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Past Award Recipients

Past Award Recipients

2019 Award Ceremony Photo Album


Lynn Ziraldo Advocacy Award


Dr. Arlette Lefebvre

Dr. Arlette Lefebvre is an advocate, a leader and a visionary who has spent her entire career dedicated to the treatment of children with special needs. She is a child psychiatrist on staff at The Hospital for Sick Children and Bloorview Kids Rehab. Within SickKids, she consults to the Paediatric Academic Multi-organ Transplant Team, the Division of Rheumatology and she is the co-lead for the Planning My Trip to the Hospital Program, which helps pediatric patients with special needs get through difficult medical procedures.Affectionately known to her patients as "Dr. Froggie," she was the founding president of AbilityOnline, the first online network for paediatric patients, which she created in 1992. Dr. Lefebvre has been active in a long list of volunteer organizations and support networks over the years. These include the Executive of the Board of the Media Awareness Network of Canada, the board of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Canada, and the Special Education Advisory Council to the Ontario Minister of Education. Some of her awards include: Women on the Move, Women Who Make a Difference, the Easter Seal Gold Merit Award, the Variety Club Diamond Award, induction into the Terry Fox Hall of Fame, the Order of Ontario and the Order of Canada. Dr. Lefebvre is a caring and compassionate physician who infuses a sense of hope and courage in her patients, their families and her colleagues. She is greatly deserving of the Lynn Ziraldo Advocacy Award.


The President’s Award to a Partner in Education


Frances Bagley

Frances has always demonstrated dedication and commitment to the support and advancement of quality education for all students. During 35 years with the York Catholic District School Board she was a tireless advocate for students with disabilities in her role as educational assistant, teacher, administrator, superintendent of education and associate director: strategic leadership. It was Frances’ mission to eliminate all barriers for students accessing special education.  She was instrumental in ensuring that the Board's Multi-year Accessibility Plan was developed and implemented.  She also championed the Student Disability Accommodation Plan, which ensures that students with medical and physical conditions receive the necessary accommodations. Frances Bagley is a deserving candidate for this award; her outstanding career in education has always been influenced by her compassion, care and support of students with special learning needs.


Business, Agency and Community Award


Pete Mikosis - North 49 Books

As a co-owner of North 49 Books in Toronto, Pete Mikosis a staunch and outspoken advocate for employment for people with disabilities. Three years ago he reached out to offer year-roundexperiential work opportunities for students with special needs. Students from developmental disability programs in local secondary schools are provided with opportunities to experience all the jobs and tasks that a regular employee at North 49 Books would perform, including unpacking new purchases, shelving new books, filling shipping orders, operating a pump truck and breaking down empty cartons. Pete adjusts tasks to meet every student’s needs, works with students directly and tailors situations for each student. Pete believes in each student’s ability to contribute in a meaningful way to the workplace regardless of the obstacles they may face.  As a speaker at the Special 2018 Education Forum, he strongly urged others to become involved and directly invited other employers to dialogue about ways to improve post-21 employment for people with disabilities. Pete demonstrates limitless kindness, patience, care and enthusiasm with students andsays that working with people with special needs is the best part of his day! Through his efforts Pete has provided for the enhancement, awareness and employment of individuals with exceptionalities thus promoting and supporting their full participation within the community.


Paraprofessional of the Year Award (Region 1)


Mary Jo Valerio

Mary Jo is a dedicated professional who truly exemplifies the motto of the Hamilton Wentworth Catholic District School Board: “Each Belong”.  As an Educational Assistant with this district for more than 30 years she has worked in schools with students with various exceptionalities and has served on many central office teams.  As well as providing training for staff on professional activity days, Mary Jo has been involved with many teams and initiatives, including the ASET committee for the assistive technology conference and a physical activity day for high school students with exceptionalities. She is recognized for her skill and dedication to support students through challenging transitions with dignity and respect. Her commitment to students with special education needs has been her lifelong passion.  Mary Jo is a most deserving candidate for the President’s Award to a Paraprofessional in Region 1.


Paraprofessional of the Year Award (Region 4)


Juliana Puche

Juliana is always thinking of the students first and helps them to be successful.  As an Educational Assistant, she supports the transition of students with special needs into the Kindergarten classroom through Early Intervention Services. She has a keen interest in working with children, understands the uniqueness of every child and is patient, understanding and sensitive to their needs. She takes the initiative to prepare student resources such as sensory centres, visual schedules, a parent-home communication tool and token boards. Due to her efforts, students with high needs have been fully integrated in the FDK program.  As an individual who exudes a positive attitude, works collaboratively with colleagues and supports school-wide activities outside of the classroom, Juliana is truly deserving of the President’s Award to a Paraprofessional in Region 4.


Teacher of the Year Award (Region 2)


Christine Weresch

Christine contributes to the welfare of exceptional children with compassion, integrity and professionalism.  In her role as Life Skills teacher at Sam Sherratt P. S. in the Halton District School Board, she fundraised to establish a sensory room in her classroom. She promoted awareness throughout the school community about the need for sensory breaks and created a sensory walk in the front hallway of the school. As a leader and strong advocate in the school, Christine fostered awareness and understanding about students with special needs among her colleagues. She built connections within the parent community and worked closely with many agencies and professionals to ensure that students received what they needed to be successful.  She supported the transition of students to secondary school through close communication with parents and by providing multiple meetings and visits.  Christine watched her students participate in extra-curricular activities outside of school.  She facilitated the participation of her students in the Special Olympics torch run, multi-sport day and musical performances. Christine is a highly qualified, exemplary professional who is very deserving of the Teacher of the Year Award for Region 2.


Teacher of the Year Award (Region 3)


Tony Tamburro

Tony Tamburro is an outstanding educator at Charles E. Webster Public School. As the Methods and Resource Teacher, he coordinates team meetings, IPRCs and SEA claims and has many leadership roles within the school. He ensures that special education needs are at the forefront of the planning and programming at the school. Tony connects with students to ensure that each and every one of them know their strengths and the importance of the contributions that they make to the school community and the world.  He supports their well-being and academics through engaging and innovative programming, and is able to infuse technology and fun into their learning.  He was instrumental in transitioning the school from a withdrawal to an inclusive model, where students receive support in class.  Tony has contributed to building a climate of empathy, where students with special education needs are treated with kindness and caring in the greater school context and parents and staff work together to celebrate student success. His natural ability to build strong and trusting relationships with the families at C.E. Webster has resulted in a significant reduction in stigmas around students receiving special education support. Tony certainly deserves the Teacher of the Year Award, truly making a difference within the school and community.


Teacher of the Year Award (Region 4)

Kenn Kloby Award Recipient 


Timothy McCammon

Timothy is an educator who champions all students and works tirelessly to advocate for student rights and opportunity. His inclusionary practice is rooted in a respect for students, a true appreciation of effort and the belief that each student is a treasure.  He is a Special Education Resource Teacher with the ASD Community Class at Lake Wilcox Public School in the York Region District School Board, whose leadership is renowned throughout the school district. He welcomes teachers, administrators, interdisciplinary teams and support staff into his classroom to observe and discuss individualized explicit teaching and how to build a program for students with ASD. His involvement in the After School Social Skills Program, his work in OFIP and the inclusion of his students in a band that performs at various events throughout YRDSB, reflects Tim's commitment to increase opportunities for students with ASD.  For Tim, no student is out of reach. He is an educator who makes a difference, not only in the classroom, his school and his board, but in the lives of students with ASD and their families. Timothy is very deserving of the Teacher of the Year Award in Region 4.


Educational Leader of the Year Award (Region 1)


Dianne Parr

Dianne Parr is highly respected as a leader in special education in the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board and throughout Ontario. As manager of Speech and Language Services in the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board for over 20 years Dianne has been instrumental in planning and implementing staff development, including multidisciplinary teams for augmentative and assistive technology and autism.  Dianne has been responsible for the implementation of numerous pre-school programs, as well as a pre-school entry to school process which supports inclusion of young children with special education needs.  Dianne has served in many roles as a long time member of the executive of Chapter 289 Council for Exceptional Children.  A welcoming, patient and thorough educator, she knows the students and families with whom she works.  Dianne is an exemplary educational leader who is truly deserving of the Educational Leader of the Year Award.


Educational Leader of the Year Award (Region 3)

Irene Mackowski Award Recipient 


Lillian Ugrin

Lillian is an outstanding principal and a consummate professional who shows care and concern for all students.  As principal of St. Leo Catholic School in the Toronto Catholic District School Board, she worked diligently to enhance the success and well-being of students with special learning needs.  Lillian was an educator for four decades, with half of this time spent as a school administrator. Throughout her career she advocated for the inclusion of students with special needs.  She exceled in serving high needs students and their families. Her expert communication skills provided for success when dealing with sensitive and complex situations. Lillian shared her expertise and demonstrated leadership to colleagues and board staff.  In the words of a parent of a child with special needs at St. Leo, she exuded “compassion, understanding and empathy” when working with students to achieve success and inclusion. Lillian is very deserving of the honour of Educational Leader of the Year in Region 3.


Educational Leader of the Year Award (Region 4)


Angie Cabraja

Angie is a strong advocate and powerful voice for students with Autism. During the past 18 years with the York Catholic District School Board, Angie has focused on helping students with Autism in their elementary, secondary and postsecondary studies.  She has been an ASD teacher and consultant and is currently the ASD Coordinator.  Through excellent working partnerships with Autism Ontario and Kerry’s Place, Angie created transition programs for students in grade 7 and 8 and developed a summer program. Other initiatives include a Social Skills Programme for intermediate students and the introduction of a programme for high school students in Vaughan. Her collaboration with post secondary institutions has resulted in the implementation of pathways plans for students to successfully transition to college and university. Angie Cabraja’s dedication, passion and commitment make her a deserving recipient of the Ontario CEC Educational Leader Award.


Yes I Can! Parent Award (Region 3)

Hayden Desser and Christie Greyerbiehl

Hayden Desser and Christie Greyerbiehl

Hayden Desser and Christie Greyerbiehl, along with Beverley Street School administrators and fellow parents, created the Annual Dream Serenade, as a way to advocate for their school and other congregated schools, and to provide respite for families of children with special needs. The Yes I Can Parent Award recognizes the commitment, advocacy and passion of these two individuals. Dream Serenade is an annual event to raise funds for Toronto’s Beverley Street School and services for children with developmental and or physical disabilities and their caregivers. Christie and Hayden have worked tirelessly for the past 6 years planning, promoting, outreaching and bringing people together to support this wonderful event. The Dream Serenade features unique live performances and collaborations from local and international artists who generously donate their talents to this worthy cause. The reach of these show proceeds has now grown to benefit other like-minded schools in the city, support a year-round Family Relief Respite Fund and establish a Summer Bursary Fund to assist eligible Toronto-area families in accessing summer programming.  The Dream Serenade has successfully increased awareness and influenced attitudes of exceptional children and youth and supported programming and services to children and their families. Christie and Hayden are celebrated as the recipients of the Yes I Can! Parent Award for Region 3.


Yes I Can! Parent Award (Region 4)


Sarah Saif

Sarah is an advocate for integrating students with special needs with their peers and supports this process for her son and other students in his class. She is a valuable member of the Mount Joy P.S. community in the York Region District School Board, where her son, Benjamin, attends a Community Class. As an active member of the school council, she advocates for students with exceptionalities. She organizes a World Down Syndrome Day assembly, where she presents information about Down Syndrome, while building awareness and fostering inclusion of all individuals with exceptionalities. Sarah also volunteers for other events, such as the Students of Differing Abilities Athletic and Activities Meet. Thank you Sarah for being an advocate of all children with exceptionalities and allowing your passion for Down Syndrome to educate and inspire others!


Yes I Can! Student Awards - Academics


Gillian Lazaridis - Toronto District School Board

Gillian has made significant gains in her ability to participate in school life. She uses the strategy of modeling and support from her classmates to make transitions throughout the day, from one activity or location to another and from school to home.  She follows two-step directions and tasks are completed using Proloquo on her iPad, the interactive whiteboard and Task Galore boxes. Gillian also participates in circle time, lunch, recess and assemblies.  She successfully engages with learning sign language for songs. These achievements provide Gillian with a sense of accomplishment, independence and integrity. Congratulations, Gillian, on demonstrating the skills required for a Yes I Can – Transition Award.





Sarah Strawbridge - Kawartha Pineridge District School Board

Sarah’s language and literacy skills have skyrocketed in the past few years!  She reads all the time, enjoying everything from mysteries to satires. She demonstrates great perseverance and work ethic. Despite the challenge of a hearing impairment, Sarah’s growth and dedication towards academic progress, especially in the area of reading, is an inspiration to her classmates and teachers. Congratulations, Sarah, on a well-deserved Yes I Can – Academics Award.




Yes I Can! Student Awards - Arts


Daniel Martin - Hamilton Wentworth District School Board

Daniel’s openness and enthusiasm for visual arts is exceptional.  He is a patient artist who experiments with new art styles and craft activities. His many interesting art projects are displayed in the class and throughout the school.  Daniel is proud of his art work and willingly shares his creations with others. He consistently impresses both staff and students with his wonderful, creative artistic abilities.  Daniel is obviously a great choice as a recipient of the Yes I Can – Arts award.





Jiya Singh - Peel District School Board

Jiya truly has a love for the performance arts.  In her role as the lead character in a school performance of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Jiya showed great skill and talent. Her commitment, enthusiasm and confidence inspired her classmates to approach their own performances with professionalism and resulted in her becoming a mentor to her peers.   Jiya also participated in mainstream visual arts and dance classes with skill and determination during her first year in high school.  Jiya’s ability and motivation in the arts has resulted in her Yes I Can – Arts Award.





Winston Albanum - Toronto District School Board

Music and movement are a dynamic strength for Winston and one way that he willingly demonstrates his skills and talents.  Through practice singing songs he has an impressive vocabulary in American Sign Language.  His signing performance of an alphabet rap at the school talent show blew away the audience! Winston’s performance in the drum circle during African American Heritage Month on the djembe and tubano drum was very entertaining. His dance moves motivate and engage his classmates and others in the school community. Winston is very deserving of the Yes I Can – Arts Award




Yes I Can! Student Awards - School & Community Activities


Oscar Gao - York Region District School Board

Hard work has led to Colton’s success with academic and life skills. He takes ownership of his learning and shows strong resolve to self-regulate his actions. His use of assistive technology has improved his ability to communicate his ideas to others. As an important member of his class he has learned to self-advocate during challenging situations.  The Yes I Can – Self-advocacy Award is well-deserved.




Yes I Can! Student Awards - Self-Advocacy



Colton Lupton-Secord - Hamilton Wentworth District School Board

Outstanding participation within the school and community has led Oscar to be a recipient of this Yes I Can Award. Oscar has found many ways to participate in school and community life. He delivers newspapers to raise funds to assist his family with home repairs. As a Bus Looper, Library Helper, Playground Leader and a member of the Tech Team, Oscar makes a great contribution to the school community. He also eagerly demonstrates his piano skills at the school talent show and tries out for sports teams. A self-created French, English and Mandarin translation chart was shared with his classmates as a way of assisting others. Oscar is congratulated for his significant growth in the area of school and community activities.  





Denille Dime - Toronto Catholic District School Board

Denille’s courage, persistence and determination result in many successes with academic and extra-curricular activities.  She advocates to have her needs met and to fully participate in all aspects of school life.  As a student with a hearing impairment, she consistently requests accommodations and uses them in appropriate ways.  Denille effectively uses hearing aids and touch screen hearing assistance technology throughout the school day.  She even uses this technology during extra-curricular activities, such as soccer, ukulele club and skating!  She regularly displays the three step self-advocacy approach of “try by myself, ask a friend or ask a teacher”.  Denille is truly an inspiration to everyone around her.





Jericho Rodrigues - York Region District School Board

Jericho is a truly inspiring student who radiates positivity, advocates for himself and strives to be the best he can be every day. His many physical challenges do not hold him back.  Whether doing a three-legged race, break-dancing or learning a new activity in physical education class, Jericho rises to the occasion and finds a way to participate, always with a smile on his face. He does his best to remain independent and self-sufficient, while he also asks for support when needed.  Always smiling, laughing and making jokes, Jericho is a constant ray of sunshine that has an amazing impact on his teachers, family and friends every day. Jericho’s demonstration of self-advocacy is an inspiration to all who know him.  Congratulations, Jericho!





Megan Kumamoto - York Catholic District School Board

Megan is a young woman who demonstrates many self-advocacy skills as she transitions to her life after secondary school. She assumes practical responsibility for herself and ensures that others know when she needs support.  As well as advocating for herself she advocates for her peers and has been a positive role model through helping others in her Functional Life Skills class. The goal of becoming a day care support worker inspires her as she transitions to the next stage of her life and continues to advocate for herself.  Megan is truly deserving of the Yes I Can – Self-Advocacy Award.





Lochlan Gillespie - Viamonde School Board

Lochlan is a student in the Via Monde French school board in Oakville, where he eagerly shows enthusiasm for all his school activities. He has displayed amazing self-advocacy skills at school. His academic studies benefit from his application of initiative and self-discipline.  Lochlan uses meditation skills on a daily basis to further develop his self-regulation. He has assisted in presentations during important events, meetings, and celebrations at school. Due to all his hard work, he was selected to participate in the final level of a dictation competition at the Via Monde school board. Congratulations, Lochlan!




Yes I Can! Student Awards - Technology


Neil Faria - Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board

Neil’s outstanding growth with technology skills has greatly increased his independence and his ability to communicate with others. He uses his personal iPad to express his feelings, interact with his peers and teachers and demonstrate his learning. His proficient use of Proloquo2go allows him to express his choice of activities, his love of pop music and his enjoyment of favourite books. Neil’s use of assistive and adaptive technology devices and equipment makes him a great choice for a Yes I Can – Technology Award!




Yes I Can! Student Awards - Transition


Zainab Sikander - Peel District School Board 

The positive skills and traits that Zainab demonstrates have prepared her well for life after high school. She is a mentor to her peers, providing encouragement to socialize with other students at school, including participation in the Best Buddies program. She consistently supports her classmates by providing reminders about field trips, special activities and class work. Zainab continuously strives for greater independence and faces challenges with confidence, using these situations as an opportunity to advocate for her and others.  Zainab ‘s Yes I Can – Transition Award is well deserved!



Lucas Stager - Hamilton Wentworth Catholic District School Board

As a senior student in his final year of high school, Lucas has made an outstanding transition to the work environment. He is an exceptional team member of the staff at the store at which he works, eagerly following routines and completing all tasks.  He is always ready to lend a hand to his coworkers.  Lucas is an eager participant with all activities in his tech classes, which provide him with work skills.  He successfully completes oil changes, tire changes, equipment assembly and house construction.  He models safety routines in the workshop and is well accepted by his peers in the workplace and workshop.  Lucas is an exemplary student who has mastered skills which will assist him with the transition to work life.  Congratulations, Lucas!





Olin Sheikh - Toronto District School Board

Olin is becoming a strong and independent young man. He has made a variety of gains furthering his vocational skills. His work at a classroom run café has assisted him to develop specific skills, such as selling snacks and beverages, taking drinks and food orders, handling money and providing change as well as setting and cleaning up the café.  In the classroom, he is taking stock inventory, compiling grocery lists and assisting with grocery shopping. Olin has made great strides in his willingness to work. As a student who is mastering activities that lead to successful experiences in the areas of work and vocational training, Olin is a wonderful choice for a recipient of a Yes I Can -  Transition Award.





Matthew Prizzon - Toronto District School Board

Matthew has put forth significant effort to master activities that lead to successful experiences with independent living.  He demonstrates patience when interacting with his classmates and teachers.  In his Social Skills class he has shown growth with his inter-personal as well as intra-personal skills. Matthew responds well to feedback and works well independently.  He always ensures he completes his classroom work to the best of his ability.  Matthew is clearly a deserving recipient of the Yes I Can – Transition Award.



2018 Award Ceremony Photo Album


2018 Ontario CEC Awards Recipients

Adult Awards Recipient Chapter
Lynn Ziraldo Advocacy Award Tracy Odell  
Presidents Award to a CEC Member Maria Trotta Chapter 289
Teacher of the Year by Region Gabriele S. Cooney  Chapter 56
Teacher of the Year by Region Anna Boyle Chapter 289
Teacher of the Year by Region Stacey Falconer Chapter 391
Teacher of the Year by Region Derek Bunn Chapter 543
Educational Leader of the Year by Region Alana Grossman Chapter 56
Educational Leader of the Year by Region Karen Moyer Chapter 289
Educational Leader of the Year by Region Shelley Hewitt  Chapter 543
Paraprofessional of the Year Award by Region Debbie Connon Chapter 289
Paraprofessional of the Year Award by Region Tamara Perry Chapter 391
Paraprofessional of the Year Award by Region Jennifer Rajkumar Chapter 543
Subdivision or Chapter Member of the Year Dianne Parr Chapter 289
Presidents Award to a Partner in Education Richard Miraglia Chapter 543
Business, Agency and Community Award St Michael’s Anglican Church Chapter 289
Postsecondary Adult Student Award Sheri Mallabar  
Yes I Can Parent Award Karen Prizzon Chapter 56
Yes I Can Parent Award Pauline Leung Chapter 543
Kenn Kloby Award Derek Bunn Chapter 543
Irene MacKowski Award Alana Grossman Chapter 56



Yes I Can Awards Recipient Chapter
Academics Maria Bangash Chapter 543

Mariana Andre


Grey Desser

Chapter 391


Chapter 56


Mark Masamvu


Lucas Robins


Mark Wu

Chapter 56 Ontario Division of Autism and Developmental Disability


Chapter 391


Chapter 543

School & Community Activities

Joseph Del Re


Sarah Jacobs


Winston Nguyen

Chapter 543


Chapter 289


Chapter 56


Esrom Amaniel


Diego Rodriguez


Josie Vitelli

Chapter 56  Ontario Division of Learning Disabilities


Chapter 56


Chapter 543


Christian Alocada


Amrita Boodhram


Jakob May

Chapter 56


Chapter 56 Ontario Division of Autism and Developmental Disability


Chapter 289


Sebastian Carrara


William Martone


TechDudes  - Halton District School Board
William Babineau
Katherine Chadwick
Lily Dick
Andrew Donnelly
Leyton Dykstra
Jack Hillier
Mohammed Sheraz
James Waters

Chapter 289


Chapter 56 Ontario Division of Learning Disabilities


Chapter 391


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