Prime Minister honours two Vancouver teachers

Two Vancouver elementary school teachers have been recognized for their work by the Prime Minister.

Monica Lee, a kindergarten teacher at David Livingstone Elementary School, was awarded the Prime Minister's Certificate of Excellence for enlivening student learning with interactive whiteboards and involving her class in social justice projects.

Carla Pace, who teaches at Shaughnessy Elementary, was a recipient of the Prime Minister's Certificate of Achievement for her participation work with Grade 5 students.

Lee was one of 10 teachers from across Canada who travelled to Ottawa to receive the Certificate of Excellence from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. She said the experience was humbling, exciting and interesting because there was an opportunity to listen and learn from some of the best teachers in Canada.

A "fearlessly creative" teacher, Lee fills her classroom with music and nature, the award website noted. She uses technology to extend learning for five and six-year-olds and help them pursue their interests, while her blog keeps parents and others up to date on what's happening in the classroom.

"My philosophy is the idea that younger students are just as capable as any other children," said Lee, who uses interactive whiteboards, tablets and a 3D printer to help students to display those abilities.

"Technology is just a tool, but I think when it is used well and embraced judiciously, it's very helpful. I feel lucky that I have been able to do that in a school environment that is very supportive. It's just one other way to try to engage students and give them tools to extend their learning and experiment."

Lee, who has taught in Vancouver schools for 15 years, was also recognized for involving her class in social justice projects to help families on the other side of the world. Her class teamed up with a class from Walter Moberly Elementary to learn about the necessity of clean water and they raised $900 to build water filters in Cambodia.

Carla PacePace (pictured left) was credited for getting her children busy, believing that participation is the route to self-discovery. Her class have built 3D models of the digestive tract, created board games and performed a Shakespeare play.

She was thrilled and humbled to receive the recognition, particularly as one of her Grade 5 students was behind the nomination. "I thought about all my other colleagues who I think are equally deserving," said Pace. "That's a lovely thought that a 10-year-old child would want to honour their teacher."

In addition to having her students perform a Shakespeare play each year, Pace also coaches track and cross country. A former member of the Canadian national rowing team, she has drawn on her sporting background throughout her 26 years teaching.

"I know what it is like to push at a very high level and what I can demand of the kids. I try to work on the relationship between the teacher and the students," she said.

"I get very enthusiastic and I think that becomes infectious."

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