Jordan Smith Wins Premier's Excellence in Education Award

Posted On Monday October 07, 2019
Jordan Smith receives award for excellence
Premier John Horgan, Rob Fleming, Minister of Education, and Lt. Gov. Janet Austin present Jordan Smith with a Premier's Award for Excellence in Education.

Kamloops Teacher Jordan Smith received a Premier's Award for Excellence in Education during a ceremony at Government House in Victoria Oct. 4. She won the award in the category of Indigenous Education. 

Smith is a teacher and program coordinator at Twin Rivers Education Centre and an Aboriginal School of Choice, Four Directions school. Smith works hard to connect students with Indigenous culture and history and to create an environment of safety and belonging. Each year, she identifies a thematic focus that connects experiential learning, art, community involvement and field trips to an elective course that all students are enrolled in. In keeping with the theme, students engage in a variety of hands-on learning opportunities such as traditional fishing, gathering with local Elders and working with Indigenous artists. This year, she secured a Vancouver Foundation grant to pilot a program designed to integrate Indigenous ways of knowing alongside western curriculum by involving family, Elders and knowledge keepers. 

She is one of 10 award winners, chosen from among 140 nominees, four from SD73, in the second annual Premier's Awards for Excellence in Education. Along with Smith, SD73 finalists included:  

Ivy Chelsea, Indigenous Education

From Chase Secondary School and Haldane Elementary School, Ivy Chelsea is a Secwepemctsin language teacher focused on expanding the reach of the language to as many people in the district and the community as possible. She led Tsutswecw Park Story Trails, a pilot with BC Parks Foundation, involving her Grade 9 - 12 Chase Secondary School students in creating a new way of experiencing a B.C. Park.

Carol DeFehr, School Leadership

Principal at Juniper Ridge Elementary School, Carol DeFehr's 

An innovative leader in her school community, DeFehr has a passion for education and is committed to honouring each and every child. She implemented a slogan, #alwaystry, speaking to her supportive vision for student success, and communicating to students, parents and staff her belief that learning can be challenging, mistakes are part of the process, and perseverance is critical to making positive gains. To encourage students to push themselves toward academic success, she instituted a principal’s recognition program, regularly honouring their efforts to go above and beyond in their classwork. She also works to cultivate students’ positive social development and goes to great lengths to communicate with parents, so they can play an active role in their child’s success

Denise Underwood, Technology and Innovation

From McGowan Park Elementary School, Denise Underwood has emerged as a technology education leader within her school and the district. With a BC Grant on a Synergy Project, she worked with students who used ipads and apps to create multi-layered digital mandalas to build positive personal and cultural identities. A Farm to Table Grant allowed students at McGowan to work on The Great Chicken Project involving live animals. They monitored egg production, feed and care, and other aspects of digital farming. She facilitated the Lego Robotics club, Skills Canada cardboard boat races, and incorporated research-based practices into her teaching. She has also been involved as a mentor in the district’s Tech Mentor program.

Winners of this year's awards received a commemorative work of art by Claire Jorgensen, a 17-year old Reynolds Secondary student from Victoria. They also received a $3,000 personal bursary for professional learning and a $2,000 contribution to their school community for professional learning. 

Related Stories:

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SD73 Finalists for Premier's Awards are Helping Build Community

Vancouver Foundation Grant for $246,000 Awarded to Four Directions Secondary School

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