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Superintendent Martins' Next Move: Retirement

After decades of leadership in educational roles, Denise Martins, Superintendent of Education for Grand Erie District School Board, is retiring.

“Denise has had a tremendous impact as an educational leader in Grand Erie,” said JoAnna Roberto, Director of Education. “She has fostered a culture of collaboration and success through decisive action, strategic planning, and high expectations of herself and others. We will miss her greatly.”

Right: Denise Martins (left) celebrates hard work and accomplishments with members of the secondary administration and Student Success teams at a professional-development session in 2018.

Martins joined Grand Erie from the Toronto District School Board where she served as a physical education and mathematics teacher, secondary-school administrator, and system leader. She joined Grand Erie with a long list of accomplishments from her time with TDSB including leading the school-based Student Support Initiative focusing on evidence-based instructional strategies to improve achievement, the Urban Priority High School Initiative supporting achievement through leadership and community engagement, and serving as Central Coordinating Principal for Student Success.

“Tenacious, driven, accomplished, inspiring, generous, thoughtful are a few of the adjectives I would use to describe Denise,” said Ann Myhal, Principal Leader, Student Success, who has worked closely with Martins as part of a multi-faceted team dedicated to improving achievement and success for intermediate and senior students.

Myhal’s colleague in Student Success, Charleen Clark, Secondary Program Coordinator, echoes that sentiment: “Denise has been passionate in supporting her team members along their leadership journeys. She sets high expectations and encourages us to work to our strengths, but also to go outside our comfort zones.”

Right: On the golf course, Martins, centre, poses with administrative and support staff.

Responsible for portfolios including Indigenous Education, Student Success, and overseeing secondary schools across the district, Denise thrived in the role of building capacity among other leaders. Leading by example with clear and collaborative decision making, she has been a coach, mentor, and inspiration to a cohort of Grand Erie administrators.

“Denise has been our voice, our advocate, our support system, and our friend,” said Alison High, principal at Valley Heights Secondary School. “Her commitment to providing students with opportunities to achieve success has been an inspiration to all of us as we work to identify and address the barriers that stand in their way. She says what she means, means what she says, and passionately advocates for what she believes is the right thing for students, staff, and the system.”

In recent years, Martins has applied her background in equity and achievement to Grand Erie’s Indigenous Education portfolio.

“Through her leadership of and interaction with our team, Denise consistently demonstrated a willingness to engage in a level of collaboration and transparency that are the true hallmarks of Indigenous allyship,” said Jeannie Martin, Grand Erie’s Native Advisor. “I know the conversations were not always pleasant, and the message that had to be carried forward not always easy to bear, but she did so with a courage and humility that bears respect and acknowledgement. Her work ethic and integrity has been an inspiration to me both professionally and personally, and I will truly miss working alongside her.”

Most recently, Martins initiated the Indigenous Allyship award which comprises a donation for a $1,000 award for five years. Commencing with the 2020-21 graduating class, a Grand Erie graduate of Indigenous ancestry will be selected as the recipient of this award on the basis of strength of character shown in successfully obtaining their Ontario Secondary School Diploma.

Denise plans to focus on her passions around travel, golf and gardening, as well as concentrate more on her family and volunteer work in her retirement.

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