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Rachel Luke: Empowering students to engage beyond the classroom

Year: 2020 — Province: Ontario
Certificate of Achievement Recipient

Glenforest Secondary School
Dramatic arts and English, grades 9 to 12
Mississauga, Ontario

Not only does she constantly radiate positive energy in the school environment, but she also truly cares about the well-being of her students beyond the doors of our school. Ms. Luke never fails to encourage students to be the best versions of themselves.


Rachel Luke's connections are global. She has created multimedia online courses for students in Asia, and has taught in (and brought educational supplies to) rural villages in Cambodia and Uganda. Rachel also visited Holocaust sites to deepen her understanding of that event, and she is collaborating with an Indigenous residential school survivor to write a play based on his memoir.

Teaching approach

Rachel aims to empower students in a welcoming environment where everyone can succeed. She believes a good education is about more than academics; it also involves developing a strong character, self-respect, respect for others, and engagement in the world beyond the classroom.

In the classroom

  • Makes curriculum relevant and accessible: while studying Macbeth, students wrote stories in iambic pentameter and brainstormed modern slang equivalents for Shakespeare's vocabulary.
  • Sparks interest in STEM: helps run school's STEM team; participated in organizing national STEM conferences; gives students chances to learn coding; helps girls meet female STEM professionals.
  • Fosters leadership skills and sense of responsibility among student participants in multiple extracurricular activities: gospel choir, improv team, newspaper, talent shows, plays, commencement and drama club.
  • Illuminates the Holocaust: used virtual reality technology to allow students to follow a Holocaust survivor through a concentration camp; takes students on field trips to local survivor and education groups; brings in Holocaust survivors; school displayed an exhibition from the Anne Frank House.

Outstanding achievements

  • Personalizes English-as-a-Second-Language lessons for students, including many refugees: creates different assignments for each, depending on their abilities; is teaching them skills so they can give TED talks about their lives; helped students write recipes and shop for a potluck.
  • Assisted in developing board-wide mental health project: organized day-long workshop for drama teachers; created unit plan package so teachers could guide students in writing and performing scripts about mental health.
  • Is an advocate and role model for Black students: organizes activities for Black History Month, including plays written and performed by Black students; invites Black leaders to school as guest speakers; takes students to Black community events.
  • Reaches out to at-risk students: co-chaired boys-at-risk committee; created clubs for marginalized youth; helps at-risk students with financial literacy; made it possible for students to earn community service hours with the Raptors 905 Basketball Team.

Get in touch!

Glenforest Secondary School
3575 Fieldgate Drive
Mississauga ON  L4X 2J6

Twitter: @GlenforestSS

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