In this installment of TeachOntario Talks, we are profiling and celebrating the last of three winners of this year's OTIP Teaching Award for Excellence sponsored by the Ontario Teachers Insurance Plan (OTIP) and the Ontario Teachers' Federation (OTF).
In this instalment of TeachOntario Talks, we are profiling and celebrating the work of
Emily Alexandra Seiling, 2019 OTIP Teaching Award recipient in the Beginning Teacher Category, at Kitchener – Waterloo Collegiate and Vocational Institute in the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB).
“She’s very determined, hardworking, fun, organized…”
“Thoughtful, caring, kind, always looking out for people…”
“Enthusiastic, positive, self-driven, motivated…”
These are just some of the words students and staff use to describe Emily Alexandra (Alex) Seiling, a teacher at Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate & Vocational School, and the recipient of this year’s OTIP Teaching Award in the Beginning Teacher Category.
Alex is a French Immersion teacher of family studies, civics, Canadian history, careers, and families in Canada. Her approach to teaching sees her continuously striving to find creative and unpredictable ways of communicating knowledge, which her students respond well to, especially those who learn in less traditional ways. Underlying this innovative approach is a genuine care for her students and a desire to see each learner achieve their fullest potential.
This encouragement pushes students to reach out beyond their comfort zone by running activities and starting organizations that extend into the nearby community. As part of her practice, Alex forms partnerships with community groups, teachers, and educational stakeholders to provide opportunities for her students to develop their leadership abilities, increase their civic awareness and promote a global perspective.
Alex interweaves a compassionate concern for the world around her into every course she teaches and every lesson she provides, and as a result, her students have undertaken such positive initiatives as a feminine hygiene product drive that collected over 2000 items, conducted research projects to raise awareness of important causes like climate change and Indigenous peoples, and led fundraising efforts that have brought in thousands of dollars in support of organizations like KidSport and Anselma House, a nearby shelter serving women and children fleeing abusive homes. The passion and enthusiasm with which her students take on these projects never ceases to amaze Alex, and she states, “I don’t think adults engage with the community as much as some of our young people do.”
Alex’s lifelong dream of becoming an educator has been motivated by the learners who have been her guiding light. “Ever since I was a child, I loved kids,” she says. “I didn’t even think of other careers. I just knew this is what I wanted to do. I can’t even express how much I adore working with these students every day.”
And because of the high levels of genuine respect and admiration Alex displays towards her learners, Alex has herself earned acknowledgment and praise from the students and staff who feel lucky to work with her and consider her to be a leader among her peers who inspires so many. As her fellow teacher Cindy Kenning states, “I think she just doesn’t know how wonderful she is… I have two daughters and I only hope that they can be like [her].”
Congratulations Alex on the well-deserved award!