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NNSL Photo/graphic

Victor Sammurtok teacher Glen Brocklebank, centre, works on a kayak with students Abe Kadluk, left, and Nanaouq Tanuyak in Chesterfield Inlet this past fall. Brocklebank won a Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence this past week. - photo courtesy of Victor Sammurtok school

Head of the class

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Chesterfield Inlet (Dec 13/06) - There's nowhere in the world he'd rather be than Chesterfield Inlet.

That was the sentiment expressed by Victor Sammurtok school teacher Glen Brocklebank after learning he had won a Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence this past week.

Brocklebank was awarded a certificate of achievement for his hard work, dedication and innovation in education.

The outgoing young educator with the perpetual smile said he was humbled by the announcement.

"I don't particularly think I'm deserving of such distinction," said Brocklebank modestly.

"I'm extremely fortunate in that I work at a great school with great people surrounding me.

"I'm honoured, but I know a lot of other teachers who are as deserving as I am, if not more so.

"We have a lot of wonderful teachers in this region who always go above and beyond what's expected of them in the classroom."

Brocklebank and his wife, Ana, are in their sixth year at Victor Sammurtok.

He said the attitudes of his students are what keeps his energy level burning at such a high pace.

"This is all about the students and we've got a great bunch here who are always eager to try new things and develop new skills.

"That makes it easy to suggest different things and their enthusiasm makes me want to try harder for them.

"That's how the whole kayak program took off.

"We started with small steps, but the students kept wanting to learn more and more, so the program kept evolving until we were building our own kayaks and showing others how to use them."

Brocklebank does admit to moments when he allows himself to reflect upon the impact he and Ana have on their students.

He said, as a teacher, you want to feel what you're doing is having an effect on your students, helping them learn and grow as people.

"This award has my name on it, but it's a team effort from Ana and myself.

"I couldn't have accomplished these things without her here with me."

Brocklebank has a reputation for having a sincere interest in promoting and preserving Inuit culture.

He said he and Ana have been very fortunate to be able to use Inuit culture as a vehicle for different learning strategies in Chester.

"We use culture when teaching science and we've had a lot of success with students in our school making it to the Canada-wide Science Fair with culturally appropriate projects.

"You can promote Inuit culture and show the students it's relevant to the southern way of learning.

"You can take things Inuit have known for hundreds of years and introduce them into today's classroom with a great deal of success.

"It's a fantastic feeling to watch your students succeed using knowledge that has existed in their culture for generations."

Brocklebank said he wanted to come to Chester after completing university and hoped from the start he'd be accepted into the community.

He said he and Ana have always wanted to fit in and be part of the community, not just two people who teach at the school.

"We love Chester and want to continue living here.

"We're just as much a part of this community now as anyone else and that's probably a better feeling than winning this award."

Jim Kreuger is a program consultant with Kivalliq School Operations in Baker Lake.

He said Brocklebank embodies all the characteristics of teaching excellence, including knowledge, humour, communication, empathy and care.

"Combined with his genuine interest in Inuit culture, this professionalism has made Glen an extremely valuable teacher and community member," said Kreuger.

"Being a teacher, facilitator, mentor, community leader, advocate, counsellor, performer and friend are many of the roles he performs effortlessly and often simultaneously."

Kreuger says students like and respect Brocklebank, who is often personally thanked in graduates' speeches for his support and dedication.

"Teachers in his school and throughout Kivalliq identify Glen as an innovator and leader," said Kreuger.

"I cannot imagine our region without him."