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UofGH Early Childhood Studies alumna Revlon Stoddart's road to success
UofGH Early Childhood Studies alumna Revlon Stoddart is a natural leader who is passionate about special education, utilizing technology in diverse ways, and science. She has leveraged those passions to make a difference in children’s lives. Her efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. In 2019, Stoddart was named one of the Top 100 Black Women to Watch in 2019 at the Canadian International Black Women Event (CIBWE), and also a recipient of the 2019 Elementary Teachers of Toronto’s New Member Award.
“When I received those two accolades, the first thing I thought about was gratitude,” she says. “I’m grateful for my family – my parents are very strong supporters – and for the work connections and friendships that I’ve made over the years – to achieve these awards back-to-back, it takes a village.”
Making a difference in children’s lives
Stoddart currently teaches a Grade 4/5 split as a special education teacher in an integrated model classroom. She also plans and coordinates meetings/programs for students in need of special education services at her elementary school as a MART (Methods and Resource Teacher). “This is my passion – just seeing how students really open up and develop their confidence, demonstrate excitement, engagement, and exude joy, eagerness and motivation for their learning, and how they build everyday skills like responsibility, collaboration, creativity, and initiative. I want my students to advocate for themselves and take initiative, building up students to know what will work and what will not, using problem solving skills and ultimately building confident and creative leaders.”
Stoddart serves as a Co-director of a Grade 6 program: Leadership for Innovation and Creativity at the Ontario Education Leadership Centre (OELC). OELC is a ministry initiative for students from Grades 6 to 12 located in Orillia. “What our program provides is really that starting point for our students to build from,” she says. “The program that I oversee has a sustainability focus, connection to social justice and embedded with technological and leadership opportunities for young people.”
She is also involved with a program through her school and a community partner that connects students with technology and the use of coding. “It develops 21st century learning, connecting with our history, and the First Nations peoples. Students create a game from Scratch or Twine and the project focuses on ancestral objects from First Nations peoples/Aboriginal studies; to get our students thinking about cultural awareness," she says. “Coding is a big engagement tool, getting students passionate about coding and using the technology in a way that will inspire others. It reinforces our students to develop and demonstrate empathy, appreciation and a love of others,” she says.
A strong foundation
Revlon says one reason she chose UofGH was that she liked the community feeling it offered. “I originally came from Edmonton and in researching UofGH – it was small and a relatively new campus. I had the opportunity to feel like I’m a part of a family and it wasn’t overwhelming” she says. “Also I liked the dual opportunity of getting a honours degree and a diploma. Coming to the University of Guelph-Humber was an easy choice.”
She had always had a passion for working with children, as well as the sciences and technology – in particular neuroscience and cognitive development, and wanted to participate in field practicums around her interest in the medical field. She had successful field placements at Bloorview-MacMillan’s brain injury unit with 0-6 year-old clients and their families, and shadowed a child life specialist at Etobicoke General Hospital. “For three out of my six practicums, I did exactly what I wanted to do,” she says. “Working in the medical profession in some aspect, and really connecting with children in hospital settings, and just seeing the smiles on their faces, was very rewarding,” she says.
During her time at UofGH, she was a POP leader, Senior POP leader, STAMP leader, student Senator, and actively involved in campus activities. In addition, she tutored grade 9-12 students at Humber College as a work-study student, which indirectly influenced her career path. During that time, she realized that there was a gap in students’ learning to succeed in math and science. “I would connect with students who loved science or math, however, they would check out after a period of time and they weren’t really focused on getting to the end result. I’ve always loved science and math, so in tutoring, I noticed there was a need in the schools – for students to learn strategies and skills that would get them excited about learning math and science – heighten their sense of engagement for learning.”
That led her to obtain a Master of Science degree with a focus in Special Education from the University of Guelph, and subsequently to enrol in Teachers’ College at Queen’s University. “When I looked at it from the perspective of helping young children to unearth their true potential and ignite their passion for the sciences – for math, for law, civics, whatever – that when they’re at school, they’re engaged; that was my impetus for applying to Teachers’ College and pursuing teaching.”
She says her time at UofGH helped her further develop leadership skills that she carried forward into her career. As a student, she was a UofGH student representative on the University of Guelph Senate as well as the UofGH Student Association, and won the Walter N. Vaughan Medal in 2008, which recognizes a student member’s contributions to the Senate – for student involvement and academic achievement. “UofGH really prepared me for leadership roles. I’ve always had that calling – speaking up and having a voice for the voiceless, sharing of others’ ideas and opinions was really important to me. There are so many opportunities for students to build leadership skills and build relationships,” she says.
She adds: “My personality is to encourage others, being a support and empowering others, and having the space to do that at UofGH really set the pace for my future plans and endeavours.”
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