The conference will include acclaimed national and international speakers. The program will open Friday, April 14, with the Literacy Leader Awards, a networking reception, and an opportunity to explore the offerings from our exhibitors and silent auction. Christopher Such will also be on site for a book signing.
Dr. Tracy White-Weeden (President & CEO, Neuhaus Education Center) is a seasoned leader dedicated to advancing literacy success for all and academic excellence for children. She brings 28 years of experience to a calling of shaping dynamic systems-change so that children are well prepared for the realities of a 21st-century knowledge economy. White is also a relentless literacy advocate who frames literacy as a fundamental human right that transforms the family tree when evidence-based practices are scaled responsibly. Her life’s work has been to position literacy success for all as a moral imperative that creates a place at the table for every child and adult, regardless of zip code or country of origin.
Christopher Such is a primary school teacher from Peterborough, England and author of The Art & Science of Teaching Primary Reading. He has worked in education for over fourteen years, teaching reading to children in every year group from reception to Year 6. Since 2019 he has contributed to the initial teacher training program at Teach East, delivering courses on evidence-informed reading instruction and mathematics. He is currently a senior leader at Fulbridge Academy responsible for curriculum improvement and professional development.
Patricia DeGuire is a Black woman who pushes boundaries to ensure access to justice, equality and equity. She has a passion for the rule of law, and a commitment to public service, mentoring, coaching and legal education.
A member of the Ontario bar since February 1993, she is a professional adjudicator/arbitrator/mediator/coach, and was a Deputy Judge with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice – SCC Division. For over 25 years, she has served on provincial and federal tribunals, including Vice-Chair at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, the Immigration Appeal Division/IRB, and the OLRB/Pay Equity Hearings Tribunal. She has also held senior leadership roles with JusticeNet, Legal Aid Ontario, the Ontario and Canadian Bar Associations, and the WLAO. Patricia was a member of the CABL, OBA, LSUC and WLAO mentorship programs and is an avid mentor and coach for many youths and adults in the legal and other professions. She is a constitutional law scholar; holds a Fellow of Chartered Insurance Professionals of Canada – Claims Major; and is co-author and co-editor of the first Canadian Insurance Dictionary.
Patricia served in leading roles with Black North Initiative and is a founder of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers and the Black Law Student Association Canada. She also was a frequent lecturer at the Organization of Commonwealth Caribbean Bars Association International Law Forum, and with the Faculty of Society of Ontario Adjudicators and Regulators. She is the founder of the Forum for Education for At-Risk Youths, and speaks often to students at all levels of schools. Patricia’s many career honours include the BLSA-C 2021 Impact Award, Canadian Bar Association 2020 Touchstone Award, CBA Rare-Find in April 2012, and the OBA’s Distinguished Service Award in 2020. She also received Legal Aid Ontario’s 2007 GEM Award for outstanding public service for providing access to justice access for low-income individuals and communities, the 2006 Law Society of Upper Canada Lincoln Alexander Award, and the BLSAC named the cup for the Julius Alexander Diversity Moot in her honour – the Patricia DeGuire Diversity Moot Cup.
Ron Cadez is currently the Director of School and Classroom Supports for the Louis Riel School Division in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Throughout his career as a school and system leader, Ron has maintained a strong focus on literacy assessment and instruction that supports all learners. He is currently working with a team of researchers and teachers from within his school division and from across the country to support and refine the Louis Riel School Division’s implementation of universal screening and structured literacy across the division. His work in literacy has also been featured in the Journal de l’association canadienne des professionnels de l’immersion (ACPI), and by Dyslexia Canada. Ron has been a featured speaker in Microsoft’s Discovering Dyslexia webinar series, and at conferences offered by IDAO and ACPI.
Robert George is a Doctoral student at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (U of T) and practicing School Psychologist for the Louis Riel School Division in Winnipeg, Manitoba (CDA). For over 15 years he has been supporting and advocating for children, youth, and their families both in the English and French Immersion school systems. Robert has extensive understanding, training, and experience with learning disabilities, conducting bilingual psycho-educational assessments, and developing system level approaches that support diverse learning needs. His multidisciplinary collaborative projects have been recognized and featured by Microsoft Corp., International Dyslexia Association (IDA – Ontario), l’Association canadienne des professionnels de l’immersion (ACPI), Manitoba Teacher’s Society (MTS), Éducatrices et éducateurs francophones du Manitoba (EFM), Winnipeg Free Press, National Post, and Dyslexia Canada.
Kate Winn has been teaching since 2000 with the PVNCCDSB, and is currently in a kindergarten classroom. She is a passionate advocate for evidence-based literacy instruction for all students, and her IDA Ontario webinar “Structured Literacy in Kindergarten: 5 Changes That Made All My Students Readers” has been viewed by more than 7000 educators worldwide. Kate has presented to the Minister of Education, OCSOA (Ontario Catholic Supervisory Officers Association) and teacher federation representatives. Trained in Acadience Reading K-6, she was a panelist for this fall’s IDA Ontario Literacy Leaders series on assessment. Kate has facilitated professional development at PVNC and for the Niagara Catholic, Thunder Bay Catholic and Peel District School Boards, and shares education information for parents on shows like CTV’s The Social and Global’s The Morning Show and in magazines such as Today’s Parent and Parents Canada.
Leigh Fettes is a French Immersion and Special Education (Early Reading) teacher in Huntsville. She advocates for and uses evidence-based structured literacy instruction in French Immersion (and all) classrooms. She has taken LETRS (Volume 1), Orton-Gillingham for the Classroom Educator, and Reading Teachers Top 10 Tools. Last fall, she was on the teacher panel for the IDA Literacy Leaders series on assessment and screening. Leigh holds her Special Education and FSL Specialist AQs. She believes strongly in the power of universal screening, and has taken the Acadience Reading K-6 Essential Workshop, Acadience Data Introduction Workshop, and IDAPEL (French Acadience) workshop. She presented to the Minister of Education on two separate occasions with IDA Ontario about the Right to Read and Early Screening. She supports the learning of other educators as a coach for IDA Ontario’s Structured Literacy/Top 10 Tools course, and by facilitating virtual book clubs. A highlight she has enjoyed in doing this work and learning, has been connecting with other like-minded educators, from all around the world.
Nellie Caruso has been a French Immersion teacher since 1999. In addition to teaching in various elementary grades, she also spent several years working as a Literacy Coach. Nellie has completed the Orton-Gillingham course at the Classroom Educator level. In her current role, Nellie not only provides French structured literacy instruction in her classroom, but she is also actively focused on disseminating knowledge and building teacher capacity in her school and beyond. With a Masters degree in French, Nellie is passionate about the intersection of reading science research and FSL instruction. Nellie has a particular interest in using universal screening to inform instruction in the immersion context; she is trained to administer and interpret the data from IDAPEL and Acadience K-6 measures. She is currently a volunteer for IDA Ontario, showcasing her own journey with universal screening in the Literacy Leaders webinar series, and is in the process of completing LETRS training.