Special education assistants honoured by Ontario government

By 
  • May 9, 2008

{mosimage}TORONTO - It isn’t always teachers who are critical to education. Among the annual education awards handed out by Ontario’s Minister of Education Kathleen Wynne April 30, an award to the special needs education assistants at Ottawa’s Sacred Heart High School honoured a team that does far more than teach.

The 10 assistants in the Sacred Heart team make sure the 23 high needs students among Sacred Heart's 2,000-plus student body have the full high school experience.

“Our EAs have not only academic responsibilities, but they’re there after school. They make sure our high needs kids get to go to high school dances, join the ski club, track and field, swim meets, weekend retreats — all those things which go beyond their 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. job description,” said Sacred Heart’s high needs co-ordinator Michael Whelan.

Whelan nominated his team for the Team of the Year award. For Catholic education, how special education students fare is a litmus test for the success of the system and the sense of community in the schools, he said.

“We have an integrated model here at our school,” said Whelan. “The kids are integrated into regular classrooms with their peers. This happens because of the talent and dedication of the education assistants here at our school.”

The education assistants honoured by the provincial award are Joanne Alton, Melissa Moffat, Amanda McBain, Joy Denomme, Nicole Carley, Brad Murray, Linda Raaymakers, Leanne Acorn and Jeannie Cameron.

Ontario’s Catholic education system took two of the 14 annual education awards. Mark Latour, chief custodian at St. Catherine of Siena School in Barrie also won for Excellent Support Staff.

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