Congratulations, Jami Wiebe, Palliser's Edwin Parr nominee

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Just a few years ago, Jami Wiebe was a Palliser Regional Schools student. Today, inspired by former teachers and a life-long desire to teach, she’s back in the classroom and being recognized as the division’s nominee for the Edwin Parr Teacher Award.

Wiebe was nominated for her exceptional teaching, outstanding relationship building with students and colleagues, and leadership in working with students with special needs.

As a member of the Coalhurst High School staff, Wiebe teaches a range of courses including Language Arts, Social Studies, Physical Education, Art, Health and she leads a class called Literacy Games. The former college and university basketball player also coached the high school girls’ team. In perhaps the greatest challenge, she serves as the school’s learning support teacher, developing and overseeing programming for students with severe needs.

Principal Chris McIntyre, who nominated Wiebe for the first-year teacher award, says she has been an exceptional addition to the school, with her thoughtfulness and professionalism. Her greatest asset may be her relationship building.

“The students hang on her every word, appreciate her joyful banter, and the staff respect her professionalism,” McIntyre says.

Wiebe says the lasting relationships she’s forming with students and staff are the most rewarding part of her first year of teaching.

“I find once you establish those relationships with students that are embedded with trust and mutual respect, then you really see that transform into their class work,” she says. “You can see them grow as readers and writers. You really see a lot of growth that way.”

Wiebe, who attended school in Coaldale, says she always wanted to be a teacher.

“I always idolized my elementary teachers. I remember going up to their desks and asking them for old hot lunch cards and old attendance sheets. I would run home after school and I would play ‘school’ in my room. I had my own imaginary classroom. I honestly wanted to be a teacher for my whole life.”

Her former teachers at Kate Andrews High School served as inspiration to her own teaching style that seeks to incorporate humour whenever possible and to keep students’ physically active and highly engaged in the classroom.

Wiebe briefly worked with elementary students at Huntsville School in Iron Springs before joining Coalhurst High. Having done her practicum work in junior high and high school, Wiebe was back in her element at the Grade 7-12 school.

“I was absolutely blown away with the students,” Wiebe says of her first day in Coalhurst. “They were so polite and friendly and welcoming and showing me everything around their school. They really made me feel at home.”

She says the Coalhurst staff take a team approach and teachers and educational assistants have been greatly supportive.

“There’s constant communication. We’re always in each other’s classrooms. . . I’ve learned so much from them and so much from the educational assistants. They teach me a lot every day, and they really help me grow as a professional.”

She says she’s enjoyed Palliser’s first-year induction program which provides an opportunity to collaborate with other first-year teachers and develop a rapport with Central Office administrators.

“It’s been a really great experience this year.”

Wiebe will be recognized May 11 at a meeting of Alberta School Boards Association members in Zone 6, which includes school boards from across southern Alberta. That evening, the Edwin Parr Award winner from the zone will be announced.