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Fired up for learning

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Most people dream of having their kids taught by educators who are innovative, passionate and enthusiastic – and who make learning fun. Luckily, there's a whole bunch of St. Albert kids who get to experience just that.

All of our local school divisions employ teachers who think outside the box, as evidenced by three profiles the Gazette ran Wednesday. We've got people like Kevin Hubick, the Sturgeon Composite High School computer science teacher who's building a trash-collecting robot with his class; Adriana Bryenton, the Vital Grandin Catholic School teacher who has her class learning coding as much from each other as from her; and Melissa Zawaduk, the Elmer S. Gish School technology specialist who's adding a new dimension to learning with some light bathroom reading on the latest changes in technology.

An inspiring quote often attributed, perhaps wrongly, to poet William Butler Yeats, represents what is happening in many of our local schools today: "Education should not be the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."

Robert Strong, a politics professor at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., wrote in The Irish Times about his inconclusive search for the origin of that oft-quoted phrase, and decided that although the true source of the quote may never be known, the inspiration within it is true.

"A famous poet may not have said it. I may not know who did. But it is true," Strong wrote. "At all levels of education, what we as teachers hope for is that our students will find issues, ideas, authors, experiments, projects and problems that they find genuinely exciting. We want them to get fired up about something. We want education to be about those fires."

Educators in the St. Albert area clearly feel the same way. Hubick told the Gazette how robots and computers take hold of the imagination, creating a spark in children and doubling as a great way to teach math and creative thinking, while Bryenton said she has watched coding bring her students together in a collaborative learning environment.

"They're not all going to grow up to be game creators, but the way they have to think (here) will really open up new avenues for them," she said. "What's really cool about our class is how our kids help each other ... They'll just stop what they're doing and run over to the other kid and help them out. It's just beautiful to see."

These social and technical skills will benefit students later in their lives, no matter where they choose to go or what they choose to do, as they learn to think creatively and apply those thoughts practically.

It's a well-established fact that having a good teacher can change a student's life. Fire can spread quickly when the conditions are right, and these teachers are clearly just as enthusiastic as their students about innovation. The impact they have is immeasurable.




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