BY ALYSSA MAHADEO
Leadership is defined as the ability to understand and utilize instinctive talent to inspire others and leverage their natural strengths to accomplish greatness. Over the years many great leaders have risen up, taken charge and done whatever it takes to make a positive change in the world to inspire a better tomorrow.
Toronto District School Board (TDSB) Trustee Tiffany Ford hosted the first-ever Trustee Ford Awards to honor twenty five student ambassadors from twenty two schools in the York West area. An admirable move made by Trustee Ford, it was well received by administration from the schools within the TDSB an especially proud moment for many parents to see these young developing minds recognized for their flourishing leadership qualities.
The Trustee Tiffany Ford Awards took place on Thursday May 12, 2016 at TDSB’s Headquarters 5050 Yonge Street, Toronto. It was a rare treat for students, parents and even teachers to gather at the headquarters, unifying them, bringing all of the students in the York West area together.
“Our kids deserve the best, this is something that has never been done before,” explains Trustee Ford proud to have been able to bring everyone in the area together that way. “It wasn’t only an awards ceremony, but also about unifying the area; while all these schools are in the same area they are still pretty segregated and this ceremony held at the headquarters really brought everyone together.”
Hosting the awards for the York West schools was a very positive for the Jane and Finch area, breaking away from the negative stigmas that surround the area. In bringing them to a prestigious venue like the TDSB headquarters and presenting them with these esteemed awards, it really demonstrated to everyone how these students are only worth the best of the best. Growing up in the area, and being involved as an active member of the community, Trustee Ford is dedicated to listening, understanding and proactively looking for ways to resolve issues that need to be addressed and hosting these awards brings them one step closer to empowering youth, breaking barriers, overcoming stigma and raising the bar for the next generation.
The ceremony was hosted by MC’s Ebone and Jill Andrew, with performances by Aalyha Charles, JUST BGRAPHIC and Ubuntu Drum and Dance Theatre. TDBS’s Director John Malloy was also present to address the audience, along with York West Superintendents Jacqueline Spence and Mary Jane McNamara.
Twenty five students representing twenty two schools across York West were nominated to receive awards ranging from elementary to adult school. Students were chosen by school’s administrators for their leadership and role model status within the school and in the community.
York West schools are in the surrounding Jane Finch neighborhood, with students most marginalized and schools highest on the Learning Opportunity Index (LOI). The awards were created to celebrate students and bring unity among the schools, highlighting the successes in the community.
“There was no criteria to receive these awards,” explains Trustee Ford, “These awards were not based on academics; students were selected by their teachers and principals and a decision was made based on the person they felt best represented the school, a well-rounded student, who has a positive influence on the school environment, is kind and compassionate towards their peers and also hardworking.”
In addition to the Trustee Awards The African Heritage Educators Network awarded two bursaries in Trustee Tiffany Ford’s name. These students received the AHEN CO-CHAIR TIFFANY FORD AWARD, including a scholarship. The lucky recipients of those bursaries were: Leina Ali from Runnymede C.I. and Ambessa Saul from Scarborough Centre for Alternatives Studies.
Trustee Ford says that she would love to host these awards again next year, stating that is the first of its kind across the TDSB, and she received encouraging feedback from the Principals, Vice-Principals and teachers that were in attendance about how great it was to have something like these awards to bring the schools together celebrating education and raising the bar in the community.
“We expect them [the students] to continue being great leaders in school and also after school getting involved within the community because we need people like them who care and are willing to work hard to implement positive changes in society,” said Trustee Ford.
Leadership is about having a selfless heart and always being willing to reach out and lend a helping hand. Leadership should be the humble, authentic expression of your unique personality in pursuit of bettering whatever environment you are in.
Trustee Ford Awards 2016 Recipients:
Imani Reid – Firgrove Public School
Aisha Macala – Gosford Public School
Susan Tra – Brookview Middle School
Lily Phan – Lamberton Public School
Aruba Khan – Gracedale Public School
Isabelle Nguyen – Blacksmith Public School
Justin Chau – Chalkfarm Public School
Ananya Ray – Gulfstream Public School
Iris Repizo – Derrydown Public School
Jack Nguyen – Stanley Public School
Suzanna Dukharan – Driftwood Public School
Alexandria Mitchell – Shoreham Public Sports and Wellness Academy
Elizabeth Oguntala – Elia Middle School
Jessica Singh Narang – Daystorm Public School
Rhi-Onna Anese Carey – Humber Summit Middle School
Jessica Troung – Topcliff Public School
Lois El-Shaddai Obeng Yorkwoods Public School
Hassan Adenola – Emery Collegiate Institute
Sharumathy Krishnakumar – Emery Collegiate Institute
Kadiatu Barrie – Westview Centennial Secondary School
Diane Watterman – Westview Centennial Secondary School
Jessica Lam – C W Jefferys Collegiate Institute
Nuradin Mohammed-Nur – C W Jefferys Collegiate Institute
Sonia De Crisci – Emery Adult Learning Centre
Promise Chukwuka – Emery EdVance Secondary School
CONTRATULATIONS TO THE 2016 TRUSTEE FORD WINNERS!