At Scholars Education Centre, we pride ourselves on employing bright and compassionate teachers and mentors. Our teaching staff must be willing to go the extra mile and, above all must have a passion for learning to share with their students. This year, we really wanted to focus on celebrating the teachers who dedicate themselves to Scholars and their students, and so we created a Teacher of the Year award for a recipient to be recognized and celebrated across all Scholars Education Centres.
We asked each of our franchisees to nominate a member of their own dedicated team for the national award. After careful review and consideration from the Scholars Head Office Team, Tony Iskander was selected as the first recipient of the Scholars Teacher of the Year award.
Tony is a self-described gamer of all kinds, from board games to video games, to chess, Tony is naturally competitive and is always challenging himself to be his best.
Tony developed an affinity for chemistry at a young age. “I fell in love with chemistry in high school,” he says. “Knowing the fundamental explanation of all the things that happen around us really intrigued me, and I decided to devote my life to it.”
His passion for science led Tony to the University of Toronto, where he majored in chemistry and minored in biology. After completing his undergraduate degree, Tony decided to become an Ontario certified teacher to share his passion for science with young minds. Scholars Education Centre was the logical next step in his academic journey. The environment, the staff and the support of owner and director Diana Topping allowed Tony to thrive as a Scholars tutor in his hometown of Oakville.
For three years, Tony has worked with students of all levels at Scholars. From chemistry, biology, physics and calculus to advanced functions, Tony has helped many high school students achieve mastery in their science and math classes, helping them gain admittance to their university programs of choice.
Diana says, “He’s a fan favourite of many students at our centre. Many students and parents specifically request to work with Tony, and he has a loyal following of students. He’s been teaching some students at our centre for over three years.”
Asked about his success with students, Tony says that a “teaching style should be conducive to the student’s way of learning.” Before diving in to work with the student, Tony takes time to get to know the person behind the textbook. “It’s important to know what each student’s interests are and what they enjoy outside of school.” Using examples ranging from basketball to dance lessons, “I try to use examples from students’ lives as to why science or math is not just something that they have to do,” Tony explains.
Comparing math or science problems to something the student enjoys in everyday life makes solving challenging problems more enjoyable and memorable. Sarah, one of Tony’s long-standing students, is one such student who benefits from this strategy. “I never would have gotten this if you didn’t teach it to me this way,” she says, beaming, after solving a particularly tricky calculus problem.
Tony has had more than a handful of students express their gratitude for helping them grasp concepts they didn’t quite understand in school. “Many students have told me, ‘I wish you were my classroom teacher,’ and truth is, I wish I was too! It’s my dream to work in the local school system here in Oakville. I would love to teach science full time.”
Whether as a student or a teacher, it’s easy to find success when you’re happy. Working at Scholars is no exception. Tony says, “I love working at Scholars. Our team here is very close—we’re always hanging out after work or grabbing lunch before a session. We always support one another and work together for the benefit of the students.”
Asked about Tony and the rest of her team at Scholars, Diana says, “The job itself is innately rewarding—for me and the staff. It’s easy to cultivate an environment for learning when you have so many passionate teachers and individuals in one space. It’s inspiring watching both the students and teachers work and grow together.”
“I can think of no one more deserving of the award,” says Marla Ovenden-Cooper, the director of operations. “Tony is great. He’s such a positive role model for not only our students but the other teachers in Oakville as well.”
From everyone at Scholars, we would like to thank Tony for his dedication and commitment to the students and Scholars. Congratulations!