Recent Entries in Innovative Educator Forum Trip Blog from Cape Town

  • Nov 2 2010We're on our way home!!!Comments:0
    As I write this blog entry for our trip we are on a 12.5 hour flight from Cape Town to London.  It will take us about 30 hours to get home which is a lot quicker than the nearly 40 hours to get here.  As I look out the plane window, I am reflecting on the incredible past 12 days.  

    Last night, we ate at one of the finest restaurants in Cape Town.  (Actually, every night we ate at one of the finest restaurants in Cape Town).  We overlooked the sun setting on a Camps Beach as the surf washed up over the white sand.  Our trip was like nothing I ever could have imagined, but as I sat in that beautiful restaurant, I lost focus on the plate of gourmet food in front of me and the conversation in the air reminiscing about the life-changing trip.  Instead, I stared out at the Atlantic Ocean and desired nothing more than what was across it.  Over the past 12 days we have been treated like royalty by Microsoft and for the most part only experienced the tourist side of Cape Town.   However, part of our group had the privilege to go off the beaten path to see the townships invested with HIV/AIDS and poverty running rampant, the lack of basic resources in the non-private schools, and the local hospital with archaic equipment that so few have access to.  

    As I reflected on this, I continued to stare at the waves of the ocean and I felt so blessed for what lie on the other side: Canada ... a country where we have it so good but take so much for granted, Greater Saskatoon Catholic School System ... a school division that offers more than the majority of most African children could ever imagine, my grade 6 class ... the most respectful and enthusiastic class any teacher could ask for, and lastly my family ... my loving and deeply committed wife Janet who is my greatest supporter and my wonderful son Seth and my beautiful daughter Nyaomi who I cherish more than words could express.      

    This trip gave me a new outlook on my role as an educator, husband, and father.  It opened up many doors and it is exciting to imagine where each one will lead.

    It was so exciting to see the huge following on this blog.  Thank you for all your prayers, support, comments, and interest in this project.  It was a huge blessing that we made it this far.  We came so close to the Global award but obviously it was not meant to be.  However, not winning first place only gives me a deeper passion to continue on, to persevere, to stand strong, and to become the best teacher I can be.   

    Well, I should get some sleep now as we have a long trek home.

    God bless you all!


  • Oct 30 2010One more incredible day!Comments:6 It is Saturday night in Cape Town. We spent the most amazing evening/night at the Microsoft Innovative Teachers Forum Gala Event. It was held in a botanical garden that can only be described as "out of this world".  The evening felt like the oscars... One might say it was the Oscars of education.

    Everyone dressed in gowns and suits, ready to acknowledge the best innovative teachers in the world. The Canadian team sat. At a verity of tables with colleagues  whom they have developed relationships with. From Kenya to France to Norway to the United States, the world was definitely united.

    We were treated with incredible African dancing, song and stories that were used to introduce each part of the evening.
    Two Canadian teams were semi finalists, Curtis and I and Ian our team mate from New Brunswick.

    We were both finalists in the collaborative project category. There were 12 finalists. Ian won third place. we are so incredibly proud of him. We did not get an official placement but being that we were top 12 of 200 000 projects I am proud to say Canada was well represented in Cape Town.

    My hope was that we would place top 3 to recognize Curtis for going above and beyond in so many ways, however, Curtis expressed that this event has changed his way of thinking about education and he will never be the same educator again. That, to me, is more important than any award, student not only in the Greater Saskatoon Catholic School Division will be touched by him, but also many many students and educators from around the world.

    We are also extremely proud to announce that Samuel, an educator from Ghana, who only has access to three computers, and has become a very close friend to Curtis and he took first place in the world in the community category. This only reaffirms that it is not what you hve, it is what you do with what you have that counts.

    We spent the rest of the evening dancing and visiting with out friends around the world.

    Today we spent the afternoon at Robben Island, the site where Nelson Mandela was held for 19 years. This place gave me an uneasy feeling. Not just because it was a prison island, but that it is an absolutely beautiful island yet the home of 4 prisons where political prisoners were held unjustly for so long.

    Again, we will add pictures when we can.

    Tomorrow, we are off on a safari. We hear it is something indescribable. We will update you after we chase some elephants!

    Have a Great Day!

    Kelli & Curtis

    Sent from my iPad
  • Oct 29 2010BIG NEWSComments:2 Hey everyone, Kelli sent an update earlier on today.  Make sure you check it out.  I think the first update was a mistake so just ignore that one and just read the 2nd.  The big news Kelli mentioned was that our project was selected for the semi-finals.  We will be travelling to the Kirsten Botanical Gardens for the African themed Gala dinner at 7pm (11am Saskatchewan time).  There, the Global Awards will be announced.  Please pray that we do well.  No matter what happens we feel so blessed that we made it this far.  This has been a life-changing experience.  It's hard to describe in words.  
    Thanks to everyone for your comments, emails, encouragement, and support!! 
  • Oct 29 2010WOWComments:5 Hi Everyone, 
    Sorry I have not updated the blog since our arrival in Cape Town. The Internet has been quite difficult. Thank you for your patience with us.

    This trip and conference has been one of the most amazing experiences both personally and professionally.

    We've met, networked, collaborated and visited with people all over the world. We will be bringing back projects for GSCS that will take us global.

    Wednesday we presented our project in a sort of exhibit fair. There were 125 of the best projects from 114 countries around the world. We were very fortunate to be part of that 125.
    We shared out project with other innovative teachers and were judged by a group from four countries.

    Of the 125, 25 projects were to be chosen as semi-finalists. This of course is quite incredible. 

    Wednesday evening Team Canada took part in a team dinner at a restaurant called GOLD. This restaurant is located in a museum. We heard about it while on a bus tour around the city.

    This experience was unreal. It was an authentic African restaurant. We were entertained by tribal dancing, drumming and singing. Of course the Canadian team got up and danced, and and played instruments. We ate a 10 course meal of a variety of authentic african food including samosas, butternut squash and so much more.

    Last night we attended an exhibit or a variety of different technologies. I was then invited to attend a dinner for francophones here at the worldwide forum. Frederic, one of the other Team Canada members who in a francophone also attended. This meal was incredible as we spoke French all night and were able to connect with French speaking people from around the world.

    Yesterday Curtis and I were interviewed by Microsoft corporate. We will be part of a film created to showcase the Innovative Teachers Program on the Microsoft web site. We spent 30 minutes  with an interviewer. Curtis is a showman so we had a great time answering their questions and showing our Canadian humour.

    This morning, the big morning, the 25 semi-finalists were announced. YES our project was one of those 25. Curtis and I were so excited. Ian, another Canadian Team member was also chose as a semi-finalist. Amazing that Canada has 2 of the top 25 innovative projects in the world. Being a semi-finalist is amazing, were were interviewed for an africans newspaper and a variety of other countries. Were were then judged again by approximately 15 judges. Other innovative teachers strolled around and asked us a bunch of questions. It was amazing!!

    Tonight is our final Gala where the world-wide winners will be announced. We are so incredibly fortunate to be here and experience this amazing professional development opportunity. Also we are so proud to represent Canada and the Greater Saskatoon Catholic School Division.
    We thank you for all your support.

    We will let you know how things go tonight. Sorry we do not have pictures on the blog but the Internet is just a little too slow. We will post some of our amazing videos and pictures when we can.

    Tomorrow we are going to tour Robben Island, the prison where Nelson Mandela spent a number of years. We are finishing off our trip with a Safari.... I can't wait for this.

    Hope all is well over in Canada and please know we are having the most amazing experience here and can't wait to share it with all of you!!!

    Kelli & Curtis
  • Oct 28 2010Comments:1
    Hey everybody, 

    The Innovative Educator Forum has been going really well over the past few days.  What an experience to meet people from over 75 countries.  Today, "Partners in Learning" selected our project to be a global showcase for Microsoft.  We had a 30 minute video interview and a photo shoot.  Tomorrow morning we will find out if we made it to the semi-finals.  If we make it to the semi-finals we will then be judged again and compete for the 13 Global Innovative Educator Awards.  It's a long shot but please pray that we do well.  

    My computer is not allowing me to upload photos due to the slow connection speed so I put them all on Facebook.  You can check them out here.  (Those of you who are my students Miss Nelson will be showing them to you.)

    Hope to hear your comments and feedback.    

  • Oct 24 2010Comments:2 Hey everybody, sorry I've taken so long to blog.  Internet has been down here for a number of days.  I have tried to upload pictures but it will not upload due to the slow Internet speed.  The flight here was quite exhausting but we made it.  It took about 36 hours to get here.  I got about 6 hours sleep over Thurs and Fri night.  We have had a total blast so far.  Now I see why Forbe's says this is the most beautiful city in the world.    

    Highlights so far:
    Touring London and seeing famous landmarks such as Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace (Where Queen Elizabeth lives) 
    -Seeing wild ostrich, Cape Fur Seals, African Penguins, Springbok, Jagged Tooth Sharks and petting a live Cheetah. 
    -Experiencing the diverse South African Culture: from song and dance to the the finest cuisine I have ever eaten - so far I have tasted Crocodile, Springbok, Ostrich, and Zebra 
    -Witnessing the stunning scenery of Cape Town, the wine country, the African coast, the Cape of Good Hope, and the view from the top of table Mountain
    -Interacting with the locals and learning about their fascinating stories and culture
    -Meeting people from all over the world - today at the Forum I had conversations with people from 25 different countries  
    -Going to St. George's Anglican Cathedral, the church of former Archbishop of South Africa Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize winner 
    -Seeing Green Point Stadium the Cape Town Stadium used in the Fifa World Cup.

    I will try again to send pictures.  
    Hope you all are doing well

  • Jun 28 2010Microsoft Worldwide Innovative Teaching AwardsComments:1

    Microsoft Worldwide Innovative Teaching Awards

    We were very blessed to win a Microsoft Innovative Teaching Award for this project. Kelli and Curtis will be going to Capetown South Africa on October 22, 2010 to take part in the Microsoft Worldwide Innovative Education Forum.

    We will be representing Canada as we compete against educators from 75 different countries in the world. While on the trip from October 22 - November 1, we will be updating this page daily with photos and videos, so make sure you subscribe to our blog to join us on our experience.

    To subscribe, scroll down on the right, enter your email address under "Email Subscriptions' and click 'Go'. For more information about the program check out the Microsoft Partners in Learning website or read below.

    Microsoft Partners in Learning's 2010 Worldwide Innovative Education Forum (IEF) 
    Cape Town, South Africa, October 26 - 30

    The Innovative Education Forum is the centerpiece event for Partners in Learning, which helps teachers and school leaders more effectively use technology as a tool for innovative teaching and learning. 
    The event is expected to attract more than 500 teachers, school leaders, press and education thought leaders from more than 75 countries. Teachers attending the event will be competing for one of 13 Global Innovative Education Awards to celebrate their best practices in the classroom. They have previously been chosen as winners at the country and local levels.
    School leaders attending the event represent some of the most innovative primary and secondary schools in the world, and are participating in professional development to enhance their leadership skills as they embark on a journey of transformation. This is the first time that Microsoft has held the event in the Middle East/African region, and is the second year of a combined event for two audiences - the Microsoft Innovative Teacher Award recipients and the school leaders program.

    As Microsoft Canada's representatives to this celebration of the innovation that leads to educational transformation and better education in the 21st century, participants will have an opportunity to:

    • collaborate with educators from Canada and internationally
    • share their innovative programs
    • learn best practices in education
    • become an innovative education leader
    • connect with educators for educational partnerships
    • celebrate creativity and innovation in education
    • establish a strong worldwide community of innovators


    Most information about the conference will be available on the conference web site.

    Information on Cape Town can be found at:

    Background Information About Partners in Learning(PiL)

    Partners in Learning is a global program of Microsoft Corporation, led in Canada by Jacinthe Robichaud Director, Partners in Learning, Microsoft Canada. PiL began in Canada in 2004 and renewed in 2009 until 2014. Approximately $500 million dollars has been made available to support educators and schools involved in the innovative use of technology in classrooms around the world over the 10 years. Budgets allotted each country are based on a percentage of sales in that country. 

    More information on PiL is available at

    Background Information About Partners in Learning(PiL) in Canada

    Partners in Learning in Canada is most active where provincial governments have entered into a working agreement with Microsoft Canada to work on projects and activities of mutual interest such as the Innovative Teachers Awards. New Brunswick and Manitoba have been the most active provinces in the program going back to 2004. Other supported activities include peer coaching, 21st Century Leadership Skills and the use of MARVIN software.

    PiL has made MARVIN, available free-of-charge to all schools in Canada.Canadian educators have distinguished themselves with six projects making it to the semi-finals at the global level. The Canadian Innovative Teachers Program works differently than other countries. Initially, the program invited educators to submit their completed educational, as is the practice in other countries. Over the last two years, the Canadian awards have been based on educators creating innovative projects for the program. Each year new software or hardware applications are added to be the tools that educators use. This has created more innovative projects and global interest in the Canadian projects from participants from other countries and from Microsoft as well.

    The awards program is coordinated in Canada by MindSet, the Manitoba Network for Science and Technology as part of the MOU with the Province of Manitoba. Norman Lee, coordinator of MindSet, helped create the global Microsoft Innovative Teacher Awards in 2004 as well as creating the Canadian awards program. Previous to setting up MindSet, Norm worked on other national awards programs for Industry Canada's SchoolNet, including the Prime Minister's Awards for Teaching Excellence and was a major part of the creation of the Network of Innovative Schools and the Community IT Heroes Awards. Norm taught for 27 years in Winnipeg.

Recent Comments

  • Super work everyone! It is wonderful to read the stories of so many accomplishments both here at h...

  • Congratulations! It sounds like it was a spectacular evening. It is neat to have made connections ...

  • What an outstanding accomplishment! Thank you for pointing out how we can create amazing projects wi...

  • So proud to know you Curtis. Your team have done something outstanding for Canadian Education and I ...

    Patricia Boshoff
    One more incredible day!
  • This is a huge accomplishment - I am soooooo proud you guys,...

    MJ Sherven