MONTREAL, FEBRUARY 8 , 2010 – January once again marked Public School Education Month at the English Montreal School Board (EMSB). The fourth annual program was kicked off with a a press conference at Dunrae Gardens Elementary School in T.M.R. to promote the excellent level of French education offered at its primary and secondary schools and launch a new video.
Public School Education Month encourages prominent graduates to return to visit their neighbourhood schools to talk to students about the role public school education played in leading them to their present-day success. These individuals now serve as outstanding role models, as do many other prominent Quebecers having or having had a link with area public schools or vocational centres.
Philip E. Layton School: Peter Schiavi
CTV New Montreal researcher Peter Schiavi, 47, spoke to students at the Philip E. Layton School for the Blind, located at the MAB-Mackay Rehabilitation Centre. Mr. Schiavi has Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON), also known as Leber's Optic Atrophy (LOA), Leber's Optic Neuropathy (LON) or Leber's Disease. It is often referred to as just Leber's for short.
This is a rare condition which can cause loss of central vision. It usually affects men, most commonly in the late twenties or early thirties, but the symptoms can happen at any age, to men or women. “I am able to continue to pursue my career at CTV because of the Montreal Association for the Blind,” explained Mr. Schiavi, who was 21 when he got the diagnosis. “They taught me how to cope with my condition.”
Edinburgh: Lt. Jonathan Lang
Lieutenant Jonathan Lang of the Canadian Navy returned to his former elementary school, Edinburgh in Montreal West. Lang, 34, enrolled in the Naval Reserve at Her Majesty's Canadian Ship (HMCS) Donnacona in March 1994 as a Maritime Surface Officer (MARS). He served on the Minesweepers HMCS Chignecto (1995) and Miramichi (1996), Destoyer Huron(1996), Frigate Regina (1996-97), Minesweeper Moresby (1997), Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels Moncton (1998-99) and Shawinigan (2005). Lt. Lang taught basic maritime navigation at the Naval Officer Training Centre in Esquimalt, BC and trained with Task-Force 2-06 as a tactical team leader in the Civilian and Military Cooperation (CIMIC) platoon. In 2006-07 he was a United Nations military observer in Sudan. He recently left post at the Canadian Forces Recruiting Centre in Montreal and was transferred to the Air Force as an aerospace control officer. He provided the students with a visible presentation of his tour in Sudan, which prompted many questions. “We were there as peacekeepers,” he explained. “I do not want to be any wars. We there to stop a war from breaking out and to prevent fighting.”
Lt. Lang was reunited with his Grade 4 teacher Debby Hochstein, who later showed her present day students the class photo from that year. “When I was young my grandparents told me stories about World Wars I and II,” he recalled. “At Edinburgh I always think back to the Remembrance Day Ceremonies we would hold. I knew then, I think, that I wanted to serve my country and that there were people who made great sacrifices before me. My route was to join the Canadian Navy.”
Sinclair Laird: Jack Silverstone
Lawyer Jack Silverstone returned to his former elementary school, Sinclair Laird in Park Extension and gave the students a memorable look back to his days in the same building.
“I got a good education here and learned excellent study habits,” he told the students, noting this was his first time back in facility in 46 years. “I still remember what it was like to come here, the bell would ring and we would all stand at attention before entering the building.”
Mr. Silverstone, who now works out of Ottawa, was the chief of staff to the federal Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and before that held the same post at Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. In previous government service he acted as advisor to Canadian parliamentary committees and held diplomatic and consular posts in the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean. For many years he was the executive vice-president of the Canadian Jewish Congress. He is now in private practice and affiliated with the Rothwell Group, a government and public affairs firm.
Willingdon: Jameson Jones-Doyle
Web designer and motivational speaker Jameson Jones-Doyle returned to Willingdon Elementary School in N.D.G. recently with a very interesting story to tell.
Mr. Doyle, 26, has a mild-to-medium case of Cerebral Palsy, which has affected his speech, balance, left leg and right hand. He is currently completing his master of science degree in Marketing Administration, specializing in new product development, at Concordia’s John Molson School of Business. “I attended public school all of my life, which I feel was of great benefit to the development of my social skills and my determination to equal or surpass my fellow classmates,” he said. “I'm the proud father of a beautiful five year old boy who just began kindergarten at Willingdon.”