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VSB Teachers Recognized by Prime Minister for Excellence in Education

Last week three Vancouver teachers including Margo Murphy - Culinary Arts teacher at Templeton Secondary, Gina Wong - Kindergarten teacher at Florence Nightingale Elementary, Peter Katsionis -  Social Studies Department Head atChurchill, and VLN Teacher as well as Janey Lee - Kindergarten teacher at Thunderbird Elementary were honoured by the Vancouver School Board for winning the 2013 Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence.

The Prime Minister's Awards for Teaching Excellence recognizes the efforts of outstanding teachers in all disciplines who instill in their students a love of learning, helping them excel and build a successful future. The Awards, offered at the Certificate of Excellence (national) and Certificate of Achievement (regional) levels, carry cash prizes of $5,000 and $1,000 respectively. Recipients receive program pins, letters and certificates signed by the Prime Minister.

"I was incredibly humbled and honoured to be a part of the group of teachers who went to Ottawa and were recognized with the Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence," says Lee. "It was the most amazing and inspiring experience. I loved learning about some of the innovate and creative things other teachers across Canada are doing in their classrooms."

Lee earned her recognition by literally "digging deep" for her students at Thunderbird-creating worm farms, organic vegetable gardens and up-close investigative opportunities. Students were intrigued and keen to participate as they learn to count, read and be socially responsible.

At Churchill, Katsionis was a pinoneer when it came to online and blended learning. His lessons were noted to infuse social justice throughout all blended learning with innovative excersises such as an online mock trial. 

"Peter is in the unique position of being an online teacher, a classroom teacher, a course designer and an author all at the same time," said one of his collegues recently. "His classes are anything but static; new content, different techniques and open communication are the hallmarks of his teaching style."

At Templeton, Murphy turned the cafeteria program into a competitive culinary arts program with over 160 students. Students were given endless possibilities to work with Vancouver's finest chefs and experience the elements of a chef's life well beyond the classroom.

As a tech-savvy teacher at Florence Nightingale, Wong created interactive lessons for her students. A digital storytelling unit based on The Three Little Pigs engaged students and encouraged them to think about the world around them.

"I was born and raised in East Vancouver to a working poor family. I try to be a positive role model to the vulnerable and at-risk students at my school.  I hope that this recognition will help all our schools by making others aware that the Vancouver school district is a great place to learn and teach," said Lee. "The city is full of amazing and dedicated teachers, staff, students and families who work together to make school a positive, fun, caring and safe place to be."

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