Sylvia Solomon, Educational Inspiration

About Sylvia Solomon

>> What attendees say <<

About Sylvia Solomon

Sylvia Solomon, Educational Inspiration

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.

Download Sylvia Solomon's Curriculum Vitae.

Visit Sylvia Solomon's blog,
For The First Time - Feminist Women Entering Retirement

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

What do attendees say about Sylvia Solomon's presentations?

"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 first encountered Sylvia during my second year of teacher training. Little did I know then of the impact she would have on my development as an educator; more fully do I appreciate now her inimitable way of shaping my pedagogical being. A leader by example and not by coercion, Sylvia was the first professor to challenge my taken-for-granted assumptions in relation to schooling, both at home and abroad.

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

"Sylvia is one of those rare educators who energises and excites you no matter how big or small the task. She has a richly diverse background in education mostly because she has challenged herself to take on an array of interesting innovative projects and initiatives, from curriculum writing to facilitating workshops to conducting school inspections. Sylvia has travelled extensively and has soaked up experiences from her visits to schools and school systems all over the world. Her unique perspective and insight into the education experience is a fascinating story and one well worth listening to if you get the chance."

Rebecca Cossar, Education Officer, Ontario Ministry of Education

"My professional association with Dr. Sylvia Solomon took place when, in her position within the Ontario Ministry of Education, she held responsibility to oversee the development of a revised secondary school curriculum. The undertaking was extremely demanding. I think it unlikely that any other area of public concern generates the depth of involvement or the variety of deeply held convictions as does schooling. Throughout the long process of drafting, consulting, editing, revising, compromising, Dr. Solomon showed remarkable tact, skill, and an unassailable integrity.

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)

"Dr. Solomon did a fine job at our annual affiliate conference in Hamilton. Our theme of Peace and Diversity was nicely woven into her keynote address for all participants to connect with while listening. Her personal stories spoke volumes and touched the heartstrings of many in our audience. Her passion for promoting social inclusiveness was felt throughout her address. Her powerful message gave teachers much to think about as each strives to reach every student in the classroom no matter the race, language, age, gender, cognitive/physical/behavioural ability, religion or land of origin. Her slideshow depicted the beautiful images of our colourful world that we share with so many and her accompanying words empowered all that were present. She kept everyone interested and engaged."

Carmen Condó, TESL Hamilton-Wentworth Executive Member

"Few have touched me along this journey called my life as much as you have. As a Professor, you moved me with your great sense of humanity, your uncompromising political views and your unwavering dedication to truth and social justice. As a woman, you inspired me to be honest with my self and about the world around me, and stood by me when, as a critical thinker I began to question everything.

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