Prime Minister honors two Arctic teachers for excellence
Nunavut-Nunavik teachers awarded for service to students
Two Arctic teachers, one in Nunavut and another from Nunavik, have received Prime Minister’s awards for teaching excellence:
• Lisa Kresky from Rankin Inlet’s Maani Ulujuk Ilinniarvik received a Certificate of Excellence; and,
• Edward (Etua) Snowball from Kuujjuaq’s Jaanimmarik School received a Certificate of Achievement.
The awards, which were presented at a ceremony in Ottawa ahead of World Teachers’ Day on Oct. 5, honour “outstanding and innovative elementary and secondary school teachers in all disciplines.”
“Good teachers help lay the foundation with which we interpret and navigate the world. They make a valuable contribution to Canadians being among the brightest and most innovative citizens in the world,” said Prime Minister Stephen Harper in an Oct. 3 news release. “It is a real privilege today to honour educators who have imparted their knowledge and inspiration to us and our children, helping all of us become the best we can be.”
An external selection committees with representatives from across Canada selected the award recipients.
They chose the winners based on “their innovative use of information and communications technologies in the classroom, the excellence and innovation of their teaching practices, and their ability to achieve outstanding results with students.”
Kresky has taught English, math, science, health, social studies, computers, high school tourism, and physical education.
“Kresky is training well-rounded young minds to explore the world not just beyond the classroom, but far beyond their town as well,” says an Oct. 3 backgrounder to the awards. “Kresky teaches them how to learn, how to be leaders and how to take initiative.
“Kresky creatively incorporates many different techniques to ensure that each student’s way of learning is addressed. She creates learning stations where smaller groups can learn the same topic in a different way. They review and discuss media from around Canada and around the world and develop critical thinking skills as they learn about different cultures.”
Kresky also inspired her students to lead one of the school’s monthly assemblies instead of the principal. That assembly included a bilingual presentation on Inuit values and a dance. When the student’s parents and peers came to watch, “there was an immense amount of pride in the room,” says the awards backgrounder.
The first time Kresky entered her Grade 7 students in science fair, they took home six out of the 10 school prizes awarded, two projects took second place overall in different categories and two projects qualified for the regional science fair. One project then went on to national science fair in Prince Edward Island.
As well, each year Kresky leads and organizes an exchange program with a school in southern Canada for 20 of her Grade 7 and 8 students with funding from the Canadian Sports and Friendship Program.
Kresky is also behind Rankin Inlet’s Aqsarniit Ujauttaq gymnastics club, which runs four days a week and offers recreational, pre-competitive and competitive levels.
“Lisa is the best teacher I ever had and puts her students first in everything she does. I am proud to call her my teacher, my coach and my mentor! I wish every student could have the opportunity to be in her class,” says a former student cited in the backgrounder.
Jaanimmarik’s Edward (Etua) Snowball makes sure that the Inuktitut language lives on, says the backgrounder.
“Passionate about making sure his students value their culture and background, he is works hard at making their mother tongue relevant in a digital world of computers and SMARTBoards. Born and raised in Kuujjuaq, Snowball knows the land and shares in traditional activities with his students, but also accompanies them on trips to Europe,” it says.
Snowball also entered a new course in the curriculum of the students at his school in Inuktitut writing. Through a series of writing exercises, the students familiarize themselves with the keyboard in syllabic writing.
Snowball also involves his students in community projects by calling on their Inuktitut writing skills. In a display card project to prevent littering in Kuujjuaq, the students themselves decided on slogans, painted the placards and put them up throughout the town.
“He encourages them to improve the quality of the linguistic ability with an emphasis on using challenging words instead of using a more simplistic vocabulary,” says a co-worker, cited in the backgrounder.
Snowball invents all his material, it says, and until recently, wrote everything out by hand because there was no computer program to enable him to transcribe syllabics on the computer.
Snowball has also participated in developing the final exams for the secondary school diploma.
For the last three years, the students in Nunavik must pass their Inuktitut exams to obtain their secondary school diploma, “which raises the level of Inuktitut teaching at all levels – from primary through high school,” notes the backgrounder.
All recipients receive a certificate and pin, along with a letter from Harper.
Certificate of Excellence cash awards are worth $5,000 and are shared equally between the winning teachers and their schools. Certificate of Achievement awards are worth $1,000 and are given directly to recipients.
The recipients’ schools also receive a certificate recognizing its support of, and contribution to, the teacher or teaching team’s achievement.
Snowball plans to donate his award money to Jaanimmarik School to buy copies of Taamusi Qumaq’s Inuktitut dictonaries, so each of his students will have one to use during class.