In whatever role Leah McCann has had with the Halton District School Board, her focus has always been the same: helping students achieve success in their educational pursuits.
That ongoing focus of supporting students was instrumental in McCann, the Board’s Instructional Program Leader for Guidance, Student Success, Cooperative Education, receiving the 2018 Howard R. Beattie Award for Professional Contribution
. It is presented to a person who has created new and beneficial ideas and techniques for professional use and communicated these through such means as workshops, local leadership and organization of a conference, guidance courses or executive activity.
“I am honoured and grateful to receive this award,” McCann says, also a former guidance counselor with HDSB. “I feel this award represents the collaborative nature and supportive community of guidance counsellors throughout the Halton District School Board. “In my role as Instructional Program Leader, I work to support all teachers in HDSB by aligning the needs of individual guidance counsellors, student success teachers and their schools with the multi-year plan. A lot of work is done through collaborative planning with guidance counsellors that have volunteered their time to help direct and lead this learning. This award honours the value of the team that I am lucky to work with.”
McCann was nominated for the award, a process led by Lisa Galay, guidance counsellor at M.M. Robinson High School. According to the nomination, McCann was lauded for creating Google group email conferences to encourage open communication, her partnership with the Halton Guidance Planning Council, planning and leading regional group meetings, creating pathway planning tools, and work with English Language Learner staff and itinerant teachers to ensure equity around the transition of students from Grade 8 to 9, and more.
“Leah is an outstanding guidance leader in our Board, who has enriched professional learning greatly,” stated part of the nomination. “Leah sees the leadership potential in others and builds capacity to ensure that their talents and interests are nurtured and supported to the fullest.”
McCann values the role of guidance counselors and the support they bring to students, as well as staff members and parents. Key roles of guidance counsellors include being a “listening ear” and “advocate” for student success, she says.
“Guidance counsellors support students and parents as they navigate their pathway,” she says. “They are a key support for teachers and staff in their schools. In today’s world, technology is transforming the career options and lifestyles of our students faster than ever. There is also greater awareness and a growing need to support the mental health and well-being of our students.”
McCann continues: “When I began my role as a guidance counsellor I was told that Guidance was the heart of the school. I truly believe this as we work with students, parents, and staff to support students every day.”