From left, Amanda Seguin from Russell Public School, Kevin Kennedy from Russell High School, and Ani Lalonde of Rockland Public School with their Trustee Innovation Awards.
From left, Amanda Seguin from Russell Public School, Kevin Kennedy from Russell High School, and Ani Lalonde of Rockland Public School with their Trustee Innovation Awards.

Teachers honoured for initiatives

Stephen Jeffery
EAP
Three teachers from Russell and Rockland have been recognized for their innovative methods of engaging students through the pandemic.

The Upper Canada District School Board recognized Kevin Kennedy of Russell High School, Ani Lalonde of Rockland Public School, and Amanda Seguin of Russell Public School for their efforts with Trustee Innovation Awards. They were among six educators across the region to receive the awards this year, which have recognized staff for innovative teaching and work practices since 2012.

When the province first closed schools due to the pandemic in March, Kennedy conducted interviews with staff, students, and board members on a variety of topics, then posted them to a school Instagram account. He also reached out to former staff and students, including those living overseas, for his video series, which “kept the Russell High School students and community connected” during the lockdown, according to his award statement.

At Rockland Public School, Lalonde took her role as physical education and health teacher, coach, and mentor online, launching the PE with Madame Ani Facebook page. She used the page to promote heathy living through short, interactive videos about physical activities that could be done at home with little to no equipment. Lalonde also held class workouts for students over Microsoft Teams and supported online staff wellness sessions.

Meanwhile, Seguin, a special education teacher at Russell Public School, had already helped set up a “Power Up Pilot” program when the pandemic closed the school. The initiative, which involved half-day programming tailored to individual students’ academic strengths and occupational and physical therapy needs, continued into the distance learning portion of the year.

Seguin hosted one-on-one Microsoft Teams sessions and Power Up Program chats for participating students each week, while building a strong rapport with their parents. “Amanda's enthusiasm, knowledge and creativity are an inspiration to her fellow colleagues,” her statement said.

All three teachers were presented with their awards at physically distanced ceremonies at their schools. The UCDSB said the awards’ intent was to encourage the sharing of the winning innovations and improve education across the community.