Delview Secondary science teacher Van Chau has been awarded one of the country’s highest teaching honours.
Chau was recently named as a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence, which are awarded to elementary and secondary school teachers in all disciplines for their remarkable achievements in education and for their commitment to preparing their students for a digital and innovation-based economy.
Each year, the Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence awards up to 10 Certificates of Excellence at the national level and up to 25 Certificates of Achievement at the regional level. Winners receive a cash prize of up to $5,000 and a certificate from the prime minister.
This year, Chau was those chosen to receive a Certificate of Achievement.
According to a press release from the Delta School District, Chau encourages her students to be independent learners, to be punctual and to be paragons of grit and perseverance, qualities she models and believes are necessary for lifelong learning. A leader in her field, Chau has written or co-authored several high school science textbooks, many of which are used across the province.
But it’s Chau’s creative approach to engaging her students in the classroom, the release says, that has made her a school favourite and a worthy recipient of this award. In each of her science and biology classes, Chau organizes — or lets students organize — hands-on activities so they can “do, know and understand” the curriculum.
Activities in her classrooms range from replicating Darwin’s finches by designing bird beaks using items such as plastic forks, to creating Facebook or Twitter pages about individual enzymes and then having students interact with each other online as those enzymes, making connections based on how enzymes actually behave.
“Van’s commitment to enhancing her students’ learning is evident in the great work she does, and is why the province has awarded her with a Certificate of Achievement,” Morgan Kyle, principal at Delview Secondary, said in a press release. “We at Delview couldn’t be prouder of her— this award is very deserved.”
Chau also stresses the importance of reconciliation in her classroom. Her biology students learn the names given to animals by Indigenous peoples and their significance in Indigenous culture, and practice drawing the animals in the style of West Coast Indigenous art.
“This award recognizes Ms. Chau and her amazing and creative approach to engaging with her students,” Delta school board chair Laura Dixon said in a press release. “For our students, to have an educator who not only embodies the excellence of the profession but is a role model for women in STEM careers can make a huge impact on students’ life-long approach to learning. The Delta board of trustees extend our congratulations and gratitude for all of Ms. Chau’s contributions to our district and our students.”
For more information on the Prime Minister’s Certificate of Excellence and Certificate of Achievement go to ic.gc.ca/eic/site/pmate-ppmee.nsf/eng/home.