. The sessions are fun, educational and memorable. From phonics phones to letter bags filled with the letter of the week, Barb uses objects to provide tactile experiences and the result is smiling and giggling students who love learning about phonics.
Barb’s program is exquisitely planned and implemented. She demonstrates her love of literacy and her sense of community by giving the children and families a wealth of knowledge to bring home.
RCGW is pleased to present Barb with a Certificate of Merit Award for her hard work and dedication to literacy throughout her career.
Terry Phillips – Certificate of Merit
Terry Phillips was described in her nomination as a “gifted educator who finds a way to reach each child.” She is a dedicated teacher whose career in the River East Transcona School Division has spanned over 20 years.
For the past five years, Terry has taught grade two at Joseph Teres School. Terry begins every day by personally helping students find and sign out books for home reading. She has a genuine love of books and has worked hard to build an extensive classroom library. This year she partnered with other teachers to improve her students’ reading ability through mixing of classes, creative use of time, and her extensive knowledge of guided reading, Daily 5, CAFÉ, Regie Routman and Guided Reading. Over the years Terry has found a way to take the best parts of all these programs to create her own best practice. Terry genuinely cares and makes sure her students have the tools and time necessary to grow. Her students’ attitudes toward reading and confidence in their literacy skills have blossomed.
Terry is retiring in June but her ongoing legacy to her students and co-workers is the gift of reading and high-quality instruction. She is always one of the first to step up to make I Love to Read Month and other committees successful. The teaming that she has done with her co-workers has been very important through her career. One of her biggest contributions to Joseph Teres School is a refreshed Literacy Lab, which she helped develop by moving, cataloguing and re-ordering materials. This took many hours to complete in both grade group and school teams. Her leadership during this school project was invaluable.
Another legacy Terry leaves behind is her dedication to charity work as part of a joint project with the Women’s Canadian Club of Winnipeg to send used books to Nunavut. Terry collected, assessed, sorted, counted and helped get the books ready for distribution and involved the grade two classes at Joseph Teres in reading, sorting, counting and packaging the materials. Terry truly believes that access to good quality reading materials is important for all children regardless of geography.
RCGW is pleased to present Terry Phillips with a Certificate of Merit Award for her many years of outstanding teaching and dedication to literacy.
Katelin Rempel – Anniversary Scholarship
Katelin is a student at the University of Winnipeg. She is currently enrolled in the Faculty of Education and has completed her certification year four. Katelin is in the Early/Middle Years stream and is passionate about teaching the future leaders of Manitoba.
Over the past five years Katelin has volunteered and worked in Winnipeg One School Division. She worked for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg to help combat summer learning loss. Katelin spent her time working for the Community Schools Investigation Summer Program with inner-city students. She strongly believes that children should have the opportunity to continue learning and practicing their literacy skills over the summer.
Katelin is committed to the students she works with and loves being a part of their success. She believes that literacy is a vital part of everyday life and a key element in a child’s learning. She understands that every classroom is diverse and every student should have an equal learning experience.
Katelin recognizes the need for students to be exposed to literacy in all subject areas. During her practicum Katelin would find short articles related to her teachings so that the students were constantly exercising their reading abilities. She also began reading books to the class at the beginning of every social studies period and gave students time to discuss what they heard. She also gave students opportunities to write short pieces about what they learned, following models done by the teacher and shared writing with the class. Katelin uses great cross-curricular literacy practices and follows Regie Routman’s optimal learning model.
Reference letters from a professor and a cooperating teacher describe her as determined, driven, organized and committed to literacy. Katelin is a worthy recipient as she is passionate about sharing her love for literacy with her future students.
The Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg extends our congratulations to Katelin as a 2018 Anniversary Scholarship recipient and wishes her the best as she completes her studies in Education.
Larissa Chubenko – Anniversary Scholarship
Larissa Chubenko is an education student at the University of Winnipeg currently finishing her first year Early/Middle Years of the After Degree Education Program.
In her cover letter, Larissa emphasized her desire to empower those living in lower socio-economic conditions through education. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in International Development Studies from Menno Simmons College, completed her practicum placement at King Edward School, and was involved in social justice and development outreach programs. Larissa’s academic and personal interests are embedded in wanting to provide rich literacy opportunities for all.
Larissa’s practicum experience this year in a grade one classroom included being involved in rich literacy programs such as “Read to Me” and “Lucy Calkins” writing. Larissa was able to connect with students in small group instruction and build upon students’ literacy at a pace that was reflective of their unique and individualized learning needs.
Larissa formed and implemented the student group “CODE on Campus UW” which is affiliated with Canadian Organization for Development through Education. The main framework and mission statement of CODE is to ensure that children and youth globally have access to an education, by means of being exposed to literature. As the founder and president of CODE, Larissa embraces CODE’s philosophy and commitment to literacy as a means of acquiring an education. Larissa spearheaded many fundraising opportunities with CODE and donations were made to “Margibi All Girls School” in Liberia as well as locally to the N.E.E.D.S. program in Winnipeg.
Cooperating teacher and professor reference letters note her high degree of professionalism, commitment, self-motivation and positive attitude. Larissa’s ability to take new professional learning, past experiences, and current philosophy and meld these into empowering literacy ideas is a very noteworthy skill. As you can see, Larissa’s many achievements and her commitment to literacy education in Manitoba make her a worthy recipient of this year’s RCGW Anniversary Scholarship. Congratulations Larissa from the Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg.
Tuesday, September 24, 2019 at 4:30 PM – St. Gerard School. All members are invited. Contact Leslie Dickson if you will be attending.
We welcome book reviews, articles about teaching strategies, and other submissions. Please contact the Editor.