This past March, over 600 French as a Second Language and International Languages teachers from across Ontario gathered at the International Plaza Hotel in Toronto for the 2017 Ontario Modern Language Teachers’ Association Spring Conference. The event, which took place March 31 – April 1st is the largest annual event of its kind. Attendees enjoyed their choice of over 80 workshops, a keynote speech from Indigenous educator Dr. Jan Hare, networking, and outstanding professional learning from experts in second language pedagogy and peers from across the province.
The conference also celebrated leaders - and future leaders - in second language educators at the Saturday awards breakfast. Among luminaries from the Ministry of Education and the Canadian Association of Second Language Teachers who received recognition, one graduating student from each Faculty of Education who will be qualified to teach FSL or an International Language is awarded with the Helen G. Mitchell Award, in recognition of their dedication to, interest in, and passion for second language teaching.
Year Two Teacher Candidate Yanika Coto – a Junior/Intermediate FSL candidate from the Keele Campus – is this year’s outstanding recipient of this prize.
“It was an honor to receive this award and I especially want to thank James Steele who has equipped me with practices and strategies that have prepared me as a FSL teacher,” said Yanika. “The 2-year consecutive program at York has been life changing for me and I’m immensely grateful for the opportunities and for the continuous support as I look forward to a career in the profession.”
Course Director and OMLTA Conference Chair for this year James Steele explained the selection process. “We have over 70 Teacher Candidates graduating from our concurrent and new, enhanced two-year programs this year with French or Spanish as a teachable from both our Keele and Glendon campuses. It was extremely difficult to choose just one star student from this group, so between the two other FSL Course Directors and myself, we nominated nine students. Each nominee submitted a paragraph that spoke about their educational philosophies for second language teaching and how they feel that they could make a strong impact on young people in their new roles. These were judged without any identifying factors; Yanika was our clear winner from the outstanding group of nominees!”
Over 40 York Teacher Candidates also volunteered their time to assist with the conference, gaining fantastic professional learning opportunities while still students at the Faculty. “I am very proud that so many of our students took part,” said Steele, noting it was the largest group of student volunteers from any Faculty of Education by a wide margin. “Their commitment to honing their craft and engaging in professional learning is a testament to their desire to be among the best educators in the province.”