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ETFO’s 2009 annual Meeting

The election of a new provincial executive, the introduction of full-day kindergarten, and EQAO testing were the focus of delegates’ attention and concern at ETFO’s 2009 annual meeting.

Elections occur every two years. This year delegates elected a new president, Sam Hammond. As well delegates debated and approved motions directing the federation to

  • undertake a campaign that emphasizes the importance of qualified teachers in kindergarten classrooms
  • increase public awareness of the negative effect of EQAO testing.

Newly elected president Sam Hammond said it was important to “aggressively advance” ETFO’s position on full-day kindergarten, “so that junior and senior kindergarten students will have ap rogram taught by teachers.” Having qualified teachers in the classroom for the full day is “best for children and their learning,” Hammond said.

Hammond also focused on the “burden EQAO testing places on students and teachers” and on the need to continue working to increase the funding provided for elementary students so that it equals that provided for secondary students.

Teachers are Key to Full-Day Kindergarten

On Monday August 17, just prior to the start of its annual meeting, ETFO released the results of a survey on public perceptions of full-day kindergarten. Later in the week, annual meeting delegates directed the federation to launch a campaign focusing on the importance of having a certified teacher in the kindergarten classroom for the full day.

During the 2007 provincial election campaign Premier Dalton McGuinty promised full-day kindergarten programs, starting in 2010. Once re-elected, the premier named Dr. Charles Pascal as his early learning advisor and charged him with developing a plan to implement the promise. The report that Dr. Pascal released in June did not outline a plan for full-day kindergarten; it called for childcare programs provided in schools to be added to the current half-day kindergarten program.

ETFO’s position is that full-day kindergarten means a certified teacher in the classroom for the full day. Ideally there would also be an early childhood education worker in the classroom to work with the teacher. But for ETFO the presence of a qualified teacher is key.

Parents support this position. Commissioned by ETFO, the respected polling firm Environics surveyed 900 adult Ontarians in June and July, including 323 parents of children under the age of eight. The results were statistically significant, with a margin of error of 3.3 and 5.6 percentage points 19 times out of 20 respectively.

The survey showed that the public supports full-day junior and senior kindergarten programs and, further, that these programs should be staffed by certified teachers.

The accompanying charts provide the survey results.

This survey was not the first to underscore the importance of staffing full-day kindergarten programs with qualified teachers. Nor was it the first to find that the public and parents support the concept. European countries, New Zealand, and the United States have all recognized the importance of the presence of a certified teacher for the full day. Prince Edward Island’s commission on early learning has done likewise and is recommending that early childhood educators acquire teaching credentials over a number of years. In the speech from the throne in August, the British Columbia government announced plans for a full-day kindergarten program staffed by certified teachers.

ETFO’s position paper “Moving Ontario Forward” provides the research that supports the importance of certified teachers in the kindergarten classroom. You can download it, and the full Environics report from our website,

ETFO Executive, 2009 -11

Sam Hammond,President
Sam Hammond takes on the position of federation president six years after first joining the ETFO executive. He has served one term as first vice-president and two terms as vice-president.

Hammond has a long history of federation involvement. From 1998–2003, he was the chief negotiator and grievance officer for the Hamilton-Wentworth Teacher Local. He was chief negotiator when the local’s 2,300 teacher members went through a 17-day strike/lockout in 2000.
Hammond has worked on numerous municipal, provincial, and federal political campaigns and has been a long-time member of the Hamilton-Wentworth Labour Council.

He has taught physical education and health, from junior kindergarten through grade 8 and has also taught additional qualification courses in physical education and health and in risk management at Brock University’s faculty of education.

Susan Swackhammer, First Vice-President

Susan Swackhammer assumes the position of first vice-president after serving seven years as president of the Grand Erie Teacher Local. A long-serving ETFO activist, Swackhammer was one of the founding executive members of ETFO and held the position of first vice-president from 1998 to 2000.

Swackhammer served as a provincial executive member from 2007 to 2009. She served as president of the Brant Teacher Local of the Federation of Women Teachers’ Associations of Ontario (FWTAO – one of ETFO’s predecessor organizations) from 1991 to 1995 and began serving on the FWTAO provincial executive in 1995. As a teacher with the Grand Erie District School Board, Swackhammer taught all grades, from kindergarten to grade 8.

Hilda Watkins, Vice-President
A former president of the Greater Essex County Teacher Local, Hilda Watkins served as OTF president in 2006. Prior to that, she was a member of the governing council of the Ontario College of Teachers. She has been a member of the ETFO executive since 2005 and a teacher for more than 30 years.

Maureen Weinberger, Vice-President, Female
Maureen Weinberger assumes the position of vice-president after two years as an ETFO executive member and seven years as president of the Halton Teacher Local. Weinberger has been a teacher for more than 30 years. She is committed to her local community and serves on the board of directors of Community Development Halton.

Executive Members

Rian McLaughlin
OTF Table Officer, Hamilton-Wentworth Occasional Teacher Local

Adelina Cecchin
Greater Essex County Teacher Local

Diane Dewing
Upper Canada Occasional Teacher Local

Mark Hachmer
Trillium Lakelands Teacher Local

James McCormack
Waterloo Region Teacher Local

Karen Brown
Elementary Teachers of Toronto Local

Doug Cook
Upper Grand Teacher Local

Rachel Gencey
Durham Teacher Local

Mike Lumb
Limestone Teacher Local

Deb St. Amant
Kawartha Pine Ridge Teacher Local

Delegates Contribute to the Herbie Fund
Delegates at ETFO’s annual meeting donated more than $25,000 to the Herbie Fund after hearing from TV news anchor Gord Martineau. The charity has made it possible for more than 600 children from 88 countries worldwide to obtain medical and surgical treatments at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath Addresses Delegates Newly-elected NDP leader, Andrea Horwath, spoke about the critical role of education in creating a fair and just society. She called on the McGuinty government to increase funding for programs like special education and ESL, and to increase funding for school capital budgets to upgrade facilities. She criticized the government for continuing to focus on EQAO scores and supported ETFO’s oft-repeated advice to parents: a teacher is the best person to evaluate how a student is doing in school. She also supported ETFO’s opposition to the school information finder website, a government site that compares schools on the basis of EQAO test scores.

Honorary Life Members Named
Every year ETFO awards honorary life memberships to dedicated activists and staff who have worked for the federation and its predecessor organizations. The 2009 honorary life members are: Regine Baker, former president of the York Region Teacher Local, a director of the Federation of Women Teachers’ Associations of Ontario (FWTAO); Margaret Taylor, former Peel Teacher Local activist and ETFO staff member; Robert Blackwood, former president of the Simcoe District of the Ontario Public School Teachers’ Federation (OPSTF), the Simcoe County Teacher and the Simcoe County Occasional Teacher locals; Valduhaime, former president of the Rainbow Teacher and the Rainbow Occasional Teacher locals; and Anna Huston, former first vice-president of the Durham Teacher Local.

Barbara Burkett Receives President’s Award
Every year the ETFO president bestows a special award on a person who has made outstanding contributions to ETFO. The 2009 recipient was Barbara Burkett, who retired this year after serving four years as ETFO vice-president. Burkett, a teacher for 25 years, has a long history of involvement in ETFO and its predecessor organization, the Federation of Women Teachers’ Associations of Ontario. She is past president of the Ontario North East Teacher Local and has served on numerous ETFO and local committees. Outgoing President David Clegg praised Burkett for her dedication and unwavering commitment to the principles of equity and social justice.

ETFO’s award-Winning Body Image project

ETFO has received the Canadian Medical Association’s Award for Excellence in Health Promotion. The award recognizes individuals and organizations from outside of the health sector who have made a significant contribution toward a healthy population and a healthy community.
“The CMA’s vision of a healthy population can only be achieved through the actions of all Canadians,” CMA President Dr. Robert Ouellet said in a news release. “We are delighted to present the 2009 Award for Excellence in Health Promotion to this dynamic provincial organization whose contribution to developing healthy self-esteem and body image in all children has made a difference in elementary schools across the province of Ontario.”

Reflections of Me: The ETFO Body Image Project is a schoolwide preventative program. Teachers using the program help young children develop healthy and positive attitudes toward their bodies, and self-esteem.

Research indicates that attitudes about body image begin to develop when children are as young as four or five. Negative body image and low self-esteem are far-reaching and cause recurring problems: children withdraw from social networks and do poorly in academic subjects and physical education – the very activities that could provide support and strengthen their self-esteem and provide supportive environments.

The Reflections of Me lessons encourage self-awareness and acceptance of differences while building on other anti-bullying programs.
ETFO launched Reflections of Me in 2004. Since then, trained ETFO members have been teaching colleagues around the province how to use the program in their schools.

ETFO Awards

Shannon Bailey (Creedon), Keewatin-Patricia: Humanitarian Award for an ETFO Member

Allison Belyea, Limestone Occasional Teachers: Occasional Teacher of the Year

R. J. Carter, Peel: Writer (unpublished) E Rebecca Codack, Peel: Multi-Media, WP E Marina Cohen,York Region: Curriculum Development, WP

Karen Fisk, Hastings-Prince Edward: Writer’s Award, WP (unpublished)

Daniel Grant, York Region: Multi-Media

The Hamilton-Wentworth Council of Home and School Associations (nominated by the Hamilton-Wentworth Teacher Local): Innovative Projects on Behalf of Children Living in Poverty

Charles Heller, Peel: Arts and Culture

Shazilla (Shelly) Jan, Peel Occasional Teachers: Newsletter Editor(single-sheet)

Shernett Martin, Elementary Teachers of Toronto: Writer, WP (published)

James McCormack, Waterloo Region:Local Leadership

John Payne, Waterloo Region: Newsletter Editor’s Award (multi-sheet)

Kimberly Peters, Durham: Writer (published)

Dorothy Ramsay, Simcoe County Occasional Teachers: Outstanding Role Model for Women – WP

Ricardo Rodriguez, Elementary Teachers of Toronto: New Teacher of the Year

Sister Christine Leyser, nominated by the Upper Grand Teacher Local: Women Working In SocialActivism on Behalf of Women and Children, WP

Adam Wadon, Elementary Teachers of Toronto: Health and Safety Activist

* WP designates awards funded by Women’s Program funds. Unless otherwise indicated recipients aremembers of teacher locals.

Right to Play + ETFO = Better Education for Young children

For several years ETFO has worked in partnership with Right To Play, the international organization that uses sport and play programs to improve health, develop life skills, and foster peace for children and communities in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the world.
At the annual meeting, Johann Koss, Olympic gold medal speed skater and founder of Right To Play, thanked ETFO for its support and commitment. “ETFO members have been instrumental in creating positive change on many platforms; their dedication to improving the circumstances of those less fortunate on both a local and international level is unparalleled,” said Koss.

“You’ve carved a niche for yourselves as ‘Thought Leaders’ – paving the way for innovative thinking right to Play + Etfo = better Education for young children and education, which can be used to assist children internationally who are unable to find help in their own communities.”

ETFO’s support helps provide programs and resources that especially encourage the participation of women and the development of their leadership skills.

In partnership with Right To Play and other organizations, ETFO staff officers have delivered teacher education programs in Cambodia, Dubai, and Benin. The Cambodia project, now spearheaded by the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation was featured in the June 2009 issue of Voice (read it online at

Koss pointed out that in Benin, ETFO and Right To Play have stepped in to provide assistance with early childhood education – something the country has not been able to provide to its children for 20 years. The ECE program helps reduce social inequality, Koss said: “Investing in human capital is one of the most important investments we can make, establishing a foundation for future learning. Through the implementation of ECE and ‘Play to Learn, Learn to Play’ programs, we can positively impact children’s lives by altering the trajectory of their development.”

In Benin Right To Play works in 15 preschools with over 2,000 children.

Bursaries and Scholarships

Aboriginal Women in Education Bursary, WP: Tanya Leary, York Region; Allison Lynn; Lisa Michano; Carla Vincent.

Bev Saskoley Anti-Racist Scholarship: Allina Lee, Elementary Teachers of Toronto.

Doctoral Scholarship: Antonino Giambrone, Elementary Teachers of Toronto.

Doctoral Scholarship Award, WP: Jana Duncan, Rainbow.

ETFO Bursaries – designated Groups, WP: Mary Ampomah, Elementary Teachers of Toronto; Suzy DeJesus, Peel; Kara Cherland; Natalie Gavin.

ETFO Bursaries – designated Groups: Brenda Alouache; Deena Douara; Nicole Luinenburg; Christopher Stewart.

ETFO Bursaries (Children of ETFO members): Daniel Feldberg, York Region; Valerie-Lyn Foster, Upper Grand; Caitlin Henderson, Peel Occasional Teachers; Robyn Hogan, Upper Canada; Yasmine Kherraji, Trillium Lakelands; Tamara Mervin, Elementary Teachers of Toronto; Shannon Smith, Keewatin-Patricia Occasional Teachers; Alan Stanley, Kawartha Pine Ridge; Jordyne Williams, York Region; Amy Wilson, Waterloo Region; Larissa Woods, Thames Valley; Elizabeth Young, Ottawa-Carleton.

Master’s Scholarship: Kevin Auckland, Thames Valley; Amy Jensen, Hamilton-Wentworth; Angie Ortlieb, Elementary Teachers of Toronto; Ken Overeem, Thames Valley; Valence Young, Renfrew County.

Master’s Scholarship, WP: Zaiba Beg, Peel; Melissa Jensen, Simcoe County; Tasleem Ladak-Haidari, York Region; Karen Naik, Elementary Teachers of Toronto; Tammy Pearce, Upper Grand. WP designates awards funded by ETFO’s Women’s Program.


  • To protect the collective bargaining rights of all members
  • To defend publicly-funded public education
  • To serve the needs of the membership
  • To provide for the professional development of members
  • To promote social justice in the areas of anti-poverty, non-violence, and equity
  • To support international assistance and co-operation
  • To promote the care and protection of the environment
  • To actively engage members in the Federation
  • To promote and protect the health and safety of members.