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UOIT Education graduate wins Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence

UOIT Faculty of Education graduate (2006) Vernon Kee receives Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence during ceremony in Ottawa, Ontario.
UOIT Faculty of Education graduate (2006) Vernon Kee receives Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence during ceremony in Ottawa, Ontario.

OTTAWA, ONTARIO – The University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) is proud to announce alumnus Vernon Kee is among a select group of Canadians recognized with a 2013 Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence.

Kee, who graduated from UOIT’s Faculty of Education in 2006 and currently teaches at John Polanyi Collegiate Institute (JPCI) in Toronto, Ontario, received a Certificate of Excellence for Technology, Design, Careers, Computers for Grades 9 to 12. He is the head of Science and the Enriched Science, Math and Robotics program at JPCI.

“This is definitely a career highlight,” said Kee. “The University of Ontario Institute of Technology’s focus on enhancing learning through technology has been a huge part of the way I teach. The faculty and staff at UOIT are amazing innovators in teaching technology and to this day their lessons still inspire me!”

The engineer-turned-teacher follows his passions, draws from his own experiences and gained wisdom to bring both engineering and careers classes to life. Kee’s teaching approach relies on a reoccurring loop of feedback to tailor projects and lessons to best suit his students, their interests and their style of learning.  

“The University of Ontario Institute of Technology is delighted to see Vernon win this prestigious national award among such a distinguished group of Canadian teachers,” said Dr. Diana Petrarca, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education, who was one of Kee’s teachers and mentors while he was a student. “His award reflects the dedication and enthusiasm he demonstrated as a teacher candidate. He had creative ideas, and was a positive member of our community. I'm not surprised he received this award, and I'm so very proud of him."

“Vernon Kee's prestigious award is eloquent testimony to the exemplary work UOIT Faculty of Education students and teachers are doing, leading not only in their mastery of exemplary uses of digital technologies for education, but also in designing innovative tools to support and to enrich their students' teaching and learning,” said Dr. Suzanne de Castell, Professor and Dean, Faculty of Education. “Hearty congratulations and warmest wishes to Vernon, and to his outstanding instructors at UOIT.” 

Kee is known among his students and colleagues for many things, but it's his passion for teaching that makes him stand out above the rest. Among the innovative programs he has initiated at JPCI is Ask Kee Anything – what students affectionately call an online system designed to field questions, concerns or issues about his classes. It's this kind of open attitude and constant desire to improve that students quickly grow to respect and admire.


Vernon Kee’s outstanding achievements:

  • Managed a $30,000 government grant to hire university tutors for his Math Clinic tutoring program. Tutors work with at-risk students to improve their math skills. Through the program, Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) testing marks have risen to the highest they've been at JPCI.
  • Organized a grad panel that brought his past students in to answer questions about university.
  • Committed to the school community, Kee supervises eight school clubs and coaches four sports teams. He also manages multiple school websites and blogs and works as the school network administrator.
  • Committed to the local community, Kee set up a program called Cyberpals through Toronto Intergenerational Partnerships to allow students assist seniors in using the Internet.
  • Kee is also committed to the global community. He has organized annual mission trips to Nicaragua for students and colleagues to help build a school and train teachers in one of the poorest communities.

The Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence recognizes the efforts of outstanding Canadian teachers in all disciplines who instil in their students a love of learning, helping them excel and build a successful future. The awards, offered at the Certificate of Excellence (national) and Certificate of Achievement (regional) levels, carry cash prizes of $5,000 and $1,000 respectively. Recipients receive program pins, letters and certificates signed by the Prime Minister.

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