The Canadian Education Association (CEA) has recognized Aspen Heights Elementary School’s MicroSociety Program with the first prize Ken Spencer Award for Innovation in Teaching and Learning.
The announcement was made earlier this month and the school’s staff couldn’t be more proud.
“It’s pretty exciting, we’re quite happy and proud with our school,” said the school’s Principal Braden Kilpatrick.
MicroSociety Program Coordinator Allan Baile said it’s pretty incredible, especially with all the other programs that were considered for the Award.
“It’s quite an honour to be selected by the Canadian Education Association. It was really, really cool,” said Baile.
The MicroSociety within the school provides many hands on approaches to learning and benefits that students can use throughout their lives.
“At the beginning of the year the students elect a government and we have a prime minister and a deputy prime minister,” said Kilpatrick.
The school has about 18 ventures, which are student-owned. At the start of the year the owners have a job fair, looking for employees, and then they go about hiring other students and go from there.
“We basically have two kinds of days. There’s production days and there’s market days,” he said.
During the production days the students are working on their venture, creating something or working on learning about real life skills like banking, income tax, how to greet people in the service industry, etc.
“Everything that we do is just so much tied into our MicroSociety and the kids just eat it up because it’s their opportunity to be creative and problem solve and talk things out,” said Baile.
Baile said one of the things they do in the program is the student voice and choice, where kids have the opportunity to make some of the decisions related to either their business or the jobs they want to apply for.
“So they have a lot of voice in shaping our school culture,” he said.
The biggest thing, he added, is they’re learning by doing.
The Award, which is in its eighth year, is given out to programs across the country, and it all began by Ken Spencer who was a board member of the CEA.
“He is a very successful businessman and he wanted to put up some funds to reward what we would regard as being some of the top innovative programs in the country,” said Max Cooke CEA director of communications.
He said part of the goal of this Award is to not only recognize innovation, but to spread the good ideas from these programs out there so other educators can hear about it too and be inspired.
Cooke was part of the phone call with the jury of four education innovation experts from across the country that unanimously selected Aspen Heights as the winner.
“These are jurists that are spread across the country. They don’t talk to each other beforehand. They score on preset criteria and this one clearly was the top choice,” he said.
Cooke said this application out of the 102 applications this year, shone through for so many reasons.
One of those reasons is the fact that it’s a whole school initiative, which he said is important when it comes to innovation.
“It was just a really well thought out program that also integrated so many aspects of the real world into learning.”
The Ken Spencer Award recognition ceremony will take place at the school April 27th at 1 p.m.