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Year: 2009 – Province: Alberta
Certificate of Achievement Recipient
West View School
12626–85th Street N.W.
Calgary AB T3R 1J3
Subjects and Grades Taught: Career and technology studies in grades 9 to 12
Donald Winchester teaches at West View School, which is part of the Calgary Young Offenders Centre. He decided that his students would benefit from new technology, despite challenges that included security concerns that prevented him from offering any Internet access, a transient population of students with varying and significant challenges, and having to meet the requirements of both the Calgary Board of Education and the Alberta Solicitor General.
Mr. Winchester firmly believes that his students' special situation should not prevent their having all the advantages and opportunities of the modern classroom, including new information and communication technology. He keeps students engaged through interactive group work, special projects or at hands-on stations. This allows them to exploit their various learning styles and keeps them focused. This approach, in turn, reduces discipline problems, which is crucial in a centre for young offenders.
- Mr. Winchester sought funding and support to bring new technology to the centre, including the AMATROL Virtual Lab, a system that recreates laboratory equipment with virtual reality software. This allows students to acquire the same skills as they would in a typical lab at a fraction of the cost. It is the first such lab to be established in a young offenders centre anywhere in North America.
- He guided his students through a project to construct a hovercraft. The project involved a math and science teacher, and a shop teacher, as well as support from two Calgary Board of Education Learning Leaders. The students worked together and were able to complete a hovercraft in time to present it at a school assembly. This is the first such project at a school in western Canada.
- Students are very motivated when they are in Mr. Winchester's class. They come in and get right to work, and continue to work for the entire period. They also almost always receive 5 out of 5 on their daily progress report, which shows that they were engaged and well behaved for the entire class.
"My goal is to become an electrician. My Dad is an electrician and I have worked with him on some community-based projects. West View is supporting my goal to become an electrician, especially through programs such as AMATROL and Work Safety. In AMATROL, I completed Electrical Control and AC-DC—both of which have helped me increase my confidence in the field of electrical work." Student
"One student climbed on board the hovercraft, the motor started, the craft lifted above the gymnasium floor and forward motion was achieved. The excitement in the room was overwhelming and the look of pride and achievement in the kids was so obvious and deserved." Corporate supporter