14 teachers recognized for commitment, dedication at 2014 Excellence in Teaching Awards ceremony

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Fourteen teachers employed with the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board (CCRSB) were honoured tonight by CCRSB and the Nova Scotia Teacher’s Union (NSTU) for their unwavering commitment to student success at the 2014 Excellence in Teaching Awards ceremony.

Several teachers from Pictou County won Excellence in Teaching awards.

Fourteen teachers employed with the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board (CCRSB) were honoured tonight by CCRSB and the Nova Scotia Teacher’s Union (NSTU) for their unwavering commitment to student success at the 2014 Excellence in Teaching Awards ceremony. Accompanied by family and friends, the 14 teachers were feted for their creativity, kindness and dedication to their craft.

Each year, the NSTU and CCRSB come together to recognize those teachers within the school board who truly exemplify excellence in teaching. Each recipient’s nomination must be supported by letters from school administration, a colleague and a member of the local community (this can be a student, parent/guardian or another community member). This is the 16th year for the awards program.

The 2014 Excellence in Teaching Awards recipients are:

Troy Baird, Bible Hill Junior High School

To walk through the gymnasium at Bible Hill Junior High School while one of Troy Baird’s classes is happening is a cause to stop and take in the  “magic” going on in the room. As the Physical Education teacher for BHJHS, Troy undertakes his responsibility to exercise students’ bodies and minds with great care and enthusiasm. Troy believes that all students deserve an opportunity to succeed and he tailors his lessons to make that happen. Troy inspires great respect in his students. He sets out his expectations for students clearly and gives them the trust they need to meet those expectations.As one former student said, “…of course you would want to show [Mr. Baird] respect…he was such a good guy that you wouldn’t want to disappoint him or be disrespectful by not following the school rules.” Whether he is coaching one of many teams, providing direction to volunteer coaches or teaching a class, Troy exudes enthusiasm. He is always willing to try something new, from the latest dance steps to a pulsing beat to a challenging Yoga pose, he shows everyone that to try is to succeed. The environment he creates is one of safety and acceptance where mistakes are allowed to happen, so that learning can result.

Trevor Boudreau, New Glasgow Junior High School 

Technology, assessment and PowerSchool guru; that’s how Trevor Boudreau’s colleagues at New Glasgow Junior High describe him. As NGJHS’ Grade 8 and 9 Immersion Mathematics and Science, and Grade 8 English Mathematics teacher, Trevor embraces technology to spark the interest of his students. Walk into his classroom any day and you will see students excited to learn. His proficient use of technology, like Mimio vote, allows students to apply Mathematical concepts and have fun at the same time. They’re learning; they just may not realize it! Trevor’s interest in seeing his students succeed in Mathematics is rooted in a deep understanding of the subject matter. As NGJHS’ Mathematics Professional Learning Community facilitator, Trevor sets the learning targets for the team and acts as a sounding board and mentor for his fellow teachers. Under his direction, the Math PLC Team developed their own Mathematics Proficiency Scale for grades 7, 8 and 9. The work Trevor has spearheaded and championed has paid off: Grade 8 students at NGJHS have exceeded both the provincial and CCRSB average for Mathematics scores. Soon, New Glasgow Junior High will become a part of New Glasgow Academy, a Primary to Grade 8 facility that will bring together three separate school communities. In his role as PowerSchool “guru”, Trevor has begun to break down barriers for staff as he works one-on-one with them to prepare all staff to use the tool with regards to the Primary to 8 PowerSchool checklist.

Evelyn Brown, Thorburn Consolidated School 

Evelyn Brown is the picture of poise, knowledge, creativity and spunk! As the Grade Primary teacher at Thorburn Consolidated School, Evelyn works hard to make sure that all students get the supports they need to succeed. With 30 years of experience, Evelyn lends a voice of gravitas to the Site-Based and Early Literacy teams of which she is a part. Her experience allows her to identify needs in Thorburn’s youngest learners early on, and she is a vocal advocate for steps to be taken through the Site-Based Team to support those students academically, socially and emotionally. Evelyn is a proponent of the Positive Effective Behaviour Support (PEBS) model and her classroom runs with the tenets of PEBS at its heart: I respect each of you and you respect each other. Evelyn is sensitive to the many ways in which children learn. Differentiation is just how it’s done in her classroom. From growing bean plants on the windowsill, to caring for butterflies, to sowing pumpkin seeds and harvesting the product, Evelyn is always finding creative ways to engage her young students. She is known for jumping into song to reinforce a lesson and for dancing around her classroom to make a point. We are also told that no one can read Junie B. Jones stories like Evelyn!

Kevin Farrell, Cobequid Educational Centre 

Kevin Farrell, Physics teacher at Cobequid Educational Centre, can make the most complicated concepts make sense and he does it with ease. Physics can be an intimidating subject…just not in Kevin’s classroom. Kevin is able to create and maintain a safe and welcoming environment for his students, while maintaining high standards for achievement. According to his students, Kevin makes Physics dynamic, moving around the room to demonstrate a concept, sketching diagrams and creating labs that capture and keep their attention. He does all of this while maintaining a sense of lightness in the class that results in humour and intense learning. Kevin is regarded as a mentor, friend and contributing member of CEC’s faculty. He is – say his colleagues – the most involved staff member at CEC. He attends every sporting event, play and concert; he is also a chaperone on class trips to Europe. All of this activity outside the classroom allows him to build rapport with students in his class. Kevin’s obvious interest in students’ extracurricular activities helps them feel connected to him, resulting in deep feelings of respect that flow both ways. The engagement of Kevin’s students is truly impressive. They want to do well not only for themselves, but out of respect for Kevin’s commitment to them.

Belinda Fraser, Truro Elementary School 

At the heart of music is sharing. Sharing what’s inside with those watching, listening or even dancing along. Belinda Fraser, Music Teacher at Truro Elementary School, shares her passion for music – in all forms – everyday. Today, thanks to Belinda, Truro Elementary is home to a thriving band program – beginner, jazz and junior – a choir that boasts 80 students and countless lunch-time sessions in karaoke, guitar, drumming and much, much more. Belinda’s classroom is described as a place where students can go out on a limb, try something new in front of their peers, and not worry about any negative consequences. Belinda knows when to push her students for more and when to congratulate them for doing their best. Belinda’s classroom is also one of innovation. 2014 marked the second year that Belinda was offering the Orff Music Program to a group of classes at Truro Elementary. The Orff Method is a way of teaching children about music that engages their mind and body through a combination of singing, dancing and acting and the use of percussion instruments. Lessons are presented with elements of play, helping students to learn at their own level of understanding. In recognition of their efforts, Belinda and her students were invited to present their Orff project at the National Conference in Halifax this past April.

Cindy Graham, Scotsburn Elementary School 

One would expect that after 35 years any person would start to lose a little enthusiasm for their chosen profession. That’s not the case for Cindy Graham. As a Program Support and Early Literacy Support teacher at Scotsburn Elementary School, Cindy makes it her mission to get to know each student. This dedication allows her to recognize potential issues before they become problems and to put interventions in place before students begin to struggle. Along with helping students to learn the school work, Cindy also teaches them to feel pride and success for their accomplishments. Her goal is to create positive pathways for students, by helping them develop the tools they need to be successful throughout their lives. Her colleagues describe Cindy as a mentor who recognizes the importance of leadership and teamwork. She wholeheartedly shares her practice and beliefs with her colleagues; helping them to think critically about their own practice. The result is better learning for all students at Scotsburn Elementary. Excellence doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, energy, commitment and passion. Cindy’s career is one marked by diligence, integrity and a complete sense of joy. To quote Cindy, “This is the best profession because every September you get to do it again, but only better!”

Melody Martin-Googoo, Truro Junior High School 

Melody Martin-Googoo lives CCRSB’s mission: Bringing life to learning. As the Mi’kmaq Language Grade 7, 8 and 9 teacher; English Language Arts Grade 8 and 9 teacher and Grade 8 Social Studies teacher at Truro Junior High School she sees her classroom as a gateway to the world. Melody differentiates her instruction to accommodate the learning needs of all students in her class, working with struggling students to help them realize achievement and success. Her students value Melody’s approach and respond to her belief that everyone is worthy of respect with positivity. She is a true proponent of the restorative approach and models that behaviour for everyone at TJHS. It also helps that she is really funny! One of Melody’s students had this to say about her: “My teacher is hysterical. She teaches us stuff in an entertaining way, so that we want to learn. Mi’kmaq people are very happy, so Mi’kmaq class is really fun. And we’re all really comfortable with each other.” Melody’s strong connection to her Mi’kmaq heritage, culture and language translates to her classroom. She offers her students a unique opportunity to bring history alive and to gain a true understanding of what acceptance really means. First Nation students at TJHS see their culture and language respected and revered by Melody, their peers and the school community.

Lori McKeigan, G.R. Saunders Elementary School 

Lori McKeigan, a Grade Primary teacher at G.R. Saunders Elementary is described as dynamic, motivating, inspiring and…quiet. You wouldn’t think that those qualities would go together, but Lori consistently proves that not only do they go together they are the keys to her students’ success. After almost 10 years at G.R. Saunders, Lori has become a mentor to other staff members; giving of her time, always willing to share lesson plans, best practices and her experiences. As co-chair of G.R. Saunders’ accreditation team, Lori spent three years helping to guide her colleagues, students and parents through the sometimes complex process. Her depth of knowledge and professional and empathetic problem-solving skills make her the perfect teacher to help guide students and their families as they enter the school system. In fact, Lori spearheaded G.R. Saunders’ new Primary registration process, adding her creative talent to organize the yearly registration day into a welcoming, efficient and exciting event. If you walk by Lori’s classroom and peek in the door you’ll see a dynamic classroom in action. Her students are enthusiastic and engaged in their work, eager to take on the next challenge. Lori takes the time to get to know each student and, in turn, their families. This allows her to treat each student as an individual and to focus on what each student needs to succeed. Empathetic, passionate, dedicated, dynamic and…quiet, Lori continues to positively impact the lives of everyone around her.

Jane Miller, A.G. Baillie Memorial School 

Music is not a language that is easily understood by all people. That’s not a problem for the staff and students at A.G. Baillie Memorial School because they have Music teacher Jane Miller to help them. In Jane’s class, every student is special, every student counts and every student is given the opportunity to learn the language of music at their own pace. Jane continually provides a venue for students to demonstrate their talents, from December concerts to Friday Fun activities to music festivals, Music Monday and more. She works through her noon hour, her planning time and after school hours to prepare students for their performances in skits, dances, chants and variety concerts. A.G.’s school choir won gold at the Music Festival in 2013 and they were asked to submit a recording to the Provincial Registrar for adjudication. The result: provincial gold! What makes the win so significant is that Jane’s choir is open to all students. Talent doesn’t matter. Commitment and dedication count. Her students work hard because they love to perform and they learn that love from Jane. Not one to sit on her laurels, Jane is pursuing a Masters of Education in Curriculum Studies with a focus on Music Education. Her pursuit of lifelong learning serves as an example for her students and her fellow staff members.

Stephanie Mizuik, Amherst Regional High School 

Take a trip to Amherst Regional High School and visit Stephanie Mizuik’s band room. You’ll find an unlocked door and students gathered practicing instruments or talking, and Stephanie smiling and welcoming anyone who enters. Stephanie’s gentle and accepting style is stated as the reason why her students feel valued in her presence, not for what they can do, but for who they are. As the Music teacher and Band Conductor, Stephanie Mizuik sets a high standard for herself and her students. As Music teacher, conductor for the 9/10 Stage Band, Grade 9 Concert Band, Senior Stage Band and Jazz Choir, and co-teacher of ARHS’s English as a Second Language course, Stephanie has little down time. Every morning, lunch hour and countless after-school hours are dedicated to practice for the many bands she conducts and the students she supports. In 2013, the Senior Concert Band travelled to Boston where they competed in a prestigious music festival. Not only did they win first place in their division, but they were given the Esprit de Corps Award for displaying an exemplary attitude of positive support and outstanding personal behaviour. That award, more than anything – say her students, their parents and her colleagues – shows just how big an impact Stephanie has had on the lives of her students.

Bonnie Moore, Junction Road Elementary 

For Bonnie Moore, being involved, giving back and inspiring positive interactions for her students is just the way it’s done. She has been a positive presence at the elementary schools in Springhill for over 15 years, first as a Core French teacher and now as a Grade One teacher at Junction Road Elementary. From volunteering as a member of the School Advisory Council, to leading the Springhill elementary schools in their accreditation process, to leading the Run Club and planning fundraisers, Bonnie’s willingness to give of her time and expertise knows no bounds. And her students are the beneficiaries of this generosity. To help her students better understand the impact their words have on one another, Bonnie began teaching her students about the “wrinkled heart”. The “wrinkled heart” is made of tinfoil. After it’s crushed and bent, you can straighten it out. But the lines left behind are permanent. This lesson has left an indelible mark on her students. They are aware of the impact they have on others and actively work to reduce conflict and the “wrinkled hearts” that can result. Bonnie is respected among her colleagues and her classroom practices are described as “impeccable”. Says a colleague: “The pure joy in her students’ eyes when they see her is something that everyone wishes for their children, and Bonnie’s ability to make that happen seems effortless.”

Ian Pyke, West End Memorial School 

How do you start your day? For the Grade 4 class at West End Memorial each day starts with a hug. That’s because Ian Pyke’s classroom is a place of safety, compassion, learning and, above all else, fun! Since 2006, as a student teacher, Ian has made a positive contribution to the climate at West End Memorial. If there is a committee, Ian is on it – literally. He sits on the Continuous School Improvement Committee for both West End Memorial and Junction Road Elementary, he is a member of the West End School Advisory Council and a member of the school’s Run Club.  He is a volunteer presenter at staff professional development days and recently organized a Culture and Heritage Fair for both elementary schools in Springhill, liaising with staff and community members to make the Fair the best it could be. Ian is also an innovative, effective and motivational teacher. Ian has several boy and boy-like learners in his classroom and he provides opportunities for them to shine. In the words of one of Ian’s boy learners, “Mr. Pyke makes learning fun even if he’s not supposed to – it’s like we’re doing work and we don’t even realize it!”. What a wonderful place schools could be for students if all teachers had Ian’s compassion and approachability.

Charlotte Richard, Oxford Regional Education Centre 

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” That quote by Aristotle uniquely summarizes Charlotte Richard’s approach to teaching. For Charlotte, excellence in teaching is not an act, but a habit. As a Grade Primary teacher at Oxford Regional Education Centre, Charlotte expects her students to give their best. And, in turn, she gives them hers. Her classroom is a place of warmth, creativity, inquisitiveness, imagination and encouragement. Charlotte’s students are eager to earn gems for the classroom Gem Jar. Once the Gem Jar is full – a result of respectful, positive behaviour by students – the class has a Gem Jar Party. All students in Charlotte’s class learn sign language, Innuinuqtun and French. She has also opened her classroom to two student interns from Korea. All of this is undertaken to widen students’ cultural experiences and expand their understanding and appreciation for the world outside their classroom. As we become adults, we often reflect back on our time at school. When we look back we don’t remember instructional methods or actual lessons taught. We remember the teachers who made a real difference in our lives. We remember the teachers we had a connection with and who we knew cared about us, who saw something special in us and helped us to see it too. Charlotte is one of those teachers.

Jessica Starratt, E.B. Chandler Junior High School 

Jessica Starratt has an “infectious enthusiasm for student learning and growth”, that’s how her colleagues describe her teaching style. Her students just call her wonderful. As the Guidance and Resource teacher at E.B. Chandler Junior High School, Jessica works daily with some of the most vulnerable students. They come to her – or she seeks them out – to help advance their school work or to offer much-needed support and guidance, often through difficult situations. An advocate of the restorative approach, Jessica values conversations and teaches students to resolve their differences in peaceful ways. Her colleagues, supervisor and parents of her students agree that Jessica has a knack for engaging students for whom school poses a challenge. This past year, Jessica reached out to a group of struggling boy learners at E. B. Chandler. Her passion for real student engagement helped them move from reluctant Mathematics students to enthusiastic participants. Jessica also highly values personal growth and improvement for her profession. After many years as a successful and much-loved elementary teacher, she went back to school and obtained her Masters in Guidance. That Masters enabled her to fulfill a personal dream and the students at E.B. Chandler Junior High have been the beneficiaries. Put simply, Jessica helps troubled students to realize success. There is nothing she wouldn’t do to see a student succeed.

The Chignecto-Central Regional School Board is comprised of 17 board members and 2,700 staff all striving to develop independent, lifelong learners in a student-centered environment, with high expectations for all. CCRSB serves over 20,000 students from Primary to Grade 12, throughout the counties of East Hants, Colchester, Cumberland and Pictou.

Organizations: CCRSB, Central Regional School Board, Bible Hill Junior High School Math PLC Team New Glasgow Academy Truro Junior High School Site-Based Grade 8 Social Studies Oxford Regional Education Centre A.G. Baillie Memorial School Grade 4 Continuous School Improvement Committee West End School Advisory Council Gem Jar Party E.B. Chandler Junior High School

Geographic location: Troy, Chignecto, Nova Scotia Teacher New Glasgow Ian Charlotte Scotsburn Springhill Europe Amherst Halifax Curriculum Studies Boston Korea East Hants Colchester

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  • Roxanne MacLean-Swinamer
    May 08, 2014 - 15:42

    I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to our brilliant teachers that see the true potential in every student, it is a very hard but worthwhile adventure. Many thanks to our teachers you are helping create and cultivate our future. Your truly Roxanne MacLean-Swinamer

  • old student of mrs brown
    May 06, 2014 - 22:15

    You go Mrs Brown! I had her for.a teacher years ago! Im now 21 with a son, and thanks to her I read my sisters Junie B jones books! Jumie B Jones Is Not A Crook was the best one shes read!