Lauren Hortie - OTIP Secondary Teacher of the Year

Document created by teachontarioteam on Jan 6, 2020Last modified by teachontarioteam on Jan 28, 2020
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In this instalment of TeachOntario Talks, we are profiling and celebrating the work of Lauren Hortie, 2018 OTIP Teaching Award recipient in the Secondary Teacher Category, at Oasis Alternative Secondary School and the Oasis Skateboard Factory in the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). 


Lauren Hortie is a teacher at the Oasis Alternative Secondary School, which is a school that offers an alternative program for students who have had trouble attending a traditional secondary school. At Oasis Skateboard Factory, at-risk youth earn secondary school credits by running a skateboard business and a professional design studio. Hortie has many years of teaching experience working with at-risk youth through project-based learning models with a focus on art and social justice.  


By co-designing the Oasis Skateboard Factory program, Lauren teaches compulsory subjects in an authentic project-based way for use with at-risk students. The Skateboard Factory offers courses with a skateboard and street art focus where students earn credits by operating a socially responsible entrepreneurial business. She has created memorable and engaging school experiences for at-risk youth for the past eight years. Lauren draws upon students’ strengths and talents to create skateboards which they then offer for sale. Lauren’s work has contributed to an ongoing 90+% course achievement rate for students who have not previously earned credits. She has helped expand the diversity of the student body by including indigenous studies, popular culture and community contact to create a safe and trusting classroom community which is inclusive and relevant to the students’ lives. This inclusivity helps under-represented students see themselves reflected in the curriculum.  


Lauren’s commitment and passion are found in the impact and success of the student projects and is evident in skateboard sales, students’ participation in local art and the popular workshops students host for other young people. This school uses an innovative business approach, they self-fund their skateboard builds projects adding another level to the student real world education experience. Self-promotion, marketing and branding are an important part of the program.  


Congratulations Lauren on the well-deserved award!