A Pond Inlet educator is being recognized for her efforts with a 2020 Prime Minister’s Award for Early Childhood Education.
“I’m honoured, I’m surprised,” said Leah Kippomee, who’s the now award-winning lead educator at the community’s Pirurvik Preschool.
“She’s a hard working woman and I’m glad she’s being recognized and I love her,” said Pirurvik Preschool staff member Selena Enoogoo.
Fellow co-worker Julie Pewatualuk adds, “I was happy she got awarded.”
Karen Nutarak, co-director of the preschool says “Leah does her job with excellence and loves what she does. We are very proud of her and she deserves the award.”
Back in 2018 the preschool won the $1-million Arctic Inspiration Prize and since then they have been using that money to help other communities around the North from the capital to other hamlets in the territory.
“The preschool won one million dollars and we’ve been using that to train other preschool or daycare facilities across the region for seven communities,” she said.
“So far we have helped several daycares in Iqaluit, Rankin Inlet, Clyde River and here in Pond Inlet.”
Her method to teaching preschool students sits on a combination of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (traditional knowledge) and Montessori oriented education. The latter emphasizes independent learning in a supportive environment and is used in many schools around the world.
“Language and culture, we try to teach them how to hold a pencil before they go to kindergarten and language is important to keep our culture alive,” Kippomee said.
Part of teaching traditional knowledge involves getting the preschoolers to play with materials that are a part of the Inuit way of life.
“Children at a young age can learn by play and with the Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit materials we have here. We have seal skins they can pretend to be skinning and other Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit materials like bone games and they have a sled they can pretend to use to go hunting and some Inuit games.”
Part of the Pirurvik Preschool’s letter nominating Kippomee reads.
“Leah’s use of Inuktitut and cultural engagement in the preschool environment allows children to thrive, and provides them with a positive first engagement in education, that will affect their lives for years to come.”
She adds that it’s important for parents wherever they are to maintain an active role in their kid’s lives. “It is important for parents to be involved with their children.”
Being a teacher is something Kippomee looks forward, to help others learn and to grow.
“I always look forward to getting new students, they’re always willing to learn, I enjoy working with children.”