Saskatchewan educators recipients of Prime Minister’s awards

Sask Bulletin
June 12, 2019

Karen Kennedy-Allin receives her Prime Minister’s award from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the ceremony held in Ottawa.

It has been well-documented how varied the teaching profession can be depending on the locale in this province.

When it comes to the 2019 Prime Minister’s awards, the various areas of the province were certainly well-represented from the north to the south and in between.

Heading this year’s list was Karen Kennedy-Allin from Weyburn Comprehensive School, who was a recipient of a national Certificate of Teaching Excellence Award. She is recognized as very much a proponent of the hands-on approach in teaching her students. She teaches Physics 30, Biology 30 and Environmental Sciences 20.

Those teachers who received regional Certificates of Achievement for Teaching Excellence include Jeff Moore from Balgonie, Susan Brown from Ile-a-la-Crosse and Michael Kurpjuweit from Saskatoon. Heather Faris from Regina received a regional Certificate of Achievement for Teaching Excellence in STEM.

Kennedy-Allin, recently elected to the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation Executive, has an impressive list of accomplishments in her teaching career that has spanned over 25 years.

As well as having written the new Physics 30 curriculum with three other Saskatchewan educators, she has also received the Canadian Association of Physicists Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2017.

In the media release to announce the award winners, it was said that “Kennedy-Allin cares about her students until they care.” One of the ways she builds relationships with her students is by conducting surveys at the end of every semester to give students a chance to offer their feedback for the next semester.

In an effort to encourage her physics class time to be available for inquiry-based activities, she has produced a series of video lessons students can do at home.

When interviewed by the Weyburn Review, Kennedy-Allin said, “I am both humbled and honoured by this award. Words cannot express how much I appreciate this recognition.

“I would like to sincerely dedicate this award to all the teachers that shared their skills and practices.... All I really needed to do was have enough courage to implement the new things that I’ve learned from others that came before me.... Teaching is more than a job for me; it is a calling,” she added.

Kennedy-Allin received her award from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a celebration in Ottawa on May 28.

Moore is an avid outdoorsman, which is an ideal fit since he teaches wildfire management, native studies and environmental sciences to Grades 10 and 11 at Greenall High School.

As a member of SaskOutdoors, Moore is a firm believer that outdoor education is the most powerful way to promote environmental awareness. Moore also teaches physical education at Greenall. His students in the outdoor education program can be found learning science on the trail or learning Canadian history while rock climbing or ice fishing.

Brown teaches Grades 1 to 3 at Rossignol Elementary School in Ile-a-la-Crosse and uses an assortment of creative ways to help improve her young students’ literacy skills. This can include kits that she has developed to encourage summer reading as well as broadcasting reading to build aural comprehension, and uses vocabulary and word-matching games in an effort to create engagement.

Kurpjuweit is never far from the music scene, whether it be as a conductor, saxophonist or as a music teacher for Grades 2 to 8 at Brunskill School. He uses digital tools to help beginning players develop their confidence. Students learn about diversity and various cultures through music by performing at venues throughout Saskatoon.

Faris, who teaches science, health science and biology at Miller Comprehensive Catholic High School in Regina, received her STEM-related award primarily as the result of her very hands-on, if somewhat unique, approach in teaching her students. For example, aside from using personal stories and demonstrations, she has also utilized her pet snake to make the learning more personal and meaningful.

Recipients of the Prime Minister’s awards receive cash prizes of up to $5,000 and up to $1,000, respectively, at the national and regional levels.