Announcements, People

Teacher Education Office recognized for outstanding service

November 29, 2021

Back row: Rebecca Cole, Katie Mentone. Middle row: Courtney Klein, Anna Zuber, Cathy Cornett. Front row: Cindy Barnes, Joanne Lombardi

The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t stop the Teacher Education Office from continuing to provide exceptional service.

In fact, they were so successful, their efforts have been recognized with the 2021 Western Award of Excellence.

Cindy Barnes, Rebecca Cole, Cathy Cornett, Courtney Klein, Joanne Lombardi, Katie Mentone and Anna Zuber were recognized for their outstanding work with students, staff and the community.

It’s the highest level of campus-wide recognition for the exceptional performance of Western staff.

“It’s a great honour,” said Zuber. “We’ve been so focussed on working through the challenges of COVID, and this news was such an unexpected and wonderful gift.”

Full-time and part-time administrative staff are eligible for the award, and each year, faculty, staff, students and alumni can nominate individual staff members or teams.

Nominees are judged on their commitment to service and how they promote leadership and personal growth. In addition, fostering integrity and respect at work while demonstrating creativity, innovation, personal initiative and a having positive attitude are also considered.

“We respect everyone we work with and all those we support,” said Zuber. “Our common focus on working with empathy and compassion has made us such a strong team.”

Last year, the pandemic forced the Teacher Education Office to provide online support to teacher candidates, faculty and staff. Besides their regular duties, they also had to onboard two new staff members without meeting in person.

“As someone who joined the Teacher Education Office during the pandemic - from a different unit at Western - I could see the teamwork, communication and support each member of this office demonstrates,” said Klein. “This is a big part of the success that is being recognized and it’s an honour to be a part of this team.”

Associate Dean for Teacher Education, Kathy Hibbert and Education Dean Donna Kotsopoulos nominated them for the award.

The nominators highlighted how the Teacher Education Office worked tirelessly to ensure their responsibilities were met during a year of labour disruption in the province’s schools as well as the Ministry of Education’s introduction of new curriculum and a math proficiency test.

When the university shifted to online teaching and learning during the pandemic, the Teacher Education Office also adapted and responded to the needs of instructors, teacher candidates, the community and associate teachers in the roughly 44 school boards they work with across Ontario. They created new, innovative partnerships to serve historically marginalized students (e.g., working with the London Community Foundation, and local Children’s Aid Societies).

At the same time, they supported the entire Western community’s shift to online teaching and learning, created an online microcredential free to anyone ( and developed a tutoring program for the school-aged children of faculty and staff. They also promoted the inclusion of marginalized and designated people in Canada through the introduction of an equity admission process, piloting a new admissions’ tool, and engaging in systematic curricular innovation where students work together with instructors to revise the course syllabi for the upcoming year.  

The Western Award of Excellence presentation takes place in February.

Learn more about the Western Award of Excellence.