Edwin Parr nominee welcomes challenges

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Jordyn Garinger, Palliser Regional Schools’ nominee for the 2017 Edwin Parr Teacher Award.

A teacher’s first year can be challenging at the best of times. Jordyn Garinger’s introduction included moving to a new city, learning a new culture, and teaching students whose native tongue may not be in English.

Yet Palliser Regional Schools’ nominee for the Edwin Parr Teacher Award says her welcoming colleagues at Calgary Islamic School’s Omar Bin Al-Khattab Campus made that transition easy.

“Probably the biggest challenge for me is having all these ideas I’ve wanted to implement in the classroom, and just not having all the time to get to use all of those ideas,” says Garinger, who has been noted for her strong work ethic in assessments dating back to her practicum assignments at the University of Lethbridge.

Each year the Alberta Schools Boards Association honours six outstanding first-year teachers with the Edwin Parr Teacher Award. Established in 1964, the award is named after a long-time school board member from Athabasca, and a former president of the ASBA’s predecessor, the Alberta School Trustees’ Association.

The winner from Zone 6, which includes Palliser Regional Schools, will be announced at a banquet May 10. The six provincial winners will be acknowledged at the ASBA’s fall general meeting in November.

While her nomination was humbling, Garinger says she was just as pumped about where her teaching career began.

“I actually grew up being a student of Palliser, so I felt that love and support and respect as a student in the Palliser family,” says the graduate of Vulcan’s County Central High School. “And now I am just feeling really excited and proud to be part of the Palliser family, this time as a teacher.”

Raiha Idrees, OBK Principal, says one of the questions they ask of prospective educators is what makes a good teacher a great teacher.

“One response we are looking for is relationships, and I feel that is her strength,” she says of Garinger, who teaches Grade 2.  “She is able to relate so well with students, treats them like individual human beings and spends a lot of time getting to know them.”

Idrees says Garinger has a strong foundation as a teacher already, and she only sees her building upon that in the years to come due to her openness to learn and adapt, and her appreciation of the diversity her students bring.

Since her classroom features students from diverse backgrounds, they agreed to share their similarities and celebrate their differences. As part of that, Garinger incorporated a component where she switches place with her students and one of them teaches her an Arabic word of the day.

“Everyone becomes a teacher for different reasons, and every now and then, we have individuals who you see interacting with students and conclude, ‘she is born with it,’ ” the principal wrote, in her nomination letter for the Edwin Parr award. “Ms. Garinger is simply born with it.”

Garinger’s family tree is indeed ripe with educators, but she says that initially turned her off that career path. It wasn’t until she began working with a child with a development disorder that she found her calling.

She’s very appreciative of those teaching roots now.

“I was very fortunate to be surrounded by so many great educators who really showed me what a model teacher can look like,” says Garinger.