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An Interview with Centennial Academy Teacher Krystal Lapierre
An Interview with Centennial Academy Teacher Krystal Lapierre

Introduce yourself and the courses you teach. What, in your opinion, is the best thing about being a teacher at Centennial Academy?

My name is Krystal Lapierre.  I have taught in South Korea, New Zealand and Tanzania and this is my seventh year teaching at Centennial Academy.  I currently teach grade 9 and 10 science, including the advance science course.  I have also taught grade 8 science and grade 11 math in the past.

I find teaching at Centennial very rewarding as I feel that I can have a really positive impact on the success of our diverse learners.  I also love changing students’ perceptions about science by making it engaging and hands-on.

What are the top 3 things that you think make Centennial Academy unique?

  1. Centennial allows students to overcome the challenges of learning in an environment that is supportive and inclusive.  This gives students the confidence they need to succeed academically and socially.
  2. Centennial staff are consistent in their approaches to teaching and learning which allows predictability and helps the students stay organized and on the path to success.
  3. We focus on learning behaviours as a means to improve academic performance.  These are skills that aren’t explicitly taught at other schools and which go a long way towards creating a more effective learning environment.

Tell me about one of your favorite teaching memories/story?

My favourite time of year with the grade 9s is the period right before December exams, when we do the sheep’s heart and frog dissections.  I usually have a number of students who are squeamish and who do not want to participate.  I never make it mandatory that they participate, however, more often than not, curiosity overcomes any trepidation the student may have and they become engrossed in the dissection, asking lots of questions and making valuable connections between what they are seeing and how their own bodies work.

What do you think your students like the most about you?

I think that my students like how passionate I am about science, and how I can relate what I am teaching to their day-to-day lives.  I am organized and punctual in returning assignments to my students so that they can promptly learn from their mistakes and work on improving for their resubmission or next assignment.

Describe a typical classroom experience or a typical day at Centennial?

A typical day at Centennial is very predictable.  The student comes into their classroom, where they will stay for majority the day, and the teacher puts the learning target and agenda on the board so that the students know what will be happening that period.  There is usually a portion of the class dedicated to introducing new material and then the rest of the period students are practicing that new concept.  In science, we try to get into the lab as much as possible so that students can be involved in their own learning.  Students will finish their day with study hall, which is a 45 minute period for students to complete homework and seek out their teachers for help, should they need it.  Students are then expected to only do 30 minutes of remaining homework or review once at home.

Describe in your own words the Centennial Academy Approach and how UDL really works.

The Centennial approach uses UDL to ensure that no matter what the learning challenge of a student may be, that that student can engage with the material in a manner that suits them.  At Centennial we provide PowerPoints, course packs, videos, interactive websites (gizmos, facile learning and phets are commonly used in science), hands-on activities, as well as a variety of other tools.  We also encourage the use of WordQ and students often have the option to type or hand-write assignments.