"Calgary Language School Saluted for Educational Excellence" -- Sarah McGinnis
CALGARY - All eyes are on Grade 1 teacher Tanya Pollett as she leads her class through a song focusing on the different parts of the body. Singing to students with lively hand gestures is hardly unusual in an elementary school, but this tune is meant to reinforce vocabulary for head, shoulders and hands among children who are learning English as a second or even third language. Language instruction is at the core of every lesson at Almadina Language Charter Academy, a Calgary school dedicated to teaching ESL students.
"Even in math, if you are counting objects, then bring an object that students are familiar with and you can build the language," Pollett explains. The school's innovative approach to teaching was recognized at the annual Garfield Weston Awards for Excellence in Education on Thursday.
Sixty-six Alberta schools were honoured for their academic achievements at a banquet in Calgary. The awards are based on the Fraser Institute's annual Alberta elementary and high school report cards.
"These awards are about encouraging excellent educators to keep doing what they're doing to provide students a better education," said Lisa-Diane Fortier, the Fraser Institute's associate director of outreach programs and school performance studies. "Their commitment to excellence cannot be understated."
Almadina won the $3,000 prize for the elementary school demonstrating the most improvement in academics for the second time in the three years.
"It's phenomenal. It's great knowing the teachers at our school--because we have fantastic teachers at our school -- are being recognized for their hard work in helping improve the academics of all of our Almadina students," said Pollett.
Almadina teachers have brought in artists and writers to guide students in illustrating their own books. They've also had students perform plays in math class to boost understanding of numerical concepts and the language around them.
"We're going to continue to try our best to give students what they need by looking at where they're struggling and what we can do to help," said vice-principal Ruth-Anne Neely.
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