Linden's Athletics Director Deidre Macpherson receives the prestigious Prime Minister's 2020 Certificate of Achievement for Teaching Excellence!

Posted by Admin on November 05, 2020 at 6:16 PM

We are honoured and proud to announce that Linden's Athletics Director Deidre Macpherson has received the prestigious Prime Minister's 2020 Certificate of Achievement for Teaching Excellence

The phys ed teacher everyone deserves growing up

"I have had the pleasure of working with Deidre for almost two decades, and have long admired her commitment to girls' healthy development, her creativity, and her ability to inspire girls of all levels of experience and ability. She is the phys ed teacher everyone deserves growing up. I was thrilled to nominate her, and so pleased that the PMA committee saw what we all see at Linden every day: Deidre is a world-class teacher." — Beth Alexander, Director of Teaching and Learning, The Linden School

The certificate honours Deidre's innovative approach to inspiring and empowering the entire student body to embrace athletics without the fear of try-outs and cuts. Deidre is responsible for building The Linden School's sports culture from scratch. Before she joined the school in 2003, Linden had never won a sports award; it now holds 33 championship banners, and 90 percent of middle and high school students are on a team. From the very beginning, Deidre has intentionally referred to all students as "athletes" which has helped change students' mindsets about how they view themselves and their athletics abilities, inspiring them to hone their skills. She has also coached their parents on ways to encourage their children to feel comfortable trying new things without fear of embarrassment. 

"With any other coach we would not have even tried out for fear of embarrassment and failure but because of Deidre's encouragement, both of us joined extra-curricular sports for the first time," say two of her students.

Galvanizing the entire student body to be leaders through athletics

Deidre's enthusiasm for sports has galvanized the entire student body to be sports leaders. By maintaining a supportive, inclusive environment where there are no captains, every student gets a chance to be a leader, play, and excel in the sport of their choice. She has introduced students to rock climbing, camping, snowshoeing and archery, and trained them on how to use commercial gyms so that they know how to use the equipment safely while encouraging them to hone independence and resilience. Deidre has also introduced students to digital tools, such as fitness websites and exercise support groups, and taught them how to analyze health and personal safety apps by utilizing their critical thinking skills to manage their health and wellness outside of school.

Deidre's holistic approach to coaching has helped students gain strong leadership and communications skills, motivating them to run school-wide events, organize field trips, coach middle-school teams, lead junior-school clubs, write articles and social media posts. Her classes on sexuality are open and non-judgemental; students often ask her advice on such issues as contraception or coming out.

Connecting sports to social justice

Her guidance has helped students make connections to local, national and international communities and issues—whether she is taking them to a local lawn bowling club to learn from seniors, showing a documentary about Indigenous women's struggles to play lacrosse, organizing a field trip to train with teen athletes in Cuba, or leading class discussions of human rights in sport. She has helped increase their awareness of women's sports and sparked discussions of social justice issues, such as health accessibility, gender diversity and equal pay.

Deidre has also brought awareness of accessibility issues to the forefront. Students adapt sports equipment for para-athletes—for instance, putting noisemakers in balls; analyzing data about their adaptations; and Grade 12 students use wheelchairs for a week at school, sparking discussions about disabilities.

"Deidre has built and nurtured an incredible athletics community at Linden, and her purposeful relationships of trust with individual students last long after graduation. Alumnae frequently return to visit, to cheer, and to participate by playing and coaching. Students who have left the school sometimes ask if they can return to play on our teams, because they 'miss the feeling of Linden Nation sports.' Alumnae get in touch years later to ask her advice on decisions they are facing, or simply to stay in touch and get updates on the program and the students.  Deidre inspires, and indeed demands, a level of commitment and excellence that girls didn’t know they could achieve; equally she celebrates character and generosity of spirit. Her end-of-year address at the athletics assembly last June highlighted the five championships won by Linden that year, and also focused on 'big-small moments,' such as a scoring opportunity which a Grade 11 student could have seized. Instead, she passed the ball to a graduating student so that she could score a winning point in her last game at Linden." — Janice Gladstone, Principal, The Linden School

"The most highly valued contributions to a team were dedication, enthusiasm and willingness to support your fellow athletes."

“It would not be an exaggeration to say that the Linden sports program that Deidre created, had a significant impact on my high school experience, and is partially responsible for the person I am today. For many of my friends and I, Linden was the first school at which we were encouraged and motivated to participate in gym classes and co-curricular sports teams. I believe this was largely due to the Linden sports program’s focus on learning, inclusion, mutual respect, self-improvement, and enjoyment. This, and the lack of try-outs for sports teams, meant the most highly valued contributions to a team were dedication, enthusiasm and willingness to support your fellow athletes. I believe this was unique to Linden, and meant that I, and many other young girls, were eager to take part and improve our skills without fear of rejection or embarrassment. I was always proud to be part of a Linden team because of our unswerving good spirit. We were trained to try our best, work as a team, stay positive, and treat all teammates and players with respect and consideration. Although I did not start out as a confident athlete, over the years, I developed new skills, became assured of my place alongside my teammates and learned how I could be a leader to younger team members. Even before I graduated high school, I knew that my experience in the Linden sports program was extraordinary. It is responsible for my engagement with high school, my closest friendships, my favourite memories, and my continued enthusiasm for playing sports and being active!" — Annabel, Linden Alumna, Class of 2011