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Year: 2009 – Province: Ontario
Certificate of Achievement Recipient
Essex District High School
244 Talbot Road North
Essex ON N8M 2E1
Principal: Tony Omar
School Tel.: 519-776-7344
School Fax: 519-776-4902
School Website: www.essexdistricthighschool.com
Subjects and Grades Taught: English in grades 9, 11 and 12
The Essex District High School motto is "We make a difference." Jennifer Alexander makes it her mission to live up to the motto and encourages her students to do likewise. She volunteers extensively in her community and shares her passion and compassion for the world with her students—so much so that she inspired many to volunteer abroad. Ms. Alexander was so moved by one such student's plan to travel to Ghana to volunteer, that she accompanied the student on the trip.
Ms. Alexander, who has taught at the school since 2001, uses the rich possibilities provided by English literature to make students aware of human struggles both past and present, at home and abroad. She helps her students gain a deeper understanding of how individuals and peoples struggle, and how students can make a difference.
- As department head, Ms. Alexander has transformed the school's English program to connect students with the diverse world around them and encourage them to support humanitarian causes. Each English course now includes at least one core text set in an unfamiliar culture. In addition, teachers now schedule one humanitarian activity per course. After Ms. Alexander's Grade 9 English students read Parvana's Journey, a novel about an Afghani girl who disguises herself as a boy to support her family when it is torn apart by war, they sent emails to Afghani students and signed a petition against landmines.
- She enriches her programs through contact with a previous employer—the New Canadians' Centre of Excellence in Windsor, which provides support service for newcomers and refugees. Her students visit the centre and have volunteered in English as a second language conversation classes. This has inspired a number of students to seek opportunities to teach English abroad.
- Ms. Alexander, at the request of a student, became one of the teacher advisors for the Humanities Club at the school. She became a co-mentor to the group, which participates in events such as the 30-hour Famine, plans cultural diversity nights and meets to learn about and share knowledge of various cultures.
"I was going through some very hard times in school. She offered her advice and even researched scholarships I could apply for on her own time. I thought because my family had no money that I could not go to university. I had no idea of the opportunities I had." Former student
"I remember the first day walking into Ms. Alexander's class. I saw a young teacher standing at the front of the room and I thought it was going to be an easy, sit back and relax year. It was the exact opposite; it was my hardest year, but my favourite year." Former student