Rita Gravina, a teacher at the Bishop Strachan School, is the 10th recipient of OJEN’s annual Hux-Kiteley Exemplary Justice Educator Award.
The Hux-Kiteley Exemplary Justice Educator Award recognizes an educator in the province of Ontario who has demonstrated exceptional leadership in the area of justice education. It is named after two of OJEN’s founding board members – Justice Fran Kiteley who represented the Superior Court of Justice and was the first Board Chair, and Allan Hux, who represented the Ontario History and Social Sciences Association. The award epitomizes the collaborative relationship of the justice and education sectors that is fostered through all of OJEN’s activities.
Instilling a Sense of Personal Agency
Ms. Gravina was nominated by several of her current and former students as well as colleagues from the Bishop Strachan School. A teacher of 24 years, Ms. Gravina has taught Civics, Law, and the Equity and Social Justice courses and has guided students in implementing their own social action plans.
Students and teachers comment on her ability to stimulate engagement and enthusiasm in her classroom. She invites a wide range of speakers, such as lawyers and judges, law officers, human rights and environmental law activists, and even film producers – connecting her students to current legal and social justice work happening in their city
Through involving students in social action plans, mock trials, Model UN summits and inviting them to participate in the shaping of school policy and strategic direction, she inculcates an understanding of the responsibility and potential of democratic citizenship while instilling a sense of personal agency to make a difference. Recently she worked with students to advance greater equity and inclusivity within the diverse student population of Bishop Strachan School.
In the words of her students:
“Ms. Gravina inspires her students to care about justice as she does, teaching us that the law must be used to make the world safer and more inclusive.” — Beth Gouda
“Ms. Gravina has done an incredible job guiding us to understand the significance of law in the world, making it come alive in a way I never thought a high school course could.” — Lauren Coulson
Her leadership roles have included staff advisor and co-organizer of the You Belong Student Equity Summit, staff advisor of the Holocaust Education Committee, and co-facilitator of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. She is an advisor to. the Model UN Club and co-organizer of our 2018 Model UN Conference. Currently she advises the Bishop Strachan School Mock Trial Law Team.
In recent years, she was also a member of Transgender Policy Committee, advisor to the school’s Moral Courage Task Force, and mentored students in the Global Ideas Institute, an initiative of the Munk School of Global Affairs. Starting in the 2020-21 school year, she will begin a new role of Director of Global Learning. In this position, while continuing to teach Law, she will work closely with teachers and students to focus on ethical citizenship, social action, and social justice issues.
Ordinarily the Hux-Kiteley Exemplary Justice Educator Award would be presented at a reception during OJEN’s annual Summer Law Institute (SLI) for teachers. As a result of the current COVID-19 circumstances, however, the SLI will not happen as an in-person event this year. Alternative arrangements for the presentation are being explored.