Hay River Principal Carolyn Carroll was presented with the Polar Medal yesterday.

The Polar Medal is an official honour awarded by the Governor General’s office that recognizes people who render “extraordinary services” in Canada’s North.

Carroll is the fifth resident of the Northwest Territories to receive the award since it was created in 2005.

“Receiving the call that I had been selected as a Polar Medal recipient was an unexpected honour,” Carroll says.

“But my success would not be possible without the many enthusiastic and dedicated students, parents, co-workers, and education leaders I have been privileged to work alongside over the past few decades.”

The Polar Medal. From the Governor General of Canada’s website.

Carroll is the principal of both Harry Camsell School (K-3) and Princess Alexandra School (Gr. 4-7) in Hay River, and was selected to receive this award last year to recognize her 30 years spent as an NWT educator. Over her career she has led a culture change in her schools, shifting the way instruction is provided and how assessment is used to inform decision-making.

Even before data collection and analysis was ingrained in educational practice, Carroll instituted a system for collecting student data and placing it all in easy-to-read Classroom Assessment Records (CARs). This system—which has since been adopted for use in all South Slave schools—has been invaluable in helping teachers identify students’ strengths and stretches, and targeted instruction and interventions. This approach has led to higher numbers of students exceeding Canadian norms in math and literacy achievement tests.

Carroll is also celebrated for implementing new programs, like Intensive French.

“I am so very proud of Ms. Carroll,” says Superintendent Dr. Curtis Brown. “She is very deserving of this national honour to join a select group of individuals who have given so much to our territory.” 

“She is an exemplary leader and visionary: effective, responsive, courageous, and inspiring.

Last year, Carroll was named one of the top 40 principals in Canada.