Daniel Ryan Grassick
Year: 2010-2011 – Province: Alberta
Certificate of Excellence Recipient
Rideau Park School
829 Rideau Road SW
Calgary, AB T2S 0S2
Subjects and grades taught: Science, Outdoor Education and Digital Photography for grade 6, 8 and 9
Was it Colonel Mustard in the library with the candlestick, or, Mrs. Peacock in the kitchen with the knife? Dan Grassick teaches his students to be detectives; to be inquisitive and to take action. In fact, one of his first projects when he started teaching was to challenge his students to tackle a local problem of their choice, write letters and get involved in their community. Mr. Grassick can even make a test fun when the questions consist of analyzing forensic evidence based on the board game Clue.
If they aren't at a local climbing gym, or learning about avalanche safety, Mr. Grassick's students might be in the schoolyard preparing catapults to launch watermelons as part of inquiry-based science projects or exploring surface tension through bubble studies. Whether they're learning about the spacing of planets in the solar system, or identifying the parts of an atom, Mr. Grassick's students learn through hands-on activities. A technological know-how, paired with a personal interest in photography and art, seamlessly compliment his lessons and inspire students to find their own passions.
- In his first few years as a teacher Mr. Grassick developed a new photography course to make use of the school's three unused dark rooms. He scoured the city for manual cameras, ordered darkroom supplies, and installed photoshop software. With the help of the fine arts and language arts teachers, Mr. Grassick also got students involved in the writing and publication process of a student-centered and run bi-weekly newspaper.
- In his current school, Mr. Grassick inspired what his colleagues have called a "technological revolution " at his school. He resurrected an old SMARTBoard and saw new ones purchased, advocated for new computers and digital cameras and implemented innovative software in his classroom, which he taught students and teachers to use.
- Mr. Grassick spent the summer of 2010 refining the school's technological infrastructure, reorganizing computer labs, and stringing 100 foot ethernet wires through vents to add computers and printers to the rooms where they were needed. He also re-launched the school's website ensuring smartphone and iPod compatibility and creating online applications to allow teachers to easily update their homework and sign out computer labs 24/7. The new site also shows off the school's events and highlights students' accomplishments.
- Seeing an opportunity to develop student citizenship at the school, Mr. Grassick piloted a new Leadership and Outdoor Education class for grade nine students staring in 2009. On top of their new roles as counsellors at the grade seven orientation camp, boosters at the Terry Fox Run, and DJs at the school dances, Mr. Grassick's students participated enthusiastically in the Duke of Edinburgh Award program and were challenged to meet physical activity, community service and skill development targets.
"I saw in Dan's classroom was an atmosphere where questioning was encouraged, where student engagement was a priority and where students were honoured in terms of what they brought to the discussion."
"Dan's creativity, enthusiasm and expertise has had a profound and positive effect on me, my children and the school."
Colleague and parent