2019 Laura Kirby-McIntosh
Laura Kirby-McIntosh from Cawthra Park Secondary School in the Peel District School Board, became the 9th recipient of OJEN’s annual Hux-Kiteley Exemplary Justice Educator Award.
Ms. Kirby-McIntosh was nominated by three of her former high-school students Daniel Lis, Matthew Patterson and Cain Humeniuk, now attending university in law-related programs. Her nomination was supported by, Monika Mielczarek, a colleague who had been mentored by her when she was a new law teacher.
Ms. Kirby-McIntosh inspired her students with her own passion for law. In addition to her classroom teaching, she led numerous extra-curricular student clubs, including the mock trial team, social justice and advocacy groups. She is best known for her role in establishing the Charter Challenge program at Cawthra Park. This is one of OJEN’s most challenging programs – a province-wide mock appeal competition based on a mock judicial decision. Students write factums in favour of the appellant or the respondent and the winning teams on each side argue their case in a courtroom at the Court of Appeal. Ms. Kirby-McIntosh began the Charter Challenge program at Cawthra Park as an extra-curricular activity for her students several years ago. Cawthra Park teams have been consistently excellent, almost always making the semi-finals or finals.
Cawthra Park Charter Challenge teams continued to be consistently excellent even after Ms. Kirby-McIntosh passed on the responsibility for program to other teachers. By the time she handed it off, the entire school had embraced the Charter Challenge as an important annual event.
As well as teaching Law, Ms. Kirby-McIntosh often teaches Civics. Her nominators referred to the advocacy work she has done on behalf of the Autism community for many years. Ms. Kirby-McIntosh is currently the President of the Ontario Autism Coalition. As a political organizer and an advocate for a cause that is close to her heart, she is a perfect example of living the values taught in the Civics program.
According to former student and nominator, Matthew Patterson, “To Tosh, students are more than just bodies in a classroom. They are people with lives and aspirations. And she is not just a teacher. She is a mentor, a leader, and an inspiration to the hundreds of students she’s had over the years.”