A St. Catharines teacher and Brock graduate student has received a top accolade in his field — the Premier’s Award for Teaching Excellence.
Bryce Honsinger, a master’s student and graduate of Brock’s Bachelor of Education program in 2000, received the award for his passion for Canadian history and teaching students to be positive leaders for global change.
“Bryce works tirelessly to spearhead many projects around the school community like the Remembrance Day assembly, Grade 6 graduation and the school’s annual Ontario Heritage Fair,” reads the description of the Applewood Public School teacher, who has been teaching with the District School Board of Niagara (DSBN) for 10 years. He currently teaches Grade 5/6.
Honsinger’s efforts include introducing the One World Youth Project to his school. Through the project, his students are linked with a sister school in Kosovo and have raised $1,250 to help eradicate hunger. Some of the money was donated to Community Care, some went to Haiti through World Vision and some was sent to their Kosovo pen pals to help develop their school library.
Teaching — and attending Brock — runs in Honsinger’s family. His brother Bryan (BEd ’04) teaches at Carleton School. His wife Michelle (BEd ’99) is also a teacher, as is his sister-in-law Jennifer (BEd ’02). His mother (BEd ’70) is a retired DSBN teacher.
Honsinger, who is also a five-time nominee for the Governor General’s Award for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History, discussed his recent accolade with The Brock News.
Q: How did it feel to win the Premier’s Award for Excellence in Teaching?
A: It was amazing to receive this award. I am shocked and really honoured that my students and peers believe that I deserve the award.
Q: How do you feel that your Brock education contributed to it?
A: My Brock education set me up for success. All the foundation skills I learned in relation to education and being professional came from my time at the Faculty of Education and my continued growth through the Master of Education Program. There is no doubt that I would not have been as successful as I have become if it was not for the tutelage and guidance I have received from the university.
Q: The description of your work says that you create a culture of acceptance and respect by teaching your students about racism and discrimination. How do you broach these subjects?
A: Respect is the most important component of my classroom. Everyone treats everyone with the same amount of respect they feel they would want to receive. We have class meetings, many discussions and make decisions as a team. We vote on everything. When it is a matter like designing our class button, we vote on what direction to take. I have 32 students and myself so there are 33 votes. My vote counts the same as everyone else’s. This shows the students that it is their classroom as much as mine and that I do not believe I am better than the kids. We are a family and treat each other as such. The class also celebrates everyone’s achievements, regardless of what they are. Students want to come to school because they know they are accepted and that they belong. When students believe in themselves and feel comfortable, they will produce great work and that is exactly what we have experienced this year.
We also watch the film A Class Divided and the Age of Aids from PBS Frontline to illustrate how racism and discrimination based upon colour and sexual orientation can be hurtful, unacceptable and how we need to work with others to bring a stop to these global issues. The students develop anti-racism and discrimination posters, mentor other students and work as role models in the school. The students have developed empathy for others as they have learned to see the challenges other people face from their perspectives. The students have actually their own book about global issues that will be distributed locally in June. The book contains the students’ beliefs about racism and discrimination and some of their posters in a effort to put an end to these issues.
Q: What does receiving an award like this mean for your teaching career?
A: I am still in shock that I won the award because I know that there are thousands of other educators in our province providing excellent programs everyday. The award is very gratifying and encourages me to continue to provide the best program and environment I possibly can for my students. I love coming to school and working with them. We are always working on something fun and the students never cease to amaze me.
• Premier’s Awards for Teaching Excellence
• ‘Mr. Honsinger goes way beyond in anything and everything he does’ — St. Catharines Standard
• Niagara This Week Article: Teaching in award winner’s veins
• Public school teaching ‘brings history to life’ — The Sudbury Star
• District School Board of Niagara
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