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Kim Ivanko, a teacher at Hay River’s Ecole Boreale, has received a Prime Minister’s Award of Excellence in Teaching.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

A teacher at Ecole Boreale has won a prestigious national award.

Kim Ivanko, who teaches English at the French-language school, has been named a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

She is just one of 10 teachers across Canada honoured with the award this year.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Ivanko. “It’s very humbling to think that you’re one of the top teachers. Even at Ecole Boreale I work with amazing colleagues, so I don’t see myself as distinguished any differently from them. And really it would be thanks to my students because they’ve really molded the teacher that I’ve become because what I do I do for them.”

The Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence recognize remarkable achievements in education, and commitment to preparing students for a digital and innovation-based economy.

The awards were announced on Oct. 5 – World Teachers’ Day.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau awarded 71 of Canada’s top educators with the country’s highest honours for Teaching Excellence; Teaching Excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM); and Excellence in Early Childhood Education.

“Teachers are educators, coaches, caretakers, mentors, and number-one fans,” said Trudeau in a news release. “Every day, they strengthen communities across our country, and this year, they have been working even harder to ensure that no student is left behind during the Covid-19 pandemic. I congratulate today’s award recipients as some of the many educators whose dedication, investments and sacrifices are making a difference.”
Ivanko was aware she had been nominated.

“But it was an absolute shock and surprise that I had actually won the award,” she said.

She was nominated by the superintendent of the NWT’s French-language school board and the principal of Ecole Boreale.

Ivanko has been teaching at Ecole Boreale for 14 years.

“My students are my reason for teaching,” she said. “So I try to go and find different ways of engaging them both academically and extracurricularly.”

For instance, she noted she started a debating club at the school.

Things like that make it more interesting for the students, she said. “They have to be here for so many hours a day. You might as well make learning fun as much as possible.”

Ivanko, who is originally from Montreal, has taught in Hay River for over 20 years, and before that for a year in Cape Dorset, Nunavut, and for two years in Japan.

The 2020 award recipients were chosen from among 246 nominations across the country.

Each winner receives a letter and a certificate signed by the prime minister.

Plus, Ivanko will receive $5,000 along with the award.

“I share that money with the school,” she said. “So hopefully we’ll be able to come up with some innovative projects to spend that money.”

Ivanko noted that students and staff at Ecole Boreale were also surprised by the award.

“It’s very much the little school that could. That’s what it feels like. And they’ve been extremely supportive,” she said. “It’s a proud moment for the whole school.”

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Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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