Two Staff Members Recognized with Grand Erie's Highest Honour


French language educator and the manager of transportation services for Grand Erie District School Board are this year's recipients of the Patti McCleister Memorial Award, recognizing outstanding contributions to leadership, camaraderie and realizing the board's vision of learning, leading and inspiring.

Above: Julie Chaplin.

"Working with students to create positive change is, in my opinion, one of the most important parts of my job, and also the most rewarding part of my professional life," said recipient Julie Chaplin, a teacher of nearly 24 years at St. George-German School and staff advisor for the school's Student Leadership Team. "I'm extremely proud to accept this award, which is a reflection of collaboration with an amazing network of people both at home and at St. George-German School, and also the legacy of Patti McCleister who I never had the honour of meeting, but know she was a remarkable person and an inspiration to so many."

In her of more than two decades at St. George-German Public School, Chaplin has quietly fostered a culture of care, compassion and inclusion among students, staff and volunteers that has extended to the local community and had a global impact. In her role guiding the Leadership students, she’s inspired countless learners over the years to understand their own capabilities in making the world a better place, raising awareness and resources for local initiatives as well as international projects that show students what’s possible as she humbly leads by example. That example has set high standards for the leadership practices of colleagues, promoting empathy and respect as cornerstones of the student experience at school.

Above: Philip Kuckyt.

"I had the pleasure of working closely with Patti while she was supporting the district's development and leadership goals," said Philip Kuckyt, manager of Transportation Services. "Her leadership style was one that I admired and focused on adopting in both my personal life and in my role with Grand Erie; I am both honoured and humbled to be a co-recipient of this year's award."

Ensuring thousands of students across the district get to and from school safely, efficiently and in an environment that sets a positive tone for their days is the tall order Kuckyt oversees each day. Doing so requires meticulous attention to detail, prompt reactions, creative problem solving, a calm approach, and ongoing learning to continuously update technology and improve practices. His leadership and involvement in Ontario-wide committees has allowed other school boards to benefit from his knowledge and experience, and his ability to motivate, model best practices, hard work, and understand what others need to succeed in their roles has resulted in a transportation team that takes the safety and well-being of students to heart.

"Each of the recipients of the Patti McCleister Memorial Award embodies a profound commitment to guiding, supporting and advocating for learners, families and colleagues for the betterment of their schools, departments and communities," said JoAnna Roberto, Director of Education, who, along with Patti McCleister's husband, Ted McCleister, Grand Erie's board of trustees and senior team, presented the awards at Monday night's Board meeting. "This award captures Patti's legacy in Grand Erie, which was one of kindness, generosity, and the ability to bring out the best in others."

Patti McCleister was Grand Erie’s Training and Development Officer, a valuable team member and an inspiration to many. She passed away in 2013. The award is given annually to the staff member(s) or team who best exemplifies these traits. Recipients are nominated by their co-workers.

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