David Tranter, PhD - Scientific Director

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David has been teaching and working in mental health, well-being, and education for over 30 years. As a researcher and professor, he works widely with educators to support students at all grade levels to reach their highest potential. Much of his work has been with at-risk youth with a focus on supporting students who are marginalized or have experienced trauma in any of its forms. He is a passionate believer in the transformative nature of education and works with schools all across Canada. He is a dynamic, thought-provoking, and entertaining speaker, who has challenged educators across the country to think differently about their role, and to understand the needs of students on a deeper level. He is the co-creator of the Relationship-Based Approach to Education, a pedagogical framework that promotes both student well-being and academic achievement. He co-authored the book, “The Third Path: A Relationship-Based Approach to Student Achievement and Well-Being” published by Nelson. David and his wife Gail have been together for over 30 years and have three children, an exuberant goldendoodle and an anxious pug.


Nancy Steinhauer - Principal of Demonstration School

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Nancy Steinhauer is an educational leader with over twenty years of experience, ranging from Canada’s top private schools to diverse, inner-city public schools. In 2012, she was the recipient of the Canada’s Outstanding Principals Award by The Learning Partnership and the Stand Up for Kids Award by the four Children’s Aid Societies of Toronto. After two years working for the Ontario Ministry of Education as a Student Achievement Officer, Nancy took the helm as principal at The Mabin School, one of Canada’s first Ashoka Changemaker Schools. Nancy’s book, Pushing the Limits: How Schools Can Prepare our Children Today for the Challenges of Tomorrow, was shortlisted for The Donner Prize in 2018.


Scott Woolford

Scott is the principal of Island Public Natural Science School.  Scott centres his leadership on the engagement and well-being of his students.  He models innovative learning practices, encouraging teachers to step outside of their comfort zones in the pursuit of higher achievement.  He works to foster collaboration among staff in the development of new resources to improve math learning and refine teaching practices.  As a result, Island Public Natural Science School, as a community of learners, has moved to embrace mathematics, problem-solving and critical global competencies.  The emphasis on the natural environment remains an important third teacher, and the learning and teaching communities have made risk-taking part of their everyday vocabulary.  Scott strives to create spaces for student voice and create new opportunities for parent engagement.  Most recently, he was the recipient of the 2019 Canada’s Outstanding Principal Award by the Learning Partnership.  Students and staff on the island are thriving thanks to Scott’s leadership.


Lori Carson

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Lori began her career as a social worker but soon realized that, in order to make the greatest difference in the lives of children, she needed to be a teacher. Lori is an school board administrator in Thunder Bay where she has held a number of roles since 1998 including educational assistant, classroom teacher, resource teacher, and special education officer. Lori has led a wide range of initiatives focusing on promoting student well-being and improving educational outcomes for students at risk. Lori is deeply committed to her belief that school is both a protective and transformative environment for children and youth. She knows that educators can dramatically improve the life trajectory of even the most marginalized students. Of all the roles that Lori plays, being a mom is the most important to her. She and her husband Wade have two children. When she’s not working, Lori loves to spend time with family and friends, or paddling her canoe on a calm northern Ontario lake.

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Tom Boland

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Tom has taught grades K-8 and special education. Early in his career he developed 2 passions, one for supporting effective math instruction and the other for working with marginalized children. He was teacher-lead in a Ministry-funded initiative focused on trauma-sensitive education and student well-being. That experience became the catalyst for work with colleagues Lori Carson and Dr. David Tranter, which would result in co-authoring The Third Path, A Relationship Based Approach to Student Well-being and Achievement. He has also published math texts and intervention resources supporting evidence based, developmental teaching and learning. Tom worked as a Student Achievement Officer with the Ontario Ministry of Education and spent 4 years as a National Mathematics PL Consultant for Nelson Education. He has also consulted with boards and education councils across the country, enjoying work with remote northern schools. Tom and his husband Todd enjoy travelling and spending time with their children, grandchildren, and friends, especially time at their summer home at the historic and charming Silver Islet.


Ashley McLellan

Ashley is an experienced educator who has had the immense privilege of working in a variety of roles in education both in Canada and abroad. She began her career at a top international school in Japan where she experienced first-hand the impact of teaching and leading with a relational approach in education under the leadership of a fabulous Principal. After attaining her master's degree in Educational Leadership and Policy at OISE/U of Toronto, she began work as a professional learning consultant and guest teacher at many schools in Toronto. Working as a consultant for the Conference of Independent Schools Ontario and as an Impact Coach at The Mabin School she is able to support student learning through working closely with Ontario's educators. As the President of the Board of Directors of Ontario she is an advocate for a strong system while serving all sectors of education in the province. Ashley currently works as the Director of Professional Learning for Nelson and is thrilled to be able to work with educators across the country while continuing to support the mobilization of ideas and research which support the whole child through her work with the team at the Centre for Relationship-Based Education. 

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Gerry Mabin

Gerry is internationally recognized as a leader in the field of early childhood education and has a wealth of experience in teacher training and classroom teaching. She received her training in the UK and taught there before coming to the Institute of Child Study (ICS) in Toronto, where she taught and became principal. In 1980 she founded The Mabin School and in 1998 moved on to help open the Children’s Own Museum, where she was Education Director for three years. In 2001 she co-founded Words in Motion and first conceived of the Friendship in Action program, which she incorporated into a separate registered charity in 2013.


Jamie Kudlats, PhD

Jamie began his career as a math teacher in grades 4 through 8 at The Davis Academy in Atlanta, Georgia. He then served as an assistant principal and principal in the middle school at Davis. Jamie was particularly drawn to the school’s close-knit community environment, and very early on, he was able to see the value in building meaningful, caring relationships with students. When Jamie became a principal, he continued to pursue building positive relationships with the students. Not only were those relationships one of the most enjoyable parts of the job, but he firmly believed that they helped him do his job more effectively. After nearly 15 years at The Davis Academy, Jamie left to pursue a Ph.D. in Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While at Chapel Hill, Jamie served as an instructor and student teaching supervisor in the MAT program, served on the editorial board of the High School Journal, and conducted research on the principal-student relationship. Jamie is now an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where he teaches aspiring school administrators and continues to study various aspects of the principalship – most specifically, the principal-student relationship.

Our Demonstration Schools

The Mabin School  50 Poplar Plains Rd, Toronto, ON M4V 2M8

The Mabin School

50 Poplar Plains Rd, Toronto, ON M4V 2M8

The Mabin School

An established school where children, teachers and parents work together every day to create something special and different. The Mabin School is a home away from home, where children love to learn because they feel known, respected and capable. Children's interests and imaginations are at the centre of our academically enriched curriculum which challenges each student appropriately and develops a passion for learning. Our structured environment feels just right - intimate and informal, full of colour and the sparks of activity. The Mabin School is an educational leader that develops confident and independent learners through a rich, hands-on program centred around our belief in Integration, Inquiry and Reflection. Exceptional teachers provide a strong academic foundation by promoting classroom themes that are of intrinsic interest to the children. Students inquire, investigate, develop theories and build knowledge in the core subject areas of Math, Language, Social Studies and Science that wherever possible integrate with Art, Music, Technology, Physical Education and French. A low student-teacher ratio and small class sizes allow teachers to know and understand each child. Parental involvement is welcome and a full range of community events contributes to the life of the school. Students are engaged in outreach initiatives, co-curriculars, leadership opportunities and the cultivation of strong interpersonal skills, resulting in a thriving school community where respect for oneself and others is valued. Mabin students thrive upon graduation and are sought after for their academic competence, original thinking and adaptive leadership abilities. Discover more about Mabin's progressive program and our academic and social curriculum at www.mabin.com.

Our Partners


Ontario ASCD is the only voice in Ontario that includes all schools and all educators, speaking on behalf of all students. Members come from public and separate school boards as well as independent and private schools. It is an affiliate of ASCD (the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development), a global organisation that has been supporting progressive education in more than 127 countries with 114,000 members for 75 years. Our board's strength comes from the diverse perspectives which we seek and which we feel makes us a strong organization. We value collaboration, creativity and actively promoting the values of a progressive education system here in Ontario and through global connections. Ontario ASCD is proud to have facilitated the inaugural series of learning institutes at The Mabin School with support from Nelson which has led to the development of this movement and the esteeming of a relationship-based approach in education.