A local educator has been shortlisted for a Canadian Family Teacher Award, a national recognition of her efforts as a teacher in the Red Deer community.
Amanda Wilson is a Grade 4/5 split teacher from École Barrie Wilson, named after her father. She has been teaching in Red Deer since she received her credentials, and is happy to call the City home.
The contest has recognized 12 educators from across the country in this nomination. Votes can be cast repeatedly online until June 18th at www.canadianfamily.ca/teacher-awards/vote-now.
“It is incredibly humbling and I’m incredibly honoured. I’m surrounded by greatness every day. Everyone in the building I work with, and the district is incredible. There are amazing things happening all around me, all the time. To be the person who was kind of picked out by parents to be nominated is pretty incredible,” Wilson said.
With both parents in the educational system, Wilson said she tried to fight the “teacher genes.” She entered into a pre-med program and eventually transferred to psychology. She said after graduating and traveling, she realized she had a lifelong love of teaching in coaching gymnastics and returned to receive her education degree.
“The students make my day everyday. They are just incredible. The things that they can do, and the things they know and the things they share – they make me laugh all the time and there is nothing better than seeing them have a moment where they finally understand something, or seeing them get excited about something new that they’ve learned,” she said.
“I’m really fortunate this year because I did get to move to the new school that was named after my dad. I have kind of a unique classroom set-up. We have a dividing wall, sort of what like you’d see in a gym, between two rooms. She’s got a three/four split on her side of the wall, and I have a four/five split on my side of the wall.”
She said this classroom set-up has allowed her and the other teacher to collaborate in a very unique, constructive way. She said this has been a pleasant experience for them as well as their students, who seem to appreciate being able to share ideas amongst each other.
“It has been a learning curve, but I think the students are really enjoying it. That teacher and I have a similar teaching philosophy, so it works really well. We’re able to build on each other’s strengths and I think that’s been a really great opportunity for everyone in the room.”
Wilson started off her teaching career in Red Deer at Mountview Elementary School, and began teaching at École Barrie Wilson when it opened in 2014. The school has offered new opportunities in the way of accessible technologies and teaching strategies.
École Barrie Wilson uses a project-based learning approach, which allows teachers and students to draw connections between multiple subjects to develop a deeper understanding of concepts. It supplements traditional classroom methods with hands-on projects to allow students to develop deeper understandings of topics.
“The school itself is awesome. Because everything is new, it works well. We’ve kind of got all the current state-of-the-art stuff, which is always helpful. The staff here is really amazing. Everybody is so eager to try new things and so onboard. We took on project-based learning and everyone just jumped onboard and said, ‘Yeah, we’ll give it a try,’ so every classroom in the school has tried to do a project-based learning project at least once in the year.”
Wilson is also extremely engaged in her student’s learning, and utilizes the school’s e-portfolio system to communicate with students and parents. Part of her nomination recognized an outstanding effort in these areas. In the nomination press release, Canadian Family said, “Ms. Wilson makes a point of communicating to her students’ parents regularly via notes, emails and postcards to share success stories and sweet moments she has shared with her students.”
Wilson said she is very proud to be a part of the Red Deer community. She said she feels humbled by the recognition of her community and is glad she can represent it.
“We have a pretty incredible group of people there. I was born and raised here and I moved away to go to school for a little bit, and it didn’t feel like home. Red Deer has always been my home. I think it is full of really incredible people and really incredible opportunities,” she said.
“We always seem to have something cool going on, like the Memorial Cup, or the Winter Games – there is always something that Red Deer gets behind and I think that I’m fortunate to work in a community with such amazing people. That just passes onto the students who are the next generations of Red Deerians.”
Wilson has so far received more than 26,000 votes – close to only two of the other nominated teachers who have received approximately 27,000 and 28,000 votes respectively.