2018 – 2020 Executive Team
Cheryl Rock, Chair
Cheryl attended the University of Windsor, where she earned her B.F.A. and B.Ed. She has been a Durham District School Board educator since 2000 and joined the Durham Black Educators’ Network (DBEN) in 2005. Cheryl has a passion for arts-based approaches to ensuring critical literacy and equity of outcome, and is currently Durham District School Boards’ Equity, Diversity and Race Relations Facilitator. Within classroom and professional development settings, Cheryl continues to create opportunities for engagement through Culturally Responsive Pedagogy, and she believes in the role of a safe and inclusive school culture in reinforcing a positive climate of learning for all students. Cheryl is Co-Chair of DBEN’s annual And Still We Rise – Student Leadership Conference, and is committed to extending DBEN’s mandate and initiatives to optimize the educational experiences of students, parents, and educators representing the black diaspora.
Andrea Walters, Vice Chair
Andrea started her teaching career nineteen years ago in the Toronto District School Board, but transferred to The Durham District School Board in 1999 to be closer to her husband Steve, and children Malia and Matai. She has been an administrator for the past ten years and currently teaches the Principal’s Qualifications Program for York University. During her spare time she teaches yoga and is involved in her church.Andrea remains very passionate about equity and empowering parents and students to feel included and empowered within the school system. Andrea has presented at a couple of Durham’s Equity Conferences, frequently at the Whitby Administrators’ Meetings about the importance of Black History in schools and recently chaired and hosted the And Still We Rise Elementary conference. Andrea is passionate about Parent Engagement and breaking barriers for students and their families. She is very excited to be a part of DBEN’s Executive as Vice Chair.
Tanya Salmon, Secretary
Tanya an Elementary-level educator who has been teaching within the Durham District School Board for over a decade. With a variety of teaching experiences at home and abroad, she holds qualifications at the Junior, Intermediate and Senior levels, Specialists in Reading and Special Education as well as a Masters of Science in Education (M.S.Ed). As part of her current practice, Ms. Salmon works passionately to instill a love for learning in Math, Language and French within the students she has the pleasure of teaching on a daily basis. Blessed to have been granted re-election for another term to the Secretarial position on the Durham Black Educators’ Network (DBEN) Executive, Ms. Salmon is looking forward to utilizing her leadership skills and to participate in key DBEN sponsored events such as the annual “And Still We Rise – Elementary Edition” conference. Ms. Salmon recognizes the importance of using this platform to reach out to students, parents and the diverse group of teaching staff within the Durham District School Board (DDSB) to work with, promote and support DBEN initiatives that enhance and strengthen the community
Tracey Grose, Social Coordinator
Tracey earned her BSc. from the University of Toronto and Rehabilitation certification from York University and Seneca College. She then moved to the Atlanta, Georgia where she furthered her studies earning a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Georgia in 1996. Moving back to Canada in 2001, Tracey was hired as the first and only black social worker with the Durham District School Board. Tracey has been a member of DBEN since 2006, serving as the Vice-Chair in 2011-2012 year. She understands the importance of this organization and the role it plays in advocacy for students of African and Caribbean descent. Tracey utilizes her excellent communication skills to help DBEN to effectively present a positive message to the community it serves. In her current position she is working toward meeting the needs of students, parents and community stakeholders while optimizing the educational experience of students of African and Caribbean descent in Durham. Tracey is also very interested in ensuring that opportunities for scholarship, recognition and enrichment are shared throughout the system. She chaired the first Activating Student Success Awards recognition event in 2013 which has now become another DBEN annual event.
Claudette McDonald, Treasurer
Claudette is an educator with DDSB. She currently holds the position of Business Studies Department Head at J. Clarke Richardson Collegiate. Claudett completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting at the University of the West Indies (Mona Campus) and has practiced accounting for over fifteen years. She has been the Treasurer of DBEN for the past two years. Claudett’s goal is to add value to the DBEN organization and contribute to its growth and development within the Durham region.
Jennifer Seif, Media Coordinator
Jennifer is an adult educator with a specialty in digital technologies. Currently she is involved in research relating to digital technology and how it can be leveraged to nurture parent engagement. Jennifer is also an Educational American Sign Language (ASL) – English Interpreter with DDSB. Jennifer attended York University where she studied Linguistics and Women Studies. Jennifer completed her ASL – English Interpreter training at George Brown College and later received a specialized certification in Educational Interpreting from Boystown National Research Hospital in Omaha Nebraska. Jennifer has a rich background in cultivating and managing community partnerships and programming both front line and operational support. Her educational background in digital technologies and community based research supports the Executive’s action plan to use media and technology to better connect with the community. Its focus on the promotion of academic excellence and social well-being for students and families of the black diaspora within DDSB also aligns well with her own values as a DDSB employee, educator and parent.
Kiana Bonnick, Social Media and Website Coordinator
Kiana enjoys making things flourish, which can be seen through her positive impact at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus (UTSC) and her community. Her dedication to improving sustainability practices, campus life and peer mentorship at UTSC led her to win the UTSC Letter Awards, Green Ribbon Award and D.R. Campbell Merit Award upon graduation. Kiana has been involved with DBEN in various roles since high school. She has been an And Still We Rise student ambassador, panel speaker and was the one of first cohort of students to win the Activating Student Success Award in 2013. As a recent University of Toronto graduate, Kiana plans to do her master’s within her interests in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction to create resilient cities.
Members at large
Amanda has been teaching in the DDSB elementary school panel as a junior/intermediate teacher for the past 11 years. She currently works in Programs as a K-6 Literacy & Numeracy coach for the Pickering area. Amanda has been an active member within the network notably through her contributions to the Afrocentric Perspectives in the Classroom document, panel speaker at the DBEN recruitment night
and sat on the planning committee for the 2018 Cypher Black Male Empowerment Conference. She is passionate about ensuring that student voice and equity are prioritized factors towards their success,academic achievement and well-being.
Sharon is the Vice Principal at Bolton C. Falby Public School. She has been in education for over 21 years. Sharon is a long standing member of DBEN and continues to work with the network in various capacities. She has been involved in various parent engagement initiatives including the facilitation of the DBEN book club focused on “A Black Parents Handbook to Educating Your Children (outside the classroom)” by Baruti K. Kafele. Last year Sharon was also a part of the Activating Student Success Awards Committee. Sharon believes that all students can learn given the right amount of time, the proper tools and strategies. In the words of Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world”.
Jeff has been an educator with the Durham District School Board for over twenty years. After completing his Bachelor’s Degrees in Kinesiology (McMaster University) and Education (Queen’s University), Jeff started his teaching career at Ormiston Public School in Whitby. Jeff then moved to the secondary panel at Dunbarton High School. He taught Science and Physical Education, eventually becoming a Guidance Counsellor. He has always worked with students outside of the classroom. Jeff has coached various teams and has lead several student leadership groups. In 2007 Jeff was promoted to Vice Principal where he served in that role at Pine Ridge Secondary School, Dunbarton High School and Eastdale Collegiate and Vocational Institute. Jeff was promoted to Principal in 2016 and is currently at J. Clarke Richardson Collegiate in Ajax. Jeff has been a longtime member of DBEN and has always promoted Equitable Practices and Excellence. He feels that schools must create lasting partnerships with their students, families and community partners.
Camille is an educator, an ally and an agent of change for all students, staff, and community members. Currently, she is involved in educational research focused on mathematics and marginalized students. Camille actively teaches in the Elementary panel in Whitby and has taught in Durham Region for several years. Camille is also very interested in working collaboratively to provide innovative
opportunities to promote STEM as a viable option for racialized youth.
Michel is an experienced teacher, who is currently on a Long Term Occasional assignment, with DDSB. Michel began her teaching career in Linstead, Saint Catherine, Jamaica, where she taught in the Primary and Junior division for over 16 years at Ewarton Primary School. She holds a Bachelors of Arts (Hon) in Guidance and Counselling from the International University of the Caribbean, a Diploma in Education from St. Joseph’s Teachers’ College, Kingston, Jamaica, where she specialized in Reading and Art. Since emigrating to Canada, she has completed her Special Education Specialist AQ, and is currently working towards her Mathematics Specialist. In her current LTO position, she serves as the Equity Lead, is a member of the School Improvement Team, and is a recipient of a MISA grant for “teaching math outside the classroom” to a group of grade 6 students who all identify as male. She is inspired by the philosophy of Rita Pierson, which states that “Every child deserves a champion: an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become
the best that they can possibly be”.
Eleanor McIntosh, Chair
Eleanor has been positive influence in the field of education for over 10 years. Completing two years working overseas, Eleanor returned home to continue her pursuits in the
profession. Since returning, she has worked at the both the elementary and secondary levels of the public school system in the Durham region as a classroom teacher in the areas of Mathematics and Science (namely Chemistry). During her time in the classroom she supported a range of students from a variety of diverse ethnic and academic backgrounds; teaching locally developed, applied and college course as well as classes at the academic and university level. Eleanor participated actively in the lives of students outside of the classroom as a basketball and track and field coach, mentor, and teacher chaperone on numerous international excursions. After six years in the classroom, she launched her career forward into the administrative realm, where she has spent the last six years of her career as a secondary Vice Principal. In this role, she has worn many hats including counsellor, teacher-mentor, and lead learner. She has experience in the areas of Special Education, Mathematics curriculum and instruction, Equity and Inclusive Education, Parent Engagement, as well as Safe Schools. Eleanor currently holds the position of Administrative Officer for the Ajax and Pickering Schools with the Durham District School Board. Eleanor is one of the founding members of the Durham Black Educators’ Network since its inception in 2004. She has held executive positions of Treasurer and Vice-Chair throughout this time. As an active member she has served on many committees in both lead and support roles, including the annual And Still We Rise high school student conference and elementary family heritage day and Activating Success student awards. Eleanor has also been a regular delegate of the organization at the National Alliance of Black School Educators’ Conference held annually in cities across the United States.