Principal of students with special needs named top educator
Dario Balca, CTV Toronto
Published Tuesday, January 26, 2016 9:06PM EST
The principal of a Toronto high school is being recognized as one of Canada’s top educators for his work with students who have special needs.
Duncan Leblanc, the principal of Maplewood High School in Scarborough, has been named one of Canada’s Outstanding Principals by The Learning Partnership, a charity dedicated to advancing public education in the country.
“I love my job,” Leblanc said. “I love coming to school.”
Maplewood is home to 200 students with complex special needs. Leblanc is being recognized for his special relationship with each of them -- whether it’s through a friendly arm wrestling match at lunch time, dressing up as Santa Claus for the holidays or walking the halls of the school in a superhero outfit.
His goal, he said, is for all of them to succeed.
“I believe that everybody deserves a quality of life and to achieve the best they can,” he said.
Leblanc comes to the experience as an educator, but also as a father. One of his four children, Will, has autism, but it hasn’t stopped the 18-year-old from reaching his goals.
Will won several medals when he represented Canada as a speed skater during the Special Olympics in South Korea.
Leblanc said his son’s success helped him realize the potential of his students.
“I saw that every student in this school is a Special Olympian in their own way,” he said.
Leblanc is heavily involved in the Special Olympics as a coach and has helped foster a relationship between the organization and the Toronto District School Board.
He has become well-known in his 26 years at the board for “his passion to make sure every kid has an opportunity not only to learn but succeed,” said TDSB trustee Jerry Chadwick.
The students’ families also say they’re thankful for Leblanc’s work.
“He brings a level of care and concern to them that is really unique and I think he gets it,” said Lori Beesley, the mother of one of the students at the school.
Leblanc is one of four principals at the TDSB who was recognized by The Learning Partnership.
With a report from CTV Toronto’s Naomi Parness