Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Teacher named one of 20 best

Chilliwack Times: 2009 March 3
Mike Chouinard

A local distance education teacher was honoured by the premier Monday as being one of the best in the province. John Goldsmith of the Fraser Valley Distance Education School (FVDES) was picked as one of 20 teachers for a Premier's Award for Teaching Excellence. The announcement marked the second year in a row for the awards.

"B.C. teachers are among the best anywhere in the world, and I want to thank them on behalf of all British Columbians for the dedication they bring to educating our students," said Premier Gordon Campbell said in a news release.

"These educators do amazing work in making our students the best educated in the world. This is an occasion for students, parents, teachers and administrators to honour our outstanding teachers."

The announcement also marks the second time a Chilliwack educator was honoured with one of the awards, as retiring apprenticeship coordinator Garry Wall received an award in 2008.

Goldsmith teaches grades 11 and 12 at the FVDES. He was honoured for his efforts to create one of the first virtual classrooms in the province as well as his work teaching new technologies and skills to his students. The government release also notes how Goldsmith has been a frequent presenter at most distance learning conferences in B.C. and Alberta over the past 12 years, and is happy to give his time and advice to other teachers and provincial organizations such as LearnNow BC and the BC Social Studies Teachers' Association.

The Times tried contacting Goldsmith on Monday about the award but he was not available. The FVDES website notes he started his teaching career in Fort St. John and has been involved one way or another with most major B.C. online initiatives in education, such as the Southern Interior Telecommunications Project, the New Directions In Distance Learning Program and the SFU x-Change Program. He admits he had an early interest in applying technology to education.

"When computers started appearing in the school system, I was one of the first to get involved. That probably explains why my school was one of the first in B.C. to have a computerized student management system, a networked IBM compatible computer lab and an automated OPAC and circulation system in the library. It wasn't long before I gained a reputation for being a 'techie,'" he said on the FVDES site.

Goldsmith also keeps a blog about emerging online resources for teachers and leads weekly training sessions for students. As well, he has been leading a team at FVDES to improve the school websites and other technology.

The Ministry of Education received more than 100 nominations from across B.C. Lt.-Gov. Steven Point and Minister of Education Shirley Bond are presenting the winning teachers with a certificate of achievement at a Government House ceremony. Each teacher will also receive $1,500 to be used for professional development.