Making an impression on his young students

John Mahood PS Grade 4 students Addison Williard (left) and Laurel Maguire nominated their teacher David Nunn for the Alexander Fleming Award, given out by the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario’s regional branch in recognition of exemplary teachers with less than five years of experience. [Faisal Ali / The Observer]

Teacher David Nunn hasn’t been teaching very long, and this year was his first full year at John Mahood Public School. But after such a short time, it’s fair to say that he has already had a tremendous impact on the Elmira school.

This week, Nunn was surprised to discover that he had been nominated by a collection of his students and peers for the prestigious Alexander Fleming Award in teaching excellence.

“I had no idea,” he said of the nomination. “I think I was tearing up a little bit.”

Amongst those leading the nomination were Grade 4 students Addison Willard and Laurel Maguire, who, with the guidance of teacher Claire Campbell, put together an application for Nunn. The students, also members of the Kodaly Choir which Nunn leads, even handwrote a letter to the nominations committee describing him as a supportive and caring teacher.

“We think Mr. Nunn should get a teaching award because he makes us happy when we are sad. He tells us to keep following up our dreams and he’s really nice and kind,” they wrote. “We look forward to him coming in our portable to teach us music.”

Fellow teacher Luanne Hanes added that Nunn brings “boundless energy and enthusiasm to his music pedagogy,” concluding, “he is a natural ham, whose operatic skills had students in stitches at our Christmas assembly.”

As the music, drama and phys. ed. teacher at John Mahood, Nunn notes that he has a rather unique role at the school that brings him into contact with almost every student at John Mahood. He teaches every classroom at the school from kindergarten up to Grade 6 for about half-an-hour at a time, which gives him a real opportunity to connect not just with a single classroom, but the entire school.

“I have supervision almost every day out on the field, and I know every single personality out there,” said Nunn. “I know every single kid, I know every single name. And so when something’s not quite right, it’s easy to pinpoint and easy to follow up because I have relationships with all 400 kids.”

As such, Nunn says that he’s always cognizant of what he brings to the students and to the school. It’s important, he stresses, to be joyful and to able to inspire because of that connection and that influence he has with the entire school.

“I’m in a really privileged position in the school because I interact with nearly every student who walks through the doors,” said Nunn. “And the reason why I say it’s a privileged position is because it gives you an opportunity to have an impact on the school climate and not just the classroom climate.”

Nunn runs the school’s music program, and outside of the classroom devotes his time to training the school’s choir. Beyond that, he commits himself to supervising various intramural sports. The results of his hard work, though, speak for themselves.

Campbell noted how effective the school’s music program has become with Nunn’s involvement.

“It really is. And it’s such a bonus that we can have that here at John Mahood. We can have all the kids involved and have a really strong music program.”

The Alexander Fleming Award is given out each year by the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario’s Waterloo Region branch in recognition of exemplary teachers with under five years of experience. The award is named after Alexander Fleming, a former respected principal in Kitchener.

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