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This article was published 13/05/2019 (1306 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Arda Thomson doesn’t shy away from complex theories or difficult subject matter in her kindergarten classroom at Balmoral Hall.
Science experiments, robots and physics models fill every corner of her room and she starts each week discussing female role models — dubbed “Monday Motivators” — with her five-year-old students. Figures like Malala Yousafzai, Oprah and Buffy Sainte-Marie provide the jumping off point for lessons on education, mental illness and discrimination.
“It might seem like you’re giving them concepts that they don’t understand, but they get it,” Thomson said. “Our girls need to be strong in this world and you start them young so they become aware of all these issues and then they become global citizens.”
While Thomson’s passion for teaching is well-known within the walls of the private school on Westminster Avenue, her work has also been recognized by the province with an Excellence in Education Award. She is one of seven teachers to receive the honour this year.
“It’s very empowering, I’m very humbled to receive it,” she said. “This award is not just for me. I feel this is for all the people I work with. We constantly collaborate.”
Thomson was a latecomer to teaching. After obtaining a degree in archeology, she was encouraged by her grandmother — a former teacher herself — to pursue education. It’s been 13 years since the career change and Thomson said her students keep her inspired.
“You never get old when you teach five-year-olds,” she said. “I’ve found my calling, this is it.”
At Brooklands School in the St. James-Assiniboia School Division, Nicole Chernecki is just three years into her dream of becoming a teacher. As this year’s recipient of the province’s Outstanding New Teacher Award it seems she’s on the right path.
“I was very honoured to be nominated,” Chernecki said. “When I actually won I was in complete disbelief.”
Located on Pacific Avenue, Brooklands is a small school with 10 classroom teachers who regularly work together.
“It takes a village and our school is really good with collaboration and supporting each other that it’s not just on me, it’s on our entire school that I won this award.”
Chernecki teaches a Grade 2/3 split and prides herself on a large class library and delivering lessons that meets the diverse needs of her students. She focuses on small group work and tries to foster a sense of community in her tidy classroom.
“I’m not cleaning it, the kids are because they’re taking pride in where they are,” she said.
Chernicki’s favourite parts of teaching are watching her students grow during the year and building relationships with them. She does the latter by filling the bulletin board above her desk with photos of friends, family and her dogs.
“Some kids think you live in the classroom and come out from your little shelf in the morning — I like to let them know about me,” she said.
Her dog Remi also factored into a recent creative letter writing lesson.
“It gave them an audience to write to that’s not going to be judgmental,” she said. “They really liked it.”