Robert Hammer - Musquodoboit Rural High School

Year: 2017 – Province: Nova Scotia

Transcript—Robert Hammer Video

[Robert Hammer speaks to camera, with the Parliament buildings as a backdrop behind him]

[Photos of Robert and his students are displayed on screen throughout his interview]

[Upbeat music plays softly in the background]

My name's Robert Hammer.

[Text on screen: Robert Hammer, Nova Scotia]

I'm from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. I teach in rural Musquodoboit – Musquodoboit Rural High School. Go, Mustangs. And I teach science and math to junior high students.

When I first was in university, I started working at a camp, a sports camp. And all the people that work there were teachers. And they just kept saying to me you should become a teacher, you're very good at this thing. And I started thinking about it as I sort of approached the end of my university, and I decided to do it. And I went to teaching school, and it – it kind of was just a calling for me.

I guess my key message in my presentation today would be to let the students be themselves and to build relationships around that. And if you can learn while the students are having fun and being themselves, it's going to make learning for them a whole lot easier and teaching for me a whole lot easier.

Well, I took a number of mathematical ideas and units, and created sort of hands-on projects, which I call math labs, sort of based on my science curriculum, that I instituted with my students last year at the end of every unit to sort of consolidate their knowledge. I really enjoyed those.

[Video footage of Robert receiving his award from Justin Trudeau is intercut]

One piece of advice I would give teachers or ins—educators or anyone that wants to go into the educational field is to do it if they enjoy doing it. It's easy to do a job you love. And if you don't love it, don't do it.

To my students, my co-workers, my community, you guys have supported me along the way, and that's made me better, and in turn I made you better, and it's just amazing that I'm here right now because of everyone that's been involved in my educational career. It's – it's awesome.

Student: Yes, I totally think he deserves this. This – I mean, I went through all this effort. I shouldn't go through all this effort for anybody. Just he's really important to me, so I decided I'd do it for him. Thank you, Mr. Hammer, for everything you've done. You totally deserve this. I hope you have a good trip.

[Canada wordmark]

[Music ends]

Certificate of Excellence Recipient

Robert Hammer

Musquodoboit Rural High School
11980 Hwy 224
Middle Musquodoboit, Nova Scotia  B0N 1X0

Principal: Shaun Sheehan
School telephone: 902-384-2320
School email:
School website:

Subjects and grades taught: Grades 8 and 9, Science, Math

Dropping eggs from the height of the school roof, measuring trees and running as fast as they can – in a small school in rural Nova Scotia, students regularly find themselves astounded at how much better they are able to understand a lesson when they get to use their hands or even their feet to solve problems. Together they now say, "It's Hammer time", as they are inspired by a math teacher who literally runs an extra mile to show them that math skills are useful in the real world.

Teaching approach

Hammer looks for ways to adapt his teaching to each student individually, which helps students enjoy their time in the classroom. Always looking for a hands-on approach, he embraces daily teachable moments to make lessons exciting and relevant, and to show students that math and science skills are actually useful in the real world.

Outstanding achievements

  • Organized a student-run project coordinated by The Learning Partnership called the "Entrepreneurial Adventure Program", in which students created their own Android and iPhone applications to facilitate communication with parents and the community.
  • Seeing a gap when it came to hands-on learning in math and science, Hammer created a lab curriculum for each unit of his classes, teaching lab procedures, safety and reporting.
  • Co-led the organization of Science Olympics – a day of activities and challenges for the whole school that culminated in an awards ceremony.

Rave reviews

"Mr. Hammer never gives up on you. If you don't understand something he will go home every night to figure out ten different ways of explaining or showing it in a way you'll understand. He never stops trying until you get it."


"Building relationships with students is part of teaching best practices, but with Mr. Hammer, he raises the bar to a whole new level. Being a good teacher requires more than simply caring about students; a teacher has to be able to ensure his practices result in student learning. Mr. Hammer meets and exceeds this benchmark."

Mr. Shaun Sheehan, Principal