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January 16, 2014
For immediate release
Educators Richard Baker and Sandra Dennis receive Prime Minister’s Awards
Education and Early Childhood Development
Two Prince Edward Island educators have received national recognition awards for their outstanding and innovative efforts, says Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Alan McIsaac.
“Island educators consistently show a strong desire to help children and students succeed,” said Minister McIsaac. “I want to congratulate and thank Richard Baker and Sandra Dennis for fostering a creative learning environment and inspiring so many young Islanders. It is wonderful to see them recognized on the national stage.”
Richard Baker, a resource teacher at Bluefield High School, was presented with the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence for 2013. Sandra Dennis, an early childhood educator with Holland College Early Learning Centre in Charlottetown, was presented with a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Early Childhood Education.
The Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence honour outstanding and innovative elementary and secondary school teachers in all disciplines who instill in their students a love of learning and who use information and communications technology to better equip their students. The awards for Excellence in Early Childhood Education honour outstanding educators who, through their dedication and skill, are supporting children and families to thrive, thus enabling children to develop into highly productive citizens.
A list of award recipients can be found at www.pma-ppm.gc.ca/epic/home.nsf/html/pma_wp-pa.html.
Richard Baker Citation
With an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, it is not uncommon to receive an email from Richard Baker at four o’clock in the morning. Driven by a passion for his job, his colleagues often wonder where he finds the time. He’s a resource teacher and a coach, but Baker’s position at Bluefield High School in Prince Edward Island is best described as helping students enjoy the school day on a daily basis.
Always thriving on new opportunities, Baker will stop at nothing to find innovative ways of helping students throughout the school to strengthen their skills and achieve their full potential. Baker always seeks to care for the whole child – fostering emotional, social, academic and sometimes even financial needs.
Among his many outstanding achievements, he mobilized students to conduct scientific research for publication, or interview and publish stories about seniors who lived through the Great Depression. Baker was an integral part of applying and securing over $8,000 in grants funding from the Grass Roots Program for new technology in the school.
He inspired and supported a group of math and science teachers to submit a winning application for a $40,000 HP Teaching with Technology Grant. He was also awarded a $14,000 Future Shop grant for a set of electronic tablets to assist struggling readers and writers.
Always finding ways to get involved in the school community, Baker is quick to identify a need and to address it. He started a newcomers club to help new students adjust, get involved and network. He also created a book club that is well beyond a traditional book club, but rather a Society for the Appreciation of Great Literature (SAGL) which has enabled students to participate in projects with local authors and compete in CBC's Battle of the Book Clubs.
Sandra Dennis Citation
Sandra Dennis strongly believes that the development of a child is a journey of discovery. Well-regarded in her community, Dennis has a warm heart that shines through in all her initiatives, and has her children running out the door, excited to discover what she has in store for them that day.
When renovations were underway for an outdoor play space, Dennis collaborated with colleagues and families to create a space that included a slide, a music wall, a fine-motor wall, a sandbox, and flower and vegetable gardens.
She takes pictures, videos and notes on activities that take place throughout the day which display children’s reactions, interests and dislikes. She uses the material to reflect on how to further adapt their learning and her environment.
Dennis holds special sessions that allow her students to explore a specially selected collection of items in a relaxed atmosphere. She uses scribble journals in her infant/toddler program that enable her to systemically assess fine-motor skill development.
Sandra Dennis works hard to ensure that parents feel welcome. She keeps quick reference sheets for all her children. These sheets allow parents to remain informed about details like nap cycles, meals, and moods. She also organizes monthly Family Fun Nights.
In addition, she maintains the centre's resource room as a way to continuously keep parents involved. The resources focus on everything from activity bags, a children’s library, and information on child development.
Dennis implemented the Handle with Care program that engages parents through a variety of activities that allow them to get to know each other and learn about their children’s learning activities.