Following the presentation of the Peter Balciunas Scholarship to Kevin Ku (right), presenter Diane Devey (middle) and director of the integrated program between York University's faculty of education and the Toronto Catholic school board Greg Rogers. Photo by Evan Boudreau

TCDSB scholarship goes to future teacher

  • December 20, 2012

TORONTO - The Toronto Catholic school board gave an early Christmas present to former student Kevin Ku, honouring him with the annual Peter Balciunas Scholarship Dec. 19.

Ku, who received more than $6,000 towards his education, is the third recipient of the annual award which matches the winning student's tuition cost for the year. It is given in honour of Balciunas, a former Toronto Catholic school board principal, who's wife Nina donated $200,000 to fund the scholarship in her husband's name following his death. Since then, the fund has been topped up by other donors.

"It's always good when you have close ties to the community that raised you," said Ku, a 2007 Brebeuf College School graduate who is pursuing a bachelor of education from York University.

"I'm just very much honoured and surprised that they'd help out a student long after they've graduated from their board."

Those eligible for the award must be a Toronto Catholic school board graduate and provide proof of enrolment in York's faculty of education Catholic stream program. Applicants also must write a paper detailing the ways they have, or are, living out their Catholic faith.

"It is recognizing a person who has a passion, a devotion, for Catholic education at a very early point in their career," said Greg Rogers, course director of the integrated program with York University. "Without this award we may not pay attention to that so I think by recognizing him we are recognizing some best practices in Catholic formation. He is a model of Catholic education."

During the first part of this school year Ku spent time at Senator O'Connor College School working on the practicum component of his degree. There he assisted with biology and social civics classes.

Not only is Ku a Catholic in the classroom, but he's also involved at his parish, playing the organ at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Markham, Ont., and at Toronto's St. Basil's Church during two televised Masses.

These are qualities Diane Devey, Balciunas' goddaughter who presented the award, said were valued by the late principal.

"Our award is going to a person who has shown a lot of qualities that Peter admired: scholarship and musicianship," she said.

"I'm very proud to award this lovely fat envelope to Kevin Ku."

To Devey, Balciunas was a mentor who, during her early years as a teacher, gave up his Friday nights to review her lesson plans for the week. She said as a man who worked his way through university on the night shift at Eaton's in the shipping and receiving department, Balciunas would be proud to financially assist the Catholic educators of tomorrow.

Like Balciunas, Ku worked during university, scrimping and saving to support his education. Despite the surprise injection of cash Ku said he plans to remain money wise but will likely share some of the wealth — ’tis the season.  

"I work through most of university and I have to use OSAP for a little bit, but for the most part I was pretty frugal and smart with my money," said Ku. "(It'll) fill the gap in my bank account after paying this year's tuition and who knows, it's Christmas and there's a lot of shopping to do."

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