Success Stories

When the Student becomes the Teacher

Lisa Ain Dack ‘99 has been working with the TanenbaumCHAT leadership team over the past year, and has been instrumental in redefining and in guiding our school leaders as they implement a new model of teacher professional development. Lifelong learning is not only what we teach our students but it is also what we model for our students.

After Lisa graduated from CHAT in 1999, she received an undergraduate degree at Queen’s University, and Masters and Doctoral degrees in Developmental Psychology and Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto (OISE, UofT). She now works as an instructor in teacher education at OISE, UofT, and also support schools throughout Ontario in school improvement.

Thanks to Lisa, TanenbaumCHAT is now one of the few schools in Ontario that is exploring a new model of teacher professional development (PD) that has a direct impact on student achievement. The goal was to make professional learning an on-going process rather than an episodic event. William Butler Yeats once said, Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. The Administrative group, made up of our Head of School, Principals, Vice Principals and Director of Educational Technology worked together with Lisa to roll out this new PD model and to inspire teachers to find the learning need that is burning within their department and to use their passion as educators and lifelong learners to learn something new in an effort to make impact on student learning.

Lisa Ain Dack ' 99








It takes only one minute, one small gesture, to turn someone’s day around. This was the idea behind TanenbaumCHAT alumni Josh Stern’s ’08 initiative #FeedTheDeed.

Inspired by a harmful social media trend called Neknomiations, Josh saw the potential to turn the idea of challenging a friend to one-up your own actions, into a meaningful social media initiative. This new initiative helped to inspire and promote performing acts of kindness to both friends and strangers, before passing the torch to a friend.

The initiative joined forces with Kindness Counts, another social media program led by alumni Russell Citron ’09, which works to inspire people to do good deeds.

Their efforts have seen tremendous response from peers, parents, and community members from all over the world.

These past few weeks have been truly amazing. It really goes to show how one small act can make such a difference in the world. Sometimes we need that reminder and extra little motivation to go out and do good deeds – and through the power of social media, we have successfully achieved that. Not only have Neknominations been defeated, but thousands of dollars have been donated to charities, those less fortunate are receiving food and clothes, and people are even facing their fears to donate blood for the first time. #FeedtheDeed is really “Tikkun Olam” gone viral!

-Josh Stern ‘08, Founder of #FeedtheDeed

One participant got involved by handing out Applebee’s gift cards to strangers in Michigan, while another delivered flowers to his favorite sushi waitresses. Countless books have been donated to libraries and hospitals, subway tokens have been handed out, and notes of appreciation have been left on cars and desks. Our own TanenbaumCHAT students have been busy around the school and community doing their own acts of kindness.

Seeing the happiness on people’s faces when they’re receiving an act of kindness is really moving. And what that smile tells, and what I keep coming back thinking about the Feed the Deed initiative, is that if the entire campaign just inspired one video, one act of kindness, one conversation about kindness at a dinner table, it would all be worth it. Thinking about how many people took time out of their days to be kind to others – how many minutes have been spent on kindness – is incredibly inspiring, and reminds us that we can use creativity and the power of today’s world to spread “active kindness”. And in short, that’s what Kindness Counts is all about. – Russell Citron ’09, Founder of Kindness Counts.