Students of Canada's Top History Teachers Take Up Arms and Go To Trial to Get Better Grades

    2008 Governor General's Awards Finalists demonstrate that Today's History
    Lessons are Taught Outside the Classroom More Often Than in it

    WINNIPEG, June 19 /CNW/ - Canada's National History Society today
announced the 25 finalists for the 2008 Governor General's Awards for
Excellence in Teaching Canadian History. Highlights of their innovative
teaching approaches include daily fitness runs that end with key information
about historic sites, Aboriginal Art exhibits, documenting oral histories with
Holocaust survivors and World War II veterans, new media presentations, and
the recreation of Canada's Diamond Jubilee.
    Now in its 13th year, the Awards recognize the outstanding contributions
of Canada's history teachers, ranging from elementary grades through to
secondary schools. Deborah Morrison, CEO and President of Canada's National
History Society says, "Inspiring students to take an interest in history and
develop a sense of pride and place is without a doubt a real challenge in
today's future-focussed society. These exceptional teachers have a unique way
of bringing history to life that not only engages students, but makes history
the coolest subject in school." Morrison adds, "That effort will make a
life-long difference for those students and their perspectives on being
    The 25 finalists for 2008 are:

                                                           School     School
    Finalists              Grade        School Name        City        Prov
    Linda & George Urban   K-9          Louie Norwegian    Jean Marie   NT
                                        School             River
    Cathleen Anne Tenning  12           Victoria High      Victoria     BC
    Joanne Espinel         5            J.A. Laird         Invermere    BC
                                        Elementary School
    Mike Ward              4&5          Palsson            Lake         BC
                                        Elementary School  Cowichan
    Bev Milobar-den Ouden  5            Colchester School  Sherwood     AB
    Neil Robinson          7            Westmount Charter  Calgary      AB
    Ron Sweet              5            Calgary Science    Calgary      AB
    Curtis Kleisinger      9&12         Michael A. Riffel  Regina       SK
                                        High School
    Rick Delainey          10&12        Lutheran           Outlook      SK
                                        Collegiate Bible
    James Kostuchuk        11-12        Portage            Portage la   MB
                                        Collegiate         Prairie
    Andrew Rychel          7&9          W. H. Morden       Oakville     ON
                                        Public School
    Bryce M. Honsinger     8            Applewood Public   Caistor      ON
                                        School             Centre
    Clint Lovell           10           Eastview           Barrie       ON
                                        Secondary School
    Joe Stafford           10           Saint Theresa      Belleville   ON
                                        Secondary School
    Nancy Hamer Strahl     10           Port Perry High    Port Perry   ON
    Nicole Aucoin          7&8          Horizon            Toronto      ON
                                        Senior School
    Scott Masters          10-12        Crestwood          Toronto      ON
    Chantal Pelosse        4ème & 5ème  Collège            Montréal     QC
                           secondaire   International
                                        Marie de France
    Gilbert Salmon         4ème         Polyvalente de     Thetford     QC
                           secondaire   Thetford Mines     Mines
    Isabelle Bergeron &    4ème         Collège Bourget    Rigaud       QC
    Sylvain Christin       secondaire
    Jean Pelletier         5ème année   Ecole de l'Alizé   Québec       QC
                           du primaire
    Jean-Pierre Frigon     5ème         Ecole Secondaire   Saint-Tite   QC
                           secondaire   Paul-Le Jeune
    Allan Mark Trueman     12           James M. Hill      Miramichi    NB
                                        Memorial High
    Owen Ferguson          6            Redcliff Middle    Truro        NS
    Sherri Duggan,         K,1,2,3,4,   Berwick and        Berwick      NS
    Thelma Gregan          5,6          District School

    A committee of judges will next select six recipients out of the 25
finalists, based on a submission outlining the nominee's innovations and
achievements in the field of teaching Canadian History or Social Studies.
Those six recipients will receive $2,500, a gold medal and a trip this fall to
the Awards ceremony presided by the Governor General this Fall. Their
respective schools will also be awarded a cash gift of $1,000.
    The program, including the Awards prizes are made possible through the
generous support of TD Bank Financial Group. "TD believes that one of the best
ways to make a difference in the future of our communities is through the
education of our children," said Frank McKenna, Deputy Chair, TD Bank
Financial Group and TD's Literacy and Education Champion. "With these awards,
we're proud to recognize the teachers tasked with ensuring future generations
of Canadians gain a deep and meaningful knowledge of our country's rich and
colourful past."
    Library and Archives Canada are also generous partners in the program,
providing support to the Awards events and expertise in sharing and
distributing the award winning lesson plans to teachers across Canada. "These
awards acknowledge how childhood educators provide children with the critical
experiences and learning that will affect them for the rest of their lives,"
said Ian Wilson, Librarian and Archivist of Canada. "We are proud to continue
our strong partnership with the History Society and to honour the talent,
skill and dedication of these teachers who play such a vital role in our
    More detailed biographical information and photos of each of the
finalists are available for download through the press room of the History
Society's website:

    Canada's National History Society is a Winnipeg-based charitable
organization devoted to popularizing Canadian history. In addition to
publishing The Beaver magazine, and the children's magazine Kayak: Canada's
History Magazine for Kids, the Society also operates two distinctive award
programs: the Pierre Berton Award for popularizing Canadian history and the
Governor General's Awards for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History, which
honours innovative classroom teachers.

    George and Linda Urban
    Jean Marie River, NT

    A dynamic teaching team in a one room school in the Northwest Territories
is engaging their students in a real-life cultural quest. With a population of
only 52, the tiny community of Jean Marie River is genuinely dedicated to
raising their children in a culture that connects them to their historical
past. That is why teachers, George and Linda Urban have created an interactive
curriculum at Louie Norwegian School that allows their students to relive the
history of the Dene culture in a hands-on, personal way.
    Under the wise guidance of an elder, students paddle down the scenic
Mackenzie River to explore historical sites, sew moose hide quilts and sketch
pictures of knowledge passed on from the Elders. Titled, "Remember When...A
Cultural Study of the Dene", this interactive course is helping students make
important connections to the land and prominent historical figures.

    Cathleen Anne Tenning
    Victoria, BC

    British Columbia, before the arrival of the Europeans, was home to many
Indigenous peoples speaking more than 30 different languages. Before the fur
traders entered the area to harvest sea otters and settle the land, the
Chamainus First Nation were part of the founding fore-fathers of Vancouver
Island's long and storied history.
    Cathleen Anne Tenning, a teacher from Victoria and member of the
Chamainus First Nation is passing on her people's proud history to her Grade
12 students at Victoria High School. Through interactive field trips and
environmental studies outside the classroom, Tenning's students are visiting
historical sites and hearing first-hand from Aboriginal elders on how First
Nations people lived in the past. Titled, "Walking on the Lands of our
Ancestors", Tenning has created "talking circles" that empower her students
with personal experiences so they can learn about the issues that First
Nations people face in the present day.

    Joanne Espinel
    Invermere, BC

    Joanne Espinel's Grade 5 classroom is adorned with colourful paintings
and poetry that takes her students back in time to the 1800s when Canada
became a country. Espinel, a teacher at J.A. Laird Elementary School, is
encouraging her students to research, discuss and analyze the challenges faced
by Canada's early immigrants. Through a gala evening of poetry, dance, and
displays of quilting and weaving, Espinel's students are showcasing their
discoveries to their families and the community. Some of the students have
even traced their own ancestry back to the 1800s by crafting individual family
trees. Espinel's students have also been involved in hosting a Citizenship
Ceremony in which they met and interviewed new Canadians.

    Mike Ward
    Palsson, BC

    Stepping into Mike Ward's classroom at Palsson Elementary School is like
travelling in a time warp back to the 1800s. His students are busy building a
replica Pioneer Village complete with blacksmith and carpenter shop, a rustic
General Store, log houses and a one room school house. This nostalgic journey
to the late 1800s is a real-life lesson in reliving Upper Canada's rural life
and pioneer struggles.
    Ward's unique lesson plan encourages his grades 4 and 5 students to
create their own Pioneer Village on a 4' by 8' dirt-covered table. Through
role-playing, each student then becomes a pioneer in this new land and must
overcome challenges such as clearing their land, creating sustainable
businesses, electing a viable government and eventually developing a modern

    Bev Milobar-den Ouden
    Sherwood Park, AB

    Lights, camera and action! It's not everyday that Grade 5 students star
in their own documentary that attempts to unravel the mysteries of history.
But in Bev Milobar-den Ouden's class, students are encouraged to connect the
past with the present by retracing the defining moments that led to their
community's historical relevance in Alberta.
    This year, students at Colchester School were presented with the
question, "Should we preserve the past?" Through the use of primary sources,
artefacts and film, students created projects that answered the critical
question. The hour-long documentary on the Colchester area, which is located
in the southwest quadrant of Strathcona County, is the student's answer to the
question: Why are stories about our past so important?
    Teacher Bev Milobar-den Ouden led her students through the question in
their social studies class. Recognizing the values of history and that it be
preserved for future generations, the students produced the documentary
themselves by interviewing seniors, studying local archives and actually
visiting historical sites.

    Neil Robinson
    Calgary, AB

    Neil Robinson didn't want to build a better board game; he wanted to
engage his Grade 7 students in a real-life journey through Canadian history
from the explorations of the first nations and Europeans, right up to the
battle of the Plains of Abraham. So with hundreds of hexagon shapes, Robinson
designed an interactive role-playing game that transports his students at
Westmount Charter School back to the 15th century continents of Europe and
North America.
    Robinson's students are divided into teams representing European settlers
and First Nations people. The individual teams then divvy up their land and
craft trade deals, harvest resources, resolve conflicts, establish treaties
and sell goods.

    Ron Sweet
    Calgary, AB

    Ron Sweet has never braved the bullets and bombs that the North West
Mounted Police faced in battle, but he does have a few heroic tales to tell.
The Grade 5 teacher is receiving national recognition for an interactive and
unique curriculum that is leading his students to the frontlines of battle.
His students at Calgary Science School are living the lives of the North West
Mounted Police by forming troops and eating and sleeping in original barracks.
Under Sweet's guidance, his students are also learning to harness horses, work
on railroad cars and pan for gold as part of their research into how the North
West Mounted Police impacted Canada's present day judicial system and law

    Curtis Kleisinger
    Regina, SK

    It's not everyday that you hear of students attending classes during the
day and then eagerly signing up for lectures in the evening. However,
Curtis Kleisinger has found a creative way to get his Grade 9 and 12 students
to do more homework instead of less. The teacher at Michael A. Riffel High
School has created a project with a powerful emotional punch. Kleisinger
developed a curriculum where students uncover local military history. The
Remembrance Project involves students and staff from the Regina Catholic
School Division as well as local veterans, Library and Archives Canada, the
Juno Beach Center, the Royal Canadian Legion, the Regina Rifle Regiment and
other organizations. The project culminated with a trip to the Canadian
Battlefields in Belgian and French.

    Rick Delainey
    Outlook, SK

    Rick Delainey is a believer in the power of technology to empower people.
In true "Back to the Future" fashion, Delainey has created Virtual Canada 2.0,
an interactive web-based text for his Grade 10 and 12 classes at Lutheran
Collegiate Bible Institute. This innovative and unique cyber teaching tool
features original movies, detailed notes, online tests, activities and games.
Rather than relying on a text book, Delainey's students are able to access
historical information in a format that is interactive and meaningful.

    James Kostuchuk
    Portage LaPrairie, MB

    Until now the souls of Manitoba soldiers have rested silently, all but
forgotten, except for their family and friends. Now, a teacher from Portage
Collegiate Institute is about to change that. James Kostuchuk is bringing to
life the stories of those incredibly brave men who died fighting in the
trenches during the First World War. Kostuchuk's Grade 11 and 12 students are
breathing life into the dusty names etched on the local cenotaph, finding a
face and personality in the stone. The life stories of these soldiers reveal a
snapshot of a nation at war.

    Andrew Rychel
    Oakville, ON

    From construction of the railroad to conflict of the Red River/Northwest
Rebellions, Andrew Rychel's Grades 7 and 9 students are reliving the past to
gain a better insight on the future. Rychel, a teacher at W.H. Morden Public
School has engaged his students in a unique historical look back at the
Northwest Mounted Police, the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway and
the western expansion of settlers in Canada.

    Bryce Honsinger
    Caistor Centre, ON

    In Bryce Honsinger's Grade 8 class, the political events of the
post-Confederation era that fuelled the Métis uprisings of leader, Louis Riel
are alive and well. Through a creative and unique curriculum titled, "Canadian
History Timeline", Honsinger has transported his students at Applewood Public
School back in time so they can role-play the lives of historical figures that
were pivotal in the Trial of Louis Riel and the Quebec Conference.
    Honsinger has also created a genealogical study of his own family which
he uses in the classroom to study important moments in history. Students are
given a hands-on experience as they examine photos, artefacts, and documents
from the 18th and 19th centuries.

    Clint Lovell
    Barrie, ON

    Harold Patterson, a soldier from Barrie, Ontario died during the Second
World War, and has been pretty much forgotten since then. Until, Grade 10
teacher, Clint Lovell encouraged his students from Eastview Secondary School
to resurrect Patterson and his fellow soldiers history. Along the way, Lovell
and his students rewrote their city's past by drawing up a new way to teach
history in our high schools. Each student built profiles of their soldiers'
lives, using research from the Canadian Virtual War Memorial and the
Commonwealth War Graves Commission. They then sought further details for local
newspapers and the memories of local citizens. Those complete profiles were
then added to the National Virtual War Memorial and a Barrie War Memorial
website. The project has since expanded to encompass World War One casualties.

    Joe Stafford
    Belleville, ON

    The Ottawa Senators had just clinched the Stanley Cup, Ray Charles hit
song "Georgia on My Mind" dominated the airwaves and the 60th Anniversary of
Confederation was being celebrated across the country. The year was 1927 and
judging by Joe Stafford's Grade 10 class at St. Theresa Catholic Secondary
School, students would rather trade in their low riders for flappers and
    Stafford has encouraged his students to re-enact the Diamond Jubilee of
Confederation under the government of Mackenzie King. Students dressed in 20's
garb, prepared visual displays and staged vaudeville acts to highlight the
accomplishments of Canada.

    Nancy Hamer Strahl
    Port Perry, ON

    In a Grade 10 classroom at Port Perry High School, teenagers are trekking
back in time to resurrect the memories of thousands of Canadian soldiers who
met their untimely demise during the Battle of Hong Kong and World War I and
World War II. Nancy Hamer Strahl's students adopted and researched a specific
soldier, created a memorial piece and produced a unique, personal tribute,
which has allowed them the opportunity to express their gratitude in
commemorating and preserving the memories for future generations.
    Students not only studied the paramilitary camp known as "Camp X" in
Whitby, Ontario and interviewed veterans; they also created time capsules for
the 60th Anniversary of Juno Beach and the Battle of Hong Kong. These capsules
are buried on the battlefields of Europe and Hong Kong.

    Nicole Aucoin
    Toronto, ON

    As the leader of the Métis during two separate rebellions, Louis Riel
shone a political spotlight on injustices and championed the rights of his
people. Although Riel's determination to topple the Canadian government
ultimately failed, his subsequent trial, conviction and execution changed the
political dynamics of Canada forever.
    More than a century later, this historic event is having a profound
effect on Grade 7 and 8 students at Horizon Alternative Senior School. Teacher
Nicole Aucoin has transformed her classroom into a courtroom so that her
students can recreate the trial of Louis Riel and decide for themselves if
Riel was a terrorist or freedom fighter.

    Scott Masters
    Toronto, ON

    Scott Masters believes in the power of personal accounts to relive
historical moments. Topics like World War II and the Holocaust can be
difficult to comprehend in a classroom environment. That's why Masters is
giving those most affected by history a voice of their own. Masters has
invited veterans and Holocaust survivors to speak with his students at
Crestwood Preparatory College. Survivors and former soldiers share their
stories and their own personal artefacts and documents. The students have now
begun to digitize those memories and primary documents so that the next
generation of students will have the opportunity to view history through a
first-hand account.

    Chantal Pelosse
    Montreal, QC

    Madame Chantal Pelosse has a unique way of bringing history to life for
her Grades 10 and 11 students. Last January, Pelosse's students won 3rd place
in the TV5 Thalassa international contest on globalization by researching and
presenting the challenges that the Montreal river port has overcome from the
time of furs to that of large shipping containers. Pelosse's students at
College International Marie de France have also starred in their own musical
that depicted the 350th Anniversary of Montreal.

    Gilbert Salmon
    Thetford Mines, QC

    Gilbert Salmon has a unique knack for bringing history to life for his
secondary 4 (Grade 10) students. He has transformed his classroom at
Polyvalente de Thetford Mines into a museum brimming with historical artefacts
collected by his students. The items serve as a starting point for discussion
and the study of history, and immigration. Students interpret the items - many
of which reflect the diverse facts of life in the region - and present them to
the class as well as invited students from other grades.

    Isabelle Bergeron and Sylvain Christin
    Rigaud, QC

    From the creation of the first electric motor to the steam-power-driven
flight by the Wright brothers, the Industrialization of Canada gave rise to
modernization. Now, a class of Grade 10 students from College Bourget are
going back in time to discover the monumental achievements made during the
Industrialization of Canada from 1850 to 1930. Teachers Isabelle Bergeron and
Sylvain Christin have encouraged their students to research historical figures
and detail their findings in journals. Those trips down memory lane then
culminated in a large interactive exhibit involving over 200 students from the
same grade.

    Jean Pelletier
    Quebec City, QC

    In Jean Pelletier's Grade 5 class, some days are just like a theatrical
production. In the second row sits a young girl dressed in beaver skins and
clogs made of hide. To the left of her is a young boy wearing a knitted toque,
complete with all the colors of the rainbow and tassels swinging to and fro.
These Grade 5 students at Ecole de l'Alize are exploring every day life of
village "habitants" through period costumes, historical figures and customs of
the yesteryear. Their discoveries have been brought to life with posters,
costumes, models and computer dioramas as part of the Historica Fairs Program.
Even the entire community participates in this historical re-enactment,
awarding prizes to the students for their efforts.

    Jean-Pierre Frigon
    Quebec City, QC

    The liberation of Europe from the steely grip of Hitler's Third Reich is
over six decades old but the monumental moment is alive and well in the minds
of Jean-Pierre Frigon's class at Ecole Secondaire Paul-le-Jeune. His Grade 11
students are exploring the contribution of their region and that of Canada as
a whole to the Allied war effort against the Nazis. Titled, "The Roads to
Freedom", Frigon developed an interactive curriculum that engaged his students
in an international exchange between students from Quebec and France. During
the long-distance learning experience, students discussed the contribution of
Canadians to the liberation of France. Frigon's students also created an
historic calendar dedicated to local veterans and visited historic sites.

    Allan Trueman
    Miramichi, NB

    It's a history lesson that can span centuries with just the click of a
mouse. In New Brunswick, Allan Trueman is using cyberspace to propel Grade 12
students into a new realm of education. Through the creation of a virtual high
school, this teacher from James M. Hill Memorial High School has allowed
students - those who are unable to attend a regular high school as well as any
New Brunswick high school students whose school does not offer Canadian
History, or is unable to fit the class at his/her school into their schedule -
the chance to learn about Canadian history through an interactive, multimedia
website. The online course, called "Canadian History 122", features lecture
notes, activities, pictures, quizzes and resources to help students interact
and explore historical moments.

    Owen Ferguson
    Truro, NS

    Owen Ferguson is hoping that his Grade 6 class has a few green thumbs in
it. The teacher at Redcliff Middle School is sowing the seeds of a unique
project that's designed to bring history to life for his students. Called the
"All Canadian Tree", Ferguson's students carefully crafted original handmade
ornaments that depicted aspects of Canadian culture and history. These
creative knick-knacks were then placed on the tree, which serves as a symbol
of the diversity of Canada. Not only did Ferguson's students learn about the
many cultural and historical facets that complete this country but the "All
Canadian Tree" also sprouted a sense of unity amongst his students.

    Sherri Duggan and Thelma Gregan
    Berwick, NS

    Teachers Sherri Duggan and Thelma Gregan are encouraging their students
to trade in their text books for sneakers. The teachers at Berwick and
District School are leading their students on a trek back in time that will
explore over a dozen historical and cultural sites throughout the province.
The historical marathon, titled "A Journey Through Time", encouraged students
K to 6 to run over 1,800 kilometres. Over the course of their journey,
students trekked across various historical landmarks such as Kejimkujik
National Park and the Black Cultural Centre.

For further information:

For further information: or to arrange an interview with teachers,
please contact: Nicole Harris, Maverick Media, (204) 470-4555,; Deborah Morrison, CEO, Canada's National History
Society, 1-800-816-6777 ext. 22,

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