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This article was published 30/5/2016 (363 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A Sisler High School teacher’s commitment to cyber security and technology education has earned him national recognition.
Charles Bazilewich received a 2015 Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence on May 12 in Ottawa, Ont. The Sisler teacher was one of 10 Canadian educators to receive a certificate of excellence from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Bazilewich, 36, a former Sisler football star, started the school’s cyber security program when he began teaching at Sisler five years ago.
He said the program began when a group of Sisler students participated in an American cyber defence competition called CyberPatriot.
"CyberPatriot is run by the Air Force Association, sponsored by Northrop Grumman, as well as the department of homeland security, and what they’re trying to do is engage students in STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) with an emphasis on cyber security," Bazilewich said.
"We participated and we did relatively well in year one. We’ve really anchored that as an extracurricular activity to our program. We’re trying to create an authentic learning environment in the classroom where students can apply skills they are learning in regular school in an extra-curricular competitive environment. It works for us. It’s created a culture of fun and success."
Sisler has participated in five consecutive CyberPatriot competitions, placing fifth out of 12 schools at the most recent competition in Baltimore, Md. in April.
In November, 2014, the provincial government poured $300,000 into Sisler’s cyber security program, allowing the school to set up the Sisler Network & Cyber Security Academy.
In addition to cyber security education, the academy allows students access to employers in the information technology sector, as well as dual credit opportunities through partnerships with the University of Winnipeg and Red River College.
Bazilewich said he’s projecting the academy will include 350 students next year, up from the 90 students he had five years ago. He said that growth is due to a strong vision, as well as support from Sisler principal George Heshka, teachers Robert Esposito and Paul Buskell, former student Nick Dixon and the Winnipeg School Division.
"They want to try and provide students with innovative learning opportunities, because what our economy looks like right now is probably going to be different in 10 to 15 years," Bazilewich said.
"What that looks like, we don’t exactly know, but I think everyone agrees it’s going to have something to do with technology, something to do with automation, making things easier, putting more devices online, being more streamlined.
"Having students who understand that landscape a little more might just open an extra door for them in the future."