EMSB thanks its many volunteers and reschedules recognition evening to 2021

Montreal - Friday, April 17, 2020

While schools remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the English Montreal School Board would nonetheless like to take the opportunity to thank its many volunteers.

The annual EMSB Parent Volunteer Appreciation Evening was scheduled to take place on April 21 at Buffet Amiens in St.  Léonard during National Volunteer Week (April 19 to 25). It has been cancelled, with the 2021 edition now scheduled for the same venue on April 20 and the agreed upon theme of “Volunteers. . . Compassion to Action.”  At that time Volunteer of Distinction Mary Nitti from Pierre Elliot Trudeau Elementary School in Rosemount will also be recognized.  She is a caring and devoted volunteer who works tirelessly at the school to ensure that students are nourished and cared for.    

As EMSB Director General Ann Marie Matheson states: “To our volunteers, no job is too large or too small for them to undertake, regardless of how easy or challenging it is. From helping out in the school library, making sure students are well fed with a hot lunch, lending a hand with school fundraisers, serving on one or many school committees or  working as a teacher’s aide, you are true leaders whom we can count on, turn to and be inspired by!”

Penny Fenwick

The EMSB has more than 1,500 wonderful volunteers, but Penny Fenwick certainly stands out as she marks 50 years of service at Willingdon Elementary School in NDG.

For a half century the woman affectionately known as Ms. Penny has donated time to young students   and she doesn't plan on stopping. She began tutoring students in 1970 when her children were at the school. "The best gift is the fact that an adult is actually putting their full concentration on them for that 20 minutes or half-an-hour," she said. 

Ms. Penny first volunteered in the library when her daughter entered kindergarten.  “Then one of the principals said to me, ‘you know, why don’t you try and see if you can help out some of the kids individually because we need some help?’  I have been here ever since. Why not?  I was just enjoying what I was doing and didn’t see any point in moving on.”

Ms. Penny meets students to help them with math twice a week one-on-one. “She’s very kind. She takes things slow. She makes sure I understand it," said one young student.

“I have a very good relationship with the children,” Ms. Penny responds. “They feel very comfortable."

Ms. Penny’s workroom is lined with thank you cards, awards and pictures of past students reminding all who enter of her lasting impression in the community. She even has a nameplate on the outside wall. "The other day a cashier at Provigo said to me, 'oh Ms. Penny. You taught me a trick for the nine times table!' This comes out of nowhere," she said.

Willingdon Principal Carmen Nicolas  says she feel so fortunate to have someone like Ms. Penny. “That human connection Ms. Penny has with the children is priceless and they appreciate it,” she notes. “She has such a calm demeanor, sweet voice and the children are happy to have her in their lives.”

As long as she can climb the stairs of the school, Ms. Penny says she will help out and hopes others will follow her example.

Please listen to our podcast interview with Ms.  Penny and Principal Carmen Nicolas at:

Please see this report from CTV:

A tireless, selfless tutor celebrates half a century helping elementary students (CTV Montreal) from EMSBTV on Vimeo.


For the 11th consecutive year, La Capitale Financial Services ( served as the title sponsor for EMSB Volunteer Appreciation Week.

La Capitale offers a wide range of products and services designed to simplify financial choices for members working in the public and para-public sectors in over 900 public and para-public institutions across the province. These services include: personal financial advice; savings, investments and funds; individual life and health insurance; mortgages and personal loans; insurance for automobiles, recreational vehicles, home, travel and legal access; commercial insurance; and group insurance.

Even though the 2020 event had to be cancelled, the EMSB would nonetheless like to give a shout out to the other companies which had signed  on as sponsors: Steve’s Music Store (, is a major force in the Canadian music industry since 1965, which caters to all kinds of musical needs; Green Apple Studio (, is a photography studio that serves schools and daycare centres, and uses award-winning background replacement technology, which gives more flexibility and choices when it comes to student portrait photos. Promotions Hannah ( is an agency that specializes in offering promotional products and strategies that help to impact overall growth objectives, with their main focus of contributing towards their clients’ overall profit and sales evolution; Fana Sports ( manufactures custom made sports team uniforms for all sports, which are sewn in their own facility. They also offer cresting and numbering services, as well as a new cut-and-sew customized team wear line; Building Blocks Tutorials (, which was founded in 2004, and offers final exam crash courses and academic workshops, with an aim to instill effective and lifelong learning strategies and problem solving skills, which in turn helps to build a sense of confidence, motivation and success for students that will not only impact them academically, but also professionally and personally; Sheldon Kirshner (514-909-0429) who sells promotional products and clothing; Top Marks ( who have been outfitting students across the country with the finest Canadian made school uniforms since 1986; Universal Socks Co. (514-904-2958) offers a fun, easy innovative way to fundraise money for your organization. Providing a box of 14 colorful socks ready to sell, and make your organization a profit; Mr. Puffs Saint-Leonard, ( Mr. Puffs Pastry Inc. is a Montreal based company created in 2004 by its founder/owner Billy Siounis. It’s the first of its kind in North America proudly serving Hot & Fresh Puffs (loukoumades); Anima Art School, ( designed for students who are interested in fine art and digital animation skills in order to create a stand-out portfolio for college programs and beyond. Alternating between fine arts studio, learning and developing drawing and painting, and a computer lab, where they will learn the ins and outs of digital art and illustration; ConnectU, ( to help children develop confidence, self & social esteem. ConnectU International is the promise of safe, enriching, life-changing camp experiences - for children across the world.

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