The Ken Spencer Award

2010 Winners

2009-2010 Ken Spencer Awards – First Ever Winners Announced

Three replicable program models exemplify learning that is real, makes a difference, and is linked to the lives of students beyond school.

Sir Robert Borden Junior High School (Dartmouth, NS) asked students to define how they learn best and inspired a whole school transformation program; Brunskill School (Saskatoon, SK) engrosses six-year-olds in science with the help of local scientists; a medical internship program at Children of the Earth High School (Winnipeg, MB) raises the career aspirations and opportunities of urban aboriginal students.  All 141 schools participating in CEA’s research and development initiative, What did you do in school today? were eligible for nomination.

First Place

Student Leadership Team
Sir Robert Borden Junior High School

Halifax Regional School Board
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

In an attempt to incorporate student voice in their decision-making process, administrators created a 35-member Student Leadership Team to develop and implement ideas that raise student interest and commitment to quality school work, develop learning activities that are meaningful to their students and connected to their lives and communities outside of school. Throughout the school year, this group of 35 students was integral in the development, organization, and promotion of student activities – which involved local leaders from the cultural community – for the entire student body. They have made decisions, for example, on how best to spend funds raised by their activities, and have been a voice for students’ concerns. This program gives students a say in what they learn, and some responsibility for creating their own learning environments, which makes them more interested learners.

Second Place

The Junior Scientist Club
Brunskill School

Saskatoon Public School Division
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

This program was designed to captivate Grade 1 students’ curiosity in science and put them in charge of deciding on the topics they want to explore, which has a positive impact on their level of engagement. Field trips organized in collaboration with the University of Saskatchewan, families, and scientists in the community have resulted in a low-cost extracurricular activity that can function much like choirs and sports teams do in most schools.  This program also demonstrates a deep regard for six-year-olds as fully capable learners and inquirers; a true innovation that required a ‘leap of faith’, as well as a commitment to engage community members and experts into the process.

Third Place

Medical Careers Exploration Program
Children of the Earth High School

Winnipeg School Division
Winnipeg, Manitoba

This is a four-year program for students to discover, through internships at local health clinics, various career options within the medical field such as: physicians, MRI technologists, nursing, health information clerks, orthopaedic technologists, and many more. The program provides these opportunities for inner city students, many of whom are Aboriginal, who would otherwise not consider a career in any aspect of medicine, or even post-secondary education.  This program is significant in that it not only raises the expectations of students about future possibilities, but also provides them with a deep exposure to and involvement in real work contexts.  In addition, the extensive involvement of partners; and the four-year duration of the program is more likely to generate a durable impact on students.