The University of the West Indies provided the building blocks and solid grounding for Dr. Avis Glaze. The University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, on the other hand, offered the finishing touches for her to become one of Canada’s outstanding educators.
Glaze, who enrolled in the U of T in 1974, returned to her Canadian alma mater recently to receive an honorary doctorate.
She completed Master’s of Education programs in Educational Administration and Guidance & Counselling and a doctorate in Education in six years at U of T. She also taught at all level of the K-12 educational system.
Glaze, who was honoured by the university in 2008 with an Arbor Award for outstanding service, said it means a lot to be recognized by her alma mater for her achievements in K-12 education.
“OISE provided a life-changing experience in terms of challenging my mind, engaging my heart, strengthening my skills and inspiring my will to make a difference,” said Glaze who lives in British Columbia. “My education taught me to question all notions of certainty, to be more tolerant of ambiguity, to become more curious and to develop a passion for inquiry.
“My education also introduced me to global perspectives and helped me develop greater self-awareness and empathy for others. I have nothing but praise for the quality of education I received at the U of T.”
As a young girl growing up in Jamaica, Glaze decided at age 11 that she wanted to teach.
After graduating from U of T, she was an education officer with the Ontario Ministry of Education and a research officer with the province’s Ministry of Labour women’s directorate. In addition, she served on the Ontario Royal Commission on Learning and was chosen by the Canadian government to assist with education reform in South Africa.
“As an immigrant to Canada, I value the opportunities I have had to contribute positively to nation-building,” said Glaze who has extensive experience in international education and community development having worked with educators in over 20 countries. “Like so many immigrants I know, we have taken the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship very seriously. We bring with us a strong work ethic, a commitment to volunteerism and community development and a deep concern for others.
“We believe in generosity and we are empathetic towards others. We care deeply about people. We believe in volunteerism and in giving back to our community and we have learned to lift as we climb. It has been a privilege to serve at all levels of the education system. When I consult internationally, I am proud to be Canadian and I thank Jamaica for giving me an excellent foundation in terms of the best possible early start in education.”
A former York Region District School Board associate director of education and director of education with the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board, Glaze was the province’s first chief student achievement officer and chief executive of the literacy and numeracy secretariat where she played a key role in improving student achievement in the province’s schools prior to becoming Ontario’s Education Commissioner and senior adviser to the Minister of Education.
She commended Premier Dalton McGuinty for putting Ontario on the map internationally as one of the most improved systems in the world, demonstrating excellence and equity.
“International bodies such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development have praised Ontario for its success in closing achievement gaps with immigrants and other groups,” the recipient of the 2008 Sandy McDonnell Lifetime Achievement Award for Character Education, added.
Two years ago, the New Zealand government appointed Glaze to an independent technical advisory panel to support the implementation of national standards in reading, writing and math.
To help young people pursue post-secondary education, Glaze has presented scholarships to high school students for the past eight years at Markham African Caribbean Association’s annual awards. She also supports a bursary for studies in education at the University of Ottawa.
This was Glaze’s fourth honorary doctorate. The University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Nipissing University and the University of Windsor have all conferred honorary doctorates on the internationally acclaimed educator.
By RON FANFAIR