Keisa Milner, left, acts as a bank teller and bookkeeper as Aspen Heights Elementary School students line up to make a withdrawal from their accounts Thursday afternoon. After an assembly where the school was awarded a national school award the school held a market day where students can buy and sell products from other students. (Photo by Jeff Stokoe/Advocate staff)

Red Deer school a national leader in innovation

Chosen from 102 schools across Canada

Canadian Education Association can’t say enough about Aspen Heights Elementary School’s MicroSociety program.

In early April, the K-5 school received the non-profit association’s Ken Spencer Award for Innovation in Teaching and Learning.

On Thursday CEA president and CEO Ron Canuel said in the six years he’s given out the national award, Aspen Heights MicroSociety was unequivocally the best he’s ever seen.

“Instead of just being a part of a project in a school — it is the school, and I think that’s one of the big separators I can say from past winners. You can see this is an entire school initiative happening,” said Canuel, who presented the award at a student assembly on Thursday.

A MicroSociety connects students to the real world by allowing them to create their own miniature country that comes complete with elected government, entrepreneurial hub, non-profit organizations, marketplace, courts, police, post-secondary institutions and gathering places.

The school’s MicroSociety has operated for nine years and Canuel said visitors can sense there’s something different about the school. The students have a level of self confidence and a strong sense of pride in being part of Aspen Heights.

“When you look at them and talk to them, what strikes me is they’re all looking at you in the eye.”

The award is to recognize and publicize innovative work that is sustainable and can inspire other schools to do the same.

“There is still a number of systemic challenges, one being dropouts, that continue to be really a thorn in the side of many, many institutions. We try to promote them to think differently. This is a great example of thinking differently and being successful,” Canuel said.

Allan Baile, MicroSociety program co-ordinator and Grade 4 and 5 teacher, said MicroSociety is embedded into the entire school and shows students what they are capable of doing.

“They take what their teachers are teaching them in class and then they go and apply it in their MicroSociety jobs. They see there’s a relevance to what they’re doing,” Baile said.

Baile, who taught at the school prior to the MicroSociety, said students now talk about all the things they want to accomplish, like going to college or becoming entrepreneurs.

“They want to be something more than what they ever thought they could be. The jobs that they’re thinking about are professional jobs.”

MicroSociety is funded by community partners and the $7,000 prize with the award will be used for new equipment and supplies for businesses students operate, he said.

Aspen Heights, a Red Deer Public School, has also been named a finalist in the education category for the 26th annual Emerald Awards, which will be presented on June 6.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

WATCH: From humble beginnings Red Deer-based wrestling promotion is growing

It wasn’t that long ago that Dylon Featherstone and the Canadian Wrestling… Continue reading

WATCH: Families make yo-yos and weaved yarn at Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery

It was all about making yo-yos and yarn bombing at Red Deer… Continue reading

Solve mysteries with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in Red Deer

At three sold-out one act Sherlock Holmes plays in Red Deer, theatre… Continue reading

Quebec man arrested in slaying of Alberta woman 16 years ago

AIRDRIE, Alta. — A Quebec man has been arrested in the slaying… Continue reading

Construction underway at Medicine River Wildlife Centre in Red Deer

The new building is twice the size of the old one

WATCH Replay Red Deer Feb. 18: Your weekly news highlights

Watch news from Red Deer and Central Alberta

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Liberals looking at creating use-it-or-lose-it leave for fathers, Trudeau says

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is raising the idea of creating… Continue reading

Trump gets angry about election meddling, but not at Russia

‘Weirdest thing’: Trump expresses anger, but not over Russian election-meddling

New doping charge could hurt Russia’s chance at reinstatement

Russia could lose its chance to be reinstated before the end of the Winter Olympics because of a doping charge against curling bronze medallist Alexander Krushelnitsky.

#Metoo movement causing confusion in many men, fear of missteps with women: experts

Being painted by the same sweeping brush as those alleged to have mistreated women has angered men

Virtue and Moir break their own world record

Virtue and Moir break short dance record to sit first in ice dance at Olympics

Calgary man dies in Mexico following sudden illness

Troy Black was with his wife, Lindsay, in Puerto Vallarta when he began vomiting blood on Thursday

Life or death main decision for school shooting suspect

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The evidence against the Florida school shooting suspect… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month