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.
Cheryl Rock, Vice 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 DDSB’s 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.
Claudette McDonald, Treasurer
Claudette is an educator with the Durham District School Board. She currently works as a Business teacher at J. Clarke Richardson Collegiate and have been engaging, developing and providing opportunities and resources for many students for the past nine years. She prides herself in providing an inclusive and welcoming classroom for my students so that the business of educating them can be done smoothly.Claudette 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. These practical experiences are transferred to my daily teaching, thus making my job easier and the students to see the relevance of preparing some of the tedious books and calculations done in accounting. She has been the Treasurer of DBEN for the past two years and holds the responsibility of ensuring that proper accounting records are kept and all financial transactions are transparent as required by law. Claudette is a team player and able to work in any environment and with people from diverse backgrounds. Her goal is to add value to the organization and contribute to its growth and development within the Durham region. It is the hope that her time with the organization will be rewarding to members and the executive team and that her skills and experience will help to grow the organization to meet the needs of the teachers, parents and students within the region.
Tanya Salmon, Secretary
Tanya is an Elementary school teacher who has been teaching with the Durham District School Board for the past 10 years. With a variety of teaching experiences at home and abroad, she holds qualifications at the Junior, Intermediate and Senior levels along with specialists in Reading and Special Education. Currently, Miss Salmon works as a Grade 5 teacher at Vimy Ridge Public School instilling a love for learning in Math, Language and French within the students she has the pleasure of teaching on a daily basis. Having been elected to the 2014-2016 Durham Black Educators’ Network (DBEN) this past June, she has taken on the role of Secretary on the Executive committee. As part of the DBEN Executive, Miss Salmon’s passion lies in further enhancing the efforts of the membership to “optimize the educational experience” of Durham students from the African, Caribbean and West Indian diaspora. Miss Salmon believes that working collaboratively with all stakeholders to meet the goals of student success and achievement will be one of the most rewarding experiences of her educational career.
Andrea Walters, Fundraising / Grant Co-ordinator
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 an Assistant Media Coordinator.
Matthew Sinclair, Social Media / Website Coordinator
Matthew has been an elementary school teacher with the Durham District School Board in Ajax for the past 6 years. He enjoys being involved in co-curricular activities including coaching basketball, serving as his school`s diversity Chair and being the lead staff member for the STAR group including attending the camp in 2009. Over the last two years he has had the opportunity to become more involved in diversity at the board level and in DBEN by being a part of several committees and teams. In 2012, he was a member of the committee that brought Dr. BarutiKafele to Durham and also presented at the 2013 And Still We Rise elementary conference on planning for your child’s future. In 2014, he was a member of the DDSB contingent who attended the NABSE conference in Detroit, presented with a small group to school trustees at a Board meeting on culturally relevant pedagogy and presented his own workshop at the 2014 Equity Institute. Through the expanded use of social media and the DBEN website, he looks forward to helping to raise awareness of DBEN online.
Tracey Grose, Social Co-ordinator
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 decent. 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. There are many great initiatives taking place in the community and she wants to ensure all students can reach their full potential and actualize their dreams.
Jennifer Seif, Media Co-ordinator
Jennifer is an Educational Interpreter with the Durham District School Board. Jennifer attended York University where she studied Linguistics and Women Studies. Jennifer completed her American Sign Language – English Interpreter training at George Brown College and later received a specialized certification in Educational Interpreting from Boystown National Research Hospital in Omaha Nebraska. In the role of Media Coordinator, Jennifer will use her strong interpersonal and communication skills to promote the goals and initiatives of DBEN. Jennifer is committed to nurturing and developing a strong network of community and business partnerships.
Members at large
Nyla John is a high school teacher in the Ajax area with a focus in the areas of Special Education, Law, History and the Social Sciences. She has served on the DBEN executive as secretary for the past two years and this year is serving in the capacity as a member at large. She has a passion for building in equity into her course curriculum and the work she does at her school and within the Board. She has also facilitated workshops at the Equity Institute for multiple years and founded a new student leadership club for Black Students at Ajax High School called Breaking Barriers. This past year she had the privilege of being trained to facilitate an Equity course for staff within the Board and hopes to use the training to contribute to DBEN initiatives with new and existing staff and students.
Janet Robinson has been teaching at the elementary level for over 19 years. She has taught all subjects and all grades, but specializes in Core French. Her husband and her three daughters are her delight. She is interested in Aboriginal culture and history and is passionate about Equity, Diversity and Social Justice. She believes that our Black students need to be given extra encouragement to “be the best they can be.” She looks forward to being a “member-at-large” this year on the DBEN executive.
Sharon Knights is a K-6 Programs Facilitator in the areas of Literacy and Numeracy for the Pickering schools. She has been in education for 21 years with the Toronto District School Board and the Durham District School Board. Sharon is a long standing member of the Durham Black Educators’ Network who continues to work with the network in various capacities. During the past seven years 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. This year she is a member at large with DBEN and is looking forward to a great year. 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”.
Margaret Lazarus is a Past Chair of Durham Black Educators Network (DBEN) and one of its founding members. Having spent the past 28 years working as a teacher at all levels of the Ontario Educational System in both the private and public systems of education and as an elementary school administrator, her goal has always been to ensure that all children learn and that student achievement is not dependent on socio-economic status, race, gender or culture. Her goal for this term’s executive is to continue to provide exceptional service to the DBEN community. Margaret acquired a B.A. in French Literature and Psychology from the University of Toronto in 1983. Her love for the French language led her to Université Laval in Quebec City where she obtained a Master of Arts degree in French Literature in the summer of 1987. Over the next twenty-eight years, Ms. Laz, as she is affectionately called, taught students of all ages–from Junior Kindergarten to OAC (formerly Grade 13) in both private and public school boards. In 1993, Margaret secured a Master of Education Degree with a focus in Educational Administration from the University of Toronto. Currently, Margaret Lazarus is Principal of Sir John A. Macdonald P.S., a French Immersion school in Pickering, Ontario.