Two local teachers were recently recognized for their outstanding efforts in education through the Canadian Family Teacher Awards.
Amy Nye of École Barrie Wilson and Karen Sveinson of École Central Intermédiaire were each awarded $2,500 for their respective schools.
Nye was nominated for her innovative and individually-tailored methods that greatly inspire her students by focusing on critical thinking, problem solving, and collaboration. Nye has also integrated practices from her training in meditation and mindfulness to help students overcome anger, anxiety and emotional stress.
Sveinson was recognized for creating and supporting school programs that promote empathy, equity, kindness and inclusion in her students. As well, Sveinson empowers positive change through anti-bullying initiatives, sex and gender diversity inclusion, mental health education and foreign aid awareness initiatives.
“I believe in teaching kids to think critically, approach problems from various perspectives and seek new solutions,” Nye said.
“The more we can do those things, the more we are growing their brains and teaching them to be resilient and cope with whatever the world throws at them. What’s really important to me is that when kids leave here, they know I cared about them and they know they had success. I want them to look back and know they had fun while learning things that were relevant to them.
Nye uses her experience in mindfulness practice – physical and emotional awareness – to help children cope with anxiety, stress and develop their creative thinking skills. She says it’s incredibly important to her to remind children their emotions are not permanent and that they are valid in their feelings but to also know they can grow past those moments.
Nye was also recognized for her efforts in developing new and exciting methods for children to learn academic and life skills. She continually seeks to broaden her teaching repertoire and looks for out of the box teaching methods for use in her classroom.
She said she was quite humbled by the recognition of the Canadian Family Teacher Award.
“All teachers work really, really hard and lots do amazing things. When you do it, you don’t expect ever to win an award or to be recognized for it because it’s just your job. It kind of makes me feel teary. It’s a wonderful feeling and totally unexpected.”
Nye will be using her prize money to further develop a MakerSpace creative lab within École Barrie Wilson.
Sveinson was recognized for her innovative methods of helping students feel included and valued, as well as pursuing the development of community among the students of École Central Intermédiaire. She is a counsellor at the school and runs a multitude of clubs and programs to keep kids involved.
“My proudest moments are when I see growth in students,” she said. “All students have voices and all of them have ideas and things to contribute. My philosophy that I teach my students is, ‘I count, connections count and solutions count’. This helps them to develop problem solving skills, leadership and community among themselves and in the school.”
One of Sveinson’s most successful projects is called a SwapNShop, where students are encouraged to trade gently-used clothing and foster the notion of ‘reduce, reuse and recycle.’
“Donations were solicited from the community with the idea of helping the environment and ensuring gently-used work clothing and sporting goods were reused rather than thrown away. The response from our students and community was overwhelming and we were soon able to provide students in need with the ability to shop through a large selection of clothing and sporting goods, with dignity and while helping the environment.”
Sveinson’s community mind guides her program development and she constantly seeks input from students to deliver meaningful programming. She believes in developing students through their own suggestions and fostering their ability to think proactively, creatively and with a greater community goal in mind.
She added her sister was a huge inspiration to her in terms of fostering resiliency in students and to follow one’s dreams.
“When you offer any kind of club, you equalize things for everyone. I want kids to be healthy and to make healthy choices for themselves. There are so many times kids can be attracted to unhealthy lifestyles and I want to make the school a community of inclusion and support for healthy choices. I know how fast and scary it can be when kids get hooked up with addictions and other negative things, so I’m mindful to be proactive, preventative and get kids involved,” she said.
“I love my role. It’s a comprehensive counselling program but kids will remember being connected with others and with their school. That’s what I’m really promoting in this school – friendships and connections with others. I want students to feel like they are a part of this community.”
Sveinson said she plans to use the money to buy some books for literacy programs, and for some equipment for after-school programs. As well, she wants to purchase healthy snacks and nutrition for her numerous after school and lunch hour clubs.