Belmont teacher recognized with Golden Star Award
June 7, 2017
“Beautiful things happen in schools every day,” said Belmont Elementary principal Beth Cairnie. She was speaking in celebration of teacher Jason Proulx, who was being recognized with the Golden Star Award. For the last six years, Proulx has been teaching woodworking to his students. What makes it special, is the involvement of the senior community, who volunteer in the class. His classroom, Cairnie said, models the core values of community, as well as teaching life skills.
Grade 3 students are given the opportunity to learn how to craft and create using only traditional hand tools. There is only one power tool in the classroom: a drill press, which is rarely used. At the front of the class is a cabinet filled with drawers of hand tools. Students construct their own jigs and tools to complete projects. The seniors assist and supervise students, teaching them how to use the tools or solve problems.
The program was inspired by the Sloyd education which was taught in Finland and Denmark in the mid 1800’s. Students learned hands-on, practical skills, with woodworking at the forefront. Proulx says that students who learn woodworking in his classroom can go on to do any other kind of hands-on work and feel comfortable doing it. They’re all transferrable skills.
On June 6, Mr. Proulx was given the Golden Star Award by the BC Retired Teachers’ Association for his dedication to inter-generational education. Annette O’Connor, from the Langley branch, and JoAnne Lauber presented him the Golden Star trophy along with a $1000 grant to be able to continue the program. Only five of these awards are given out across BC each year for classes K-12.
When the program started, he only had a few infrequent parent volunteers. Later, volunteers from the senior community came to assist the class. Many of them, grandparents of students in the school.
When receiving the award, Proulx first thanked his volunteers. Without the help of the seniors, he said, the program would not be possible. Proulx continued with a video highlighting volunteer involvement.
Student work was also displayed at the celebration. There were spinners, stools, catapults, hockey sticks, tool boxes, and much more. These works will also be on display at the next BCRTA annual general meeting, where retired teachers from across BC will be able to view the students’ work.