The Ken Spencer Award

This year's deadline:
10 November 2016

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How does your innovative program get students excited about learning?

Apply for the CEA’s eighth annual Ken Spencer Awards for Innovation in Teaching and Learning and receive some well-deserved affirmation that your tenacity to break the mould of traditional schooling was the right thing to do.

Seven cash awards totalling $15,000 are available to be won for your school.

  • Are you and your colleagues going above and beyond to ensure that no student slips through the cracks?
  • Have you developed a unique learning environment inside and outside of mainstream classrooms that challenges students to think critically and creatively while collaborating and problem solving?
  • Are you leveraging the resources available in your community to deliver real-world relevant learning?

If you answered yes to one or all of these questions, then why not apply for a Ken Spencer Award? You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Check out our award winning programs from last year.

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For a booklet showcasing the work of all 7 Ken Spencer Award winners:  

The CEA wants to uncover more of these ‘hidden gems’ currently being delivered in schools across the country, which are producing some of the most creative and innovative pedagogical approaches for lighting a learning spark in previously disengaged youth. We want to shine a spotlight on your courage and perseverance to do things differently and share your approach with our national network.  


Winning entries will be profiled nationally – to encourage peer-to-peer learning – in Education Canada Magazine (articles, videos, case studies and opinion pieces). Over the years, we’ve seen the lasting positive impact that this award can bring to educators and their schools.

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Our public education system needs you to show what is possible to achieve when you’re determined to challenge the status quo and make a difference for each and every learner.

Complete our online application form by November 10, 2016 at 5:00pm Pacific Time


The deadline to submit your Stage 1 online application form – which will include a summary of your program in 500 words or less – is 5pm (Pacific Time) November 10, 2016.

If your Stage 1 application is shortlisted by our selection committee, you will be invited to submit a more detailed proposal for review by a jury of education innovation experts.

Shortlisted Stage 2 candidates will be contacted by November 25, 2016.

The deadline for the final Stage 2 application will be December 16, 2016. 

Final winners will be notified in late January 2017.


We’re looking for programs that focus on improving student engagement and have the potential to expand to other classrooms, throughout schools and districts and provoke systemic changes.

In particular, we value programs where:

  • Students are actively engaged in their own learning and are supported to create new perspectives and new knowledge.

  • The exploration of students’ individual interests, passions and talents is an ongoing part of classroom learning.

  • What students learn is ‘real’ and relevant to their lives now and in the future. Learning activities engage them in inquiries, problem-solving, and critical thinking.

  • What students do and learn in their lives outside of school (for example, making music, engaging in social justice work or environmental activism) is valued in the classroom.

  • Young people are motivated and engaged – socially, institutionally and intellectually.


This award is available to publicly-funded elementary, middle, and secondary schools in Canada, including Quebec CÉGEPs.

The application should feature a class, a group of classes, a department, or a whole school that has undertaken a successful, sustainable and scalable initiative to deeply engage students in their learning. Projects that are strictly extracurricular will not be considered. The jury will be looking for projects that have the potential to expand beyond a classroom throughout a school, influence the life of the school, enhance school success plans, and demonstrate the potential to be implemented systemically.

Applicants whose initiative has received any monetary contribution(s) from prizes, awards, bursaries, grants, etc. between November 1, 2015-November 10, 2016 are ineligible for the Ken Spencer Award.

Have a question?

Requests for further information should be sent by e-mail to Cynthia Liberbaum at:




About Ken Spencer

Dr. Ken Spencer is a former CEA Director and retired CEO and co-founder of Creo Products. Dr. Spencer has served on several not-for-profit boards, including UBC’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Advisory Committee, and the advisory board to the Dean of the Faculty of Applied Science. In 2011, Dr. Spencer was inducted as a business laureate of the British Columbia Hall of Fame. Since 2009, he has generously donated the financial awards for CEA’s Ken Spencer Award for Innovation in Teaching and Learning.

The current award holder:

  • HWDSB Enrichment & Innovation Centre, The Happy Creek Learning Center, Cochrane Healing Arts Time (CHAT), Pedalling to Fuel Learning, #elADSB – Algoma DSB eLearning, Carillon Community Mentoring, « InnuRassemble »

Previous winners:

Related videos:

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