Oakville teacher Richard Bernard is making a difference in the lives of his students and now he’s being rewarded for his efforts by the Prime Minister of Canada.
The teacher at River Oaks Public School was presented with a Certificate of Excellence, part of an annual awards presentation by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that honours educators for the positive way they teach and help students.
Bernard was one of 17 educators across Canada chosen to receive one of three awards recognizing teaching excellence, teaching excellence in STEM, and teaching excellence in early childhood education.
“Today more than ever, I want to take a moment to thank you for your resilience, your compassion, and your devotion,” Trudeau told the award winners on a virtual conversation about education in Canada that was live-streamed by Canadian Innovation on Facebook. “As teachers no only do you constantly keep up with new generations in your classrooms, you keep up with new technologies, new trends, and new ways of seeing the world.
“Last year when everything suddenly changed, you adapted again. You used your creativity and your perseverance to keep our students connected and motivated. For that, on behalf of parents across the country, I want to say thank you.”
A Grade 8 teacher at River Oaks Public School, Bernard teaches English, History, Geography and Art classes.
The educator was recognized for helping students grow in positive ways and helping them recognize the importance of making decisions ethically.
“Just have some fun,” Bernard said of his advice to those who want to become educators. “Have some fun, be genuine with your students. Be honest with them and challenge them, and when you do mess up, it’s okay. It’s okay and I think that’s crazy important for kids to take from coming to school.
“For me when I was younger, it was the one safe place. It’s the one safe place you could go to. And they’re with us for six hours a day, so we have them for a fair bit of time. We need them to be comfortable and genuine, and authentic with us. We want them to be there.”
Along with the Prime Minister and the 17 winning educators, guests on the live-stream included Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development, Jean-Yves Duclos, President of the Treasury Board and host Doreen Flynn.