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MONTREAL, May  7, 2014-   On the occasion of National Teacher’s Day on Wednesday, May 7 City’s Breakfast Television broadcast live remotes from Pierre de Coubertin Elementary School in St. Léonard from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.   Michelle Santilli, a Grade 3 teacher with 14 years of experience, was recognized with a special award from P.F. Chang`s China Bistro.

Louie Mercuri, operating partner for the P.F. Chang`s location on Rue des Jockeys near Decarie Boulevard and Jean Talon,   presented Ms. Santilli with a $100 gift certificate to the popular restaurant, known across the globe for its Asian fusion cuisine. Interestingly, Mr. Mercuri attended Pierre de Coubertin as a child. Wilder Weir, who has visited a number of schools this year, was  the BT Montreal correspondent on the ground.

A number of the school’s parents nominated Ms. Santilli for this honour in the English Montreal School Board newspaper called the EMSB Express. Principal Nick Katalifos  called her  “a star teacher who shows incredible skills and leadership in the classroom while going above and beyond the call of duty.”

Ms. Santilli says she was first inspired to enter the field of education by some very powerful role models. Her mother and fellow teacher, Vilma Santilli, her sixth grade teacher Joseph Sabo and  high school teachers Celia DeVarent and Walter Karwatski.  “All of them showed me the power that a teacher has to impact not only the learning of a child, but also to spark within them a passion or talent that they were not aware of,” she said. “They showed through their actions that we, as teachers, have the ability to effect change and growth. 

Being a teacher, Ms. Santilli notes, is more than just delivering the government approved curriculum.  “It is welcoming and caring for the hearts, minds and spirits of the children who are in my classroom,” she said. “It is engaging their minds, stirring their natural curiosity and allowing them to satisfy the need to know ‘why’ things are the way they are. It is for addressing the intangible, hidden and unacknowledged parts of the curriculum.  For taking the time to discover what makes the children in my care tick; what are their fears, what are their strengths, what challenges are they facing and finding how can I help them move forward?” 

Being a student  of Ms. Santilli’s means that you know that while you are away from home there is someone who loves and respects you.  “It means that you have a teacher who works hard to design a nurturing environment and develop learning scenarios that will challenge and hopefully delight you,” she says. “ Being my student also means knowing that I will expect you to work harder than ever and that it is okay to fail, but it isn’t okay not to try.  It is to know that even when you make a mistake, or hurt someone’s feelings you are a good person.  All you have to do is be accountable and try to make things right.  Most importantly, it is about being happy to come to school. Knowing that because something is hard does not mean it is impossible. That while we may all take a different approach, we will all meet with success. Knowing that scraped knees, hurt feelings and shaky confidence will all be treated with compassion and encouragement.  It’s about knowing that you count.  You are seen.  You are heard.  You are going to be just fine.”

Ms. Santilla welcomed Mr. Mercuri into her class after the broadcast to talk about his days at their school some 30 years ago and how he chose a career in the restaurant business.


Michael J. Cohen
Communications and Marketing Specialist
English Montreal School Board
Tel: (514) 483-7200 ext. 7243
Fax: (514) 483-7213