What makes a great teacher? The answer to this question may be different depending on whom you ask, however most people will agree that a great teacher is someone who loves being around kids and strives to find ways to Create Success for All Learners, the mission statement of Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS).
This sentiment was echoed when Greg Esteves and Louise Wheeliker, two veteran WCPS teachers, were asked why they chose to be teachers. This love of teaching is apparent to the students and other educators who interact with Esteves and Wheeliker, and is one of the many reasons why they were chosen to be highlighted by Wolf Creek in honour of this year’s World Teachers’ Day.
Oct. 5 is World Teachers’ Day, a day when we are encouraged to recognize the important role teachers play in the development of our future generation. World Teachers’ Day was created by UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, a specialized United Nations agency) in 1994.
“Greg and Louise were asked to be part of this media release in recognition of their years of teaching and the contributions they make every day to the lives of students,” said WCPS board chair Trudy Bratland. “Greg and Louise are two examples of the many wonderful teachers that we are fortunate to have working in our division and by highlighting them we aim to honor each and every teacher in Wolf Creek Public Schools.”
Louise Wheeliker graduated from Nova Scotia Teachers’ College in 1983 and taught in Nova Scotia for a few years before moving to Oyen in 1998. There she was the special education contact, the kindergarten teacher and administrator. Four years ago, her family moved to Lacombe and she was thrilled to secure a teaching position with Wolf Creek Public Schools. She is currently the kindergarten teacher, the special education facilitator and the AISI leader at Crestomere School.
Wheeliker is known for her positive attitude and zest for learning. When asked about Wheeliker, a fellow educator at Crestomere School responded, “Louise is an outstanding educator, who always puts the needs of her student upfront and foremost. She actively engages in any learning opportunity that she believes will benefit students. Our school is fortunate to have such a skilled, passionate and dedicated educator.”
Another colleague added, “Hands down…there should be a ‘Louise’ in every school across the division. She is the ultimate educator, leader and lifelong learner.”
And her students agree: “Mrs. Wheeliker is funny and I know she cares about me because she always asks those important questions.” “Mrs. Wheeliker keeps us learning the fun way, like on the SMART Board and IPad.” “Mrs. Wheeliker makes me feel happy and she taught me how to make a paper airplane.”
In an interview, Wheeliker explained why she became a teacher and what keeps her motivated.
I’ve wanted to be a teacher ever since I can remember. Going through school I had several wonderful, caring teachers. They demonstrated that they had a love of teaching and of the children they taught. I believe that was definitely a contributing factor! I truly enjoy working with the children and seeing them grow and develop into wonderful learners!
I especially enjoy my work with the little ones! I look forward to getting to know them and enjoy watching as they develop. I feel that the little ones help to keep me young.
Being an educator provides me with plenty of opportunities to keep learning more about myself as a teacher and the students I teach. I want to be learning and growing always. There is no better place than in education to do just that! There are always new and exciting happenings in a school – especially in a kindergarten classroom.
There are always changes happening in the education system but some things never change! I may have a different classroom. I may be assigned a different grade. I may have different little faces looking up at me but I continue to have the same desire and love of teaching.
Greg Esteves has been teaching for 16 years. He joined the staff of École Secondaire Lacombe Composite High School (LCHS) in 2006 and has taught a number of Humanities and Social courses since that time. He is also a recognized leader in technology and instructional design and his work in these areas is highly respected within his school, the wider school division and the Central Alberta Professional Development Zone.
LCHS principal Val Yaremchuk describes Esteves as “a master teacher who uses a variety of tools, techniques and strategies to engage his students in learning and understanding.”
Ron Thompson, a fellow Social teacher at LCHS, echoed these comments. “Working so closely with Greg has been a great benefit to me! I find I am reminded almost every day of what an excellent teacher looks like as I observe his teaching strategies.”
“Greg values education and most importantly, he values people. He treats students and colleagues with dignity and respect at all times,” Mrs. Yaremchuk added.
When asked for his thoughts on teaching and the importance of education, Esteves commented:
I became a teacher because I first and foremost love being around the energy and enthusiasm of our youth. They keep me young and keep me growing in all sorts of ways personally and professionally. I also love learning and being able to use my creativity and leadership skills. I can think of no better profession than teaching for providing a person with endless opportunities to exercise these skills every day.
I like being a teacher for many reasons! My students provide many rewards and challenges through the relationships that we build everyday through curricular and extra-curricular interactions. My colleagues give me support and also an opportunity to learn and grow within a great team of people!
How would I explain the importance of education to today’s students? I believe that in today’s globally connected world, education is the key to competing for employment and business opportunities because the ease at which people and ideas move around the world today means that our students are in a global competition to meet their needs and wants. I also believe that education and learning are a basic human drive and to be truly happy and fulfilled as a person we need to learn how to learn and challenge ourselves to develop the skills to become lifelong learners both inside and outside of the context of school.
“On behalf of the entire division, I extend my gratitude to Louise and Greg and to all teachers for the important work they do in educating our future citizens,” said Larry Jacobs, superintendent of Wolf Creek schools. “I encourage everyone to help celebrate World Teachers’ Day on Oct. 5.”