ARCHIVED—Michael Ernest Sweet
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- Michael Ernest Sweet Video Profile
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Year: 2009 – Province: Québec
Certificate of Excellence Recipient
Lester B. Pearson High School
11575 P.M. Favier
Montréal QC H1G 6E5
Subjects and Grades Taught: English langauge arts in Secondary 3 and 4 (grades 9 and 10)
Michael Sweet was hired to work at an inner-city school in Montréal, inheriting what one of his colleagues called "a barren classroom." From this beginning six years ago, he has built an internationally recognized student press from the ground up, brought in community leaders, and established contacts with international organizations. Today, he supplements his teaching by writing books, publishing articles and essays, and giving seminars in Canada, the United States and Europe.
Mr. Sweet strives to make students' learning experiences real experiences. Rather than simply establishing connections with the community and corporate relationships, he shows students how to make and maintain these relationships themselves. Rather than teaching them about writing, he encourages them to be writers. As part of this approach, he promotes activism—students learning to think beyond what simply is, to what could be, by engaging their imagination and writing about a better world—and involves them in frank and critical discussions of important issues.
- Mr. Sweet founded Learning for a Cause, a program that encourages students to think of themselves as real writers and produce works on real issues and then publish them in real books. To date, Mr. Sweet and his students have published three anthologies, including one with students responding to racism, poverty, war and domestic violence. A second anthology, Down to Earth, features responses to environmental destruction and global warning.
- Another of Mr. Sweet's projects, the Pearson Prize for Young Adult Books, has writers submit books to be reviewed by members of his class. The program has gained publicity for small publishers and self-published authors, while also building a library for use by Mr. Sweet's students. Both this project and Learning for a Cause have their own websites.
- Mr. Sweet has been widely recognized for his leadership in education, including being appointed to the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, being given a place on the Wall of Fame of the National Teachers Hall of Fame in Emporia, Kansas, and being chosen as a 2009 McGill University Distinguished Educator. In 2010, Mr. Sweet will also be profiled in the 100th edition of Canada's Who's Who from the University of Toronto Press for his contributions to education.
"Michael loves being with his students and couldn't imagine doing anything else. He has a great deal of patience and knows that little steps in learning go a long way. … He understands the students, knows what motivates them and provides experiences that maximize their success." Maria Palmieri, Principal
"It is inspiring to see how the students of Lester B. Pearson have responded to the environmental changes we are beginning to witness. There are important lessons here for all of us, especially adults." David Suzuki
"This immensely innovative project continues to challenge the skills and awaken the imaginations of an ever-widening circle of young participants with the written word... ." Martin Sheen