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Manitoulin teacher receives Governor General’s Award for Excellence in Teaching

A long-time educator with Rainbow District School Board has been honoured nationally. Heather Jefkins, a Grade 3/4 teacher at Assiginack Public School, has received a prestigious Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, presided over the ceremony on January 20, 2020 at Rideau Hall in Ottawa. Cultural organizations, teachers, students, and community groups were recognized for their innovative projects, which encourage the dissemination and teaching of Canadian history.

Heather Jefkins engaged her students in a project called “Weaving Stories and Stitching History”. The project integrated outcomes in social studies, language arts and visual arts through a combination of online research, consultation with community artisans, and hands-on experience with textile art.

Over five months, students had an opportunity to try quilting, weaving, cross-stitching and embroidery. They also helped to prepare raw fleece provided by a local farmer.

By examining history through the lens of textile arts, students investigated the daily lives of early settlers, made comparisons between the past and the present, and gained an understanding of the role that material culture plays in transmitting knowledge and preserving history.

“Heather Jefkins used the timeless traditions of weaving and stitching to not only bring history to life, but to build important learning skills in students,” said Director of Education Norm Blaseg. “These rich lessons focused on critical thinking and problem solving; innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship; self-directed learning; as well as collaboration, communication and citizenship. The national recognition was most deserving.”

“What an incredible honour,” said Heather Jefkins. “To be nominated by a former student, who is now a teacher herself, is also extremely humbling.” She added: “This award represents a career filled with community support from the people of Manitoulin Island. They have graciously shared their stories with my students, and have helped me inspire them to think like historians. I am most grateful to them for their contribution.”

Heather Jefkins began her career at Charles C. McLean Public School in Gore Bay, where she taught for 22 years. She has been a teacher at Assiginack Public School for the past three years.

“Heather Jefkins has a passion for history that is demonstrated through her ability to engage her students in dynamic ways,” said Principal Heather Pennie. “We are proud of her outstanding achievement and are so pleased that her work has been profiled nationally.”

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Media Contact:

Nicole Charette, Senior Advisor
Corporate Communications and Strategic Planning
Rainbow District School Board, 705-674-3171 ext. 7217

Photo:
A long-time educator with Rainbow District School Board has been honoured nationally for excellence in teaching. Heather Jefkins, a Grade 3/4 teacher at Assiginack Public School, received a Governor General’s History Award. Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, presented the Excellence in Teaching award to Heather Jefkins, left, on January 20, 2020 at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.
Photo credit: MCpl Mathieu Gaudreault, Rideau Hall, OSGG-BSGG, 2020.