In this instalment of TeachOntario Talks, we are profiling and celebrating the work of Jeff White, OTIP Teaching Award recipient in the Beginning Teacher Category, at St. Ignatius of Loyola Catholic Secondary School in the Halton Catholic District School Board (HCDSB).
Although Jeff is just starting his teaching career, he stands out as an exceptional educator. After 30 years in the restaurant business, Jeff decided to embark on a new path as a teacher to share his breadth of knowledge with students. With help from a team of local chefs and managers, Jeff provides his students with real-life working experience and the knowledge of running a restaurant. To further the hands-on work experience, Jeff’s students are working toward opening a full -service restaurant at the school by the end of the semester.
Jeff’s students describe the level of engagement and energy that exists in the classroom as one that invites them to be active participants in their learning. As they learn about cookery and nutrition, they are also learning about themselves as learners and being part of a cohesive team.
Jeff embeds well-being and goal-setting in the classroom. He incorporates progressive practices such as motivational words, stories from the field and open discussion to develop students’ belief in themselves as learners. Jeff describes his classroom as “the number one thing you have to do is have a connection with the students, get to know the kids, get to know their backgrounds, what’s important to them, what they’re looking to achieve, and when you have that relationship established you create that environment where it’s positive and everybody is ready to learn and help get to their goals.”
Jeff is also a Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) lead teacher and creates pathways for students wishing to pursue culinary careers. To date, he has placed over thirty-five students in jobs in the community. His newest project, with the help from an Indigenous chef, is creating dishes native to Canada in the school’s restaurant to integrate Indigenous Studies into the classroom. Congratulations Jeff on the well-deserved award!