Lawrence Axmith came to Word-Play in 2007 as a Teacher Candidate at York University. Upon graduation in 2011 he was hired as a Performing Arts/Language Arts teacher at The Leo Baeck Day School. Lawrence graduated with a BFA in Film, Television and Radio from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and served as Managing Artistic Director at New York Youth Theater (NYYT) for 10 years. After returning to Toronto in 2002, he successfully adapted the NYYT model at the Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts, serving as the Artistic Director of the Randolph Young Company (RYC), where he was also the school’s Managing Director (2009-10). Lawrence has extensive experience working in summer camp settings and in the entertainment field specializing in children and youth culture.
Andrea Curtis is an award-winning writer and editor. She has two new kids’ books just out: Eat This!, a nonfiction book about fast food marketing; and Big Water, her first novel for young adults from Orca Book Publishing. She has been the Program Director for Word-Play’s Writing in the City, a creative writing workshop for Grade 6 students, since its inception. www.andreacurtis.ca
Marcela S. Durán is the former Community Practicum Co-ordinator for the First Year Concurrent Program of the Faculty of Education at York University. She also teaches pre-service courses at the faculty. Throughout her professional career, she has participated in a variety of projects that connect community organizations and concerns to the world of schools and teacher education. With the Faculty of Education she has organized the community practicum program and also had the responsibility of developing the Westview Partnership—which connects schools and students from the Jane-Finch neighbourhood to York University. She has also worked with the former North York Board of Education as a Multicultural Consultant and Equity-in-the-Curriculum Coordinator.
Susie FitzPatrick began her teaching career as an occasional teacher, working in both elementary and secondary schools across Toronto. She then taught primary students at St. Raymond’s Catholic School, followed by teaching ESL and Special Education at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School. For the past 23 years, Susie has taught general Special Education across all divisions at St. Mary Catholic Elementary School in Toronto. In fall 2011, she assumed a new portfolio teaching students who have a language impairment, and require specialized instruction. In 2013, Susie began teaching the Empower reading intervention program in her classroom. She has volunteered as a teacher liaison with Word-Play since its inception.
Kirsten Hanson has worked in the Canadian publishing industry since 1990, and is formerly a senior editor with HarperCollins Canada. She chairs the board of the Metcalf Foundation, and is a director on the Toronto Public Library Foundation. Married with two daughters, she loves reading, cooking and tennis.
Kiran Kang is a union-side labour lawyer, workers’ rights advocate, bookworm and aspiring human rights documentary filmmaker (time permitting!). She works closely with public sector unions, including those representing teachers and educational workers who share her passion for cultivating and spreading a lifelong love of reading and writing. Kiran is the treasurer of the Word-Play board.
Carolyn Langhelt is an Early Childhood Educator in a Parenting and Family Literacy Centre for the Toronto District School Board. She has worked with children and their parents in many different settings, including a co-operative nursery school, workplace and community daycares, as well as government agencies for challenged children. She has sat on a number of boards and helped develop policy around pay equity and worker’s health. She is the mother of three children, two of whom are past participants in Word-Play. Carolyn is the secretary of the Word-Play board and volunteers in the Writing in the City program.
Kyo Maclear is an essayist, novelist and children’s author. She is associate faculty with The Humber School for Writers and University of Guelph’s Creative Writing MFA and served as writer-in-residence with the Toronto District School Board (2013-2015). She shares a home with two children, two cats, and a singer.
Pat Saul, one of Word-Play’s founding members, volunteers in the Reading in the City program and serves as chair emeritus of the Word-Play Board of Directors. Pat’s experience as an educator spans many decades and includes teaching in the Toronto District School Board and at York University’s Faculty of Education, as well as curriculum writing and research. Pat also serves as a board member of Success Beyond Limits, a community-based education program within a secondary school setting.
Joanne Schwartz is a children’s author and children’s librarian. She has worked in several inner-city branches of the Toronto Public Library for over 25 years, including Bloor/Gladstone, Parliament and Lillian H. Smith. Her first children’s book, Our Corner Grocery Store, was published in 2009, and she has gone on to write several more picture books. Her forthcoming picture book, Town is by the Sea, set in a Cape Breton mining town, is due out Spring 2017 with Groundwood Press. She has been on the Word-Play board since its inception.
David Stimpson came to Canada in 1964 and retired from a 50-year career in bookselling and publishing in 2011. He was manger of the University of Toronto Bookroom until 1980, when he founded the University Press Group, a sales agency for leading American and Canadian university presses. He was on the board of the Toronto Duke Ellington Society for several yeas, and is a trustee of the Ken Page Memorial Trust. He was a founding partner of Sackville Recordings and was active in the company from 1967 until 1978. David volunteers for the Out of the Cold program at St Andrews Church in Toronto and has been a volunteer at Word-Play for the past six years.
Andrea Curtis is an award-winning writer and editor, and the program director for Writing in the City. She is also on the board of Word-Play.
Michelle Mohammed is an undergraduate student at York University, pursuing a Bachelor of Environmental Studies and a Bachelor of Education. She joined Word-Play in 2014 as a Teacher Candidate for her first year placement. After witnessing the positive influence a community-based program offers children, she decided to continue volunteering. She is now the coordinator of the Reading in the City program, working alongside other Teacher Candidates and volunteers. Her passion in life is helping children to understand the power of knowledge and their potential as future leaders.