Jessica Kennedy: Connecting digital-age students to history and social issues

Year: 2018 – Province: Ontario

Certificate of Achievement Recipient

Jessica Kennedy

I. E. Weldon Secondary School
24 Weldon Road
Lindsay, ON K9V 4R4

School telephone: 705-324-3585
School website:


Subjects and grades taught: Drama, grades 9–12

Jessie Kennedy is a master teacher. She is equally comfortable leading an introductory Grade 9 lesson on tableau, as she is facilitating a session at a drama educators' conference. More importantly, she treats both endeavours with the same respect and attention.

Teaching approach

In Jessie's classes, students not only master theatre technique and engage with theory but also create profound ties to historical events and social issues. Through drama, she takes them on journeys through time and place so they can better understand themselves and the world they are inheriting.

In the Classroom

  • Employs recordings to great effect: fledgling student actors present their pieces on video to avoid the pressure of live performance; students record their reviews and critiques of their classmates' work; Jessie records descriptive feedback during formative and summative assessments
  • Creates opportunities for students to connect to local history and social issues: for example, drama, writing and fashion students collaborated to put on an evening of theatre and music to mark the 100th anniversary of the departure of a local battalion during the First World War
  • Adapts drama teaching to students with a wide variety of abilities: International Baccalaureate students study drama theory and create, design, direct and perform as individuals and in ensembles; students with high learning needs and physical challenges use drama to communicate

Outstanding achievements

  • Named lead writer for a joint project with the Ontario Ministry of Education and the Aga Khan Museum of Islamic Art to develop curriculum to complement the museum collection such that it could be used in conjunction with a visit or as a virtual access point to Islamic art
  • Connects to communities and schools locally, nationally and internationally to share her expertise in the dramatic arts: for example, she presented a paper about using drama to connect with students in the digital age at a conference of Singaporean drama teachers
  • Directs some of the plays the school's theatre company produces, including those that have gone on to win awards in regional competitions

Rave reviews

"What [Ms. Kennedy] does is she plants seeds of inspiration and creativity in all of her students' minds, and once she plants those seeds, she works hard and makes sure that each and every one of those seeds grows in the exact way the student imagined."