Recognizing educator excellence

June 05, 2024

Associate Teacher Tracie Dafoe shares a joke with the crowd after accepting her award in the Junior — Associate Teacher category.

One of the happiest events of the year returned last month as the Teacher Education office held its annual ceremony in honour of award-winning educators.

On May 8, faculty, staff, teachers, and community partners gathered at the Faculty of Education for the Educator Awards of Excellence. The event’s name is a rebranding of the annual Associate Teacher Recognition and Awards, which has expanded to also recognize Master Teacher Mentors, Alternative Field Experience (AFE) Supervisors and school communities.

Winners are selected from a pool of nominations, with more than 35 nominations submitted to this year’s event across all categories.

Truly an evening for educators, by educators, the event was emceed by Western Education’s Practicum and Community Engagement Manager Joanne Lombardi and featured live music from Year 1 Teacher Candidate Rudy Nakashima.

The special guest of the evening was Western Nursing Master’s student Demo Kaltabanis, who shared heartwarming remarks on the arduous journey he faced in pursuing education, as well as the teachers who helped him along the way.

Kaltabanis’ story was recently featured in Western University’s The Impact Project.

"This event is a highlight of our program, recognizing just some of the excellent educators who support our teacher candidates,” said Lombardi.

“Individual associate teachers, mentors, AFE supervisors and school communities at large provide nurturing and safe learning environments where our candidates can learn, grow, and flourish. The awards shine a light on extraordinary educators who play a key role in shaping our candidates to become teachers of excellence too."

Demo Kaltabanis goes in for a hug with Teacher Education Manager Clare Tattersall after delivering an emotional address.

Demo Kaltabanis goes in for a hug with Teacher Education Manager Clare Tattersall after delivering an emotional address.

Richard Auckland became a two-time winner during the event after being named recipient of the Master Teacher Mentor’s Award for Excellence. He previously won the Associate Teacher’s Award for Excellence in 1997.

Despite retiring from teaching in 2018, Auckland continues to serve future educators through the Master Teacher Mentor program. After the event, he shared what keeps him going.

“My belief is that education is a lifelong process. If I have something to offer students, I’m more than happy to share that,” Auckland said.

“I learn from the students as well, so it’s a really good cooperative experience where learn from each other and hopefully make the profession better.”

You can find a full list of this year’s winners below and you can scroll down a bit further to see photos from the event.

AFE Supervisor’s Award for Excellence



Award Category

Danielle Sirek

Faculty of Education, Western University

AFE Supervisor

Associate Teacher’s Award for Excellence



Award Category

Leanne Nagle

East Carling Public School (Thames Valley District School Board)

Primary – Associate Teacher

Tracie Dafoe

Holy Name of Mary (Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board)

Junior – Associate Teacher

Erin Dunlop

Great Lakes Secondary School (Lambton-Kent District School Board)

Intermediate – Associate Teacher

Nail Ramadan

Westminster Secondary School (TVDSB)

Senior – Associate Teacher

Master Teacher Mentor Award for Excellence

Richard Auckland

Communities of Excellence

St. Jude’s Catholic Elementary School (London District Catholic School Board)

Locke’s Public School (TVDSB)

Saunders Secondary School (TVDSB)