Carla Cuglietta

Carla Cuglietta

June 13, 2016

For the past two years, Carla Cuglietta has spearheaded the We Stand, We Lead leadership summit, which has brought more than 1,500 students together at Edmonton Northlands.

At the summit, students learn about being leaders in their own lives and in the local and global communities.

A teacher at Edmonton's St. Joseph's High School, Cuglietta is described as "a powerful and passionate teacher that inspires positive change."

As well, she is said to model "how to be a leader while engaging students in activities that build character, and (to) support students' physical, intellectual and spiritual development."

In February, the leadership summit travelled to Shanghai, China, and is expected to travel to other parts of the world beginning next year.

The goal of the summit is to encourage young people to look at their lives and "see how they can use their gifts and talents not just for personal growth but also for collective good."

"We actually talk to students about both personal growth and collective good and (then) we ask them to sit down and write a vision for themselves: where they want to see themselves in their life and how they want to see themselves contributing to the world," explained Cuglietta. "And we support them in that vision after."

Some students identify with the summit message locally and volunteer with local organizations such as Development and Peace and Catholic Social Services. "Others feel that their gifts and talents can be used globally and we try to provide them with ways to do that."

Last year Cuglietta and her team brought eight of the top young leaders from the summit to India to work with microfinance loans and clean water initiatives.

Cuglietta, who teaches religious studies and coordinates Christian service at St. Joseph's, also holds regular full-school assemblies.

Those assemblies celebrate student achievement and develop a sense of community among staff and students in the school which otherwise focuses on independent learning.

"It's really exciting to find out that some of the innovative moves that you are making in the classroom are encouraged," Cuglietta said of the teaching excellence award.

She was also instrumental in bringing to St. Joseph's the "flipped classroom" model. In that model, content is delivered outside of class time through videos and podcasts, leaving school hours to focus on absorbing, contextualizing and implementing the new knowledge.

Cuglietta is surprised at the many doors teaching has opened to her. In the last couple of years, she has travelled in teaching assignments to Uganda, Sierra Leone, India and China. She will return to Uganda in a few weeks.

"I never envisioned that part of teaching for my life. I honestly think God opened those doors."