In June 2018, Booker School Curriculum Coordinator and teacher Temma Frecker was shortlisted for the Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Teaching, along with 24 other teachers from across Canada. The award is designed to recognize the exceptional work carried out by teachers around the country in teaching Canadian history, and highlighting the unique projects, initiatives and learning experiences that have been facilitated by these educators.
Temma is one of only two teachers within the province of Nova Scotia who has been shortlisted for the award this year.
Temma has been with The Booker School since its inception in 2012 teaching a range of subjects including French, Language Arts and Social Sciences to students of all ages. In early 2018, she was approached by the selection committee to apply for the award thanks to her facilitation of the conversations carried out by Booker School students in Grades 6-8 in response to the removal of the Cornwallis statue in Halifax in February this year.
The Cornwallis issue came to the forefront during an interdisciplinary unit that focused on the study of Canadian history, specifically through the lens of multiple perspectives. The students applied their learning by delving into the timely debate over how we should (or shouldn’t) commemorate controversial historical figures. They weighed in on the Cornwallis statue issue by researching, debating, forming consensus, and putting forward an official proposal to the Special Advisory Committee on the Commemoration of Sir Edward Cornwallis and the Recognition and Commemoration of Indigenous History (the Cornwallis Committee). The students have shared their idea to the public through official presentations and media coverage. Their proposal, The Conversation, struck a chord with many people and the students’ voices have been recognized as valuable contributors to the overall conversation. Deputy Mayor of Halifax Waye Mason visited The Booker School to hear the proposal, commenting that the students were ‘at the forefront of a national conversation.’
Temma reflected on the experience by saying, “The best learning comes from tackling complex and relevant issues. Taking action on what we learn in class is an essential part of The Booker School’s philosophy. The culminating action component of this unit revolved around the Cornwallis statue, a complex problem with no easy solution. As their teacher, I didn’t have the answers or know the best way forward, so I put it to the students. They met the challenge head on, with maturity and thoughtfulness.”
The winners will be announced by Canada’s History later in the fall.