This article was submitted by Anderson Coward, communications co-ordinator for York’s Faculty of Education.
Educational innovator and Faculty of Education alumnus Hubert Meeussen (BEd ’95) has been selected as the winner of the 2004 York University Faculty of Education Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award. The $1,000 cash award sponsored by Manulife Financial is awarded annually to a graduate of York’s Faculty of Education who has demonstrated a commitment to teaching and made a unique contribution to teacher education in his or her classroom.
Right: Hubert Meeussen
Since graduating, Meeussen has built a reputation for his unique way of utilizing literature and the media to creatively weave difficult subjects such as racism and discrimination into the Grade 8 language arts, geography, history and information technology curriculum. He pioneered a program that promotes diversity through writing, art and the use of technology and has established a remarkable record as a tireless advocate for social justice in the classroom and the surrounding community.
For the past two years, Meeussen’s class at Old Abbey Lane School in the Halton District School Board have created “Racism: Stop It” videos using “iMovie” technology. Presented at Halton’s elimination of racism day events, this year’s videos were also entered in the National Video Competition sponsored by Panasonic and the National Film Board. Four students from Abbey Lane won a top 10 in Ontario award for their video, “I’m Being Racist.” In 2003, Meeussen’s students also won “Eddie” awards for best Sound Track and Best Commercial/Public Service Announcement.
A parent of one of Meeussen’s Grade 8 students commented, “In every child’s life, there is usually one teacher who stands apart from the others. That teacher’s name and the lessons he or she has taught are remembered long after the child has grown and I am confident that Mr. Meeussen is one of those memorable and influential teachers.”
In 2004, two students from Meeussen’s class entered essays and drawings in the Mathieu Da Costa Challenge winning awards in both categories. The challenge, which was established to encourage students to research, discover and celebrate the contributions made by Canadians of Aboriginal, African and other ethno-cultural origins to the building of Canada, was launched by the government of Canada and administered by the Canadian Teachers Federation.
Honourable mention also goes out to this year’s finalist, Michael Erickson (BEd, ’00) who has distinguished himself as an engaged, creative and tireless educator making a difference in the lives of his students in a remarkably short period of time. A teacher at Ursula Franklin Academy, Erikson has undertaken a number of major community-based projects most notably the Ghana Project in which he has led students on two-week educational excursions to Larabanga, Ghana where they participated in community development activities. Erickson has demonstrated an exceptional ability to engage and maintain student interest in meaningful work outside his own classroom, creating opportunities for genuine student leadership.
“We are pleased once again to recognize excellence in teaching among graduates of the Faculty of Education program,” said Dean Paul Axelrod. “Mr. Meeusen and Mr. Erikson are remarkable teachers, whose passion and professionalism are making a significance difference in the education and the lives of young people.”
Nominations for the Excellence in Teaching Award are made by colleagues or anyone who has direct knowledge of the nominee’s unique contributions, achievements, and/or classroom approaches. This year’s awards presentation will take place on Jan. 20 at 5:30pm in the York University Senate Chamber.