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Melanie Kennedy: inspiring students to be themselves

Year: 2019 – Province: Nova Scotia

Certificate of Achievement Recipient

Melanie Kennedy

Drama 10, 11, 12
Auburn Drive High School, Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia

"The lesson that Ms. Kennedy's students learn is that who you are is important and worth sharing—within the classroom and in the greater sense out in the world. … What [they realize] is that it takes each one in all their differences to create the perfect storm of creativity."  — Parent of student

Melanie Kennedy wants students to know that she understands that being a teenager isn't easy, and that their personal struggles are as individual as they are. She brings her therapy dog, Karma, to class each day and is a strong ally for LGBTQ students, supporting the school's gay-straight alliance.

Teaching approach

Melanie creates a classroom culture in which respect, kindness and empathy pass from teacher to student, student to teacher and student to student. Working with the same students for three years, she gets to know them, so she can meet them where they are and inspire them to be themselves.

In the classroom

  • Offers variety of ways for students to share their ideas and creations: journaling to document personal growth; recording rehearsals for self-critique; creating puppet show soundtracks; touring shows, featuring original raps, to teach younger students; creating and projecting sets for plays.
  • Encourages interdisciplinary learning by having students write and perform monologues and shows based on curriculum from other subjects, including the periodic table, sexuality and cyber safety; students create puppets using garbage for a show themed around the environment.
  • Welcomes special needs students into her drama program: Grade 12s work with these peers to create and perform shows at the provincial high school drama festival; secured a grant to acquire customizable electronic musical instruments for special needs students to use.
  • Ends the Grade 12 drama year with the "Aub-scars," including having students create an award for each other—a unique recognition to let each recipient know they have made an impact on the class, with a speech speaking to their strengths.

Outstanding achievements

  • Raised money to purchase new technical theatre equipment for the school, such as sound recording technology, projectors and a black lighting system to create black light puppet shows; school was the first in the province to produce and tour black light theatre.
  • Leads school's yearly dinner theatre night, encouraging students who might have been reluctant to take part; students greet each guest and serve the meal, while staying in character.
  • Produced concerts to raise funds to build seven schools in China, Sierra Leone, India and Kenya.
  • First-ever recipient of the school board's Superintendent's Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Get in touch!

Auburn Drive High School
300 Auburn Drive
Cole Harbour NS B2W 6E9

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