By Jeremy Appel
Alberta Newspaper Group
Burdett School teacher Karen Reimer has been nominated by the Prairie Rose School Division for a province-wide award for exemplary first-year educators.
Each school board in the province’s six zones can nominate a teacher for the Edwin Parr Award, from whom each zone selects one teacher to be honoured at the Alberta School Boards Association annual fall conference in Edmonton in November.
Reimer, who studied education at the University of Lethbridge, says she worked at Burdett School as an educational assistant for kids with special needs prior to pursuing her formal education training.
She teaches science, health, physical education, and Career and Technology Foundations for students ranging from Grades 3 to 9.
Reimer initially intended to study medicine – hence her science background – but realized she wanted to teach children after her work with special needs students.
“I felt there was this pull,” she said. “There was something else I could do and maybe I could help these kids even more if I went back and did my education … It’s challenging, that’s for sure, but it’s never boring.”
Reimer aims to make the curriculum “relatable” for her students.
One example is having her CTF students make “breakout boxes,” modelled after the popular phenomenon of escape rooms, as a unit-end project for her Grade 3 science students.
“The kids have been using their problem-solving skills and technology alongside to then build these puzzles for my Grade 3s to then solve,” said Reimer.
“I try and make it as applicable as possible, rather than completely separate the two elements and just work on problems, and then just work on technology, I’m pairing it together.”
She credits her “awesome instructional coaches” for assisting her in guiding her CTF students through this assignment.
Reimer says her students are constantly impressing her with their grasp on the concepts she teaches, which she said is a uniquely rewarding part of teaching.
“Seeing those kids when the lightbulb goes on, when they finally get a concept that they’ve been struggling with, or they finally apply something that you think is falling on deaf ears, and in the end … it’s pretty awesome to see,” she said.
Reimer approaches her students with a “growth mindset – just reiterating that mistakes are learning opportunities and the only way we can learn is if we make mistakes.”
She described her nomination as “a bit overwhelming.”
“As a first-year teacher, you’re just trying to do the best you can and you’re surrounded by all these excellent veteran teachers, so for them to acknowledge me as being a contributing member of their learning community, their teaching staff and as an educator, that’s an amazing amount of support that you feel you’re going in the right direction.”