It was an evening of celebrating excellence in Christian education and recognizing teachers who go beyond teaching to nurture character and a community of care for others. At the inaugural event on June 9, 2016, seven Ontario teachers from independent Christian schools received the John Rozema Award for Teacher Excellence.
John Rozema, a member of Redeemer Christian Reformed Church in Sarnia, Ont., sponsored the award. He is a business leader with a lifetime of passion and dedication to local institutions including area Christian Reformed churches and Sarnia Christian School.
At a reception held at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, Ont., the awards were presented in partnership with the Christian School Foundation and Cardus, a think tank that conducts and publishes independent research focused on social architecture and renewal in North America.
“Almost everyone has a story about a great teacher, those who help us work out our calling and show us what is important and how to make good judgements,” said Dr. Beth Green, program director for Cardus Education. “These teachers know it is not just about skills but about seeing the wonder and equipping our students to love their neighbour.”
The winners were Lisa Eelkema of Laurentian Hills Christian High School for the elementary teaching award and David Robinson of Toronto District Christian High School for the secondary school award. Kasia Konstanty, Eric Brink, Richard VanderWier, Jonathan Devries, and Harry Blyleven of Hamilton District Christian High School were presented with the group award. Individual winners received a monetary gift of $5,000 and the group award came with a gift of $8,000, funds that will be used by the schools where these teachers are employed.
Cardus president Michael Van Pelt spoke about the creativity and innovation that taking place in Christian schools across Ontario. “It gives us a lot of hope for the future of Christian education, and it is our hope that this award will also build a powerful reservoir of ideas.”