Comp teacher to receive Award of Teaching Excellence

Weyburn Comprehensive School Physics teacher Karen Kennedy-Allin was named as a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence, and she will be presented with a Certificate of Excellence by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday, May 28 in Ottawa.

“I am both humbled and honoured by this award. Words cannot express how much I appreciate this recognition,” said Kennedy-Allin.

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The Prime Minister's Awards for Teaching Excellence have honoured exceptional elementary and secondary school teachers in all disciplines since 1993, with over 1,500 teachers honoured to date. Teaching Excellence Awards recipients are honoured for their remarkable achievements in education and for their commitment to preparing their students for a digital and innovation-based economy.

The ceremony will be shown live on Facebook at 4 p.m. (Eastern time) on Tuesday, May 28.

Kennedy-Allin has taught for over 25 years, and works tirelessly to improve her classes, as she is of the view that every semester is an opportunity for growth and change.

Parents of a former student offered these comments about her as a teacher: “Mrs. Allin to us was more than just a teacher. She is a true inspiration of an extraordinary human being. … She never gave up on (our son). She pushed him above and beyond his limits and expectations and occasionally pushed us as well.”

In addition to teaching science classes at the Weyburn Comp, she is also president of the Southeast Cornerstone Teachers Association, and through this position, she supports teachers across all grade levels and disciplines.

“I would like to sincerely dedicate this award to all the teachers that shared their skills and practices with me over the past 25-plus years. All I really needed to do was have enough courage to implement the new things that I’ve learned from others that came before me. I have always strived for classes that are hands on, project and inquiry-based,” said Kennedy-Allin.

Kennedy-Allin helped to write the new Physics 30 curriculum for the province along with three other educators, and creates lessons and projects for senior science classes that are shared with teachers across the province.

Previously she received the Canadian Association of Physicists Award of teaching excellence in 2017.

Her primary directive is that students will not care until they know you care. She ensures that the students who need the biggest challenges to stay engaged get them, and those who can only handle smaller ones get what they need.

She explained some of the reasons that she loves being a teacher.

“Teaching is more than a job for me; it is a calling. I am constantly trying to make sure my students know that I deeply care about them and that I really want them to enjoy what they are learning in class. I also want them to understand that what we do in class is relevant to their every day lives,” she said, adding this message to her students, “Thank you to all my students current and past. You are the reason I do what I do.”

She adapts to various learning styles, and has her students review video lessons at their own pace. She makes class notes available, and has produced 10 video lessons for students to do at home so physics class time is free for inquiry-based activities.

She stresses the importance of hands-on projects to prompt innovative thinking and learning through trial and error, using such projects as marshmallow launcher catapults, and rollercoasters using steel ball bearings, both requiring students to use and show their understanding of physics principles and laws.

Kennedy-Allin conducts a student survey at the end of every semester and strives to take into account the feedback in the surveys in order to improve her courses for the next semester.

She has also created the Comp School’s health and anatomy symposium, where students create displays with information on the structure and function of a human organ or body system, and how to keep it healthy. The event features interactive learning activities and parents, the media and the public are invited to attend.