Alicia Gunn

Oakridge Public School


In the category of Beginning Teacher, the honour goes to Alicia Gunn.

At the time of nomination, Alicia Gunn was a Grade 3 teacher at Oakridge Public School in Mississauga. Although she is teaching elsewhere now, her legacy at Oakridge will live on through the phenomenal programs she implemented.

To understand her contribution, we have to look at the community in which she worked.

Oakridge has 260 students from kindergarten to Grade 6. Many of those students are new immigrants with no English language skills. A 2006 survey showed 86 percent of the Grade 3 children were ESL students. In addition to language as a barrier to participation in their children’s education, many of the school’s families have a physical barrier as well. Almost 90 percent of Oakridge’s students are bussed to school and there is no public transit link from the apartments where most of the children live. The parents simply cannot connect with the school.

None of that would stop Ms Gunn from keeping the kids active and engaged. With a colleague, she formed the Oakridge Community Action Committee. She became a seasoned grant-proposal writer and got an after-school program started. As a result, students have been introduced to swimming, soccer, tennis and playground games. For many of the students, these were completely new experiences. She’s arranged to have skates sharpened and helmets supplied. And to ensure everyone has a chance to participate, she arranged for transportation back to the apartment complex, too.

You'll be exhausted just watching Alicia in action.

Ms Gunn doesn’t slow down inside the classroom either. Her principal calls her teaching “innovative and creative”. She uses a hands-on approach to learning and allows time for experimenting. A teacher of social justice, she selects an “ism” each month and works with her students on understanding the principals of respect, cooperation and common sense.

She organized floor hockey and basketball, Flag Day, Remembrance Day and Code of Conduct assemblies and is a leader in Daily Physical Activity programs.

Watch her in action in this video.