By RON FANFAIR
In the past two decades, the Markham African Caribbean Association (MACA) has honoured area high school graduates annually with scholarships.
At its 23rd awards recently, the organization also paid tribute to longtime scholarship donor and international educator, Dr. Avis Glaze.
While graciously accepting the acknowledgment, Glaze – Canada’s first female Black director of education – deflected the attention and spotlight on the young academic award recipients, encouraging them to make a positive mark on Canadian society.
“You have already started by getting high marks and going on to colleges and universities,” she told the 14 recipients. “That’s important because education, I believe, is the only means of making our way as a Black community in this society. It’s going to open up so many doors for you.
“It’s also going to debunk some of the myths about our community and you are already proving everyone wrong. We are bright, we are hard working and we all want to contribute to nation building…You must be examples not only of brilliance, but of good character because we want people of character who will make our communities greater places in which to live.”
A passionate advocate for character development, Glaze has been contributing scholarships to MACA for the past seven years. She presented three last Saturday night.
“Her passion and zeal as an educator is only matched by her generosity as a person,” said motivational speaker and Becoming Achievers Seminars principal, Larry Johanson. “Not only does she give freely of her time, talent and energy, but she puts her money where her mouth is, funding scholarships for students and teachers, giving them the opportunity to acquire the skills that will position them for productive and rewarding careers, affirming the maxim that in teaching a person to fish, you feed them for life.”
Glaze donated her monetary wedding gifts – she got married in June 2009 – to five MACA scholarships she awarded last year. She also supports a bursary for studies in education at the University of Ottawa.
As Ontario’s first Chief Student Achievement Officer and founding Chief Executive Officer of the Literacy & Numeracy Secretariat, Glaze played a leading role in improving student achievement across the province.
Earlier this year, she was appointed to a five-member independent technical advisory group that will support the implementation of national standards in reading, writing and math in New Zealand.
Former York Region District School Board director Bill Hogarth said Glaze is a leader among educational leaders.
“She also has this incredible generosity of spirit,” he said. “Somehow, she’s able to transcend almost all of what the human spirit is all about. She cares and she has great, great compassion…She would also stand up for each and every student and person who she felt in some way is being unfairly judged.”
This year’s scholarship recipients are Trudi-Ann Alleyne, Efia Tekyi-Annan, Andrae Brown, Shanice Burnett, Angeliqua Grange, Chardan Howe, Victor Kofia, Faith Oduwole, Andre McIntosh, Eugene Shammwama, DeJaun Sutherland, Othniel Williams, Natasha Yard and Anthonette Erhabor.
A Milliken Mills High School graduate who is enrolled in the University of Toronto’s Health Studies program, Erhabor was presented with the Allon McKenzie memorial award bestowed on a student who best exemplifies leadership, community involvement and the best and brightest that society has to offer.
McKenzie, who founded the MACA in 1987 and served as the organization’s second president a year later – Audrey Mayer was the first – died in a tragic accident in 1995. His family launched the award in his name 11 years ago.
The MACA also paid tribute to outgoing York Regional Police Service chief, Armand LaBarge and his wife Denise, a detective sergeant with the organization, who will retire in December and January, respectively.
The YRPS has donated a MACA scholarship annually since LaBarge became its chief in 2002.