Near North District School Board’s (NNDSB) literacy team has been chosen as one of the recipients of the Dyslexia Canada Educational Excellence Awards by the Dyslexia Canada Board of Directors. The winners were officially announced on Tuesday.

The awards celebrate exceptional dedication within school communities in supporting students with dyslexia. According to Dyslexia Canada’s website, the award recognizes the contributions of a variety of school staff who showcase, “remarkable commitment and innovation in ensuring equitable education for students with dyslexia.”

The NNDSB literacy team – K-12 Student Achievement and Well-Being Principal, Stephen Krause, Lorianne Haslehurst, Amy Bartlett Gibson, Genive Di Bernardo, Lisa Rogers, Michael Watson and Rebekah Felsman – will be presented with a Literacy Leader Award at the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) Ontario Literacy and Learning Conference in Toronto on Saturday.

In advance of the awards ceremony, K-12 Student Achievement and Well-Being Principal Stephen Krause said, “It is an honour to receive this acknowledgement from Dyslexia Canada, who continues to be at the forefront of supporting and leading literacy learning and work across the country. I am so very proud of the members of our literacy team and the collaboration they engage in alongside educators across our system every day. However, this award is also a recognition of our district and all who work in it, especially our K-12 educators as they dive deeper into their learning and work in school teams to make continual shifts in the literacy programming and delivery of instruction to meet the needs of all students most effectively.”

Award criteria includes commitment to dyslexia support, impact and results, collaborative approach and sustainability and scalability.

Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Melanie Gray said she was immensely proud of the work of the literacy team and was gratified to see them receive recognition by Dyslexia Canada.

“The work of this team is making news across the country, and I am happy to see them acknowledged for all the work they do to support their colleagues in furthering the board’s goal of student achievement and well-being,” said Gray.

Team member Genive Di Bernardo said, “The journey to literacy is not a solitary one and requires the collective, collaborative effort of educators, administrators, parents and communities … not to mention, students! We are grateful and proud to work in a district which continually challenges itself with this cause and champions this work. Personally, I’ve never before felt more empowered and prepared to teach children to read as I have through this work.”

Colleague Lorianne Haslehurst is grateful for the opportunity to do this work. “Being a part of the Near North literacy team has been the opportunity of a lifetime. As a literacy intervention teacher who taught during the days when we did not use evidence-based practices, my life was turned upside down (in the best way!) when I began to learn about how our brains learn to read and how to support students by learning how to explicitly teach foundational literacy skills.  Being able to work in a role where I can continue to deepen my knowledge of the science of reading be able to engage in this learning alongside educators is an incredibly rewarding experience.  There is a renewed energy in schools. As more teachers become immersed in this work, we see changes in our students’ confidence, attitudes towards reading and overall achievement. This is just the beginning. I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity to contribute to such a dedicated and impassioned team.

At this point in the school year, 94 per cent of schools have received direct support from literacy team members. The team has offered guidance and support for 8,977 Acadience reading screening assessments that have been administered by educators.

Among the initiatives of the literacy team to support their work is the creation and curation of an internal K-12 literacy site (which has been used by almost 600 different NNDSB educators), a literacy lending library to support educators, system professional development sessions, book clubs and engagement in literacy professional development to support the work across the district.

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