It’s no surprise that an inspiring Red Deer Public teacher wants the money she won for being a top teacher to go towards developing a ‘maker space’ at her school.
École Barrie Wilson Elementary School teacher Amanda Wilson was one of three teachers to recently win the 2015 Canadian Family Great Teacher Award. Each won $2,500 for school programming and supplies.
The ninth annual awards program by the online magazine Canadian Family recognizes outstanding elementary and secondary school educators from across the country.
Twelve semi-finalists were chosen by a panel of judges from among hundreds of nominees. Online voting determined the winners with Wilson receiving the most votes, more than 71,000, during the month-long contest.
Wilson said her winnings will be put toward a maker space which could include toys, like Lego, and tools, like a 3D printer, for students to make things, to play, to be creative.
“We’re hoping to start this year. It’s quite expensive to buy all the things that a really good maker space would have. We’re going to put this money towards it and hopefully we can add to it as we grow and budget for it,” said Wilson, 30, of Red Deer.
She teaches a Grade 4/5 split class in a double classroom space with another teacher with a Grade 3/ 4 split class in the new school that opened September 2014.
The room has a foldable wall to divide the space, but the two teachers prefer to keep it open.
“It’s been really cool. There’s been lots of collaboration between her and I, and with other staff. The kids also have a lot of opportunity to collaborate with each other which has been really interesting and a huge learning experience for all of us.”
She said her school focuses on project-based learning and researching real world issues instead of just textbook learning.
“It’s really exciting to teach that way when the kids are so excited to learn about things they want to learn about.”
She was nominated for the award by a parent whose child was in Wilson’s class when she taught at Mountview Elementary School as well as at Barrie Wilson. Barrie Wilson principal Chris Good said Wilson is one of those teachers that does a lot of research into best practices and spends time building relationships with her students.
“She just has a really engaging classroom. The kids love to be in her room. The parents are excited to have their kids in her room,” Good said. “I can speak as a parent too. My son was actually in her class last year,” the principal said.
Wilson said she was very humbled to receive the award.
“I’m truly surrounded by greatness in this building every day. To be the person picked out to be nominated is pretty surreal.”
Wilson is teaching at the school named after her father, a retired teacher. Her mother was also a teacher.
“I tried to fight the teacher gene a little bit. While I was going to school I coached gymnastics and I realized I really loved coaching gymnastics and I realized that basically was teaching — just sports. I decided that was kind of my passion and went back to get my education degree.”