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Concordian Gabrielle Lacoste wins the 2021 Sara Weinberg Award for Excellence in Teaching

The Early Childhood and Elementary Education program alumna rose to the challenge of teaching during the pandemic.
June 30, 2021
By Sun Noor

Young, smiling woman with long, curly brown hair. Gabrielle Lacoste: “It’s such a nice feeling to know that your words and teachings are going somewhere.”

For Concordia graduate Gabrielle Lacoste (BA 21), teaching feels like a path she was destined to pursue.

“I was always the one who was trying to help the younger kids and I tutored a lot in high school. I love to learn so I always wanted to be a part of that process,” she recalls.

Lacoste is the most recent recipient of the Sara Weinberg Award for Excellence in Teaching. It honours the legacy of Weinberg, who was director of the Early Childhood and Elementary Education (ECEE) program and its director of student training from 1984 to 2018.

The award is given annually to an exceptional student in the program who excels in all five of their internships.

“Throughout each of her internships, Gabrielle demonstrated dedication, enthusiasm and passion in everything she did,” stated the award committee. “She consistently proved herself to be a trusted and caring adult for her students.”

Prior to enrolling in the ECEE program, Lacoste earned a diploma in early childhood education from Vanier College in Montreal and went on to teach at a pre-school level. This spring, she graduated from Concordia with her bachelor's degree in early childhood and elementary education.

“I wanted a change. I have a lot of respect for pre-school instructors, as their work is incredible, but I wanted to expand and be able to teach at a different level,” she says.

In September 2020, Lacoste began interning with the English Montreal School Board. In May, she switched to substitute teaching for various classes between kindergarten and grade six.

“Things have been going very well. I started out super nervous about teaching because you never know how the kids will respond to you. You are going in not knowing what you’ll be teaching,” she says.

“It’s very dynamic — one day I can be in a group of kindergarteners and the next day sixth graders. It’s very fast-paced and I’m really enjoying the challenge.”

‘This award has given me more confidence’

Teaching during a pandemic has undoubtedly brought various challenges to instructors, especially those who teach on-site. Despite the inevitable roadblocks, Lacoste believes that prioritizing the well-being of her students is the top priority.

“Most of the classrooms this year do not look picture-perfect because of the pandemic. But as long as the kids are learning, engaged, safe and enjoying themselves, I think that is enough.”

Lacoste also shares what makes teaching so meaningful to her.

“It’s such a nice feeling to know that your words and teachings are going somewhere. It’s a beautiful experience to go through as a teacher. I think the relationship with the kids is also a really important part of the job that I love.”

During her time in the ECEE program, being surrounded by supportive professors and peers enabled her to make the most of her degree.

“My biggest takeaway from this program are the experiences I’ve had with my peers. We have been so supportive of each other and I have a core group of friends that I’ll have for the rest of my life,” she says.

Lacoste adds that her brief encounters with Weinberg made an impact.

“She was a fantastic woman. To win in her honour is amazing. This award has given me more overall confidence.”

Find out more about Concordia’s Department of Education.



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