‘You can ac­tu­ally make a dif­fer­ence’

Booker School teacher re­ceives na­tional award for Corn­wal­lis pro­ject

Annapolis Valley Register - - FRONT PAGE - KINGSCOUNTYNEWS.CA PORT WIL­LIAMS, N.S. Sara.Eric­s­[email protected]

A Port Wil­liams teacher is the re­cip­i­ent of a na­tional teach­ing award rec­og­niz­ing her role in cap­ti­vat­ing stu­dents by mak­ing his­tory rel­e­vant in her class­room.

Booker School teacher Temma Frecker has been named a re­cip­i­ent of the Gover­nor Gen­eral’s His­tory Award for Ex­cel­lence in Teach­ing for her unit on Ed­ward Corn­wal­lis – and his epony­mous Hal­i­fax statue – dur­ing which she led her mid­dle school stu­dents in dis­cussing the Hal­i­fax founder’s con­tro­ver­sial his­tory.

The stu­dents ar­gued Corn­wal­lis’ statue should re­main as an ed­u­ca­tional tool and pre­sented a com­pelling case that’s cap­ti­vated the prov­ince, their teacher, and now Canada’s His­tory.

“(The stu­dents) were so sur­prised adults were lis­ten­ing to them, and that their voice ac­tu­ally mat­tered. That’s some­thing you take with you for the rest of your life, and you come away with a strong sense that you can ac­tu­ally make a dif­fer­ence,” said Frecker.

Frecker and other staff mem­bers at the school use in­quiry-based learn­ing meth­ods and of­ten fol­low what she calls the ‘in­quiry cy­cle’ when tack­ling a new unit – iden­tify ques­tions, seek ways to delve deeper, and de­cide how to share find­ings and take ac­tion.

These stu­dents took ac­tion dur­ing their unit on Corn­wal­lis by send­ing a let­ter to the prov­ince and Hal­i­fax that ar­gued the statue should re­main stand­ing among three new stat­ues of other his­toric Nova Sco­tians, a pro­posal that caught the at­ten­tion of Deputy Mayor Waye Ma­son, who told stu­dents they were “at the fore­front of a na­tional con­ver­sa­tion” when he visited the school in Feb­ru­ary.

Af­ter the pro­posal re­ceived wide­spread me­dia at­ten­tion, Frecker was con­tacted by Canada’s His­tory and en­cour­aged to ap­ply for the award.

And since head of school James Weekes shared the news over the school’s so­cial me­dia, com­ments have poured in from Frecker’s past col­leagues, school­mates and stu­dents – some of whom Frecker taught more than a decade ago.

“Stu­dents I taught up north in Nu­navik have been like, ‘hey look, that’s my old teacher’ – kids who would be in their late 20s now – and I don’t even know how the word got out, so that’s pretty fun to see,” she said.

Weekes said he is proud Frecker has re­ceived the recog­ni­tion, which he said “shows what can hap­pen when there’s a sys­tem that sup­ports teacher cre­ativ­ity and in­ge­nu­ity.”

“We don’t al­ways have to stick to strict dead­lines and struc­tures. If the chil­dren are in­spired by some­thing, we can run with it – that’s what Temma does re­ally well. She pro­vokes them to ques­tion the world around them, and chal­lenges them,” he said.

SARA ERIC­S­SON

Booker School teacher Temma Frecker sits with stu­dents who took part in her in­quiry-based unit on Ed­ward Corn­wal­lis, the con­tro­ver­sial founder of Hal­i­fax, whose statue stood in Hal­i­fax un­til it was re­cently re­moved and stored. Her unit caught the at­ten­tion of Canada’s His­tory, and Frecker has since re­ceived the Gover­nor Gen­eral’s His­tory Award for Ex­cel­lence in Teach­ing from the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

SARA ERIC­S­SON

Temma Frecker says the stu­dents were sur­prised adults lis­tened, and that their voices mat­tered. “That’s some­thing you take with you for the rest of your life, and you come away with a strong sense that you can ac­tu­ally make a dif­fer­ence,” she said.

A Kentville-based women’s shel­ter will break ground in 2019 on a new build­ing.Go to www.an­napolis­coun­tyspec­ta­tor.ca for the full story.

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