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Seven WSD educators honoured at annual reading awards

June 16, 2022
Manitoba Reading Association award winners Lucy Schnaider (left) and Fatima Ramjiawan.

A remarkable total of seven WSD educators were honoured at the Manitoba Reading Association and Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg's annual awards ceremonies.

The recent event honoured those who have made valuable contributions to literacy in Manitoba. 

Congratulations to the following:

Fatima Ramjiawan

MRA Crocus Award for Literacy: Advocacy

Fatima worked in the inner-city of Winnipeg School Division for 32 years, and as Area Service Director and School Psychology Lead for the last 18 years. Although Fatima’s field of expertise did not begin in the area of literacy, she has become one of the strongest advocates of language and literacy education in the inner-city for the last 10 years of her career. 

As Area Service Director, Fatima has worked alongside administrators and schools with Winnipeg School Division’s most vulnerable populations, and has a deep understanding of the needs of this community and the barriers they face. She has always believed that education, and specifically literacy, has the power and agency to become a social equalizer for marginalized populations, and that literacy is a social determinant of health, well-being, and life success for children and their families. 

Fatima has provided strong clinical support teams that work with administrators and educational staff to help equip students with the skills they need to be successful inside and outside the classroom. Her vision has been to invest in early childhood literacy to improve the social, behavioural and mental health of all students.

Fatima played a key role in establishing Talk to Me and Read to Me to help mitigate barriers and provide equity for inner-city students. Talk to Me is an intervention program in Nursery to Grade 1 that addresses and helps develop students’ oral language and phonological awareness skills. Starting in six schools and serving 120 students, the program is now in 20 schools serving more than 600 students yearly. Read to Me involved the collaboration of principals, Reading Clinicians, senior management and teachers to design a targeted and research-based framework that was responsive to both staff and students’ needs. Participating schools have increased from the initial three to 9 schools and from 60 students to more than 500 students any given year. Literacy results continue to be impressive.

The initiatives that Fatima has created have shifted the work of clinical services in Inner City schools, from a focus on behavioral interventions, high demands for clinical assessments and referrals to special education classrooms, to early prevention, quality investment in teaching and learning and systems change.

Lucy Schnaider, John M. King School

MRA Crocus Award for Literacy: Administrators

Lucy Schnaider is an outstanding literacy leader and principal at John M. King School in Winnipeg. For the past 20 years, she has worked as an administrator in the inner-city and was formerly an early years' educator, resource teacher and inclusion support teacher.

Lucy's gift is one of building a community of dedicated and passionate staff at her school and in her division. Lucy's unwavering commitment to the reduction of barriers and promotion of literacy education in the inner-city has resulted in leadership roles in two literacy steering committees that promote the strong development of early oral language and literacy skills.

Lucy is sought out in the division to participate on committees and initiatives. "Talk to Me" and "Read to Me" are two of these programs and are borne out of a recognition of the importance for students to build a strong foundation in early years literacy skills. Lucy understands how these early reading and writing skills impact the rest of a student's education career.

Lucy values professional learning and allocates resources accordingly, empowering her staff to become leaders in education in their own right. Lucy's integrity, compassion and commitment to literacy are what has led to her nomination.


Rosa Messina, École Victoria-Albert School

RCGW - International Literacy Association's Celebrate Literacy Award

Rosa is an extraordinary educational assistant who has made significant literacy contributions while working with a special population of students at École Victoria-Albert School over the past 23 years. Her passion for education and literacy, and her skill supporting literacy development, with newcomer students, has made a difference in the lives of many young people.

What makes Rosa stand out from her peers is her ability to connect and engage with EAL students, making them feel valued and equal to their classmates. Rosa takes time to engage these students with visuals and oral conversation to help them connect to subjects being learned and texts being read. Students are captivated by her warm demeanour, her approachable way of teaching basic literacy skills and the value she places in each of them as learners.

Rosa has worked collaboratively to run a Stage 1 EAL learner group. She made learning to read, write and speak in English accessible to the students by presenting them with a variety of hands-on tasks, special guests, and field trips to make real world connections. All her work was focused on helping students acquire the necessary literacy and social skills to be successful in the regular classroom.

Rosa is well-versed in a variety of teaching methods and best practices, closely monitoring student needs and adapting materials as needed to individualize instruction. Many times, Rosa approached the resource teacher with her own ideas or visions, which were then implemented. She took on many extra responsibilities during the pandemic and even created and ran her own Google Classroom.

Rosa volunteers her time in many ways, going far beyond the expectations of her role. She is a champion of EAL leaners and invaluable to her school and community. As she retires, her exemplary accomplishments deserve to be celebrated with this prestigious award.


Val Allan, Tyndall Park Community School

RCGW Certificate of Merit

Val has worked as a teacher for over 30 years and has taught many grades in different elementary schools. She is retiring in June but leaves behind many students and colleagues who have benefitted from her expertise.

A lifelong learner, Val inspires staff as she continues to learn and grow each year. She collects and shares wonderful ideas from different programs and is always open to trying something new. In her role as a Literacy Support Teacher, Val would prepare different lessons and activities for each class, hurry down the hallway from one room to another, all with the intention of growing literacy in the school. She loves to work with teachers and always makes you feel like their work and ideas are special and important.

Val knows all the books in the library and has spent much of her personal time at lunch helping students sort and put away the books. Need someone to brainstorm with about your book club, literature circles or reading strategies? Ask Val. Need anew read aloud for a thematic unit? Ask Val! Speaking of read aloud, this is her specialty. If you want to be inspired and develop your read aloud skills, just listen to her read and be transported to another place or time.

In the words of her nominator, "I could tell you a million things that I have learned from Val in the last 10 years. I can tell you resources, strategies, and philosophies. I think the most important thing to tell you is that Val has touched the hearts and lives of thousands of students and staff over her career. She will always be remembered. Her lessons in not only literacy, but in grace, kindness, open­ mindedness and class will never be forgotten.


Jackie Bailey, Elmwood High School

RCGW Certificate of Merit

In her 30 years of teaching, Jackie Bailey has proven herself to be an outstanding teacher leader with a wide range of skills. Jackie taught elementary for 25 years and has been teaching at Elmwood High School for the last five years. Jackie's goal is to excite and foster a love of reading and to ensure that students have a chance to share their reading experiences. She shows them how reading can expand their knowledge and understanding of all aspects of life.

Jackie has led her ELA team through consistent use of the Ontario Comprehension Assessment, using the results to develop and implement boulder, pebble and sand goals with the Learning Sprints Model. The successful Learning Sprints enhance the ELA team's discussion around student learning and contribute greatly to improvement in OCA scores and student learning over the year.

Jackie often seeks out or facilitates targeted professional learning opportunities for herself and her team based on classroom assessment data and specific student needs. After attending an ILA conference in Austin, Texas, Jackie brought her learning back to share with her team and school. The middle years ELA team has benefitted from Jackie's leadership in conducting book reviews. This has enabled them to incorporate effective ideas and tools from literacy leaders such as Lori Jamison Rog, Kylene Beers, Bob Probst, Adrienne Gear, Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher.

Jackie has collaborated on many cross-curricular thematic learning projects that help students make connections beyond the school. This is done in a culturally responsive way to include Indigenous educational practices. Jackie also enjoyed getting her students involved in the Global Read Aloud reading The Barren Grounds.

Jackie supports students to achieve at the highest level and fosters a sense of efficacy among the teachers on her team.


Ruth Jones, École River Heights School

RCGW Certificate of Merit

Ruth Jones has been a teacher and literacy leader in the Winnipeg School Division for 15 years. For the first part of her career, she worked at the elementary level, but since 2015 she has been teaching middle years.

Ruth's leadership has included spearheading and developing a Response to Intervention Framework for Reading Interventions in Grade 7 and 8 at her school. As part of this initiative, she developed and implemented school-wide growth data tracking to create visual student and classroom profiles. She also evaluated and developed regular school-wide reading screening practices for the incoming 220 students each year to identify students requiring interventions. Ruth co-designed and implemented a Tier 2 Literacy and Numeracy Foundations Resource program for Grades 7 & 8. She also performed standardized and specialized reading assessments and designed and implemented specific Tier 2 & 3 interventions based on assessments.

When it comes to writing, Ruth has collaborated with teachers division-wide to develop a writing exemplars package for Nursery­ - Grade 6. She has also created a draft writing continuum for Grades 7- 9 to extend the N-6 writing continuum for the division. This draft will be used to spearhead an official extension of the writing continuum this coming year.

Ruth supports ELA educators to meet the needs of diverse learners using principles of Universal Design by conducting assessments, co­-teaching, and using flexible groupings. She also designed school­ wide reading, writing, speaking and representing focused International Baccalaureate Global Context units for Grades 7 & 8.

Ruth's leadership and work in the field of literacy has benefitted students and teachers alike.


Krista Wilcox, River Elm School

RCGW Certificate of Merit

Krista Wilcox has been a Reading Recovery, Literacy Support, and classroom teacher at River Elm School for the past 20 years. She is an energetic teacher with a passion for literacy!

Krista advocates for the Reading Recovery program at her school. She often justifies the need and the importance of reading and writing connections to achieve student success in the program. She sees the importance of reading to your child even before their first school experience. She is often asked by her Teacher Leader to model lessons for other colleagues to observe. Krista also makes connections with the parents and invites them to observe a lesson. 

Krista is an active member of the Literacy Committee at her school. She purchases texts for the school library, literacy lab and for classroom teachers. She helps plan I Love to Read month with enthusiastic bulletin boards and featured texts. She looks for ways to make reading and writing fun for students.

As a Literacy Support Teacher, Krista often suggests literacy programs like Regie Routman, Words Their Way and Bev Tyner. She is always curious of other literacy programs like "Read to Me" that she can bring to her school. She is eager to work with classroom teachers to incorporate these literacy approaches into their literacy programs. Krista is flexible in working with reading groups in and out of the classroom. Because of Krista's diligent work with students and teachers, a great number of students have not only made progress but have also become avid readers! If Krista has five minutes to spare in her day, she will be in a classroom reading with a student.

Krista is deeply committed to ensuring that every child is a reader and writer and thus is more than deserving of the RCGW Certificate of Merit Award.

Files courtesy of MRA, RCGW and Winnipeg School Division staff

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