Alberta teacher among nation’s finest

August 26, 2014 Cory Hare, ATA News

Sherwood Park teacher Jordan Smith is among Canada’s best

As one of the top three winners of the annual Canadian Family Teacher Awards, Smith will receive $2,500 for school programming and supplies, courtesy of program sponsor Johnson Inc. The money will go toward improving an office space that Brentwood School’s Grade 6 students use to organize leadership initiatives. Upgrades will include technology such as computers and iPads. "We want to turn it into a proper working centre," said Smith.

Sherwood Park’s Jordan Smith lauded for making learning fun

Dedication to creating a fun learning environment landed Sherwood Park teacher Jordan Smith among the top three winners of the annual Canadian Family Teacher Awards, announced earlier this month.

The awards recognize outstanding elementary and secondary school teachers from across Canada. Earlier this year, the magazine’s website garnered hundreds of nominations, from which a panel of education experts shortlisted 12 semifinalists. From there, online voting determined the three winners.

While it was great that a mystery colleague nominated Smith, it was especially touching that so many people—including teachers he’d never met—took the time to vote, Smith said. “My community, my association and my district all stepped up,” he said. “This is so much bigger than me.”

Smith, 36, who has taught full-time in Alberta since 2007, teaches Grade 6 at Brentwood Elementary School, operated by Elk Island Public Schools.

He earned praise for the large workload he shoulders outside of regular classroom time. For example, Smith organizes an annual multiday camping trip, runs a loom club and movie club at lunch hour, and helps run the school’s Young Author’s Conference and Terry Fox Run. He also spearheads an annual clothing drive for a local shelter and helped found the Elk Island Public Schools Young Speakers Invitational, an event that started with just 3 schools but has since expanded to 24.

Smith said his aim is to make his class the hardest-working one in the school but also the most fun. This means that dancing, music and impromptu yoga sessions are the norm. “I’ve said this for years: ‘Have fun, you’ll learn more,’” he said of his classroom philosophy.

He credited his district and school for giving him the freedom he needs to be creative and successful. “It’s easy to be a great teacher when you work in a district and a school that give you complete support,” he said.

Smith received more than 7,200 of the 35,000 votes cast for the 12 finalists over the six-week voting period that began in May. The other winning nominees were Rachel Bemrose, a Grade 7/8 teacher from Peterborough, Ontario, and Andrea Blair, a Grades 3–8 music teacher from Victoria, B.C.

“The program’s three winning teachers have demonstrated exceptional influence on their students’ lives that continues to positively impact entire communities,” said Angie McKaig, digital director of Canadianfamily.ca. “A huge thanks to the supporters who helped give them the appreciation they have truly earned.” ❚

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