Two local teachers have been recognized for their outstanding commitment to their students. On May 22, Sherri Billowits, who teaches grade one at St. George School, and André Roberge, an education resource teacher at St-François-d’Assise, received the Capital Educators’ Awards.
The Capital Educators’ Awards are presented by the Ottawa Network for Education in collaboration with 10 participating education institutions. Recipients are nominated by their institution and chosen by a community panel of judges.
Billowits, who lives just up the street from St. George, was lauded for her efforts to integrate a non-verbal special needs child into her classroom. Her success not only benefited the child with special needs, but sensitized and engaged the entire class.
“We worked on creating activities that he would enjoy,” she says. Once she discovered that he responded well to music, she used that to interact with him in many ways, like singing the letters of his name.
“I can’t be sure,” she says, “but I think he appreciated having [his interest in music] recognized, and having that feeling of connection.”
Roberge was also recognized for going above and beyond with his Hintonburg students. As a resource teacher, he works alongside children over a span of several years, supporting them as they move up through the grades. He says he enjoys the unique relationship he is able to develop with them.
“I am in a role where I don’t have to evaluate them or judge them,” he explains. “I just work with them to build their confidence.”
Roberge has been teaching for eight years, Billowits for 10 years. Finding ways to engage and motivate their students is something they have been doing, and perfecting, for years.
When asked for tips on how to continue to keep kids in learning over the summer holidays, both teachers emphasized the importance of taking a break from structured learning and getting active outdoors.
“It’s a long academic year,” says Roberge. “So relax and have fun. Get active. Get outside. When you’re active your brain works better.”
Billowits adds that parents can find activities that keep children involved in learning while also being physically active. She gives the example of games of tag where children who are tagged need to spell out a word.
She also emphasizes the importance of reading and recommends that families take advantage of fantastic local resources such as the Ottawa Public Library.
“Read for pleasure and be read to for pleasure,” she encourages. “This will go a long way.”
The Ottawa Network for Education annually recognizes outstanding teachers from across Ottawa. Roberge and Billowits were among 18 award recipients who come from the whole spectrum of public education; from kindergarten teachers to PhD professors.
To learn more about the Capital Educators Awards, visit onfe-rope.ca.
Advice from the experts
Interested in keeping your children’s brains engaged over the summer holidays? Take some advice from Kitchissippi’s award-winning educators:
- Take a break from structured learning; get active and have fun outdoors. When you’re active your brain works better. (This is true for parents too!)
- Find activities that can keep children learning while also being physically active at the same time. (For example, play games of tag where children who are tagged need to spell out a word.)
- Keep reading! One way to do this is to take advantage of the Ottawa Public Library. Check out the OPL website and get the scoop on their summer reading club. There’s one for teens too. For more information go to biblioottawalibrary.ca.