My son Alex is in his last year at his Elementary school, and next year goes on to the grade 8-12 high school. Topped off with a grad party, it's been a year of big changes, physically and emotionally. We've seen new friendships develop and past friendships fade and interests grow and ebb (next time you see me, ask me about his 3x3 cube fascination).
He's had great teachers and not so great teachers over the years, but this was the first year I felt compelled to put forth name for a provincial teaching award. And while she wasn't chosen as a finalist, she deserves to be recognized.
I'd like to share my nomination letter here (shortened and simplified for the blog), As a thank-you to Darcie for what she did for Alex, and as a reminder for all those amazing teachers out there that what they do matters.
Every morning my 13 year old son Alex drags himself out of bed, not feeling excited about school or about learning. He grumbles his way through morning breakfast conversations and sighs as he packs his bag.
It’s a big change from his early elementary years where he loved going to school, seeing his friends, learning from his teachers. He’s the kind of child who has always excelled in school, coming out ahead particularly in maths and sciences.
As the years have gone on, he is more often finding himself bored, feeling unchallenged and unmotivated. These days blend one into another, and most end with a curt “Fine” response to my “How was your day?” Except on days when he gets to have some time with Madame Darcie Zibin.
Last fall she bought a 3D printer for the school’s new and growing maker space. A space spearheaded by Darcie, and much loved and appreciated by all 450 of our students (and their teachers!)
Alex was first in line when the printer arrived and that day marks a huge turning point in his technology interest. He helped assemble it, he helped learn the coding to make it work, he gave up his recess and after school time to sit with the adult tech helper to do trouble shooting, and only a few weeks later bought his very own 3D printer for at home.
He then focussed attention to his personal 3D printer and began his own entrepreneurial enterprise of collaborating with the design team at the company I work for and printed some promotional items for a Sales Trip.
He learned to keep track of his materials and his time, then generated an invoice where he was ultimately paid for the work he did. He also designed in Sketchup some tools for his dad’s colleagues, earning him more income. The pieces he has printed, designed, and charged for, have since paid for that first 3D printer purchase.
My son aside, Darcie also hosts self directed project time during some recesses and lunches, where kids explore projects of interest to them, which includes things like sewing and crafting, but also has grown to encompass robot building, 3D modelling, and other tech options.
Her twitter account highlights some of the journeys she is taking as a #lifelonglearner. She admits her fear of all she doesn’t know but drives herself forward to meet it head on and tackle the problems, and ultimately solve them. A book lover at heart, she has grown to appreciate, embrace, and challenge herself to include tech in her school days and so is an inspiration to the kids about how they will never stop learning, even as adults.
There are many teachers in our province I’m sure who use tech and innovation in their schools, but I’m confident Darcie pushes herself harder and with more commitment to learning than others. While I am thrilled my son is growing up and moving onto high school next year, I am disappointed he will no longer have her presence in his daily school life.
Even so, I know she will follow his journey with his 3D printers (yes, he now has two) and cheer him on, because she is the kind of teacher who doesn’t stop caring when the child leaves her room. She is truly incredible and deserves this nomination, this award, and so much more.
Amber Regamey Marsh