Photo (L-R) – Back Row: Tabitha Ouimet – Lighthouse Private Wealth, Roger and Dorethea Lewis – grandparents, Chloe Stuart – mother, Claire Stuart-Lewis – Kids with Class winner, Ian Guest – father, Pam Stuart – grandmother, Aaron Sargeant – Darling Insurance and Laura Smith – teacher and nominator. Front Row: Pete Dalliday and Catherine Hanrahan – Fresh Mornings.
Nominated by: Laura Smith
Claire is not only a kid with class, but a kid who is changing our world. My name is Laura Smith and I teach grade 3 French Immersion at Edmison Heights Public School in Peterborough. After being able to participate in some volunteer work in Tanzania during the summer, I started reflecting on how I could teach my students that one person can have huge positive impact on the lives of others, no matter what age. So I decided to introduce our yearlong theme of ‘Being the Difference’. The students and I brainstormed ways in which we could demonstrate positive behavior and model kindness in our classroom, within the school, within our community and on a global scale. Since introducing this idea, Claire has actively participated with enthusiasm and heart. In the classroom she is a hardworking student, she takes risks and she challenges her own learning. She takes pride in the state of our classroom by using items with care, tidying after herself and others and is constantly offering her services to help me sort and organize. She is kind to her peers and is always willing to help when others have questions about their work. In the school, Claire models respect by walking quietly while in the halls, saying hello to staff, thanking her peers when they hold the door, and by presenting a past teacher with a Certificate of Appreciation. She participates in extra-curricular activities like floor-hockey, school choir and knitting club. I knew Claire had a big heart early in September when I mentioned it was going to be my birthday the next day and I received an email that night saying that a bedkit had been purchased on my behalf through ‘Sleeping Children Around the World’. This is the organization with which I had been involved with during the summer as a volunteer. Needless to say, I was filled with gratitude and quickly sent an email to thank Claire’s parents. Her mother quickly responded that not only was it Claire’s idea to purchase the bedkit, but that she had used money she had made at a garage sale they held to pay for it. My heart was full. Claire’s birthday was the following weekend in September. She asked that those who came to her party brought donations for the animals at Lakefield Animal Welfare Society rather than gifts for her. She soon presented all that she collected to LAWS and her story was shared on their Facebook page. As a class, we decided that to make a difference in our community we wanted to do something for LAWS and something involving the residents at Fairhaven. For LAWS, we decided to make name tags for the crates of each of the animals who were currently waiting to be adopted (89). We also made a large Christmas tree with ornaments which had the names of each animal so that when they were adopted, the ornament could be removed and a star was left in its place. Though the idea was noble, I did not realize the extra amount of work that would be required to get all of these completed. Claire used every spare moment she had in class to work on this project, completing more than her share of work and effort. She stayed in during recess to help me finish on time. She was truly passionate about the project. In December we decided to contact Fairhaven and arrange to be matched with residents who would then become our ‘partners’ for the rest of the year. We intended on writing to them throughout the year and going to visit multiple times. However, given it was December and we recognized that not all residents have family that visit during the holidays we wanted to do more. We decided to ask the students at Edmison Heights to make Holiday cards and we asked the school community to bring in small items which we could gather and create gift bags to give those who wouldn’t be receiving gifts. Claire was also extremely involved in this project. She worked immediately on creating a poster and memorizing her presentation to share with classes in the school and was commended by staff and students for her oral presentation. Once again, the grandeur of our small project was not quite expected. We received probably close to 300 Holiday cards and 1000 items by the end of our collection. Again, Claire used all of her free time to work on this project and stayed in during recesses to help myself and some peers organize all of the items into like boxes to help us when it came to packing the gift bags. She also volunteered to have two partners at Fairhaven, which means doing twice the amount of letter writing, card making, gift organizing, etc. When I heard about this contest, I knew that I wanted to nominate Claire. At 8 years old she is showing me and those around her that one person can and is making a difference. I look forward to seeing what she accomplishes during the rest of this year that I have to spend with her, and am certain that in the years to come, she will continue to grow as a ‘kid with class.’