Creativity, compassion and high expectations for her students has earned a Cape Breton biology teacher a top spot on the prime minister’s annual awards list for teaching excellence. Sandra Marie Haley, who taught Grade 11 and 12 biology at Memorial Composite High School in Sydney Mines, was among 17 teachers from across Canada this week awarded with the prime minister’s 2006 Certificate of Excellence. Ms. Haley, now retired, was honoured for her approach to teaching, including effective use of the Internet as a learning tool, and for engaging her students in hands-on learning using a variety of multimedia technologies. She also designed a biology website to provide valuable resources to students and teachers. Ms. Haley was praised for her creativity, dedication, and for challenging the academic limits of her students. She was not the only Nova Scotia teacher honoured by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Four other educators were awarded with Certificates of Achievement. They are: David Drapak, a Grade 10 and 12 art teacher at Sackville High School, Lower Sackville Dianne Kehoe, a Grade 11 and 12 teacher of Canadian history, global geography and global history at Richmond Academy, Louisdale Lavonah Madden, a Primary to Grade 6 teacher at H.M. MacDonald Elementary School, Antigonish Co. Kent Balish, a Grade 7 to 9 teacher of math at Lockeport Regional High School, Lockeport. “Teachers play a special role in our society. Good teachers do more than just teach. They inspire students to learn, to explore and to do their very best,” said Education Minister Karen Casey. “I am very proud to join with the prime minister in congratulating these fine individuals in helping students reach their full potential.” Recipients of the Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence are chosen by regional and national committees of education stakeholders. Candidates are evaluated on a range of criteria, including innovative use of technology, exemplary teaching practices, leadership, and student achievement and engagement. Certificate of Excellence winners receive a $5,000 prize for their school, while Certificate of Achievement recipients receive a $1,000 award.