Sukhdeep Kaur Chohan of Hickory Wood Public School of Brampton, Ontario, is the only South Asian teacher to receive the 2013 Prime Minister’s Award for teaching excellence.
The awards were announced to coincide with National Child Day, which marks the date that Canada adopted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said: “Good educators guide, inspire and motivate us to want to learn on our own. They sow the seeds of knowledge that yield well-educated Canadians who are able to compete with the best in the world and generate new ideas and prosperity.” “I would like to congratulate all of the recipients of this year’s awards on their remarkable achievements. It is particularly fitting to be celebrating their merits on National Child Day,” he added.
Teaching is a divine blessing that allows one to serve children from the heart.
The awards recognize outstanding elementary and secondary school teachers who, through the innovative use of information and communications technologies, help Canadian students meet the challenges of a 21st century society and digital economy. This year marks the 20th anniversary of this award, with more than 1,600 educators honoured to date.
Chohan told the Asian Journal: “Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s words, “Make divine love thy pen, and thy heart the writer,” are the core foundational pillars upon which my teaching practice rests. I believe that teaching is a divine blessing that allows one to serve children from the heart.” “That entails connecting them to the world outside the classroom, providing opportunities where their ideas blossom, instilling ideals for serving humanity with compassion (Seva), and establishing a platform from which they can share their voices with the global community she added.
“By providing an inclusive and inviting classroom environment in which varying learning needs are met, differences are respected, cultural traditions are cherished, and religious practices are honored, it is important for me that each of my students feel acknowledged and loved, thrive in a nurturing environment, and know that their presence in the world makes the world a better place.”
Sukhdeep kaur Chohan
Hickory Wood Public School
Principal: Giselle Blain
Subjects and Grades Taught: English as a Second Language, Math, Science, Social Studies for K to 5
Dancing their way through the cultures of the world, making sundaes to learn about probabilities and mini-pizzas to learn about fractions, Sukhdeep Kaur Chohan creates a creative environment for her students. She inspires self-awareness and belonging and a sense of community. Her students even refer to her as “teacher-mom”!
Chohan designed an interactive classroom newsletter program that opens lines of reciprocal communication between teachers and families. The program received international acclaim through the National Foundation for Educational Research in the United Kingdom.
Chohan has pioneered several programs that have received national and international attention through publication in the exclusive Canadian Early Childhood Education Journal.
Her home-reading program called Smarties Read with Me addresses her students literacy needs. Parents are trained to be at-home teachers and learn strategies and interactions appropriate to their child’s reading level. Since its inception, the program has evolved to include online reading sites that are accessible from home. Chohan regularly provides feedback through the sites. Her school-wide mailing program has also had a huge impact on student development and literacy. With real-looking mailboxes, a sorting room and scheduled delivery times, over 1000 students from K to 5 busily write and distribute letters. The program eventually extended into students’ homes and even engaged over 350 students in an e-pals program with students in other countries.
Chohan also spearheaded the school’s Holding Hands program and has nurtured a community where teachers, students and their families participate in awareness campaigns, food drives, and a wide variety of fundraising campaigns.