Rankin Inlet teacher helps students build connections
"The kids here are wonderful”
Everyone at Maani Ulujuk Ilinniarvik school was excited to see Lisa Kresky return to Rankin Inlet after a trip to Ottawa, where she received a Prime Minister’s excellence award for teaching.
Kresky received the award, which honours “outstanding and innovative elementary and secondary school teachers in all disciplines,” at a ceremony in Ottawa ahead of World Teachers’ Day on Oct. 5.
Kresky said she was “shocked” when she found out she had won an award for her teaching.
Kresky was among teachers from across Canada who received similar awards for their teaching excellence, such as Nunavik’s Edward (Etua) Snowball from Kuujjuaq’s Jaanimmarik School, who received a certificate of achievement.
Kresky has taught at Maani Ulujuk Ilinniarvik since 2003.
It was her first teaching job — and one she’s stayed with.
“The kids here are wonderful, they are very appreciative… they are very grateful that we give them those opportunities,” Kresky said.
Kresky’s approach to teaching is simple. She said she tries to connect with students inside and outside the classroom and to help them build connections inside their community and further afield.
That’s why, having taught English, math, science, health, social studies, computers, high school tourism, and physical education, Kresky started Rankin Inlet’s Aqsarniit Ujauttaq recreational and competitive gymnastics club.
The club was new for the town, but now its members compete outside of Nunavut.
“It’s grown so much [that] we send kids to the Arctic Winter Games,” Kresky said of the 150 gymnasts in the club.
In fact, Kresky has had to turn about 30 aspiring gymnasts away because there is no more space.
The club members now practice four days a week in the school’s gym under Kresky’s volunteer guidance.
Kresky also organizes an annual exchange program with a school in southern Canada for her Grade 7 and 8 students with support from the Canadian Sports and Friendship Program.
This builds relationships with other students in other places.
Kresky has her class read the news every day to “really try and make the kids think globally.”
And Kresky sets up learning stations so kids can learn the “not-so-interesting stuff” in novel ways—such as by organizing school assemblies on Inuit traditional knowledge which Kresky’s class has led with singing and dancing.
Kresky first went north from her home in Ontario when she worked as a student teacher in Baker Lake.
Asked what advice Kresky has for future teachers from the South who might like to experience the North, it’s to “completely embrace it and get involved.”
“You’ll meet many great people,” she said.