Always Learning Awards 2018-2019

The 2016-2020 Strategic Plan for Avon Maitland District School Board was set by the board of trustees after a year of extensive consultation. Engage, Inspire, Innovate…Always Learning became our mission as we considered the potential these concepts have in shaping a student’s education. There were established philosophies from prior years that we wanted to continue to work with: Equity, Character, and Stewardship, and these were included as principles within the plan.

At its core, a board of education’s main purpose is to educate students, and we desire to do this well. In order to do so, we determined two priorities. They are creating positive inclusive learning environments, and maximizing outcomes for students.

The most important part of any plan is the people. Our students, staff, families and communities all have roles to play in the plan. Each year we like to recognize exemplary individuals who go above and beyond the call of duty; those who strive for the best possible outcome for our students and ensure that they are always learning. Here are this year’s 7 recipients for the Always Learning Awards.



Mikayla recently wrote an essay outlining her diagnosis of bilateral retinoblastoma which resulted in the loss of her left eye and most of her vision in her right eye, and how she has persevered to turn her unfortunate diagnosis into a positive. She has made it her legacy to “change the world with kindness”.
As former chair of the Special Education Advisory Committee, Katie lead the committee through the formation of their present working philosophical definition of inclusion. She provided valuable insight into communicating the needs of the community and parents/guardians in order to better support them with enhanced programs and services.
As a Technical Resource Assistant with Eastdale Public School, Kathy warmly welcomes students into the library to work at the tables, choose a book, or receive assistance regarding a technology questions. Through her traditional TRA role in addition to being a key player supporting the extra-curricular Makerspace, organizing the Forest of Reading group, and maintaining her school’s Facebook and Twitter sites, Kathy has helped make her school community a great one.
Jessica is a fantastic example of an educator who is preparing students for this world through engagement, inspiration and innovation. As a teacher of the gifted at our Seaforth site, she has supported countless students across the board to reach their full potential as learners.

Jean is a long-standing volunteer who most recently has been the lead coordinator of the Reading Assistance Program at Stephen Central Public School which provides students with extra individual instruction and reading practise that they would not normally have access to in the regular classroom. Her work contributes greatly to the creation of a positive and inclusive learning environment.


Jaden’s presence is calm, quiet and ever positive and she helps students understand mental health and navigate their own emotions as Avon School’s Strive Education Assistant. Every child Ms. Mitchell encounters knows they have found a safe adult, a trusting adult, an honest adult, a person who will always be there for them.
As a volunteer at Stephen Central Public School, Evelyn recognizes the needs of the students in our school and is consistently offering to help wherever she can to support them socially, emotionally and academically. She is a role model for everyone, teaching all of us what a positive and inclusive environment should look like.

Years of Service

The Avon Maitland District School Board would also like to recognize the employees who have achieved milestones in their career in education ranging from 25 to 45 years of service.

Graduating Student Senators

We would like to recognize our graduating Student Senators. These students are responsible for sharing the voice of their secondary schools and their surrounding elementary feeder schools with the board of trustees. They receive good news from staff, answer questions from fellow students, and act as role models for younger students, all while listening effectively and speaking respectfully.



Michelle Clarke Ellison                                                        

Hundreds of students have benefited from Michelle’s caring nature, advocacy and experience as a guidance teacher to support them through their high school experiences and educational pathway goals. Michelle leaves a wonderful lasting legacy as a dedicated educator with a huge, caring heart – someone who could always be counted on for guidance, advice, direction, kindness and support.

Anne Hathaway:

Susan Ryan

Sue has had a remarkable 26-year career in teaching spanning the primary grades, but Kindergarten has always had a special place in her heart. Her welcoming personality and warm character made all who entered her classroom, students and adults alike, feel comfortable.


Barb Alken                                                                              

Barb was hired with our board after spending years as an administrator in international schools. Most recently, Barb held the position of Principal at Avon School. Barb remains actively involved in her church and continues to pursue her passions including singing in the church choir, reading and cooking.


Nancy Halliday

Nancy spent her teaching career as a Special Education Teacher, a Primary Language Resource Teacher, and a classroom teacher. Nancy is thankful for her years of with the staff of Avon Maitland – a very rewarding career!

Bluewater Coast:

Betty Regier                                                                          

Betty’s generous spirit, sense of humour, professional demeanor, and sage advice will be deeply missed by the staff, students, and parents at Bluewater Coast ES. Anyone who has worked with Betty will know that she is fiercely loyal and an excellent confidant.


Sheila Kennedy

Sheila Kennedy was an employee of the Avon Maitland District School Board for more than twenty years. During her time at Brookside PS as office manager, Sheila was the first person students, parents, staff and the community would meet.

Lynne Godkin

Lynne’s passion for the school and the community brought her into the social sciences where she has brilliantly helped students learning about the world around them and how they can become vital and contributing members of the community and the global family. Lynne is an amazing teacher who has earned the respect and admiration of her colleagues.

 William Shore

Students that have been lucky enough to have Mr. Shore as a teacher sing his praises, and his colleagues attest that a more dedicated math teacher would be hard to find. The staff and students at Central Huron SS will remember Bill for his quiet and caring personality, and for the extra time that he has always taken to listen and get to know the people that he is working with.

Downie Central:

Suzanne Gervais

Suzanne’s presence in the halls of Downie Central these many years has enriched the lives of hundreds of students and countless staff.  She is a tireless promoter of school spirit, a cheerleader, and strong advocate of student voice and learning. Her efforts to create and maintain a positive school culture are contagious and truly immeasurable.

Jane Elizabeth Gregg

Jane was an elementary teacher at Downie PS when she retired in October 2018. She has worked for over 30 years with Avon Maitland.

Debra Fletcher
For the many students whose lives she has touched in years of teaching, Mrs. Fletcher has made a real difference. Whether it’s the encouragement of a budding actor, the joy of creating a clay bowl under a young artist’s fingers or a reassuring hug and listening ear, she was always there for her students.

Education Centre:

Susan Adair

Sue has over 30 years of diverse teaching experience with Avon Maitland DSB. For almost 20 years, she has worked in the world of behaviour and mental health advocating for students and their families. She has been a mentor to many Avon Maitland DSB staff members over the years and has left a lasting footprint.   

 Dianne Peck

Dianne began her career with the AMDSB in 1979. She worked in finance, transportation/operations, accounting, and finally worked as a receptionist at the Education Centre. Dianne has always been cooperative and willing to help wherever needed.

Susan Gardiner-Marklevitz

Since her first position with the Board in 1984, Susan has served many school communities, teaching different grades and sharing her passion in many unique central roles. In 2017 until her retirement in 2019, Susan has been a Teaching and Learning coach focusing on mathematics where she was a driving force behind the creation and implementation of a numeracy assessment tool for Kindergarten students and educators across the AMDSB system.

Mary Venner

Mary Venner came to Avon Maitland DSB in January 2010 as a secretary for facilities, then worked as an Executive Assistant in Human Resources, and then in Student Success and School Operations. Mary’s calm and professional demeanour was an asset to all of the departments in which she worked.

Elma Township:

Sylvia Cattrysse

During her 30 year teaching career, Sylvia has developed cherished relationships with students, staff, colleagues and parents. Her relentless dedication and commitment to students, staff and families will be missed.

Exeter Public School:

Patricia Brintnell                                                                   

Patty has spent her 30-year career teaching Core French, and arrived at school each day with a smile inspiring staff with her energy, and passion for her subject matter and for her students. Patty was a reflective practitioner who went above and beyond to meet the learning needs of all students, educating the whole child and leaving each with a love of French.

F.E Madill:

Nancy Aitchinson

Nancy has worked at F.E. Madill for 43 years, most of which were spent as secretary in the Guidance Office. She was a wonderful reservoir of knowledge – she knew where everything guidance was stored both physically and digitally; she knew the seasons of the guidance department and when and how the transitions should take place; she knew where students lived and whose child or sibling they were.

Doris Robinson

Doris Robinson is retiring from the Avon Maitland District School Board after 42 years of service! Doris is friendly, patient, resourceful and diligent; she has made valuable contributions to the school communities in which she has worked.


Louise Groeling

Louise began working as a custodian in 1994, and worked tirelessly at several school until her retirement in October 2018. She also volunteered as coach for the Central Huron cheerleaders for seven years, arriving early or staying late for practices, ensuring that the program was able to continue.

Greg Murray                                                                          

Greg has served for many years as the Department head and school sector lead in the Hospitality and Tourism discipline. A five-star rating would only begin to describe what Greg meant to GDCI during his time with the Avon Maitland District School Board.

Howick Central:

Anne Reynen

Anne has made a lasting impression on the world through the lives of the students she has taught. She has created strong communities in her classroom and this has left an impact on her students. Parents also appreciate Anne’s hard work and dedication to her students and many often take the time to personally thank her or even hug her for making a difference in the life of their child.

Listowel District:

Janet Conners

Janet has spent her entire career as a Listowel teacher, teaching business, computer and co-op courses. She has long standing relationships with many business people in the community and has helped secure interesting work experiences for many students.

Shawn Corbett

Shawn has worked for 20 years at the Avon Maitland DSB. He has taught English, Cooperative Education, and was the Teacher Librarian. He also coached basketball, girls hockey, and field hockey.

James Flynn

James not only committed his personal time but also used his own personal financial resources to provide kids with cultural and athletic opportunities outside of school. His strengths in the teaching profession were his commitment to seeing kids succeed both in the classroom and on the basketball court using his guiding principles of integrity, hard work, discipline and accountability.            

Marilyn Purcell

Marilyn Purcell began her career with the Avon Maitland DSB in 1990, and has worked as an English teacher, French teacher, and was instrumental in bringing the Philosophy course to life. In her role as English Department Head, Marilyn is an invaluable mentor and friend, approaching challenges with a wry sense of humour and a healthy dose of wit and wisdom.

Robert Siefert

Bob Siefert first began as a supply custodian at Listowel District SS and was quickly hired as a full-time employee. Bob’s thoroughness and attention to detail kept Listowel District SS rolling smoothly through several construction projects and through it all his sense of humour always showed.

Lydia Wassink

Lydia worked for more than 10 years as a parent volunteer, providing reading interventions for hundreds of students and advocating for students with reading difficulties. She became the first ESL EA in our newly amalgamated board in 1998. As an EA, Lydia was always prepared to go the extra mile, generously giving her free time and creativity to work on resource creation and program enhancement.

Alice Yuill

In her career with the board, Alice has worked in a variety of positions including Resource Educational Assistant (REA), Payroll Associate, Accounting Clerk and School Secretary. Alice is a kind-hearted person who would always step in quickly to assist others in the community or at work.

Listowel Eastdale:

Brenda Dineen

Brenda was a caregiver with a big heart. She willingly helped with the school nutrition program and shared her love of gardening with students at Listowel Eastdale PS.

Ross MacSorley

Ross has been a well-respected and dedicated leader in the education system for decades. He has positively impacted staff, students and families across our district, and his calm and efficient leadership style will be missed.Little Falls:

John Deweerd

Throughout his 30 year career as a lead hand and head custodian, John’s commitment to the school community allowed everyone to work and learn in a clean and organized space. The students, staff and families knew that they could count on John for anything.

Robin Rutherford

Robin has worked with the AMDSB as a Special Education teacher, SERT, and junior grade teacher since 1997. Her organization, commitment to “always learning” and willingness to see her portable as a “beautiful cabin in the woods” will be missed by staff and students alike.                                                                                              

Maitland River:

Karen van der Voort

Karen worked for 35 years as a custodian with Avon Maitland, and was one of the most cherished school-family members. Karen took pride in keeping a clean and safe learning environment for her students. She could also often be found tying shoes, helping with zippers and even reading to the students she somehow knew needed her the most, something she loved to do.

Mitchell District:

John Schmalz

Teaching was meaningful to John, because he could teach students not only practical skills they would be able to use for the rest of their lives, but he also developed a rapport with them that impacted their growth in character. John’s spirit and ability to engaging and inspiring students and teachers alike, will be greatly missed.

Fred Yundt                                                                              

Perhaps Fred’s greatest gift to Mitchell District High School was his ability to get on with all people, students and staff alike, and see the world in a positive light. Fred’s contribution to engaging and inspiring both our students and teachers, in all aspects of school life, will be greatly missed.

South Huron:

Sandra Sweitzer

During her career, Sandra was known for her consistent ability to model calm and quiet behaviour. Sandra is a compassionate individual who always was remarkably caring towards her charges.

Ruth Uyl

Ruth is always acutely aware of how others are feeling and frequently provides kind, supportive words when students and staff alike are feeling down. She always has a big smile on her face and approaches every new situation with infectious enthusiasm.   

Michael Vandepoele

Michael spent the majority of his teaching career as the Business Head at SHDHS. Michael was a quiet and humble leader who took on many roles behind the scenes, never expecting praise for his work. Michael is well known for his remarkable sense of humour, his ability to problem solve and work respectfully with others to build the school community. 

Russell Watson

Russel has taught a variety of courses in many different departments in his tenure as a teacher including COPE, Special Education and English. His greatest strength was his ability to connect with students and build meaningful relationships. Many students would credit Russ for getting them through school and into purposeful lives beyond graduation.

South Perth:

Brenda Pincombe

Brenda has spent her entire teaching career with the Avon Maitland District School Board. Brenda expresses gratitude for time at every school, with every child, family, colleague, and experiences that she has encountered the last 33 years.

Stratford Central:

Patricia Brine

Over the years, Patty has acted as an advocate and champion for students who are alone, are lacking hope, and/or cannot advocate for themselves. A quote that best describes Patty from a colleague is as follows: “Too often we underestimate the power of a smile, a listening ear, frankness when needed, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Patty did not”.

Stratford Northwestern:

Derek Farr

Derek has been an Educational Assistant with Avon Maitland for over 30 years. He has vast experience supporting students in both elementary and secondary schools in Perth County. He gives generously of his time, supporting the Battle of the Bands in Stratford, organizing summer trips for staff to Blue Jays games, and coaching.

Gail Fricker                                                                             

Gail has had an extensive career in the arts teaching drama, owning her own theatre-education company, being an independent freelance Arts Educator, giving workshops at schools, conferences and festivals. She also became a professional storyteller, toured internationally, recorded a CD, and taught story arts. Most recently in her career she taught drama with Avon Maitland.

Chris Wilson

Chris worked for over 25 years as a custodian with Avon Maitland. He always had a positive outlook and was very accommodating to the needs of a busy school. He was a valued team member and his retirement left a void that is difficult to fill as a custodian, as a co-worker and as a friend.

Upper Thames:

Patricia Webb

Patricia began and ended her teaching career at Upper Thames Elementary School. Most recently she was a Grade 2 teacher. Patricia looks forward to every day being a special leave day to spend time with family and friends.

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