The Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) recognized excellence on Wednesday, September 25 at the 2019 Trustee Innovation Awards ceremony in Brockville, which took place during the regular Board meeting.
The annual awards program started in November 2012 to recognize staff for innovative teaching and work practices, with the intent that these practices will be shared and used to improve the way the school board delivers education and other services to students and the community. The first awards were presented in September 2013.
Winners of this year’s awards are as follows:
Char-Lan District High School Green Team, Team/Group Category:
The Char-Lan District High School Green Team was honoured for innovative environmental education. The environmental club was established in the 2016-17 school year to provide an array of creative, experiential learning opportunities for students and staff. Projects have ranged from planting trees and shrubs at Williamstown Public School to the maintenance of an innovative Growing Wall at the high school. The hydroponic wall provides greens and other vegetables that are used by the school while demonstrating eco-friendly food production methods.
The growing wall is incorporated into numerous lessons. Students measure and calculate nutrient input (math), test and control pH levels (science and chemistry) and grow plants from seeds (biology). Students bring home freshly grown produce to share with their families, harvest greens for staff luncheons, and to create recipes in hospitality class. Club members also maintain a 40-tree fruit orchard and flower gardens at the school.
Margaret Grant, Iroquois Public School Be the Change Project, Elementary Teacher Category:
This teacher was recognized for organizing the 2018-19 Be the Change Project at Iroquois Public School (IPS), done with the Grade 6 French immersion class. The project focused on the ecological harm done by plastic water bottles and current packaging practices, drawing attention to problems such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Through a project that involved letter-writing, persuasive writing, oral presentations, design, and a study of Canadian packaging rules, students learned about the environmental dangers of plastic garbage. They also launched a fundraiser that sold environmentally friendly beeswax food wraps as a replacement for plastic wrap. The program taught students valuable environmental lessons, instilled entrepreneurial skills, and raised $2,000 to buy a reusable water-bottle filling station. The station, meant to reduce the use of plastic water bottles at the school, was installed in early September. The project generated positive media attention for the school and rallied the support of the school community.
Greg Anderson and Mike Bell, Perth and District Collegiate Institute, Promoting Sustainable Waterways, Secondary Teacher Category:
These progressive teachers won for the Promoting Sustainable Waterways Project at Perth and District Collegiate Institute. The project taught scientific concepts in a practical way. It connected 20 Grade 12 students from the GeoVentures program at the school with 140 Grade 8 students and they worked together to evaluate water quality of the Tay River, both up and downstream from Perth’s sewage treatment lagoon. In partnership with the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority and Water Rangers, students in canoes collected water samples, then used the kits to evaluate measures such as dissolved oxygen and alkalinity to gauge the health of the river in both locations. Grade 8 students also participated in the BioBlitz at Murphy’s Point Provincial Park, catching, identifying and releasing aquatic and terrestrial organisms to determine ecosystem health. The initiative taught scientific concepts while connecting the school with community agencies.
Kindergarten Team, Rockland Public School, Team/Group Category:
Teachers Sarah Donaldson, Carly Helgason, Kelly Ivanski, Sheena Norton, and Registered Early Childhood Educators Jen Rego, Aurelie Pigeon, Sabrina Pavia, Shauna Herde and Alison Levasseur were honoured for the Kinder Yard Project at Rockland Public School. The project offers fun educational activities and is transforming the yard at the school into an oasis of learning. The team created a music centre for students by hanging pots and pans on the fencing. They installed an outdoor water centre table in the yard and a garden bed using wood pallets. The team has also provided experiential learning opportunities ranging from tours of a local spa to hatching ducklings in the classroom.