C.W Jefferys principal recognized for leadership

C.W Jefferys principal recognized for leadership

February 12, 2017

Just a few years before Dr. Monday Gala was promoted to principal, C.W Jefferys Collegiate Institute was in the news for the wrong reasons.

Grade Nine student Jordan Manners was fatally shot on the premises in May 2007 and six pupils faced sexual abuse charges for assaulting a Muslim girl in the school’s bathroom a few months earlier. The charges were later dropped.

In addition, a high percentage of students at the west end school were underachieving in the classroom.

The gloom started to lift after Gala was elevated five years ago.

Initiatives were introduced that allow students to complete their education through experiential learning and earn post-secondary credits and a robotics program that engages students in science, technology, engineering and maths and community partnerships has enabled a significant number of graduating pupils to secure bursaries and scholarships.

Gala and his teachers ability to motivate and engage students has also helped to sustain a high level of credit accumulation resulting in a large number of Grade 12 students pursuing post-second education.

C.W Jefferys is ranked among one of the most improved high schools in the Greater Toronto Area and the principal’s work has not gone unnoticed.

Gala is the only Black principal from across the country that made the 2017 Canada Outstanding Principals (COP) Top 40 list.

In its 13th year, The Learning Partnership’s COP program recognizes the unique and vital contribution of principals in publicly funded schools. Nominated by parents, colleagues and community members and chosen by a national selection committee, Gala and his colleagues are being celebrated for demonstrating innovation, leadership and for employing creativity in finding solutions and opportunities in their school communities.

“As a new vice-principal at C.W Jefferys, one of the things I quickly recognized is that he genuinely cares about everyone in this building,” said African Heritage Educators’ Network (AHEN) co-chair Saraya Elwin who joined the staff last September. “He’s very passionate about that. The fact that he cares so much is really exemplified in his leadership style as he connects with everyone and gets their input. Because of that, everyone is on board with what he does. He also doesn’t hesitate to share his story and experiences with everyone, so you get to know him as an individual and not just a principal. In that way, he’s not an abstract person running a high school, but someone people can relate to and you could feel his passion.”

Not wanting to take all the praise for the recognition, Gala -- who has been at the school for the last 17 years -- dedicated the honour to the school and extended community.

“The award means the world for our school community,” he said. “I am just one person at C.W Jefferys. I come in every morning, put in my time during the day and try to encourage the staff and students to work harder and do more than just our jobs. At the end of the day, it’s the staff, students and our school community that do things that are necessary and that have resulted in some of the amazing success we have seen. So, this honour is for the community of people even though my name is attached to the award.”

Trustee Tiffany Ford said Gala has been key to the school’s success.

“The latest recognition is a testament to his endurance and influence on the school community,” she pointed out. “He is an inspiration and true leader who has made enormous strides when it comes to academic success in a community that’s often marginalized.”

Last May, Gala was recognized with a Toronto District School Board (TDSB) Excellence Award.

When raconteur and entrepreneur Itah Sadu was looking for support to organize a Walk of Excellence to honour high school students in the Jane & Finch community, he was among the first to put his hand up.

“He was the first principal that said I am willing to partner with you and Education Attainment West to celebrate our students,” she said. “This is not surprising as anytime you go to his school you will always see him engaging with young people. He has a quiet dignity and is simply a fantastic educator.”

Three years ago, C.W Jefferys – with the support of then superintendent Jacqueline Spence -- launched a groundbreaking streaming pilot project.

Students who would have chosen applied streams in certain subjects were encouraged to pursue academic courses.

Spence said Gala’s absolute love of students inspires him to succeed.

“Monday engages with them in an incredible way,” she noted. “When you go to C.W Jefferys, you will hardly ever find him in his office. He is always in the hallways or classrooms. He has an amazing relationship with parents, teachers and students. When it comes to the students, he has high expectations for them, he knows they are capable and with the help of his staff, he creates an environment for them to flourish.”

Gala joined the TDSB 20 years ago after teaching geophysics and environmental science courses at the University of Western Ontario.

“While living in London, I used to follow the news in Toronto and Jane & Finch always seemed to be making negative news headlines,” he said. “I really wanted to go into that area and teach because I felt I could be impactful. When a teaching position came up, I applied and was successful.”

Prior to migrating from Nigeria, Gala taught for a decade at the Federal University of Technology where he was the physics department head for two years.

The award-winning principals will attended a five-day executive leadership training program at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and participate in a CIBC-hosted professional learning day prior to the COT gala on February 27 at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel.

“We are delighted to be celebrating these exceptional principals for their contributions to their schools and communities,” said Rod Thompson who is The Learning Partnership executive leadership programs director. “Their dedication to building and leading teams of great teachers plays a vital role in positively impacting student achievement and success and we are elated to recognize these dynamic leaders in the Canadian public education system.”

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