In June, seven teachers from three CSI schools in Ontario received John Rozema Awards for Teaching Excellence from Cardus, a think tank dedicated to the renewal of the social architecture of North America. The teachers were celebrated for their contributions to the Christian vision of their schools and to the flourishing of the community.
Kasia Konstanty, Eric Brink, Richie VanderWier, Jonathan Devries, and Harry Blyleven, from Hamilton District Christian High School in Ancaster, were presented the group award. They were nominated by their principal, Nathan Siebenga, who credited the team with “exploding the grade 9 time table to deliver an innovative design block course that worked across curriculum disciplines . . . and stretch beyond what many would consider a ‘normal’ classroom.”
Lisa Eelkema, seventh-grade teacher at Laurentian Hills Christian School in Kitchener, won the elementary teaching award. She used data and assessment to stimulate students to present urban planning ideas to city councilors, partner with adults in the local community in an analysis of dystopian literature, and write editorials critiquing local and global responses to natural disasters.
David Robinson, of Toronto District Christian High School, took home the secondary school award for his willingness to let “students experience education beyond the classroom walls.” Under his guidance, students built and installed sound proofing panels for the school building and designed Lego robots.
"The quality of all the nominees, the strength of the candidates on the shortlist, and the superb professionalism of the winners all attest to a very bright future for top quality Christian education," said Cardus president Michael Van Pelt said following the awards. "Cardus is delighted to be a partner in a process that both rewards and showcases the best of what Christian schools can offer students, the education system, and the wider community."
To be considered for the award, teachers at independent Christian schools in the Province of Ontario are nominated by their heads of school, and a panel of experts from the fields of education, Christian school administration, and business makes the decision.
This was the first year Cardus presented awards, which are named for John Rozema, a business leader in Sarnia, Ontario, who is committed to both global and local issues and supportive of Christian education. Cardus chose to highlight educators because teachers have a critical role in the formation of the next generation, and these awards highlight models of excellent education. The second cycle of the awards will be announced this fall.