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Published by the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation

Great teachers deserve to be applauded: Editorial

Posted: 01/03/17 8:14am CST

Teaching may be one of the most rewarding careers there can be. But with the exception of rare films and books that profile inspiring teachers, such as Stand and Deliver, it’s a profession that is rarely celebrated — or even necessarily respected.

That’s a shame. All societies owe a huge debt to good teachers.

That’s why it’s such welcome news that the Varkey Foundation is shining a spotlight on teaching to elevate the standing of the profession with a $1-million prize for the best teacher in the world.

And when it comes to great teachers, Canada is clearly no slouch. Among the 50 short-listed teachers from 20,000 international nominees are three Canadians: Armand Doucet of Riverview, N.B.; Yvan Girouard of Lévis, Que., and Maggie MacDonnell, who developed life skills programs for the Kativik School Board in the arctic region of Quebec.

Their teaching methods are inspiring.

To improve literacy scores among his students at Riverview Middle School, Doucet, for example, created Harry Potter Week, transforming the entire school into the fictional Hogwarts.

In 2009 Girouard turned his Grade 10 science class into a museum with his personal collection of scientific artifacts, including 100 taxidermy figures. Since 2011, several hundred elementary schools have visited his science museum every year.

And to teach kids healthy coping strategies in a region where the risk of developing diabetes is high and youth suicide is a concern, MacDonnell started a running club. Members visit schools across the region to talk about how physical activity can help with mental health issues and addiction. She also created a life-skills program for girls who drop out of school, increasing registration by 500 per cent for at-risk Inuit girls.

There will only be one winner of the Global Teacher Prize in March, but all these nominees are champions.

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