After over a decade of teaching gifted students in the Multi-Aged Cluster Class, a labour of love, Tecumseh Elementary teacher Marie Chomyn got a trip of a lifetime.
In late summer she learned she'd won a Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence and this fall (after keeping the prestigious honour a secret for weeks), she was flown to Ottawa. There she was treated like a superstar. The trip kicked off with a reception in the House of Commons where Chomyn and other fantastic teachers got to mingle with their MPs. Next stop was Rideau Hall where they were saluted by Governor General David Johnston. Then the group was whisked off to 24 Sussex Drive "where they were treated like royalty" and hosted by the Prime Minister's wife Laureen Harper. In the latter part of the trip, the teachers visited a conference on World Teacher Day where each sat on a panel and spoke to why they were nominated for the award.
"It was an amazing experience," said Chomyn.
Tecumseh principal Bob Moore says the main reason Chomyn was nominated was her incredible work with the school's MACC class. Under her tutelage, the program has grown significantly since 1999.
"Marie's work is outstanding," says Moore. "She really is a guiding light for this district."
The MACC program is designed for very bright students. It treats each student as an individual learner and focusses on their academic ability as well as their social and emotional well-being. The goal? To help students become autonomous learners and give them a fully equipped learning tool box so they can succeed in later years.
This year, the MACC program has over 90 students enrolled at three schools (Tecumseh, Queen Mary and General Gordon). Chomyn's class is composed of Grade 5,6 and 7 students. She says the multi-age composition allows for older students to tutor and mentor younger students and ensures a personalized learning approach for each child.
"When the kids are passionate there is nothing that can stop them," she says. "When they understand the connection of what you're teaching them down the road - most of them are willing to sacrifice and dig down and work at it."
Chomyn says the gifted, engaged and thoughtful nature of her students particularly shines at some of the special MACC events which take place each year including the Evening of Eminence and the program's Science Celebration.