>> What attendees say <<
I have always been passionate about learning. As an educator I have always looked beyond the experience to the meaning. Education, I believe, is built on an ongoing, passionate, involving conversation; a conversation that includes children, educators, parents, families, friends, and community members. If education is to become truly inclusive we - all of us - have to have the capacity to make some significant changes. We have to think about what we do - or don't do - that will result in the best possible learning for our children; that will enable them to receive or contain the knowledge and skills that they need to live full and rich lives.
My own education began in London, Ontario. I have undergraduate degrees in social science and in education, as well as a Masters of Education and a Doctorate of Education. My teaching career began in a junior behavioural class in London, Ont. and went on to include teaching in almost every elementary/secondary grade and in several Faculties of Education as well as graduate education programs.
I spent 13 years as an Education Officer for the Ontario Ministry of Education. During that time I wrote proposals for, and worked on the early establishment of, the Ontario College of Teachers. I coordinated the writing of new high school curriculum when Ontario moved from a 13-year elementary/secondary program to a 12 year program; this process involved input from over 1,000 people to each draft of the new curriculum. I helped to develop program standards for Gifted Education. In my final 6 years at the Ministry I took provincial leadership responsibility for English language learners (ELLs, students who enter our schools speaking a first language other than English). In that time I helped develop Ontario's first comprehensive Kindergarten-Grade 12 policy for English language learners. To support the implementation of that policy I took a leadership role in launching a province-wide conference for teachers of ELLs and I helped develop and deliver numerous resources and training packages.
I believe that education - good education - is built on an ongoing, passionate, involving conversation. It's a conversation that includes our children, educators, and all of us - parents, families, friends, community members who recognize that we all have a stake in the outcomes of education. I also think that for education to become truly inclusive we - all of us - have to have the capacity to make some significant changes. We have to think about what we do - or don't do - that will result in the best possible learning for our children; that will enable them to receive or contain the knowledge and skills that they need to live full and rich lives. That is my goal today; to help others lead the transition from educational systems that prepare students to earn a living (at best) to ones that will prepare students to make a life.
I am the daughter of holocaust survivors (my mother continues to be one of my best friends), sister of three talented women, mother of three very interesting children, aunt to numerous nieces and nephews, and Baubie to four beautiful grandchildren. I live in Toronto, Canada with my sweet dog Isis.
Since retiring in October 2008 I've been writing a blog exploring what it means to be a feminist woman entering retirement. There are lots of challenges in this transition. How can I still make a difference? What happens to my identity when I no longer have a professional affiliation? If you want to explore this transition and might even have some wisdom of your own to share, please join me at www.forthefirstime.ca.
"During her tenure as a senior administrator in the Ontario Ministry of Education with responsibility for English-as-a-second language (ESL) programs and initiatives, Sylvia provided dynamic leadership that has transformed the educational opportunities for linguistically diverse students across the province. In the space of only a few years, Sylvia and her colleagues supervised the development of several Resource Guides for ESL, a new provincial policy on ESL, and an innovative assessment system entitled Steps to English Proficiency that will enable teachers to monitor the progress of English language learners as they catch up academically. As one who was closely involved in some of these initiatives, I can attest to Sylvia’s ability to inspire colleagues with her vision and determination and to articulate to policy-makers what needs to be done to enable all students to succeed to their full potential."
Jim Cummins, Professor and Canada Research Chair, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
I am grateful to Sylvia for her lingering influence, for her capacity to repattern my thinking in meaningful ways, and for her willingness to give the best of who she is so that others may come to give the best of who they are. Woman of consequence, woman of eminence; Sylvia is a boon to those whom she guides to richer understandings, and an inspiration to all those whose lives she touches."
Kelly Akerman, Ph.D. Candidate, OISE/University of Toronto
Rebecca Cossar, Education Officer, Ontario Ministry of Education
I am very pleased that Dr. Solomon will be available to share her knowledge, experience, and skills. Having ample evidence of her ability as a writer, as a project director and as a discussion leader, I commend her unreservedly for any undertaking that involves research in the field of education, the supervision of writing teams, or informed conversation about topics in education."
Guy A. Hamel, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto
(Formerly School Liaison Officer, Council of Ontario Universities)
Carmen Condó, TESL Hamilton-Wentworth Executive Member
You are an example of what it means to live consistently with your beliefs. You have inspired us with your exuberance and outrage and led us into new worlds of knowledge and questioning."
Andrea Ferguson, Masters of Early Childhood Studies, Ryerson University