Two Nanaimo Ladysmith school district teachers are hoping to get top honours for their roles in educating students.
Brett Hancock, learning alternatives principal, and Chad Jobe, learning alternatives teacher and co-ordinator, have been shortlisted for the 2019 B.C. Premier’s Awards for Excellence in Education, with Hancock nominated for school leadership and Jobe for social equity and diversity. Both were honoured to be recognized.
According to a press release, Jobe was recognized, in part, for his work with the ABOUT (Alternative Based Opportunities United by Teamwork) program, which he said weaves indigenous culture and content throughout the curriculum.
An element of his teaching has students recording podcasts centring on a question without a clear answer, said Jobe. The end goal of such activities is to have “authentic student voice.” Social justice is important, Jobe said, because he is trying to get students to recognize there are important issues in the world and give opinions on how they can positively impact those issues.
“For example we might ask kids, ‘What about alternative education works for you?’ The students would then share their opinions … then we edit it, we put it up on podcast web and they listen to it and it’s a form of risk taking,” said Jobe. “So when you build relationships with kids, you’re always trying to get them to a place where they feel comfortable enough to take chances academically, socially and then ultimately improving their life chances.”
Jobe said part of students taking risks is having them share opinions and in a podcast, there is no clearer way for a student to share their voice.
“At the end of the day, the goal is to improve life chances and sometimes that looks different at the ABOUT program. It could be kids participating in a group social justice art project. It could be kids collectively working to make lunch for their peers, it could be kids posting things to a weekly blog post, like sharing authentic opinions, in a safe environment,” said Jobe.
The press release said Hancock’s dedication to supporting the needs of the district’s most vulnerable students, so they can reach their full potential, is one of the reasons for his nomination.
“We need to have strong relationships with students,” said Hancock. “They need to feel safe to take risks. They need to feel all of the elements of the ‘circle of courage’ model. That’s something that’s embedded through everything we do and that includes students feeling a strong sense of belonging … to demonstrate generosity in their community and I think we use that as a guide for each of the lessons and just something to remind parents, staff and students that that’s what is meaningful at our very core.”
The winners, who receive a $3,000 personal bursary and $2,000 for the school community, will be announced during a ceremony in Victoria on Oct. 4.