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Recognizing inspirational secondary school educators

Last week’s Fall Convocation ceremonies saw the return of the in-person presentation of the Baillie Award for Excellence in Secondary School Teaching, which celebrates the lasting and positive impact that educators can have on their students’ journey to post-secondary education.

Two high school teachers received their award on the Grant Hall stage at their student-nominator’s convocation ceremony.

Established by Chancellor Emeritus A. Charles Baillie, the award gives students who are graduating from Queen’s the opportunity to honour a former teacher who played a formative role on their path to higher education and to Queen’s.

Rosalie Griffith, who taught biology and English at Westview Centennial Secondary School in North York, Ont., and is now the Principal at Newtonbrook Secondary School in North York, was nominated by Nana Boateng (BCmpH’22). Griffith’s experiences as a Queen’s alumna and as one of only three Black teacher candidates in the Bachelor of Education program in 1998, inspired Nana as a Black student to pursue and achieve his own goals. Nana credits Griffith’s example for several of the community roles he took on during his time at Queen’s, including following in her footsteps as a residence don.

“Ms. Griffith was a special teacher because she not only taught her students about the subject matter, but life skills and character education,” Boateng says. “As a Queen’s alum, she gave me so much advice about attending Queen’s, finding my path as a computing sciences scholar, and finding my home as a person of colour.”

Fred Bortolussi, who teaches history, political science, and Canadian and world studies in Kemptville, Ont. at St. Michael Catholic High School, was nominated by Peyton Horning (BAH’22) for bringing history to life and connecting students to both past and current events on a personal level, encouraging participation and critical thinking. Even more, she says, Bortolussi taught her how to be a lifelong learner.

He was teaching me that being a good student, a good teacher, a good human being is about soaking up all the knowledge, all the experience, all of the connections with each other that we possibly can,” says Horning. “Mr. Bortolussi is the reason I’m going to be a good teacher, because it is from him that I have learned how to learn.”

Teacher-recipients receive a financial award, a framed certificate, and recognition at convocation. Three additional 2022 recipients were recognized in the spring, at the time of their student-nominators’ graduation.

Learn more about the awards and past recipients on the Student Affairs website.