A local teacher has been recognized among the top six in Alberta.
Courtney Longjohn, who teaches Grade 1 at Ponoka Elementary, received the Edwin Parr Award for Zone 4 at a ceremony in Innisfail on Monday, May 30. The award is presented to an outstanding first year teacher in each of the six zones that make up the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA).
Longjohn was selected as the nominee from Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS) after the WCPS board of trustees sorted through the numerous nominations it received back in March.
“I am honored to be this year’s Zone 4 Edwin Parr winner from among a group of incredibly talented young teachers,” Longjohn said while accepting the award.
“A huge thanks goes to my colleagues, school administration, Wolf Creek Public Schools and my mentor teacher – Courtney Larsen. Without your constant support and words of encouragement, I would not have been able to learn as much as I did this past year.”
Longjohn began her journey to teaching early, when she started coaching when she was in Grade 9.
“This sparked my initial interest in helping young children. I continued to volunteer throughout high school in order to keep working with kids,” she stated.
“I also had a few teachers within Wolf Creek Public School who made a positive impact on my life. I wanted to be able to make the same impact on students.”
And what really got her hooked was what she could do for kids.
“I learned that with lots of time and effort I really could make a difference in a child’s life – not just academically,” she added.
A total of eight teachers were nominated for the award in Zone 4 – which is made up of school divisions from across central Alberta.
Ponoka Elementary principal Lois Spate stated, “Miss Longjohn is very deserving of this prestigious award as she is an outstanding, gifted educator who shows both professionalism and dedication to the teaching profession. She is an invaluable player to have on our Ponoka Elementary team.”
Meanwhile, WCPS acting assistant superintendent of People Services Corrine Thorsteinson explained the division is proud that one of its teachers was so deserving.
“Wolf Creek is truly honored to have Courtney receive the Zone 4 Edwin Parr Award. She represents what great teaching is all about in our school division – an unwavering commitment to meeting the needs of all her students in a diverse learning environment,” she said.
“We are incredibly proud of all of our new teachers and this prestigious award is recognition for the strong team approach throughout our division.”
The award is named after Edwin Parr – an homesteader in the Athabasca area who was involved in education in this province for much of his life and has a school also named in his honour. Parr initiated an annual award for teachers during his time and the ASBA turned it into what it is now back in 1964.
It is in recognition of teachers who are new to the profession and who show significant promise in their first year. Each nomination had to provide a written assessment that included the nominee’s teaching skills, knowledge of student learning styles, skills at utilizing a variety of instructional methodologies, ability to assist students to develop a positive self-concept, involvement in professional development and extracurricular and community activities as well as their interpersonal skills with students.
Along with being recognized regionally, the winners of all six zones will be honoured at the ASBA conference this fall.