Manitoulin Secondary teacher receives prestigious award for excellence and innovation in mathematics

Manitoulin Secondary School teacher Heather Theijsmeijer has received the Ontario Mathematics Co-ordinators Association Excellence and Innovations in Mathematics Teaching Award for 2020.

M’CHIGEENG – Manitoulin Secondary School (MSS) teacher Heather Theijsmeijer has received a prestigious award in recognition of her excellence and innovations in mathematics teaching.

“I was so excited to have been nominated, and notified I had won the award,” Ms. Theijsmeijer told the Recorder on Sunday. “It is an honour to have won this award.”
Ms. Theijsmeijer noted that since the Ontario Mathematics Co-ordinators Association (OMCA) couldn’t hold an official in-person ceremony due to COVID-19, she received the award via mail last Friday.

Mike Jacobs, past president of OMCA, told the Recorder, “Heather was nominated for this award by the other members of the OMCA.” He pointed out OMCA is made up of consultants with school boards throughout Ontario (including the Rainbow District School Board) who work with teachers to help them develop and become better math teachers.

“The thing with Heather is that because she is from Manitoulin Island she very rarely gets to our meetings face to face,” said Mr. Jacobs. “She usually attends virtually. However, she always takes part fully and has a willingness to share everything she is doing and incorporating with her teaching with the board. She organizes and puts out a weekly newsletter with other teachers virtually with useful, practical ideas that teachers can say ‘I can use this in teaching my students.’ And she has a blog that all teachers on the board can go to and participate in. She works with all teachers and provides creative ideas that teachers can use in their teaching regardless of what grade they teach; this takes a lot of careful thought and creativity.”

“With distance learning which everyone is using these days, Heather is very skillful at using the Google platform and sharing information with the consultants in how she deliver lessons, and provides input and gets a lot of feedback,” continued Mr. Jacobs. “So basically, she helps the teachers and the consultants. As consultants we are in charge of professional development.” 

“And it is not just math that she is good at, she has responsibilities for science, and in the past she has been the education co-ordinator for the Canadian Astronomers Society,” continued Mr. Jacobs. 

“Whenever (OMCA has) meetings, we know and look forward to Heather sharing some of her really good ideas on teaching,” said Mr. Jacobs. “She influences in other ways as well. Heather is a runner, and last November on Twitter she inspired Ontario teachers to run each at least a mile for 35 days; she kept track of their progress. And she set up a hashtag this year to have everyone take part in ‘Run Streak’ to run at least one mile a day from Victoria Day to Canada Day. Hundreds of educators are taking part. So she is not only nurturing our minds but our bodies as well,” noting once the interview with this reporter concluded he would be taking part in his daily run.

“Heather is not only a great influence in math creativity and innovation, but in other areas as well,” said Mr. Jacobs. “She moved to Manitoulin Island in 2004 and always talks about how much she loves the Island and how wonderful a place it is to live.”