Hes the best. The kids love him

Justin Dickie
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PDHS math teacher Tulkens wins award

PUGWASH Modest all-star athletes often deflect the spotlight on their peers when theyre playing at their best. Much the same, John Tulkens is Pugwash District High Schools modest all-star math teacher.

So when he recently received an Excellence in Teaching award, one of just 15 given out across the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board this year, he was quick to deflect the attention.

Its quite an honour to receive it, but its not just an honour for me, its an honour for the whole staff, Tulkens said. Ive learned so much from them, not just staff now but in past years. Its just as much an award for them as it is me.

Hes the best. The kids love him

PUGWASH Modest all-star athletes often deflect the spotlight on their peers when theyre playing at their best. Much the same, John Tulkens is Pugwash District High Schools modest all-star math teacher.

So when he recently received an Excellence in Teaching award, one of just 15 given out across the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board this year, he was quick to deflect the attention.

Its quite an honour to receive it, but its not just an honour for me, its an honour for the whole staff, Tulkens said. Ive learned so much from them, not just staff now but in past years. Its just as much an award for them as it is me.

Tulkens said his initial reaction to winning the award was why me? but fellow teacher Bob Nogler offered an explanation to that question.

Hes the best. The kids love him. He has a lot of respect with the staff and the students around here and we think Mr. Tulkens deserves the excellence award, Nogler said. He has a hard time accepting compliments.

Tulkens, a veteran teacher of 25 years, was nominated for an Excellence in Teaching award by Nogler, PDHS principal Olga Jordan, parent Wendy Angus, student Krista Angus, and his grade 8A class for his dedication to many aspects of the PDHS community.

Over the years, Tulkens first and foremost delivered math and computer-related classes in a way that made kids understand concepts to the best of their abilities. In his math classes, for example, he believed in using hands-on materials, like algebra tiles, to show students exactly how concepts work.

Im a teacher who doesnt like students to memorize what theyre doing. I want them to understand why were doing it. Does it always work? No, but I push for that, Tulkens said.

He also took part in a lot of activities outside the classroom. He coached volleyball, softball, and soccer for many years and also helped with basketball, dances, students council and drivers education.

Hes cut back since returning to teach after a year off for medical reasons, but he said the extra-curricular activities were important to the whole teaching experience in that it built strong relationships with his students.

I found it so much easier to work with them inside the classroom when I saw them outside the classroom. When you see them outside the classroom, you can see things you dont see (in the classroom), their movements, the fun theyre having, the playing Then they tend to respect you for what youre doing for them and they bring that respect all the way into the classroom.

He spent five years as vice-principal of PDHS before returning to a full-time teaching role this year. Hes back to doing what earned him the Excellence in Teaching award, but dont try telling him hes an all-star teacher.

Im no different than anybody else. I dont see myself as different than anybody else, he said. Theyre all doing the same thing, the same job that Im doing. Theyre doing what they have to do, Im doing what I have to do. Together we get the job done.

jdickie@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Pugwash District High Schools, Central Regional School Board

Geographic location: Chignecto

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