Erika Rath: Empowering Girls to Become Transformative Leaders

Some footage used in this video was filmed prior to the pandemic and may not depict social distancing measures.

Transcription – Erika Rath – 2021 Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence

[Close up of a woman in an interview setting. Music playing.]

"Aspiring teachers need to know that being an educator is more than a job. It's more than a career. It's truly a lifestyle."

[Fade to white with a medium shot of woman, smiling, on the right side of the screen, with the following words appearing, line by line, on the left: Erika Rath, The Sacred Heart School of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec. Cut to close-up of Erika in the interview setting. Music playing with voice over.]

"So my teaching style has evolved, for sure, in the last couple of years. I used to be an English teacher and really focus heavily on content and reading novels, and now I teach a class called Personal Development."

[Cut to photo, with voice over. Photo: Erika with a student.]

"I'm really proud of the evolution of this class. It's changed over the years. We've changed up what we look at, what we discuss based on what the students need."

[Cut to Erika in the interview setting.]

"I'm really proud of the conversations that we're able to have together and proud of the speakers and the workshops and the presentations that I brought in. I really feel like I go out of my way to bring in things that are really appropriate."

[Cut to black and then up to Erika in the interview setting.]

"Student success is so important and there's so many factors that can contribute to it, but I really believe there's a couple of things. One is a supportive environment, both at the home and at the school, I think."

[Cut to photo, with voice over. Photo: Erika with a student.]

"The other thing is being prepared, and that just means for anything. Being prepared to fail, being prepared to win but doing it modestly or humbly. Having good decision making skills is really important."

[Cut to Erika in the interview setting.]

"And also that effort matters. And it's OK not to be the best at everything, but you tried."

[Cut to black and then up to Erika in the interview setting.]

"When you invest in your students you get a lot from it, but there can also be some heartache, like, I care deeply for my students and I see when they're struggling emotional or mentally. However there's a lot of pride, I mean I watch students getting their diplomas and I cry. It's almost as if they're my own child. There's so much pride that comes with it."

[Cut to black and then up to Erika in the interview setting.]

"If you're thinking of nominating someone for the Prime Minister's Award I would say just do it, because I think that educators have always deserved recognition and I think now more than ever, given the circumstances that we're in. And I think just being nominated say, you see me and you recognize me, and that says a lot. I mean for me just being nominated was a huge win. And I felt like I was very valued that way."

[Music ends. Fade to black, with the Government of Canada FIP and then the Canada Wordmark appearing in white.]

Year: 2021 — Province: Quebec
Certificate of Excellence Recipient

The Sacred Heart School of Montreal
Grades 7 to 11 - personal development
Montreal, Quebec


“Ms. Rath is a change maker in her school and her community, and she continues to positively impact the people around her. By providing a true, well rounded eLearning experience to her students, Ms. Rath sets them on the road to success while supporting them through their academic journey.”


Teaching Approach

Erika’s primary focus is ensuring that all students are successful at Sacred Heart. Her definition of student success is not based on grades or university acceptance, but rather on the belief that every student must be equipped with the tools needed to succeed beyond high school - namely confidence, determination, and resilience. Erika encourages students to think differently by helping them identify their strengths and their passions, and how the two synergistically work together to help lead a purposeful life.

In the Classroom

One of Erika’s greatest strengths as an educator is helping students translate theoretical concepts into real-world applications to enhance learning and personal development. Students are empowered to participate in personal development classes as well as the school-wide assemblies. The goal of this instruction is to provide the students with the opportunity to develop their leadership skills and help them become agents of change in their community by highlighting the issues and causes that are important to them, and inspiring their classmates to take action.

As the Director of Student Services, Erika has been instrumental to Sacred Heart’s transition to virtual learning in response to COVID-19. She was responsible for developing a remote learning plan for 230 students that not only allowed them to fulfill their academic requirements, but also created a sense of community during one of the most challenging times in modern history. Erika developed a weekly virtual speaker series that highlighted female leaders working in traditionally male-dominated industries, including business, politics, and technology. This series allowed students to learn about potential new career paths and gain a better understanding of how they can use their knowledge for action to make an impact.

Outstanding achievements

Erika created Sacred Heart’s Personal Development class, which is a graduation requirement for all Sacred Heart students. The purpose of this class is to equip students with the skills they need to succeed both personally and professionally as young women leaders. Students use myBlueprint software to reflect, chronicle, and share their ideas and explore a variety of topics, including entrepreneurship, climate change, and youth activism. Erika has designed a unit in the Personal Development curriculum that is dedicated to helping understand their digital footprint and how students should conduct themselves in virtual environments. Erika’s goal for her Personal Development class is to “bring what the students learn in class to life” so that they are prepared to succeed. As a practitioner of experiential learning, she recognizes the need to create a class that addresses the social and emotional needs of girls.

Get in touch!

The Sacred Heart School of Montreal
3635 Atwater Avenue
Montreal, QC  H3H 1Y4 
Facebook: @SacredHeartMontreal
Twitter: @TheSHSM