Stand Up for Student Well-Being has been delivering effective programs for six years in four Ontario school boards. More than 1600 students and their teachers have benefitted from our programs. Our program delivery model is unique and our Student “Playbooks” have been developed by educators to maximize the impact on learning. Due to the critical and extensive need for this kind of programming, we are in the process of registering as a charity in Ontario, Canada to expand our work.
We would like you to meet our highly committed Board of Directors and our talented and dedicated Staff Team of Comedian Coaches.
Chair of the Board and Founding Board Member
Ardeth Staz is an independent Educational Leadership Consultant, retired from the District School Board of Niagara (DSBN) as a Superintendent. During her 35 years in education, Ardeth worked in roles such as teacher, principal and consultant. She has worked with many teams during her career and engaged teachers, parents, principals and consultants in professional learning in many areas of focus. Ardeth brings to our Board her experience as Chair of the Board of Learnography/Curriculum Services Canada and My Class Needs.
Executive Director and Founding Board Member
Susan Stephenson, (aka Sue) loved going to school so much (no kidding around) that she became a teacher, then a consultant and then a principal —over a 35 year career in four school boards in Ontario in elementary and secondary schools. A highlight in her career was being the founding principal of North Kipling JMS which became the lighthouse school for this program. Since “retiring” from Toronto District School Board she has become recharged as an author of four books on trust, laughter, humour and happiness.
Sue is the author of the book Kidding Around: connecting kids to happiness, laughter and humour. She is excited to see her work take a new direction as a Non Profit to bring Stand UP for Student Well-Being to youth in more schools. She is not joking when she says we all need to lighten up, laugh more and live on the bright side of life. She is a Certified Laughter Leader – Expert with the World Laughter Tour and a Gold Member of the Association of Applied and Therapeutic Humor.
Founding Board Member
Douglas Cornell, is an eighteen year elementary educator and now Vice Principal from the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). Having taught homerooms from grades four to eight, along with gifted programs, Douglas brings a wealth of knowledge on curriculum planning, equity, well-being and pedagogy to the team. Douglas obtained his Bachelor of Education at the University of Windsor. He is also a Registered Nurse, graduating for Western University.
Douglas has contributed to the growth and marketing of our program over the past six years as a program champion, lead teacher, consultant and developer. Many of his students have been featured presenting stand-up comedy routines and being profiled in The Toronto Star, on CTV News, City TV and in the children’s program, We Are Savvy.
Founding Board Member
George is a Partner with SIMPSONWIGLE LAW, whose practice focuses on commercial litigation and complex commercial disputes. He has acted on behalf of individuals, privately held corporations and publicly traded corporations. He has been active in the community and says, “I believe in being an active participant in my community. You cannot take without giving back. Otherwise, as a society we will never push ahead.” George grew up in Montreal and now lives in Hamilton, ON.
The Associations he belongs to include: The Law Society of Ontario and Canadian Bar Association. He is on the Board of Directors of the Ronald McDonald House of South Central Ontario and was Former President, Ronald McDonald House of South Central Ontario. George was honoured to receive the Ontario Volunteer Service Award, 2017.
Anita Townsend has worked in three large school districts in Ontario as a teacher, consultant, School Principal and a System Principal with responsibility for Student Programs K – 12. As a principal of three schools, each with a unique context for leadership and learning, Anita focussed on creating engaging, positive learning environments for all students.
Anita was named one of Canada’s Outstanding Principals in 2007 and the most recent school, under her leadership, received two national awards for using technology in innovative ways to improve student learning. Since her retirement from public education, Anita has worked as an independent Educational Consultant with companies and organizations that provide support and resources to meet the diversity of needs in today’s classrooms.
Lead Comedian Coach
Marc Hallworth is an actor, comedian and writer, who regularly does stand-up, sketch and improv comedy. He was part of NXNE and was a semi-finalist in the Toronto Comedy Brawl, and his sketch troupe Vest of Friends has won the Toronto SketchFest Best of the Fest Award, the Montreal SketchFest Best of the Fest Award, the Columbus Brew-ha-ha Producer’s Pick Award, as well as being named one of ’s “10 Troupes You Need To See Right Now.” Marc has been a lead comedian coach for the past five years with our Team.
Lead Comedian Coach
Trevor Burnett is a graduate of the Second City Workshop Training Centre and brings a unique comedic stage performance experience with groups such as The Second City and Theatre Passe Muraille. He was People to People Citizen Ambassador and Delegate to Rwanda, Production Assistant for Late Night with Conan O’Brien and winner of the Toronto Theatre Alliance – Second City Annual Cross Cultural Scholarship. Trevor is a comedian coach with our Team.
Lead Comedian Coach
Jeremy Dobski is an award winning stand up comedian and podcaster, with a background in writing, music and acting. He is currently a touring comedian with a home at The Corner Comedy Club in Toronto. His sense of humour is varied between dark and honest to absurd and surreal. Jeremy graduated from Concordia University specializing in Creative Writing.
Growing up in Toronto, Chili did a lot of community theatre and high school plays. He then attend Humber College for Comedy Writing and Performance where he was nominated for the Mark Breslin Award for Stand-up excellence. After graduating, Chili continued performed stand-up, sketch and improv comedy across Toronto in such locations as Yuk Yuks, Comedy Bar, Bad Dog Theatre, Second City, the Corner Comedy Club. He will be performing alongside his sketch troupe in Toronto Sketchfest this year and has opened for Letterkenny’s K Trevor Wilson at the Wave in London, Ontario. He recently appeared in an award winning short film called “Give and Take” which is traveling to film festivals throughout the United States.When he is not making people laugh and smile onstage he’s worked numerous jobs with youth including being camp counsellor, party entertainer, and youth facilitator with the Learning Disabilities Association of Toronto District where he facilitates after school programs and learning opportunities for students with learning disabilities.
James Island has performed comedy with legends like Joe Rogan, Russell Peters and “Big Jay” Oakerson in places from Toronto to Seoul to Mexico City. He also hosts an award-winning joke writing workshop in Toronto called “Joke Marmalade.”
Tamara Junkin is a writer, comedian, and hot sauce enthusiast. She is creator of the web series ‘Midlife’ and has written on ‘22 Minutes’. She loves yoga and is a volunteer at ‘Funnies For Families’ and has enjoyed working with children and teens alike for over ten years.
“The Fabulous Kenny Robinson” is a living legend on the Canadian Comedy scene.
Winner of the Phil Hartman Award, Kenny’s irreverent, socially conscience, intelligent, and opinionated style of comedy has made him a fixture and favourite with comedy clubs, festivals, radio, and television audiences for over 3 decades.
Energetic, sharp witted, and sharp dressed; Kenny Robinson is a one of a kind act. Kenny assaults your sensibilities and funny bone with unspoken truths. He was nominated for Canadian Comedy Award-Best Male Comic 2008, he’s a Two Time Gemini Award Nominee for CBC’s Thick and Thin (1998) and was twice named Comic of the Year by NOW Magazine.
Harpreet Sehmbi is a Toronto based stand-up comedian, improviser, writer and actor. She is an alumni of Second City’s Toronto’s Longform Conservatory and Sketch Conservatory programs, and regularly performs stand-up all over Canada and the US. She’s headlined the Lady Laughs Comedy Festival in Wisconsin and the Chicago Women’s Funny Festival, and was featured in the North Carolina Comedy Festival and the 6th Borough Comedy Festival in New Jersey. She coproduces and hosts The Darjeelings of Comedy, showcasing South Asian identifying females, and The Anti-Token Comedy Show featuring comedians of colour in Toronto. Harpreet is the creator and star of a web series called INDIE-pendent.
Gayle Rotenberg is an experienced educator and leader in the roles of teachers, consultant and principal with the Halton DSB and Peel DSB. In over 30 years in education, she has worked in junior, middle and secondary and provincial schools in Ontario including 10 years as a teacher of the Deaf and teaching a Behaviour class and then moving to the Board office as the consultant for Developmentally Delayed students. Administration followed where she experienced one of the highlights of her career in opening in a new school. A firm believer that a happy school is a successful school, she has made laughter part of her daily routine. Gayle is Past-President of the Toronto Dragons Abreast dragon boating Team made up of over 100 Breast Cancer Survivors.
Kita published her first children’s book “You’re Special Wherever You Are” at the end of 2009. Having already begun her research into the subject of happiness, Kita co-authored “Tipping Point to Happiness” in 2010. Presently, Kita writes for Ottawa Parenting Magazine (“Happiness Formula for Parents” ); is an in-house happiness expert on Jim Blasingame’s smallbusinessadvocate.com; and has been a contributing writer for Status Magazine, WORKING moms Africa, and www.jenningswire.com. Psycho-social needs in education and healthcare continue to be a focus of Kita’s study as well the significance of personal awareness and authenticity. Her books including “The SIMPLE Life: Shiny Objects Not Required” (2014) are available at www.kitaszpak.com.
Kita has honour degrees in German and Education from Queen’s University in Kingston as well as business management certification from Queen’s School of Business. She also has Tao Hands Practitioner training with Master Sha’s Tao Academy.
We will be forever grateful to Kyle Woolven for his magic and skill as one of our original Comedian Coaches. We wish him joy in his future adventures.