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Westminster teacher awarded Prime Minister's Awards for Excellence certificate

A teacher at Westminster Elementary School has been recognized with a certificate of achievement through the Prime Minister's Awards for Excellence in Early Childhood Education program.
Lynn Wytrykusz, who teachers at the Westminster Early Education Program for children ages 3-5, earned the honour for her work building cognitive, social and emotional skills in her students.
“We are fortunate to work with an educator who can turn research into action,” said Angela Wilde, principal at Westminster. “Lynn's dedication, enthusiasm for learning and willingness to make it work with our youngest students is making a real difference in the lives of children and families in our community.”
Wytrykusz is starting her seventh year at Westminster and is an Early Educator to a class of students in the morning, and to 38 online three and four-year-old students virtually in the afternoon. 
Wytrykusz has worked with Robbin Gibb at the University of Lethbridge in the Building Brains and Futures Program. She has developed 10 teaching strategies that help develop executive functioning skills in children. She has shared these strategies with educators around southern Alberta and worked with Dr. Gibb to develop a teaching video that is used by the University in teaching about brain development in education.
“Lynn has been a tireless advocate for brain development in children, and her strategies and efforts have made a real difference in the very practical day to day programming of our youngest students at Westminster,” said Wilde. “She has shared her strategies with other educators and has worked to include ‘teachable brain booster moments’ for parents as part of her Early Education Program.”
With her background as a dance instructor and studio owner, Wytrykusz celebrates creativity and self-expression among her students. At activity centres throughout the classroom, children build their sensory, motor and creative skills through hands-on play.
Wytrykusz's diverse classroom includes refugees, economically-disadvantaged children and children with developmental delays and behavioural issues. She listens to them closely, noting each child's strengths, needs and interests, so she can engage them all with activities they love that also help them grow.
The Prime Minister's Awards for Excellence website also lists some of Wytrykusz's accomplishments:
Support of child development
Improves executive functions: in a pilot project with a neuroscience professor, she teaches children 10 games to enhance impulse control, flexible thinking and other abilities. Creatively embeds these games into multiple school activities, such as hallway transitions. Children's improvement regularly surpasses that of peers in other pilot project schools.
Builds social and emotional skills: for example, took a gingerbread man cut-out from her pocket, spoke loudly and then put it back in her pocket to illustrate fear. Next, soothed the cut-out with a quieter voice. Children understood why the gingerbread man was scared.
Nurtures children's confidence: built a concert centre in the classroom, with costumes, musical instruments and a stage, where children create and perform dances and music. Some of the shyest children at the beginning of the year end up using the centre the most.
Involvement with parents, families and the community
Created the Parent Café event: surveys parents to find out which professionals, such as psychologists and dieticians, they want to meet at the café. Gives families supplies so they can play the 10 executive function games at home. Explains research behind the games.
Organizes Leader Days: children "teach" their peers during a normal class day. Families come to observe. Lynn shares learning strategies that parents can use at home. Parents' attendance is higher on these days than for other school events.
Keeps communications open with all parents: aims to send at least one personalized message per week to each child's parents using the Seesaw app. Messages include photos and other updates about the child's growth and development.
The Prime Minister's Awards for Excellence in Early Childhood Education have honoured outstanding early childhood educators since 2002, with almost 300 educators honoured to date. Recipients are honoured for their leadership, exemplary early childhood education practices, and their commitment to help build the foundation children need to make the best possible start in life.
More information about the award can be found here: PRIME MINISTER

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