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OISE alumna gives keynote at Asian Heritage Month Symposium for GTA students

Monica BatacMore than 300 students from the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) and Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) converged on OISE recently to participate in the 2014 Asian Heritage Month Secondary Students’ Symposium, a full-day event featuring informative and engaging workshops for secondary students to learn, understand and discuss relevant topics on Asian Heritage issues, identity, history and culture.

The students listened with rapt attention as OISE alumna Monica Batac (Master of Teaching, 2012) and Naheed Dosani, a U of T Palliative Medicine fellow who recently completed a residency in inner-city Family Medicine at St. Michael’s Hospital, offered insights gained through their own personal and professional journeys towards finding what they love to do and making it happen.

Reflecting on her experience giving the keynote at OISE, Monica says, “I’ve attended numerous conferences as a graduate student and as a teacher – quite a few at OISE. It’s been humbling, reflecting on my process and development as a student, as a student teacher, and now as an educator. Speaking at OISE in front of the students felt like I was coming full circle. We often forget to think about the history of the spaces we enter – it was really important for me to highlight the fact that where the students were sitting – once upon a time, in that very place – many of their own teachers likely sat to hear from other educators and researchers.”

Monica teaches at the Linden School, an all-girls independent school in Toronto founded on feminist and social justice principles. She has wide experience exploring various spaces in Ontario and abroad, in and outside of classrooms and schools. After returning from teaching Kindergarten at an inner city school in England, she earned a Master of Teaching (MT) degree at OISE while running a campaign in the 2012 by-election for TDSB Trustee in Ward 20, Scarborough-Agincourt.

She credits her time in the two-year MT program, in which candidates undertake advanced study in the educational sciences while simultaneously meeting the licensing requirements to teach in Ontario, for helping her refine her philosophy and approaches to education and focus on areas of interest in school leadership, innovation, and school board politics. “OISE is a special place because in this building are some of the leading education researchers, practitioners and advocates in the world. The people I met, all the critical discussions that took place in and outside these walls really shaped my perspective. I strive to have my current and future work directly linked to improving classrooms and schools. That focus began here at OISE and has been with me ever since.” she says.

After the keynote wrapped up, Monica and Naheed led an interactive session in which they shared tips on how social media is used in their respective fields of education and medicine, and discussed ways to leverage social media for authentic personal development.

"I think this was an exemplary event that really showcased the incredible cultural mosaic that is Canada. It was great to see students in their element - showcasing their cultures, sharing and learning," Naheed commented.

To mark Asian Heritage Month each year, the Toronto District School Board and the Toronto Catholic District School Board work together to host events to reflect upon the contributions of Asian Canadians, celebrate the accomplishments of many Asian heritage communities in the city and to cultivate further partnerships and opportunities to grow together.

OISE recently announced that it is phasing out its Bachelor of Education (BEd) and Diploma programs in teacher education to become an all-graduate institute of teaching, learning and research.