Michel Emery: Northern light shares love of learning with students and teachers

Year: 2018 – Province: Yukon

Transcription – Michel Emery-2018 Prime Minister's Awards for Teaching Excellence

[Black screen fades up to close-up of man in interview setting, against a mottled background. Music playing.]

[Caption: Michel Emery, F. H. Collins Secondary School]

[Michel speaking in interview setting alternates with voice over accompanied by still photos, as follows: Michel and a woman speaking with students in front of banners about a family in 20th century Europe; and Michel with a young boy pointing to words on a tablet screen, both wearing headphones.]

Michel Emery: Students learn a lot more quickly, and learning is enhanced, when students are engaged with the resources that they are using; when they’re motivated by the lessons that we’re teaching, they’re inspired by the environments that we provide and are excited to be there to learn. Students are so connected these days. We need to leverage technology to make learning real for them, to be … to kind of take a step in their world.

[Michel speaking in interview setting alternates with voice over accompanied by still photos, as follows: students in school resource centre, with computers and racks of videos and books visible; and an overhead shot of a group of students sitting at a round table working on a drawing activity.]

Michel Emery: The perfect space that would contribute to student learning, I feel it’s really important to give options to students. I think it would be like looking at a home. I think it would be like a blend of a living room, a kitchen, a library—places where students could relax, students can collaborate, do research. A bit of a mix between a Starbucks and a Chapters. You know, places where you come in and you feel comfortable and you feel there’s all these resources around you and that learning could just blossom from there.

[Michel speaking in interview setting alternates with voice over accompanied by still photos, as follows: girl crouching down, tablet in hand, with quadcopter and other objects on floor in front of her; and two pairs of students sitting, wearing headphones and looking at computers.]

Michel Emery: Technology provides new opportunities and reduces barriers. We can manufacture now in schools. We can use 3D printers to create products and solutions to problems of today. We can use laser cutters and we can code robots. So, technology does reduce our barriers. It enables our students to connect with a global audience. I think it’s a really exciting time for education.

[Michel speaking in interview setting alternates with voice over accompanied by still photos, as follows: exterior shot of school in winter, taken from above; Michel in resource centre holding tablet with several students wearing virtual reality goggles; and row of students at laptops.]

Michel Emery: Technology enables us to solve problems in our communities. In the North, in the Yukon, we’re quite a ways from different cities. We don’t have as many opportunities as students down south have, so using virtual reality, you could provide different learning opportunities and expand our students’ horizons. Now with technology such as VR and 360 photography, students are able to contribute and share their world, their communities and their experiences with the world.’

[Michel speaking in interview setting cuts to voice over accompanied by video of Michel showing recipients how to simulate virtual reality with a cardboard viewer and a tablet. Cuts back to interview setting to conclude.]

Michel Emery: My piece of advice for new teachers is, be curious, be bold, and see every child you come across as this opportunity to make a difference in their lives. Stop and say ‘hi’ and be interested in them, and have fun, of course.

[Fade to black.]

[Cut to white screen, with the Government of Canada FIP followed by the Canada Wordmark.]

Certificate of Excellence Recipient

Michel Emery

F. H. Collins Secondary School
1001 Lewes Boulevard
Whitehorse, YT Y1A 3J1

School telephone: 867-667-8665
School website: www.fhcollins.ca


Subjects and grades taught: English, French Immersion, Learning Commons and Technology Integration, grades 8–12

Michel Emery has been a leader and innovator in the Arctic for 20 years, having played many roles in education, including being an elementary teacher, educational consultant and high school teacher. Fully bilingual, he fosters a culture of innovation and is a valued resource for other educators in Yukon.

Teaching approach

Michel is knowledgeable in many disciplines, researches and applies new practices, is energetic, positive and passionate about student success, and models the qualities of a lifelong learner. In class and out, he develops STEAM skills in students to prepare them for challenges and opportunities of life.

In the Classroom

  • Fosters creative literacy and expression with technology: through workshops and lessons, students incorporate animation, video production and sound recording into their presentations to engage their audience
  • Emphasizes an inquiry-based approach for learners of all ages: in elementary grades it was "Tinker Time," a daily half hour for children to pursue STEAM activities designed to  target a specific inquiry question; in high school, cross-curricular projects are anchored in inquiry and supported by lessons on academic research and proper methodology
  • Focuses on students' special needs: partnered with computers for schools to secure nearly 130 laptops for students in need, developed resources to help struggling readers access digital textbooks and effectively use text-to-speech  accessibility features on various devices
  • Introduces coding applications, robotics, BreakoutEdu, animations, and 3D printing challenges to engage learners of all abilities and grade levels
  • Through various projects and initiatives such as laser cutting, reclaimed material art projects, virtual reality and 360 photography, celebrates and strengthens Yukon's First Nations culture and pride with students

Outstanding achievements

  • Co-led a group of professionals who developed Yukon Education's Digital Literacy Framework; established the first collaborative e-book collection for all Yukon schools; designed the  Learning Commons digital portal which facilitates access to e-resources for all Yukon students.
  • Develops effective professional  resources and shares them with staff in diverse schools using an innovative website, professional development sessions, and during active participation in the ADST Curriculum Redesigned Learning Networks
  • Is an authoritative source on diverse current and emerging technologies and has delivered several professional development sessions at school and district-wide conferences and events
  • Was an early proponent of transitioning school libraries to Learning Commons, the dynamic, flexible, and connected learning spaces now in use in most Yukon schools, including his own
  • Was a 2018 finalist in the "Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Challenge" which aims to boost students' interest in proficiency in STEM learning
  • Awarded the coveted Apple Distinguish Educator distinction in 2013 and was recognized by the Yukon Legislative Assembly for his efforts to integrate technology into his teaching practice

Rave reviews

"Michel is willing and able to provide professional development at a moment's notice and is always willing to share his passion for STEM learning with students and educators alike."

Territorial technology consultant