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Saturday, October 29, 2016

A Spark among Sparks

I am honoured to be receiving one of this year's two TESL Ontario Sparks of Excellence Awards.  It is gratifying to have my dedication recognized. I would bust my butt to excel in my job with or without the kudos, but official recognition is very nice.

Receiving an award is also humbling. I look around and see so many other teachers giving as much or more than I do in ways that don't come easily to me.  Because I am just one among so many, I look forward to receiving the award for myself but also on behalf of all those other teachers out there who pour their hearts and souls into this amazing profession day in and day out. I regret that they cannot all share the stage with me on November 23rd in Toronto.

I also wish to acknowledge that I could never be an outstanding service provider to our newcomer clients were it not for my one-in-a-million team at the YMCA of Windsor-- a group of people who work seamlessly together to give our clients the best possible settlement and ESL experience. I'm talking about a director of newcomer services who is always fair, accountable, transparent, open-minded and solid as a rock. I'm talking about a supportive site supervisor who does not micromanage and an administrative assistant without whom the entire program would fall apart at the seams. Even the building maintenance crew members care deeply about our clients and show it through being good custodians of the facilities. I know that because of the YMCA's practice of vetting all new hires to discover whether they are a good fit for the charitable organization, I get to be part of a group of people who are all committed to philanthropy. Our core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility are reflected in the way we do our jobs and go above and beyond our job descriptions daily.

Finally, I want to thank those more experienced TESL educators who--with no obligation to do so whatsoever--have reached out to help us less experienced ESL instructors to become the best we can be. Thank you to the other bloggers, to the moderators of #LINCchat, to those who volunteer on their local boards. I've attended many excellent workshops and webinars courtesy of professionals who did not receive more than a nominal honorarium for the hours and hours they put into preparing the presentations. I've been mentored by ESL literacy teachers all across Canada via email and webinars. We have collaborated and shared ideas and resources with one another via the ESL Literacy Network. And I have been very fortunate to receive the tutelage of John Sivell, recently of Brock University, and his wife Chirawibha Sivell, LINC instructor retired from Welland Heritage Council. My students continue to benefit from their Back to the Well approach to language instruction.

Who is the SPARK in your professional world?

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