HAPPY VALLEY-GOOSE BAY, N.L. — Kieran Roach has a message for students or anyone else interested in expanding their horizons.
The recent recipient of the Canadian Parents for French – NL – 2018 Teacher Graduate of the Year, Roach feels those who learn a second language will encounter more opportunities in life.
“Learning a second language is such a positive experience,” he said. “Here in Canada (learning French) can open so many doors.
“It can help you get to know many new people. I was very lucky to get a job the first year (after earning a degree), and it’s because I have French. Without that, I’d be substituting this year. So I certainly encourage everyone to learn something about someone else’s culture.”
Originally from Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove, Roach is a core French teacher at Queen of Peace Middle School in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
When asked about his teaching methods, Roach said it’s important to offer students fun activities to engage them in the learning process.
He’s involved his students in everything from scavenger hunts to magnetic dart tournaments; from Twister games to historical cultural lessons.
“We played board games and card games,” Roach said. “We did a drama and education project where students had to design a hotel and create their own characters. I just try to do some things that have some sort of meaning and interest in their own lives.”
When it comes to learning a second language such as French, Roach said, the younger students are introduced to a new language the better.
The younger they start, the more in touch they are with their language learning skills, he said.
“There is certainly a huge element of risk-taking when you learn any second language,” he said. “I find the younger students are willing to try anything.
“So, by starting at a young age you can create a passion and (the students) will be more likely to stick with it in their older years.”
Queen of Peace is a Grade 4-7 school. In addition to teaching, Roach is also involved with other activities at the school and in the community.
He and the school’s music teacher, Deirdre Costello, offered both a junior and senior Irish and Folk music group with students performing at the Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day concerts.
He also offered a Grade 7 basketball program at the school and took a basketball team (with players from Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Labrador West) to Deer Lake for the Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games.
In a press release about the awards ceremony – which took place June 7 at Government House in St. John’s, Canadian Parents for French – NL president Larry Vaters said the organization is pleased to recognize the award winners for their passion for French and the leadership they have demonstrated in the advancement of French second language education in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Queen of Peace Middle School principal Mark Bonnell said, as a first year teacher, “Mr. Roach shows a grounded, common-sense approach to teaching that uses many types of strategies to ensure student engagement. He has put his own mark on the program and it is thriving.”
Roach is a great team player, Bonnell said, and has fit in well with the staff.
“He volunteers his free time willingly and has been involved with many extra-curricular groups, involved in sports, the arts and science,” he said.
While this is the first year teaching at the school, Roach has accepted a permanent position at Queen of Peace for the next school year where he will teach French and Math.
He was surprised but proud to receive the Teacher Graduate of the Year Award.
“I know I put in a lot of work this year because I really wanted to make the French program a positive experience for my students,” he said. “So I’m appreciative that other people took the time to appreciate what I did.”