Five faculty receive 2023 OISE Teaching Excellence award honours

By Perry King
April 3, 2023
teaching excellence awards 2023
This year's OISE Teaching Excellence Award winners (left to right): Heather Friesen, Zachary Hawes, Chloe Hamza, Jennifer Wemigwans, and Leslie Stewart Rose.

Teaching excellence forms a part of the cornerstone of OISE’s academic mission. Five faculty went above and beyond to standout as 2023 recipients of OISE’s Teaching Excellence Awards.

Since 2004, OISE’s Teaching Excellence Awards recognize faculty and instructors who have made significant contributions to teaching and learning in our Institute. The winners are:

  • Associate Professor Chloe Hamza, who wins the David E. Hunt Award for Excellence in Graduate Education;
  • Assistant Professor Zachary Hawes, who wins the Award for Excellence in Initial Teacher Education;
  • Associate Professor Jennifer Wemigwans, who wins the Award for Excellence in Educational Leadership
  • Associate Professor, Teaching Stream Leslie Stewart-Rose, who wins the Award for Distinguished Contributions to Teaching
  • And Heather Friesen, an OISE Continuing and Professional Learning facilitator, who wins the Award for Excellence in Continuing & Professional Learning

Winners are chosen by a committee of faculty and students who have the very difficult task of selecting the very best from a strong roster of nominees, and I am very pleased to see their hard work recognized in this important way.

“Our faculty give so much to OISE's overall academic mission, and recognizing them with our Awards of Excellence is only a small token of our appreciation for their efforts," said Professor Erica WalkerDean of OISE. “On behalf of the OISE community, I want to deeply congratulate these five – Chloe, Leslie, Jennifer, Zachary and Heather – and for their determined and thoughtful guidance and leadership inside and outside of the classroom.”

Dean Walker send special thanks to the 2022-2023 Teaching Awards Selection Committee: Michel Ferrari, Jim Hewitt, Ann Lopez, Jesse Sims, Kelly Zian Zhang, and Terezia Zoric, and to Normand Labrie, Interim Associate Dean, Programs, for chairing the selection process.

Learn about the 2022 OISE Teaching Excellence Award winners

Learn about the 2021 award winners

Learn about the 2020 teaching award winners

To learn more about each individual award, and each winner, below.

David E. Hunt Award for Excellence in Graduate Education
Winner: Chloe Hamza
Associate Professor, Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development

The Hunt Award was created as a tribute to Professor David Hunt on his retirement from OISE, to honour his 50 years of university teaching, and in recognition of his exceptional contributions to graduate education. The award recognizes faculty members for sustained contributions to teaching, supervision and mentorship of students in graduate education inspiring students to reach excellence in scholarship and become successful professionals. Winners demonstrate an ability to foster an enriching teaching and learning experience and impact on graduate students, and demonstrated excellence in teaching and supervision at the graduate level.

Dr. Hamza, the director of the CARE Lab (Coping, Affect, and Resilience in Education), has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to her students’ learning and development. Her approach to teaching is engaging and creates a learning environment that is intellectually stimulating and promotes scholarly development. Her course evaluations have been above the institutional average, which is particularly impressive, given that she also teaches in Hy-flex mode, which involves simultaneously teaching students in-person and online. In her classes, Chloe excels in using current scholarship and research on pedagogy to respond to the different learning styles and needs among students.

Her approach to student supervision is collaborative and responsive to student needs. She communicates with care and creates a positive supervisory relationship and lab experience that fosters student connectedness and well-being. In recognition of her leadership in this area, she was invited by U of T’s School of Graduate Studies to share her expertise on the development of guidelines for healthy practices in graduate supervision.

What does this award mean to you?

I am incredibly honoured to receive the David E. Hunt Award for Excellence in Graduate Education, and I am so grateful to the students, staff, and faculty who nominated me for this recognition. OISE’s vibrant and supportive academic community inspires me every day to work toward becoming a better educator (as I have so many incredible examples here)! For me, this award affirms my commitment to continuing to challenge myself to develop as a graduate supervisor and teacher, so that I can best cultivate inclusive and supportive learning experiences for students at OISE.

How do you want to pay this award forward in your work?

I am more motivated than ever to pursue pedagogical innovation in teaching, foster meaningful collaborations with students that contribute to the diversification of ideas in my research and teaching, as well as take advantage of professional development opportunities to strengthen my capacity to support students in working toward their professional aspirations. I am especially passionate about providing strong research training opportunities for students, and I look forward to continuing to collaborate with students in all aspects of the research process from conceptualizing ideas to knowledge translation. It is a privilege to work with the next generation of research-scientists! 

Award for Excellence in Initial Teacher Education
Winner: Zachary Hawes
Assistant Professor, Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development

A mathematics education and child study expert, Professor Hawes teaches in the Master of Arts in Child Study and Education program. According to his student nominators, Zack is “a transformative educator, leader, and respected member of the MA in Child Study and Education community” whose inviting personality facilitates deep learning, and critical analyses of mathematics and spatial reasoning in the educational field at large.

His faculty colleagues characterize Zack as a sought-after expert in teacher and curriculum development whose work has had a far-ranging impact on educational policy and practice, as exemplified by his authorship of seminal Ontario Ministry documents. The current breadth of Zack’s research, which ranges from qualitative studies of teacher identity to complex statistical meta-analyses, is truly inspiring for future teacher-researchers.

What does this award me to you?

It's an honour to receive this award. As all teachers know, teaching is not easy.  A tremendous amount of time, energy, planning/imagining, self-reflection (including self-doubt), empathizing, listening, learning, and all sorts of other efforts go into teaching. To hear that I was the recipient of this award means a lot. It feels good to be appreciated for one's efforts. This award also means a lot because it's a reflection of the incredible teachers and mentors that have influenced and shaped my own teaching -- especially the teachers whom I learned from when I was a student at OISE!

How do you want to pay this award forward in your work?

Teaching is an evolving and adaptive practice. I'm going to take this award and use it as a source of inspiration to continue learning and growing as a teacher. I look forward to the next challenges. 

Award for Excellence in Educational Leadership
Winner: Jennifer Wemigwans
Associate Professor, Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education

The Award for Excellence in Educational Leadership recognizes OISE faculty members who have made sustained contributions to the advancement of teaching, broadly conceived, and to educational change and innovation within and beyond the Institute.

Since joining OISE in 2018, Jennifer is a champion of academic change who demonstrates exceptional educational leadership through her contributions to curriculum development embedding Indigenous perspectives and practices within the Adult Education and Community Development program. For example, in her course the Indigenous Knowledge: Implications for Education, she uses “land pedagogy” and “experiential learning” to support Indigenous epistemology and ontology based on land as a teacher of ethical relationships and self-determination.

Her approach to teaching is holistic and collaborative encouraging students to express who they are and what they know. In this way, Jennifer honours Indigenous teachings that stress that each person has a gift and something to share, and creates an environment centered upon respectful relationships, attentiveness, and humility.

Contributing to education more broadly, Jennifer developed the “Four Directions Teachings” – an interactive resource that brings the knowledge of the elders to learning generations raising awareness of Indigenous teachings, and authored the peer-reviewed book “A Digital Bundle: Protecting and Promoting Indigenous Knowledge Online”—considered “a must read for Indigenous educators”, which identifies challenges at the intersection of new media technologies and Indigenous Knowledge, and sets standards for working with Indigenous knowledges in a respectful way.

What does this award mean to you?

This award highlights the influence, leadership, scholarship and pedagogy that centres Indigenous Knowledge education as a pillar of knowledge for graduate education at OISE.  My work on and A Digital Bundle: Protecting and Promoting Indigenous Knowledge Online (2018) is in service to Indigenous Knowledge resurgence through supporting diverse Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers in my role as a Helper.  I am extremely pleased that the award for Excellence in Educational Leadership is celebrating the sustained contribution of work that is committed to the advancement and teaching of Indigenous Knowledge Education, particularly within the field of new technologies, which speaks to innovative education models that reach beyond the institute.  Being a recipient of this award demonstrates that the work of our Elders and Knowledge Keepers is being valued, uplifted and centred, as their work and their knowledge are the Excellence for Educational Leadership in our communities. 

How do you want to pay this award forward in your work?

This award recognizes work that comes from community. My approach to Indigenous Knowledge education is rooted in Indigenous pedagogy which values a strong culture of care and innovative practices that involve a commitment to deep listening, humility, being in good relation, and building community.  Employing these methodologies is best described as a circle pedagogy.  This practice is utilized in all of my graduate classes and more recently is being sought out by other educators who want to highlight the co-creation of knowledge and understanding in their classes. In this way I hope to continue building upon these practices with my students and sharing with other interested educators. I am excited to continue my work in using new technologies to share Indigenous Knowledge Education.

Award for Distinguished Contributions to Teaching
Winner: Leslie Stewart Rose
Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning

This award recognizes OISE’s inspiring educators who have continually demonstrated a deep commitment to excellence in teaching, and have made outstanding contributions to teaching at OISE.

Professor Stewart Rose’s student nominators described her as an extraordinary teacher who masters the art of teaching, embodies the passion for knowledge, and nurtures pedagogical praxis that impacts the academic experiences of students. In her classes, Leslie creates a welcoming and democratic space where pluralism of thoughts, diversity of student backgrounds, ideas, and beliefs find a way to express themselves freely in an environment conducive to student professional and scholarly growth. 

A long-time educator at OISE, Leslie’s distinguished contributions to teaching are also evidenced by her educational leadership and exemplary service contributions. She is currently serving as faculty advisor in the OISE Student Success Centre – where her leadership contributed to the OSSC team winning the Cultivating Community Award this year. Previously, she served as director of the University of Toronto Concurrent Teacher Education Program from 2016 to 2018, and director of the Elementary Bachelor of Education from 2008 to 2013. She was also Chair of OISE Council for two years, and – since 2021 – represents OISE faculty at the University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA).

What does this award mean to you?

For me, this award is about highlighting and celebrating play-based and arts-based pedagogies. I share this recognition with my graduate/research-assistants, the teacher-candidates and educators in my OISE classrooms, and other faculty with whom I’ve collaborated, as we grapple in the process of understanding “what’s going on here?” Listening to OISE students informally and also formally through my Scholarship of Teaching and Learning research projects have helped me develop specific teaching strategies for my own courses and for them to use in their own classrooms.  I also recognize the hundreds of students in my classrooms when as a school teacher experimenting with play-based and arts-based pedagogies on “Fun Fridays” in secondary school!

How do you want to pay this award forward in your work?

I tend to work collaboratively on all my projects so that others can be an active participant in the learning in order to take responsibility in the project and apply their learning to their profession work – so that the learning continues on without me. 

I've realized through my study of play that I work in a “relationship of play” with students, colleagues, and people who consider me a mentor.  Play offers opportunities for learning in a unique collaborative relationship of care, trust, uncertainty, creativity and critique and with a focus on process. We don’t play to win, we win to play. 

When I updated my teaching statement, I recognized many people who have been with me on my journey: people who have centred love, authenticity, living in community, who are committed to authentic curriculum, and who play with me in my personal, arts, academic, and professional life!  I have much gratitude.

Award for Excellence in Continuing & Professional Learning
Winner: Heather Friesen
Facilitator, OISE Continuing and Professional Learning

Administered by the Office of Continuing and Professional Learning at OISE, this award recognizes additional qualifications instructors and course facilitators for outstanding contributions to teaching and learning in continuing education at OISE.

Heather Friesen, currently the Head of Curriculum Innovation & Professional Learning at an independent International Baccalaureate (IB) World School in Toronto, oversees teaching and learning from JK to Grade 12 and teacher professional development, and teaches IB sciences.

Since joining OISE CPL in 2015, Heather has demonstrated exceptional course facilitation skills, and built engaging online community of learners. Recognized as an inspirational leader in the International Baccalaureate community in Canada with extensive subject matter expertise and care for the learner experience, Heather serves as a resource to other CPL course facilitators, as well as to the administration team in ensuring the OISE CPL IB Certificate course exceeds the quality standards of both OISE CPL and the IB Organization.

What does this award mean to you?

I was truly surprised to learn that I am the recipient of this award. I have been so impressed by the accomplishments and contributions of others who have received this award in past years, it is an honour to join their ranks. I am grateful to the OISE CPL team for their confidence and support. This award is not just a recognition of my contributions, but it is also a reflection of the collective efforts of everyone involved in the Certificate in International Education program. I am grateful to this team for their guidance, encouragement, and support, and I see this award as a tribute to the work we do together.

How do you want to pay this award forward in your work?

The programs I am involved in at OISE connect me with educators all over the world. While I have the opportunity to share my expertise with participants, I am equally enriched as a learner through my interactions with them and reflections on their learning journeys. As an award recipient, I have the opportunity to continue to build networks and forge connections among educators and this is very exciting for me. Encouraging educators to engage in lifelong learning is a passion of mine. As a recipient of this award, I am inspired to continue to provide teachers with avenues to explore new horizons.

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