By KENDALL KING, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on November 24, 2021.
Two teachers from Medicine Hat’s Crescent Heights High School are the recipients of the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence in STEM.
Nicole Pocsik, high school science team lead, and Robin Duncan, high school science teacher, are innovative and passionate educators who wish to inspire students, CHHS principal Shonna Barth told the News.
“The two of them collaborate very well,” said Barth. “They’re very creative in their approach to science classrooms. They’re very responsive to what students need.”
“I was very thankful and very grateful,” said Pocsik. “I just kind of come and do my job … It’s just what I love to do. I don’t expect recognition.”
Pocsik has been a teacher for 11 years, the majority spent at CHHS. She and Duncan met several years ago and instantly hit it off.
She explained that many of the teaching programs she and Duncan founded started as “crazy ideas,” which they refined over time, particularly ensuring the ideas fit into science curriculum and would be engaging for students.
“Teamwork to us was building programs that allowed for us to have exploration pieces – hands on pieces … We work really hard to create that environment in our classrooms and focus on making sure the kids understood that science is a wide-variety of things that you can dabble in.”
Pocsik and Duncan wanted their teachings to touch on issues in the global world, so they often discussed scientific topics which intersected with other fields.
“What we really like to focus on in our classes is the scientific impact of humans,” said Pocsik. “We really focus on five categories in our classroom; social, cultural, economic, environmental and ethical.”
Pocsik hopes her and Duncan’s programs inspire students to continue learning and exploring, even outside science.
“I love learning and I want them to love learning and if they don’t love learning just find something that you love in general,” she said. “That’s kind of what this (award) means to me … we’ve created an environment that allows for our students to focus on what could possibly be.”
Duncan now lives in Edmonton, but she and Pocsik still collaborate. They are working on a joint project between their classrooms, which will not only allow students to exchange knowledge but will also demonstrate the power of collaboration and joint passion for science, innovation and technology.