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A Montreal Teacher Won A Major Prize For Empowering Girls To Break Down Barriers

No big deal, just a Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence.

A Montreal Teacher Won A Major Prize For Empowering Girls To Break Down Barriers

If you're a teacher in Canada, getting a Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence is kind of like winning an Oscar or a Stanley Cup ring. And one Montreal educator just brought home the top prize for her work empowering young women.

The Sacred Heart School of Montreal teacher Erika Rath has received the Quebec Certificate of Excellence for 2021.

"I am incredibly honoured to receive this award. This award belongs to everyone at The Sacred Heart School of Montreal, especially the students who make me a better educator and a better person every day," Rath told MTL Blog. "I am so grateful to work at a place that feels like home and to work with such a great team."

Rath's definition of student accomplishment isn't centred on high grades or university acceptance. It's deeper than that – Rath's teaching philosophy is built on "the belief that every student must be equipped with the tools needed to succeed beyond high school – namely confidence, determination, and resilience."

Rath added that she encourages her students to think outside the box, while helping them discover their passions and showing them how to lead a life full of purpose. And this is exactly what led to the prestigious honour that she earned.

The Canadian government's note about Rath's prize highlights her creation of a virtual speaker series, showcasing women who have risen to the top of "traditionally male-dominated industries," as well as Sacred Heart's Personal Development class.

That class was designed to give students the knowledge to do great things "both personally and professionally as young women leaders" and is a graduation requirement for every Sacred Heart student.

The class explores a number of important topics including entrepreneurship, climate change and youth activism. Rath also values experiential learning, and embraced that mindset with her students -- "to bring what her students learn to life."

Beyond graduation, Rath's hope is that women take what they have learned and use it for something meaningful. Whether it means doing well career-wise or just overall happiness, the point of her class is to help young girls find what makes them shine. And that's a beautiful mission.