Smithers Secondary School teacher Rick Hubert recently received a Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence in Ottawa.
Hubert, a Castlegar native who still has family in the area, now teaches metal work to Grade 8 to 12 students. He was recognized for his efforts in getting his students directly involved in the community with projects like building bike racks.
The award was handed out to 10 teachers and seven early childhood educators from across Canada. The events honouring the national recipients coincided with World Teachers’ Day.
Twenty-five teachers and 12 early childhood educators received a regional Certificate of Achievement award as well.
The prime minister’s office describes the Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence as recognizing outstanding elementary and secondary school teachers in all disciplines who, through the innovative use of information and communications technologies, help Canadian students to meet the challenges of a 21st century society and economy.
The Prime Minister’s Awards are administered on behalf of the prime minister by Industry Canada with the support of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Employment and Social Development Canada, Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the RBC Foundation.
“The tireless dedication of our teachers inspires our children and encourages them to succeed. Today we celebrate the recipients of this year’s teaching awards for their outstanding achievements and thank them for continuously enriching the lives of their students,” said Prime Minister Harper at the announcement.
Hubert spoke about how he might get his chance to expand his initiatives to a much broader community on his way back home.
A federal official approached Hubert to possibly get engaged nationally.
“One of the branches of this board is all to do with health and food in the schools,” explained Hubert, who said he did not think he was much of a speaker but was surprised by a rousing ovation from the teachers and officials who heard his speech in Ottawa.
The teachers at the awards were asked to speak about their goals, which Hubert said for him was to instill confidence in students and promote healthy living.
“I went up there and thought I’m just going to talk right from my gut, from my heart and just say what I feel and believe’… It was the most incredible thing, I wasn’t finished my speech — I was about four minutes into it — the whole audience just started applauding. I had to stop my speech and wondered what the heck is going on?” said Hubert, whose wife’s battle with cancer for the last decade has in part inspired his passion.
Staff at the high school recommended Hubert for the award.
Principal Jaksun Grice showed off Hubert’s inventions at the high school including the geodome and a laser metal cutter hooked up to computer software for intricate designing.
“Rick is one of those quiet, unassuming teachers that you don’t hear a lot from, but if you actually go in his classroom you see amazing things happening,” said Grice, who added Hubert brings in people from the community to make things happen.
“Kids, if they come into Rick’s shop, if they have a dream he’s like ‘okay, well I’m going to work with you to figure out how to build it.’ It’s pretty unique that he has the talent where whatever a kid’s thinking, he can help them get there.”
Hubert had to keep the news of the award secret for two months. Now he is looking forward to making ideas like a website and application for Smithers and to be expanded later for other regions that would tell grocery shoppers the nutrients in the fruits and vegetables they are buying a reality. The key he said is for others to buy into the effort.
“The goal is to try and change the way agriculture is done throughout the world,” said the teacher who is not afraid to go big.