Yorkville University student Jonathan Morry recently won the Best Buy Best Teachers Contest – securing 30 brand new laptops for his students in northern British Columbia.
“It was a shock. I didn’t even know I was nominated…but when I found out that I’d actually won, it was a big honour,” said Morry, a Master of Education in Educational Leadership student who’s taught at Babine Lake Elementary-Secondary School in Granisle, BC for the last 10 years.
“I felt really honoured and humbled, but at the same time, maybe a bit guilty because I know there are so many classrooms out there that could benefit from this technology and so many teachers that are deserving of support and help.”
The contest, run in partnership between Best Buy and Breakfast Television, launched in September, asking Canadians to nominate teachers who “make a difference to ensure the success of their students.”
Morry – who was nominated for the award by his wife and fellow Babine Lake teacher, Adrienne – has taught Grades 4 through 12 at the tiny, 35-student school located 1,100 kilometres north of Vancouver for the last decade.
“We’re a very small school…so, as you can imagine, 30 Acer Chromebooks is a very generous gift – probably more generous than what our school can actually put to use,” Morry said, explaining that he’s decided to pay Best Buy’s generosity forward by donating some of the new laptops to the larger community.
Three of the Chromebooks are destined for the Granisle Library, where Morry said he hopes they’ll be put to good use by seniors participating in the technology programs provided there. Morry is also in talks to donate the school’s existing 10 laptops to the nearby Tachet reserve – a local First Nations community that feeds the majority of the school’s students.
“Hopefully they can use them and…create a space on the reserve where students who can’t make it into school due to COVID or what have you, have access to technology, laptops, internet, so that they can continue to work towards educational goals, without having to come into the actual building,” he explained.
Morry is also considering taking a few of the other extra Chromebooks and offering them up to other local schools.
“I was thinking about the possibility of allowing other schools to come up with their own challenge to earn a few laptops; you know, showing how they make their communities better,” he said.
“We haven’t sorted out the details yet, but we want to further Best Buy’s initiative and show that we’re deserving of this award.”
A native Newfoundlander, Morry said teaching wasn’t initially his first choice of careers – he originally aspired to be a clinical psychologist – but at Babine Lake, he’s found somewhere he can combine both his passions and carve out a new niche for himself in education.
“I’ve been here for 10 years, so I’ve watched a lot of these students grow up from children into young adults, so you get to know them on a more personal level. You’re more than just someone who’s trying to teach them English or Social Studies or PE – you’re a role model, you’re a life coach,” he said.
“I get to do a lot of counselling here at the school, and I found a lot of niches and areas that I really enjoy within education – educational leadership and counselling being two aspects of that. So that’s how I decided to pursue my Masters and try to further my investment in education.”
With aspirations of taking on more of an administrative role one day – preferably in his native Newfoundland – Morry said his decision to pursue his Master of Education at Yorkville University was an easy one to make.
“Any job I’ve ever done, I’ve always wanted to excel and do the best that I can at. Once I got into teaching, I worked my way up through special education roles, then head teacher roles with part-time administrative duties,” he said.
“That experience has allowed me an insight into creating a culture and being a leader and all those aspects, and it just really kind of drove me to pursue that Masters – to not only increase my effectiveness in my building, but also allow me to diversify, to expand, and to create opportunities for me in the future.”