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Celebrating Excellence: Meet Our Award-Winning Educators

Celebrating Excellence: Meet Our Award-Winning Educators

This year, Blyth Academy is proud to present the CEO’s Award of Distinction for Teaching Excellence to two exceptional teachers: Ijlal Syed, our dedicated Science Teacher in Burlington, and Joshua Pornaras, our passionate English Teacher in Mississauga. This award recognizes outstanding educators who go above and beyond to inspire and empower our students. Their commitment to excellence and innovative teaching methods have left an indelible mark on our school community.

Ijlal Syed: Inspiring Minds Through Science  

“Our campus is populated by high school students who predominantly have an affinity for STEM programming. As a result, Ijlal's role on campus is a critical one. Ijlal finds creative and innovative ways to ensure the students in his classes get a robust experience in all three science disciplines - biology, chemistry, and physics.

Ijlal engages the students in a collaborative inquiry process where they work together to solve problems, create unique and functional devices, or put into practice the theoretical concepts from the curriculum they study. In his physics and chemistry classes the students build catapults and rockets and then he takes them to a greenspace nearby where they test their designs in a safe and responsible way. He finds ways to engage students in dissections, suturing clinics, and mock patient case studies so they can apply their learnings of human biology in engaging and creative ways.

"The impact of his dedication and his innovative spirit translates into consistently high enrolment in all of his classes. Even students who are not particularly inclined towards the sciences select his classes because they know his approach to teaching and learning will support their progress in the class. At our recent graduation, countless students and parents made a point of sharing with me stories of how Ijlal has had a positive influence on them or their child and how his passion for science has sparked a similar passion in them.” - Blyth Academy Burlington Principal, Dan Compagnon. 

Joshua Pornaras: Crafting Words, Shaping Futures   

“Since joining our school two years ago, Josh has been a great source of inspiration and innovation at Blyth Academy Mississauga. Collectively, he is one of the many who have had a positive impact on our students' academic careers through enhanced teaching, guided mentorship and building strong rapport, in addition to an unrelenting commitment to fostering a love for literature in the arts and humanities. He has not only delivered the curriculum in ways that engage and inspire our students but has also gone above and beyond to contribute to student life beyond the confines of the classroom.

His approach to teaching English is rooted in the philosophy that literature is a mirror to the human experience, offering students not just lessons in reading and writing, but in empathy, critical thinking, and self-expression. Rather than teaching a text in units, he dissects the class novel study and analyses throughout the course from start to finish, embedding other class texts into the critical analysis and comparison required of all English students – something of which I have never seen done and is being accomplished so well.      

Essential to this nomination is how Josh has been instrumental in integrating technology into our English and humanities curriculum, utilizing digital platforms to create interactive and collaborative learning experiences. Most recently, Josh was recognized by his work with generative artificial intelligence in the classroom with a brief nod from UNESCO’s Chief of Technology and AI in Education. Using generative AI, Josh was able to simulate a philosophical problem for students while studying and applying various philosophical theories to an ethical dilemma. This was met with great accolades from Globeducate and educators alike, highlighting our stance and mandate in working with tools of the future only to shape it.      

Beyond academic achievements, Josh has been a pillar of support for our students, offering guidance and encouragement that extends beyond class. Whether through one-on-one conferencing, support with essays, or simply providing a listening ear, he has made a significant impact on our students' personal growth and well-being. His dedication to creating an inclusive, stimulating, and supportive learning environment has been instrumental in fostering a vibrant school community where students feel valued, inspired, and motivated to be their best.  

"His contributions have not only enhanced the academic and cultural life of our school but have also laid the foundation for our students to become thoughtful, articulate, and compassionate individuals in a future world shaped and impacted by the incoming waves of artificial intelligence.” - Blyth Academy Mississauga Principal, Nic Catania 

CEO Award for Teaching Excellence Criteria

The nomination must clearly address the two award criteria as described below.

Continuing Teacher Excellence 

Since this award focuses on teaching excellence, the nomination must include evidence of strong support from students, both present and former. Continuing teaching excellence can be demonstrated by an outstanding and sustained record of teaching, including one of more of the following:  

  • Effectiveness of teaching strategies in the classroom;  

  • Evidence of student engagement;  

  • Nature of interactions with students;  

  • Enthusiasm for teaching, innovative pedagogical approaches;  

  • Ability to motivate students, capacity as a role model for personal and academic development of students;  

  • Integration of best practices in instruction and assessment with well-defined student learning outcomes;  

  • Incorporation of inclusive values into teaching and/or curriculum.

Contributions to Advancing Teaching and Learning at Blyth Academy  

Contributions to advancing teaching and learning at Blyth Academy can be demonstrated by one or more of the following:  

  • Mentoring other colleagues;

  • Collaborative initiatives at the campus or organization level to improve quality of teaching and learning at Blyth;

  • Sharing of best educational practices;

  • Course/curricular design or redesign, teaching innovation.  

Congratulations, Ijlal and Joshua! We celebrate their impact on countless lives and look forward to witnessing their continued contributions to education. As they receive this well-deserved recognition, let us applaud their unwavering commitment to shaping the future—one student at a time. 

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