Stouffville, ON - Leone Andrea Izzo, a teacher at Oscar Peterson Public School, is the recipient of a Governor General’s History Award for Teaching Excellence.
This award is administered to educators who demonstrate excellence in teaching Canadian history by Canada’s National History Society. It is the country’s most prestigious history honour.
"The Governor General's History Award for Excellence in Teaching is an absolute honour. The history and the stories of Canada's past is as diverse and fascinating as its people; the history of all Canadians is valuable and worth telling. As a discipline, the study of history offers many vital skills to students in the 21st century. Thanks to my colleagues who developed this resource, students can continue to learn the important history of the No. 2 Construction Battalion,” says Izzo.
“We are so proud of Mr. Izzo and his work to highlight this important history. The classroom museum his class created in collaboration with the YRDSB Museum and Archives, helped raise awareness and understanding among students throughout our school. It’s wonderful to see his work recognized in such a prestigious way,” said Vanessa Colabawalla, Vice Principal, Oscar Peterson P.S.
Izzo is being recognized for his work leading students through the No. 2 Construction Battalion Project. Through this project students explored the untold stories of Canada’s first segregated unit and created a digital exhibition. On Remembrance Day, students turned their classroom into a virtual museum that the school community could visit.
“We were so pleased to see Mr. Izzo recognized for his work with the No. 2 Construction Battalion Project and his efforts to bring this important learning into his classroom in such an engaging way. He is such a phenomenal teacher, who is a true inspiration to not only his students, but also his colleagues. This is an important part of Canada’s history and his work has helped to broaden students’ understanding of the determination of the soldiers of this battalion, and the anti-Black racism they experienced,” said Rebekah Mitchell, Curator, YRDSB Museum and Archives.
The project relied upon classroom resources created in collaboration with York Region District School Board Museum and Archives and the support of educators Rebekah Mitchell and Christina Blake. Mitchell and Blake utilized stories, photographs, documents uncovered by historian and educator Kathy Grant and her team from the Legacy Voices Project who provided students with mentorship and hands-on experience. Learn more about the Legacy Voices Project by visiting www.blackcanadianveterans.com.
Learn more about the York Region District School Board’s No. 2 Construction Battalion Map and how Izzo worked with the Museum and Archives staff to introduce it in his classroom. YRDSB Museum and Archives also received an Ontario Museum Association Award of Excellence Honourable Mention for the No. 2 Construction Battalion Project.
York Region District School Board is the third largest school district in Ontario with over 126,000 students in180 elementary schools and 33 secondary schools. York Region students consistently perform above average in provincial testing and the Board is one of the top achievers in Ontario. For more information about the York Region District School Board, please visit the Board website and follow YRDSB on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.