I remember getting the phone call on a Sunday night from Ottawa telling me I would be receiving the Prime Minister's Award for Excellence in Teaching STEM for 2019 from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. My response was funny looking back. I immediately replied "You're not government because government doesn't work on a Sunday night!" After the patient PM Award team jumped through my hoops and proved they were indeed government and I had indeed received this honour it all began to sink in. I bolted to the press release on the day the profiles went online and began reading the other recipients' profiles. I turned to my wife upon completion and said "I don't think I deserve this. These people are amazing!" Being the supportive wife she is she replied "Yes you do! Now turn the light off and go to sleep!" I was off to Ottawa to meet the Prime Minister for efforts in teaching STEM in Canada! This was the 25th anniversary year of the Prime Minister's Awards for Excellence in Teaching and the celebration would not disappoint.
This was not just a photoshoot type of trip. It was nearly a full week of professional development and sharing of best practices from coast to coast. Due to flooding in the region we were put up in the crown jewel of the Hilton Hotels in Gatineau Quebec which was just a short drive from Ottawa. Getting to bring my family and mother (A teacher of 30+ years) to such a classy hotel and experience was priceless. I expected meeting the Prime Minister would be the highlight of the entire trip but in the end it was meeting the PM Award staff and fellow recipients from across Canada that was the true win. From educators who thrive with their classes outdoors every day in Western Canada to educators who dominate coding and robotics events internationally every story inspired more from my own future practice. I got to share how I believe that STEM and Empathy are the most important skills for my students and show how I put those beliefs into practice each day.
Field trips were eye-opening. We got to visit the Canada Science and Technology Museum and experience countless hands-on demonstrations. We were guests at Question Period and had a view of the official opposition as they did official opposition things. Elizabeth May also got to introduce a new MP to the group. The whole event was interesting to put it as politically correct as I can. We took a short walk to the Innovation and Science Office in their award winning building with stunning views of the river and Parliament.
The day arrived when I would shake hands with the Prime Minister of our country and it didn't disappoint. I bought a suit far above my pay-grade and waited my turn to receive the honour. My MP Alaina Lockhart took time away from a crazy busy day to show up and say congratulations in person! It was so cool to see a New Brunswicker in Ottawa and it made the whole experience feel a little more grounded despite it being overwhelming in scope. After a brief profile video arranged without my knowing by my colleague at school I was called to the stage and my son who was seated next to the Prime Minister got to watch his dad smile the biggest smile possible and give a thumbs up in the proudest professional moment of his life. It was important that my son was there to see it but also my mom who in many ways inspired my career choice. The 15 seconds with the Prime Minster on stage felt like 15 minutes and in the video I see myself trying to bolt off stage as soon as possible. It was however, the most proud and inspired moment of my career. I encourage everyone to recognize an educator who excels beyond the call of duty for this recognition. That day I received one of two national awards for STEM education but there were many others who received the national award for general education and early education. We arrived as strangers and left as a team. I wish them all the best as they continue their hard work and magic with students. It was to put it simply a super classy event run by a super talented and kind team in Ottawa who work Sunday nights :)
I'm an experienced Global Minecraft Mentor, Published Educational Researcher, Microsoft Innovative Educator Fellow, Apple Distinguished Educator, TeachSDGs Ambassador and grade 6-12 technology teacher. @BBTNB