The award is only given out to 15 teachers each year. It's called the Prime Ministers Award for Teaching Excellence and it is the premier teaching award in the country. Win it and pack your bags - you're heading on an all-expenses-paid trip to Ottawa to connect with some of the best teachers in the country and meet with the Governor General, have cocktails at 24 Sussex and chat with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Last month, three Vancouver School Board teachers were awarded the magic ticket for their excellence in the classroom. Laurie Cassie and Rebecca Robins from David Livingstone Elementary School and Todd Ablett from Gladstone Secondary were singled out as some of our country's top teaching talent.
Ablett clinched the award for his work sharing a passion of robotics with his students. He says the award was meaningful recognition for his career long passion of encouraging students to embrace and understand how the "things" of their lives function.
Meanwhile, Cassie and Robins won the award for their work in the classroom using Smart Boards, video and other tech devices as part of the everyday life in their classrooms.
Both Cassie and Robins credited their passion for Smart Boards to how they've witnessed such technology enhance learning.
"It feels good to know you've contributed in that way," says Robins. "When you see the growth and the impact on students and you sense their excitement - it's really rewarding."
Cassie and Robins said their trip was an amazing experience. They noted highlights included the ability to connect with a wide range of inspiring colleagues from across the country. Working 10-11 hours a day at school was the norm for this group who hailed from as far away as Nunavut. Despite the honour, both Cassie and Robins recognized they know they are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the depth of excellence among teachers in the district.
"I know that not enough teachers are being nominated for this award. The nomination process is significant, but there are many amazing teachers out there doing terrific things," says Robins.
She and her teaching partner say one of the first things they thought about when their plane touched down in Ottawa was who they could nominate when they got back to Vancouver.