By Ian Croft
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Horizon School Division Board of Trustees had some reason to celebrate last week during their board meeting as they discussed three individuals within the division who were nominated for awards.
Dr. Wilco Tymensen, superintendent of the Horizon School Division, spoke on who these individuals were, and what awards they were nominated for.
“The board did engage in a conversation around some ASBA (Alberta School Board Association) Edwin Parr awards, and the board ended up nominating for outstanding first year teachers, Erin McRae,” said Tymensen. “She’s a first year teacher at Taber Christian School. There will be a banquet across Alberta being hosted by the Alberta School Board Association in Taber on May 17 to acknowledge the 10 school divisions in the south and their nominees. We’re certainly proud and excited to nominate Erin. There was also an Honouring Spirit Award. It’s an Indigenous student award, and the jurisdiction nominated two individuals. One student from W.R. Myers named Shalee Buchta, and then they also nominated an additional student from Vauxhall High School name Kiera Van Der Ploeg-La Belle.”
Tymensen then went into more detail about the selection process for the ASBA award.
“What we do is look at our new teachers as they are undergoing an evaluation process, we really look for which one in particular stands out as a inspiring teacher. Someone who can really foster effective relationships, someone who has a really strong connection with kids. We always look for someone who is able to provide exceptional instruction to students, and goes above and beyond within the classroom and outside of the classroom. Erin stood out as one of those exemplary teachers.”
Moving on from the awards nominees Tymensen went into detail about one of the things he presented to the board of trustees.
“There were some general reports that were shared,” said Tymensen. “One of the things that I shared in my report was the fact that we’re currently engaged in doing an assurance survey with parents and students. We got about 1600 to date and for the most part there’s questions around whether or not people feel that their children are being supported properly and receiving verbal support that they feel they need to be successful. With staff questions, the staff feel like schools are cohesive, and with students there are questions around the notions of do they feel like they belong, do they feel like differences are respected, diversity is respected. Preliminary answers to those kinds of questions are looking like 95 – 96 per cent. Individuals are agreeing that those things are actually in place. We’re certainly pleased with the initial data and we’re continuing to collect that data. If individuals haven’t had an opportunity to respond to the survey yet we certainly encourage them to do so.”
To end things off Tymensen also provided some information on where parents can find a link to this survey.
“The schools would’ve sent a link out to all parents, so parents should have a copy of the link to complete the survey,” said Tymensen. “If they don’t, they can reach out to their individual school administration and the school administration can provide them with a link to the survey again. There are open ended questions in there as well so if parents feel that they disagree with a specific question, they have the ability to provide a reason. There is also general comment that is provided if they want to provide any general feedback to the school.”