Teacher an outstanding historical figure

Duncan's Mike Ward is one of two B.C. teachers selected as a finalist by the National History Society for his teaching of Canadian history.
— image credit: Doug Marner

A teacher at Palsson Elementary School in Lake Cowichan has been nominated for a Governor General’s Award For Excellence In Teaching Canadian History.

Mike Ward, a Duncan resident, is one of two B.C. teachers selected as a finalist by the National History Society for his social studies table. There are 25 finalists from across Canada.

Ward is excited about being a finalist.

“I think the principal, Fergus Horsburgh, is excited about it too,” said Ward. “He uses the same classroom and hears the students talk about the history tables. Our hope is that this model of ours will become used by other teachers.”

The program, which Ward said he learned about from other teachers at A.B. Greenwell Elementary School several years ago, is meant to bring history alive for the students.

During the last school year, Ward’s class started with a First Nations table that showed their lifestyles and traditions.

It then moved on to when the Europeans arrived and the system of trade they established.

A replica of a pioneer village, for example, included a blacksmith, carpenter shop, a rustic general store, log houses and a one-room school.

Through role-playing, the students pretend they are the people of the pioneer community making transactions or clearing land for farming.

“I think the children have a good time with it,” said Ward. “On each table they can make decisions. It’s their personalities that make each table different.”

Deborah Morrison, CEO and president of the National History Society, said it is classrooms like Ward’s that inspire students to learn about Canada’s great history.

“That effort will make a life long difference for those students and their perspectives on being Canadian,” said Morrison.

Six teachers will be selected from the 25 finalists who will each receive $2,500, a gold medal and a trip in the fall to the awards ceremony with the governor general.

There will also be $1,000 awarded to the recipients’ schools.

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