– With files from School District 71

COMOX VALLEY, B.C. – A Comox Valley teacher who is guiding the next generation into the wide world of technology has been recognized for her efforts.

Kara Dawson – who is School District 71’s information technology support teacher – has received a Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence in STEM.

The Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence in STEM honour outstanding Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) teachers at the elementary or secondary school level, who keep students engaged in STEM learning and, according to a district release, “help develop the culture of innovation that Canada needs today, and in the future.”

“Dawson is a district leader in technology education and brings cutting-edge technology to elementary schools in her area, introducing tools to support students who struggle in the traditional classroom and supporting educators so they can integrate STEM into their teaching,” the release added.

Dawson told the MyComoxValleyNow.com newsroom that she was honoured to receive the certificate of achievement.

“I am totally thrilled,” she said. “It’s an exciting thing to get and I feel like it’s something that just reflects on our district.  It’s all the teachers who I work with, who make it happen, because they’re the ones who are willing to try all these STEM projects in their classes and take the risks to inspire and engage their students.”

She added that “it’s super important to get these kids inspired by (STEM) while they’re young and hopefully they’ll be able to follow through and it’ll help them have a successful career in their future.”

According to her bio, Dawson “understands that primary-grade children need step-by-step guidelines to use and understand some of the technologies out there.”

Her bio also notes that she was instrumental in developing the Learn71.ca website, “a treasure trove of resources teachers, students and parents can use to support digital literacy; site now gets nationwide traffic; (and she) publishes weekly resource email and the Tuesday Tech Tip.”

She was also the lead teacher for implementing new coding curriculum in the district by researching and learning how to use classroom coding kits, which include technology such as Ozobots, Cubelets, Micro:bits and Spheros, and working with a team of teachers to implement them across the district.

Dawson said she loves her job.

“I get to inspire kids and teachers every day. I have a lot of fun in the classes that I teach, too. I’m working with robotics and coding, and the kids are designing games and they’re doing experiments and projects to try and make things work with technology, and it’s really exciting.”

The Prime Minister’s Awards, offered at the Certificate of Excellence (national) and Certificate of Achievement (regional) levels, carry cash prizes of $5,000 and $1,000 respectively. Each recipient receives a letter and a certificate signed by the Prime Minister.