National tech award heralded as great achievement

Article from “The Saint Croix Courier”
By Barb Rayner

Students and staff at Sir James Dunn Academy know how to make the best use of today’s technology and their efforts have been recognized nationally by one of the country’s largest education technology consulting firms.

The school is one of three national first-place winners in MindShare Learning’s Canada-wide video challenge. Some 33 teams competed and their eastern Canada division included schools from Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI and Newfoundland and
Labrador. The three winning schools will each receive a classroom technology package valued at more than $15,000.

One thing unique about SJDA’s project, said math and science teacher Seth Richardson, was that they only had 10 days to work on it.

“I was thinking there’s no way we can get this done then I remembered that a lot of the teachers had spoken very, very highly of the students that we have and they are very, very competent in their skills. It’s just unbelievable. It’s kind of unique that we decided to put together a project-based initiative to create this video.” Students Travis Acton, Alex Peppard and Luke and Joel Goddard worked on the project with Richardson, principal David O’Leary and teacher Heidi Brown. All students are in Grade 12 except Grade 11 student, Joel. “They really came together and they each had a specific role and they fulfilled it to the maximum. We couldn’t have done it without every one giving 100 perent,” said Richardson.

Were it not for the students involved in the project, it would have been a challenge to complete it, O’Leary stated, adding that the final product was a true student production facilitated by adults.

“They are the champions of this opportunity, they won this award and the best part of it for us is that to be a true educator you need to facilitate and allow people to take a risk; to step out and to go for it and to point them in the right direction; be critical when
it’s time to be critical and applaud when it’s time to applaud. The kids that worked on this did a remarkable job.”

Last year, the eastern division of the contest was also won by a New Brunswick school and O’Leary feel this speaks volumes about the province’s educational system.

“New Brunswick is really leading the way in the area of 21st century skills. We were very pleasantly surprised but we knew we had a good shot.”

Travis probably put in the most hours on the video, said Richardson, because he did a lot of the editing and he pulled a couple of all-nighters to get it finished. “One night we got a call to say he went to bed about five or six in the morning so we had to go to his house
and wake him up at 10 because we needed his material.  “A lot of students spent a lot of nights. The work that I did was more at the beginning because I did the outline and when the students got hold of it they were able to have a lot of say and sway in where it went. It’s good because it’s theirs,” he said.

They began work on the video Dec. 5 – just prior to exams – and submitted it Dec. 15.

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