Francesca Piccione, Riven Thorne & Jamea Zuberi
Francesca Piccione (B.Ed) has worked for the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) as an elementary Health and Physical Education Specialist for the last 14 years. She has worked as an OISE/UT Additional Qualification Course Instructor for physical education and has been a guest speaker/instructor at York University, Niagara University and within the TDSB as an HPE Learning Network Ambassador. As a Physical Education teacher, Francesca has taught the elementary Health curriculum in its various stages of edits and updates as well as during it's most recent rescindment by the current provincial government. As a member of the LGBTQ community herself, Francesca has an important perspective on current issues and the importance of understanding the complexities of different cultures and potential barriers our students face. Francesca currently teaches at Davisville Junior Public and Spectrum Alternative Schools. As the 2019/2020 president of the Toronto District Elementary Athletics Association (TDESAA) and recipient of TDESAA The Gold Award for her commitment to athletics, she is also a leader in elementary athletics at the TDSB.
Riven Thorne: I am a young transgender person who recently finished high school and have had experiences at many different schools. I would like to share my perspective on what it was like as a transgender student in a variety of high schools. I would love to discuss actions I’ve seen taken by staff that have aided their LGBTQ student body as well as inaction that has hindered them.
2020 will mark 25 years of Jamea Zuberi transforming lives through education. Over the years she has deeply rooted educational leadership in community service. She holds degrees and post-secondary learning from York University and the University of Toronto. Presently, she is the Vice Principal at an Elementary School in Toronto located in a diverse and vibrant community. Her teaching career started at the Linden School for girls, Canada’s first and only feminist school where she served as Associate Principal for 4 years. Jamea is a curriculum developer in areas of gender, culture and race. Her community involvement stems back to her teenage years in Jane and Finch where she grew up. She can be attributed to co-founding a young women’s group-Umoja which provided mentorship and promoted healthy lifestyles for young women and young men. She also co-founded the Toronto Panatics Steelband Network and registering Toronto’s first step dance company, Conscious Step Ltd. She was awarded the Woman in Steelpan Award in 2012. She also went on to be the founder of Blockorama- which after 20 years is still the only Black stage and one of the most successful stage at the annual Pride Toronto Festival- as well as organizing the first Masquerade band on the Toronto Pride parade. For her community involvement in the LGBTTI2SQ community, Jamea was recognized with the David Miller Mayor Volunteer Appreciation Award in 2007.
A long-time resident and active participant in the Jane and Finch community, Jamea spent ten years coordinating a Saturday morning program to promote the participation of children of colour, in the areas of science and mathematics. During her teaching time in Jane and Finch where she lived, she also promoted children participating in Robotics and Steel Pan. She started the children’s steelband - North Stars Children Steel Orchestra whose members accompanied her in the annual Caribbean Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago. What a life changing experience this was for both the children and youth and Jamea.
Jamea has been involved in several initiatives in both the black and LQueer communities. Among them is her position as the chair for the African Heritage Educators’ Network where she founded the TDSB’s yearly Black Students Awards scholarship and awards ceremony. Today Jamea is still active sitting as chair of the TDSB African Heritage Month Committee and as a champion for LGBTTI2SQ families and children. Her work/contribution can be found in the recently published Coach House Books- Any Other Way, How Toronto Got Queer.