Education grad celebrated for leadership in Ontario schools

For 24 years Manny Figueiredo (MEd ’01) has made significant contributions to publicly-funded education in Ontario.

The Faculty of Education graduate was celebrated for his leadership and achievements during Brock’s Homecoming festivities. Figueiredo received the Faculty of Education Distinguished Graduate Award at the Alumni Recognition Reception on Sept. 21.

“I am humbled and grateful to be honoured with this award on behalf of my family, public education, and my community,” said Figueiredo.Manny Figueiredo (MEd ’01) with the Faculty of Education Distinguished Graduate Award at Brock University.

Figueiredo’s career has taken him from the classroom to administrative roles and he now serves as the Director of Education with the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB).

In each role, Figueiredo has been steadfast in his dedication to improving outcomes for students, whether that’s spearheading efforts to improve literacy rates at a local school, coaching a girls’ basketball team to two championship victories or piloting a large board through complex change.

Figueiredo started out as a teacher in the Waterloo region, where he has worked for the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) and the Waterloo Catholic District School Board (WCDSB).

During his first year of teaching, Figueiredo was encouraged by a mentor to pursue leadership opportunities and a graduate degree. Figueiredo completed a Bachelor of Physical Education at McMaster University and a Bachelor of Education at York University.

Figueiredo started his Master of Education (MEd) at Brock in 1997. He chose Brock because of the option to focus his studies on leadership and the flexibility it offered him as a full-time teacher working in Cambridge.

“I actually enjoyed doing it as a mature student working and doing it part-time because you were bringing relevant experiences,” said Figueiredo of his Brock experience.

Over the next four years, Figueiredo continued to study part-time while getting married, buying  his first home and celebrating the birth of his first child. His second child was born just days after he graduated from the program in 2001.

“The Brock program actually was instrumental in helping me take that next step in my career,” said Figueiredo.

He joined the HWDSB in 2002, taking on the role of vice-principal at Cardinal Heights elementary school before becoming principal at Guy B. Brown Elementary School, Memorial Elementary School and Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary School.

Figueiredo then spent a total of six years as a superintendent, both with the HWDSB and the WCDSB, before moving into his current role in 2015.

The lessons learned at Brock continue to shape Figueiredo’s work today, particularly when it comes to effective facilitation and managing change in an organization as large and complex as the HWDSB.

“In this current role, I’ve realized you’re not just the leader of the school board, you’re a leader within the broader community to support outcomes for all,” said Figueiredo of the impact HWDSB schools have on local families.

“His focus is on student and student learning first. Manny promotes ways to improve academic, social-emotion, physical and civic learning outcomes for student,” said Michael Owen, Dean of the Faculty of Education. “We are proud to have been a part of his growth as an educator and administrator.”

Even though he has achieved remarkable success in his field, Figueiredo hasn’t forgotten the stories of his mother and father, who immigrated to Canada to escape extreme poverty. His parents did not have the chance to pursue their educations beyond grade 3.

Figueiredo’s family history has made him deeply aware that each HWDSB student comes to school with unique challenges. His approach to his work is grounded in the belief that we have a responsibility to use our privilege to create opportunities for others.

“Sometimes having the right opportunity is the only difference between someone succeeding and someone not succeeding.”

Erin Mathany (BSM ’05), President, Brock University Alumni Association; Manny; Michael Owen, Dean of the Faculty of Education.

Erin Mathany (BSM ’05), President, Brock University Alumni Association; Manny Figueiredo (MEd ’01); and Michael Owen, Dean of the Faculty of Education at the 2019 Brock University Alumni Recognition Reception.

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