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William Burton: Projects, internships boost confidence of reluctant learners

Year: 2020 — Province: Manitoba
Certificate of Achievement Recipient

Maples Met School
All subjects, Grade 12
Winnipeg, Manitoba

He always pushes his students to think beyond their own bubble, to be aware of what is happening in the rest of the world, and to think about how we can contribute to the betterment of our community.


For students who may have a tenuous interest in school, Will Burton models the joy of lifelong learning. He has earned a master's in education for sustainable development and well-being, instructed university classes and published research papers. He was recently accepted into a Ph.D. program in educational leadership and policy.

Teaching approach

Maples Met is an unusual school. It combines project-based learning with internships, and the diverse students often come from troubled backgrounds. Will gets to know students deeply, so he can boost their confidence, find unique ways to ignite their curiosity and keep them from burning out.

STEM in the classroom

  • Helps place students in appropriate internships by honing in on students' interests and leveraging extensive community connections: pupils have interned with scientists, politicians and others, in fields ranging from wildlife ecology to automotive restoration.
  • Connects students with other community opportunities: introduces girls to coding; guided students as they self-published a book with a local company; helped students enter projects in the CBC's Take 3 for Climate Justice Challenge.
  • Aims to improve math instruction: collects and evaluates students' self-reported feedback about "math confidence"; is collaborating with a professor to determine whether project-based learning would bolster self-assurance.
  • Leads curriculum-focused field trips: during a year-long unit on water issues, students took samples from various lakes and rivers, then analyzed them; Will has also organized an exchange with students in Cape Breton and an Encounter with Canada trip to Ottawa.

Outstanding achievements

  • Runs innovative cooking program: once a week, students do project work related to healthy eating and sustainable agriculture; then, a university student leads them in cooking a meal for themselves and 120 participants in an after-school outreach program.
  • Organized a two-day global citizenship conference for 700 students from across his school division: his Grade 12 English and global issues students studied climate change and refugees, participated in the Global Climate Strike and presented a 45-minute workshop at the conference.
  • Introduced Duke of Edinburgh's International Award program, which recognizes students for volunteer activities, to his school, and helped students gain relevant experience: students won silver and bronze awards; as a result, school received $2,500 for camping gear.

Get in touch!

Maples Met School
234-1330 Jefferson Avenue
Winnipeg MB  R2P 1L3

Facebook: @maplesmetschool
Twitter: @maplesmetschool

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