Manitoba's Celebration of Excellence in Teaching

Minister's Award Recipients 2015-2016

Photo of Recipients 2015-2016

Teaching Excellence Award

Photo of Mrs. Cheryl Lynn McQueen


Mrs. Cheryl Lynn McQueen
Victory School
Seven Oaks School Division

McQueen believes in keeping a child’s sense of wonder alive and helping each student, no matter their individual abilities, find joy and excitement in learning. Her Grade 2 classroom is filled with innovative ways to engage young curious minds. She has created an imaginative learning environment that includes a special corner for “magical fairies” who communicate to the students through written notes that inspire them to learn. On any given day, her students can inquire about why the class snake sheds his skin or why a bean seed in their indoor garden sprouted faster than the others, and they can examine the hatching of stick bugs. McQueen’s inquiry-based approach develops their critical thinking and problem solving skills. Through the butterfly and ladybug project and the use of vermi-composting, she fosters scientific curiosity while also developing environmental responsibility. Her students celebrate and proudly share the yields of their indoor garden by hosting a “Saladbration” each May with their families. Through these and many other authentic, rich learning experiences, McQueen is able to successfully integrate literacy, numeracy, science and social studies, as well as creative art projects. McQueen’s exceptional ability to engage students in learning has won her the respect and admiration of her colleagues and school community.

Teaching Excellence Award

Photo of Ms. Lisa Michaluk


Ms. Lisa Michaluk
Sigurbjorg Stefansson Early School
Evergreen School Division

Michaluk’s love of learning is infectious and she instills in her Grade 1 and 2 students a spirit of discovery. Students find their voice as their interests, ideas and research are included in classroom activities to support and guide learning. A student’s dragon figurine ignited a class inquiry on dragons, resulting in a collaboratively illustrated storybook and class performance, developing creativity, communication and citizenship. Michaluk encourages critical thinking in various subject areas and provides time for exploration to develop understanding and make global connections. A ribbon-like sculpture had students discussing cancer and had them wondering what they could do to help. With their teacher as facilitator, students planned a bake sale and proudly made a donation for cancer research. Always kind and willing to collaborate, Michaluk serves on many committees and is passionately dedicated to creating an outstanding teaching and learning environment at the school. As the K-4 Literacy Teacher and ICT Facilitator, she created a school blog for sharing learning with the community, made videos to profile quality school initiatives, and implemented iPads in every classroom to enhance documentation and digital learning. Michaluk is an exceptional educator, leader, mentor and a trail blazer, who is highly respected by her peers and loved by parents and students alike.

Teaching Excellence Award

Photo of Ms. Louise Shachtay


Ms. Louise Shachtay
R.B. Russell Vocational School
Winnipeg School Division

As the head horticulturist of the Horticulture and Landscaping Department as well as being a trained horticultural therapist, Shachtay provides students countless opportunities for career development and personal growth. From hands-on urban gardening and beekeeping to plantscaping projects and offsite training on sustainable farms, students learn valuable lifelong skills as they become more aware and empathetic contributing members of society. The horticulture program is thriving under Shachtay, in part due to her warm personality and her diverse and balanced teaching methods, which she adapts to each student’s strengths and abilities. She has developed various student mentorship programs with elementary and junior high schools and the Children’s Hospital Diabetes Research Team. Through these programs, students have the opportunity to apply their learning as they teach children not only horticulture and floral arranging, but they also — with the help of Shachtay, doctors and a nutrionalist — present on diabetes, healthy living, good nutrition and aboriginal medicines. Shachtay also created a mentorship program with the Red River College’s Greenspace Management, where her students can attend classes and are exposed to postsecondary possibilities. With all these partnerships and projects, Shachtay strives to instill in students a sense of belonging, hope, and self-confidence as they work towards creating a brighter future for themselves and for the world around them.

Outstanding New Teacher Award

Photo of Ms. Colleen Dawson


Ms. Colleen Dawson
Lord Selkirk School
Winnipeg School Division

Dawson began working at Lord Selkirk School in a term position in December 2014 and quickly proved to be an asset to both her students and the school community. Within a short period of time, she distinguished herself as a new teacher. She effectively implemented new writing, reading and numeracy practices in her Grade 6 classroom, and by supporting and encouraging other teachers to do the same within their own classrooms. Dawson has also been instrumental in integrating numerous sustainable development initiatives in the school community and has elicited partnerships with local and global organizations. For example, she initiated the student-group EAT (Environmental Activist Team) and, within six months, the school was able to reduce its waste levels by 19% through recycling and composting efforts. In collaboration with local organizations, students planted two new indigenous gardens, and are working towards creating a rainwater collection system and collecting rainfall data. Due to Dawson’s energy and commitment as a new teacher in her school, students and staff are enthusiastic about making the world a better place, both inside and outside of the classroom.

Outstanding Team Collaboration Award

Photo of Mrs. Melanie Gamache, Mrs. Lesia Jensen and Mrs. Kim Merasty


Mrs. Melanie Gamache,
Mrs. Lesia Jensen and
Mrs. Kim Merasty

Dauphin Regional Comprehensive Secondary
Mountain View School Division

Gamache, Jensen and Merasty have collaboratively established a learning model that provides students with academic support through the three-tier model of the Response-to-Intervention (RTI) approach. This group of three lead the larger RTI team comprised of administration, guidance and student services staff and together they determine and implement appropriate strategies and supports for each referred student. Gamache is responsible for Tier 1 intervention and coaches teachers in differentiating instruction to meet the needs of different types of learners within the classroom. Jensen coordinates Tier 2 and provides more intensive help to students with academic and behavioral difficulties through one-on-one or small group interventions. Merasty is responsible for Tier 3, where high-need students receive intensive, individualized intervention on a regular basis. The hard work, dedication and leadership of Gamache, Jensen and Merasty have had a clear impact on school culture by directing the focus on students’ individual needs and by supporting teachers to build positive relationships with students. Teachers now feel better equipped in supporting students and collaborate effectively on student growth and progress. As a result, the school has seen an improvement in attendance over the previous year, a five-year low in student failures, a substantial reduction in student suspension, and positive results in student learning.

Outstanding School Leader Award

Photo of Mrs. Tanis Ziprick


Mrs. Tanis Ziprick
Dr. F.W.L. Hamilton School
River East Transcona School Division

Since Ziprick’s arrival in 2012 at Dr. F.W.L. Hamilton School, the staff and community have witnessed the transforming power of good, strong leadership. As principal of a Kindergarten to Grade 5 school, Ziprick embraced a school-wide behaviour matrix of “being safe, being responsible and being respectful” and was able to successfully mobilize her staff and engage the school population in creating a favourable environment for learning and personal development. She strongly believes that each individual should be empowered to develop their individual gifts and find their voice. Through her contagious enthusiasm and her commitment to this belief, Ziprick was able to unite staff around a common vision, creating a cohesive team committed to building a positive and engaging school climate where students can thrive. Under her leadership and with her support, the school has increased initiatives, inside and outside the classroom, in the areas of citizenship, mathematics, literacy, and positive behavioral intervention and supports. Leading by example, Ziprick demonstrates her persistently positive attitude and instills in the staff, students and parents the value she places on education and on each member of the school community.