Kreuger recognized nationally for educational innovation

Nathan Liewicki
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From left to right, Ron Canuel, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Education Association, Pallier Heights Elementary School teacher Claire Kreuger and principal Tammy Erskine, Prairie South School Division (PSSD) Director Jeff Finell and trustee Tim McLeod pose at the PSSD office Tuesday. Canuel was on hand to present Kreuger with The Ken Spencer Award - one of seven teachers recognized nationally for innovation in teaching and learning. 

Palliser Heights teaches students about treaty education

There are not many teachers who entertain the idea of teaching their students a concept that is all but foreign to them.

Even fewer will admit to their students the project they would be undertaking would be a learning experience for themselves and the students alike.

But do not tell that to Claire Kreuger.

Three years ago, while teaching at Westmount Elementary School, Kreuger began to develop the We Are Treaty People project. With the assistance of the University of Regina’s Faculty of Education, she developed – through trial and error – how digital storytelling could be used to engage students’ learning about treaties and treaty relationship.

Currently a Grade 3/ French immersion teacher at Palliser Heights Elementary School, Kreuger was recognized by the Canadian Education Association (CEA) and awarded The Ken Spencer Award for her innovative efforts in teaching and learning.

“It's really exciting and an honour to get this award, and also for my class,” Kreuger said. “It wasn't me in isolation. It takes a whole team to pull off innovation in education and I am well supported.”

CEA President and Chief Executive Officer Ron Canuel was at the Prairie South School Division’s head office Tuesday to present Kreuger with the award, as well as a cheque for $1,000. She was one of seven teachers in Canada to receive the distinguished award this year, receiving honourable mention.

“I made it a mandate of mine that anytime I see innovation happening in a district that's led and supported by the district, the principal and led by the teacher, for me, needs recognition and I will take the time to come and say that’s fantastic,” said Canuel.

According to Canuel, Ken Spencer was the “quintessential entrepreneur” and felt very strongly about recognizing innovation in Canada – in particular teachers pushing the innovative envelope. As such, he donates the money presented to award winners as a small token of his appreciation, as well as the appreciation of the CEA for pushing education forward.

Kreuger told the Times-Herald the $1,000 will go toward new iPads for her students, which she said would bring the student to iPad ratio in her class closer to 2:1.

She admitted that when she started the project she tried to be an expert on treaty education, but soon realized she did not have the base of knowledge to draw from like, for example, a math teacher would.

“It’s very easy to teach a math class, but when you haven't taught treaty education classes it can be uncomfortable to try to be doing something that you've never seen be done before,” said Kreuger.

The We Are Treaty People project is the integration of the treaty education program – as designed by the Office of the Treaty Commissioner – and the element of technology.

In the case of Kreuger, she used iPads and the applications on them to begin the inquiry process of what does it mean to be a treaty person?

She and her class discovered that it is not just First Nations people who are treaty people, but everyone. One of Kreuger’s students was clearly enthused by the treaty education she had learned about.

“Last year asked I asked my students if it was worth it and if they learned anything,” said Kreuger. "One student wrote me two pages and was like, 'I don't know why any teacher would not teach treaty education. This is so important.’

And she said, “It's not as useless as fractions. It actually gives me ideas to hold on to.'"

Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks

Organizations: First Nations, Palliser Heights Elementary School, Canadian Education Association Prairie South School Division

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