Posted: June 5, 2020
A grade 4 student at Rexton Elementary, Milee Millea, recently won the "Difference Maker of the Year” award presented by The Rick Hansen Foundation. This is a National award given to students who have made a difference in their own lives by overcoming personal challenges, as well as making a difference in their community and world around them.
Attached is a write up from her teacher, Tracy Lynds, (who nominated Milee for the award):
When Miss. Milee Rose Millea arrived in Ms. Lynds’ grade 4 class in the fall of 2019 she was a very shy and reserved girl to say the least. Milee was a soft-spoken young lady who could barely be heard over the mild hum of her classmates. Early in the year she was often too shy to share, rarely spoke in class and could not be coaxed into participating. However, Milee also came to grade 4 with a goal, a goal to have a speaking part in the school play and to be released from her PLP.
Milee’s family enlisted the help of a wonderful tutor and committed to supporting her with her academic interventions at school and homework. In the early fall Milee learned all about the Canadian government and what it means to vote. Along with these lessons her class was taught how to write a persuasive piece. They were to write a piece in to sway their classmates toward their way of thinking. Ms. Lynds instructed the students to choose a topic they were passionate about, something they could stand up for. Together, the class brain stormed ideas. Milee asked what the red dresses were hanging in the trees close to her home. Her teacher shared with the class their meaning and how symbols speak volumes for organizations, just as the red dresses did for the MMIW (Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women). Milee boldly spoke that she was an indigenous girl and she wanted to help other girls just like her feel safe. She wrote her piece. She had found a passion and above all her voice!
The upper elementary teachers decided that the classes would compete, just like an election and have their school mates be on hand to cast a vote. Within Milee’s classroom she swayed classmates to abandon their ‘platforms’ and join hers. She won the vote in her own class, beating out topics such as environment, homelessness, and stray and abandoned pets. She went on to win the vote for all of grade 4 and she led her team to victory in the entire upper elementary wing. Using her persuasive speech Milee stood on the stage and informed her school mates of the necessary action that needs to be taken for the MMIW.
In class the following day Milee approached her teacher and exclaimed; “that’s it, what else can I do?” She stayed in for noon recess and together they brainstormed a plan. When the bell rang and her friends returned to class Milee pitched her idea (the class always put everything to a vote, they are a democratic society). It was unanimous! Together, 4A would petition their principal with another persuasive piece to ask for a ‘red shirt day’, in an effort to raise awareness about the MMIW. The class agreed to prepare and present a 30-minute assembly in front of the entire school! Milee lead the way.
The 4A team, lead by their determined and capable leader; shared an informative power point, played the hand drum, followed by a moment of silence and sang the song “Black Bird” in Mi’kmaq. This presentation was also shared with members of our academic and rural communities alike. Milee had achieved her goal to speak in public. In November she achieved her second goal and was released from her Personalized Learning Plan. Milee has worked long and hard to achieve these personal goals that she had set for herself. Through her journey, Milee has made a difference in the lives of so many people at Rexton Elementary along with our greater communities, her passion and drive is amazing.
In April, Ms. Lynds nominated Milee for a “Difference Maker of the Year” award given by The Rick Hansen Foundation. This is a National award given to students who have made a difference in their own lives by overcoming personal challenges, as well as making a difference in their community and world around them. And she won!! Milee’s name will be announced at the national conference in British Columbia on May 31st. She will also receive a signed letter from Rick Hansen, her “Difference Maker of the Year” certificate and a $100 gift card from Indigo Books. We are so very proud of our Milee!! She has not only made a difference; she has made our world a better place to be!