Year: 2016 – Province: Ontario
Certificate of Achievement Recipient
Nelson Mandela Park Public School
440 Shuter Street
Toronto, Ontario M5A 1X6
Principal: Jason Kandankery
School telephone: 416-393-1620
School website: http://schoolweb.tdsb.on.ca/nelsonmandelapark
Subjects and grades taught: Grades 1 to 8, all subjects; Teacher-Librarian and Literacy Coach
Over nearly 40 years in education, Helen Wolfe has succeeded in making such a lasting impression on children that even now students she taught decades ago come back to volunteer in her classroom.
Helen Wolfe teaches her students that creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking are the foundations of learning, while instilling the importance of being leaders and taking initiative.
- Develops comprehensive cross-curricular study units: for example, children gained science, math, writing, drama, technology and oral communications skills while learning about the common health issues facing refugees in their community and then opened the Mandela Refugee Health Clinic with older students and parents as patients; the Snake Exploratorium transformed an empty classroom into a centre for exploration of animal habitats.
- Organized girls' coding conferences, elementary boys' writing conferences and media literacy conferences, all firsts for the school board; launched the Girls Crack the Code club, to "stomp the digital divide" as one industry figure put it, by introducing girls of all backgrounds to coding at an early age.
- Secured thousands of dollars in funding to bring technology and other resources to the school, including robotic equipment, a 3D printer and circuit boards to develop a maker space.
- Organized a family numeracy evening, sharing activities linked to the curriculum that children and their parents could try and then practise at home, to make learning math more fun.
- Has built a large and long-serving team of volunteers from the community, including retired teachers, who provide extra help and tutoring for both gifted and struggling students.
"I cried when I found out that my daughter would get to be in [Helen's] class for a second year. Helen has given my daughter a love of learning, and she has achieved so much in the last two years."
"Every student leaves Helen's class with big dreams and the confidence and skills necessary to achieve them."
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