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Leadership, dedication, scholarship: Learn about this year’s OISE Teaching Excellence Awards winners

Perry King and Biljana Cuckovic

April 3, 2020

Tara Goldstein, Sameena Eidoo, Robin Persad and Ann Lopez have something in common.

Each of them, faculty at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, have made enormous contributions to teaching and learning at the Institute. They are also the 2020 recipients of OISE’s Teaching Excellence Awards.

OISE’s teaching awards were established by the OISE Council, and winners are chosen by a committee of faculty and students who have the very difficult task of selecting the very best from a strong field of nominees.

Read about the 2020 Staff Excellence Award winners 

“Teaching is a core piece of OISE’s overall mission and it is so important for our community to recognize the contributions of our faculty,” said OISE Dean Glen Jones. “On behalf of the OISE community and the OISE Council, I want to deeply congratulate these four – Ann, Tara, Sameena and Robin – and for their tireless efforts inside and outside of the classroom.”

The Dean is grateful to the 2019-2020 Teaching Awards Selection Committee: Abigail Bakan, Charles Pascal, Enrica Piccardo, Creso Sá, Said Sidani, Jesse Sims, and committee chair Normand Labrie, the Associate Dean, Programs at OISE.

The Teaching Excellence Awards honour faculty and instructors in four categories: graduate education, contributions to teaching, teacher education, and continuing and professional learning.

Learn about the teaching awards and the recipients below. 

Award for Distinguished Contributions to Teaching 

Winner: Ann Lopez Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education 

The award, given to Professor Ann Lopez this year, recognizes OISE’s inspiring educators who have continually demonstrated deep commitment to excellence in teaching, and have made outstanding contributions to teaching.

Lopez, whose teaching and research focus on, among other things, social justice leadership, and diversity and equity in education, is grateful to be awarded for her contributions to teaching – and this award an affirmation of her work.

“I am truly honoured to have received this award and I am thankful to the students and colleagues who supported my nomination,” said Lopez. “I see education as a vehicle for social change and social good and teaching allows me the space to pursue these goals.

“My philosophy of teaching reflects the ideals to which I aspire as a critical educator, and reflects critical orientations geared towards creating more inclusive schools and a just society.”

She wants to continue to contributing to teaching excellence at OISE by challenging graduate students to engage critically with issues – particularly on behalf of those whose knowledge and experiences are excluded from the space.

“Engage in research that informs educational theory and practice, particularly in the areas of educational leadership and social justice education,” she said. “I believe in teaching and learning that involves students in the learning process, and creates possibilities for students to envision how they can actively work towards making education more equitable for all students.”

Award for Excellence in Continuing & Professional Learning

Winner: Robin Persad, AQ Course Facilitator, OISE Continuing & Professional Learning

The Award for Excellence in Continuing & Professional Learning recognizes outstanding contributions in continuing and professional learning programs at OISE in areas that include, among others, instruction, student mentorship, and course and curriculum development.

Robin Persad, since joining OISE Continued & Professional Learning in 2009, has been an active in course facilitation and readily involved as an instructional coach. He is not unfamiliar to awards for his work – he received a 2019 award of excellence from Continuing and Professional Learning.

But, Robin is quite humbled to receive this award.

“This means so much to me. I am a dedicated and passionate educator and to be recognized for my accomplishments makes me feel proud and honored. I am glad that my efforts are seen and acknowledged,” he said. “I have given 100 per cent to all of the courses I teach and ensure I meet OISE’s expectations. This recognition shares the impact and inspiration that I have on others and helps me realize that I demonstrate excellence.”

With this recognition, he wants to continue working hard to listen to the voices of his student candidates to support their learning needs.

“I want to share my ideas, tools and strategies to engage learners and provide professional development opportunities for staff,” he said. “I would like to collaborate in other initiatives to provide my perspective and lens. I would like to also continue sharing success stories and new ideas I have with staff.”

David E. Hunt Award for Excellence in Graduate Education 

Winner: Tara Goldstein, Professor, Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning

This award was created as a tribute to the late Professor David Hunt on the occasion of his retirement from OISE, to honor his 50 years of university teaching, and in recognition of his exceptional contributions to graduate teaching.

In that vein, Tara Goldstein, an arts-based researcher and playwright, sees the deeper meaning of the recognition bestowed upon her.

“To be nominated for this award by my students is extremely meaningful as it tells me my own graduate teaching and supervision practice has been important for my students’ growth as thinkers, researchers, educators and as people,” said Goldstein, who is also the founder and Artistic Director of Gailey Road Productions, a theatre company that produces research-based theatre on social and political issues.

Goldstein, who is also an OISE alumna, believes in a “educating for equity” teaching philosophy.  She wants to continue contribute to teaching excellence at OISE through a commitment to equity education.

“Like my colleague, the late Professor Bonnie Burstow, my commitment to equity education has roots in my Jewish upbringing which encouraged me to practice tikkun olam, “world repair,” she said.

“I will continue to contribute to teaching excellence at OISE by supporting my students in their own journeys of educating for equity, their own journeys to practice tikkun olam.”

Award for Excellence in Initial Teacher Education

Winner: Sameena Eidoo, Sessional Lecturer, Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning

This award recognizes outstanding contributions to teaching and learning in teacher education programs at OISE. Sameena was chosen based on demonstrated impact on teacher candidates and the ability to foster an enriching teaching and learning experience.

She said she is “thrilled” to be selected for the award this year.

“I believe in initial teacher education as a critical site for individual and collective change. My work in initial teacher education is heart work. Ultimately, it is for children and youth in K-12 schools,” she said.

Sameena teaches Anti-Discriminatory EducationEducational Research 1 and Educational Research 2 in OISE’s Master of Teaching Program. She also facilitates Educators of Colour in Conversation — a space she created in 2014 for future K-12 teachers who identify as Black, Indigenous or People of Colour to gather, learn and build community.

She holds a PhD in Curriculum Studies and Comparative, International and Development Education from OISE, with a research focus on the limits and possibilities of Muslim youth citizenship. Her broader scholarship reflects on transformative pedagogies and looks toward alternative futures.

With this award, she wants the continue to inspire future teachers.

“I want to continue contributing to teaching excellence at OISE by centering relational ethics, creating healing spaces, experimenting with transformative pedagogies, and dreaming just worlds with future K-12 teachers,” she said.


More OISE news

Meet this year’s OISE Staff Excellence Awards winners

Congratulations to OISE’s student leadership award winners