Principal James Walker receiving a QESBA Award.
Emily Southwood –
This May, the New Frontiers School Board (NFSB) was proud to receive three out of five QESBA Excellence in Education Awards.
The 2018 QESBA (Quebec English School Boards Association)/ AAESQ (Association of Administrators of English Schools in Quebec) Spring Conference was hosted by the Riverside School Board at the Quebec City Hilton.
Educational professionals gathered for three days of inspiring workshops, entertainment, and the presentation of the 4th QESBA Excellence in Education Awards. The QESBA Board of Directors created the awards to celebrate the dedication and innovation demonstrated by Quebec’s teachers, administrators, and professionals. The annual distinction also includes a modest stipend (sponsored by Global Excel Management) for educators to continue their programming.
This year, Franklin Elementary received the “Innovation in Teaching or Program Delivery” Award for its outdoor classroom initiative, which strives to make outdoor learning experiences part of the standardized curriculum. NFSB Continuing Education won the distinction in “Adult and Vocational Education” for its creation of a YouTube channel as an outreach initiative to educate, raise awareness, and engage students and their families to potential vocational pathways. Howard S. Billings was also recognized with a “Public School Promotion” Award for its Native Educational Support Team, which aims to engage Indigenous students as well as to create an empathetic and harmonious school culture.
The NFSB was exceedingly happy with the broad recognition, and Director General Rob Buttars commented, “It’s easy to succeed when you work with talented professionals.” One such individual, Principal James Walker of Franklin Elementary, received the school’s award for its outdoor classroom initiative. The outdoor classroom concept was the result of a professional development grant and a team effort between staff, parents, and the whole Franklin community. The project allows students to engage in hands-on learning through their arboretum, garden boxes, bird watching stations and outdoor classrooms.
Taking learning outside is already having positive tangible results. In the words of the QESBA judges, “The lasting benefit is that students are able to explore and construct their knowledge in an interesting way. The excitement is palpable when students have the opportunity to take their learning outside.” From the initiative, the school has seen an increase in enrolment and in student engagement.
Director General Rob Buttars also remarked on the project: “The outdoor classroom facilitates hands-on learning and represents what we feel is the way forward in the 21st century. For years we have been finding ways to integrate concrete learning in the classroom, and now we have taken that concept outdoors. It’s our secret weapon.” Principal Walker concurred: “Students gain a more tangible grasp of the material, making their educational experience even more powerful.”