All of this year’s Black Press/Staples School Tools Great Teachers nominees have at least one thing in common: they have all had an impact on young minds.
“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher,” said View Royal elementary Kindergarten teacher Terra Pickwick. In fact, it is the only thing she remembers wanting to do. Growing up she would make her brother play “school,” with her always being the teacher and him being the student.
“My granny was a teacher; she had such a love for learning,” she said. That was something she said rubbed off on her. “I love my job and I love teaching. I couldn’t think of a better job to have.”
Pickwick has been teaching for a decade, with seven of those years spent in a kindergarten classroom.
“I really believe that Kindergarten is where I belong,” she said. “I just love how excited they are about learning and how much pride they have in themselves.”
But sometimes those younger minds can be a challenge to connect with and keep engaged.
When creating her learning plan, Pickwick collaborates with another of our Great Teacher nominees, Corrie Ballard. “We develop our programs together,” Pickwick said. The pair spend countless hours bouncing ideas off each other and discussing their students. Most of that conversation is centred on where the students are and what direction the teachers would like to lead them in. “It’s important to believe in the children and their abilities,” Pickwick said.
“I like to follow where their interests are … It’s pretty amazing what those five year olds can do when given the opportunity.”
An example of that is the work the students at View Royal elementary are doing in the school garden. “We have lots of inquiries around worms and slugs,” Pickwick said with a laugh. Watching the students’ faces light up with pride when they pick the vegetables they have grown is very rewarding, she added.
“The things they’ll eat that they’d never eat at home is pretty neat.”
That engagement also creates a transfer from the classroom to home that Pickwick loves hearing about.
She noted how proud she feels when students tell her about the gardens they have created in their own yards, or when a parent calls to tell her about all the words a student picked out of a storybook.
“It’s the amazing kids and parents that I get to work with each and every day that makes my job so amazing.”
The staff at View Royal elementary also go a long way in making her days so enjoyable, she added.
Marc Burgess has also been teaching for roughly a decade but unlike Pickwick, this wasn’t his first career choice.
“I got into teaching late, this is my fourth career,” he said. After selling his business and taking a year off, Burgess spent a lot of time with some friends of his that were teachers. They are the ones that inspired him to go back to school to get his teaching certifications. “It’s just what I wanted to do,” he said. “I have the best job in the world.”
While he admits he hasn’t spent a lot of his professional career teaching, he noted he does have a lot of life experience that helps him connect with his students.
“I like working one on one with kids and that’s what learning support is,” he said. “If you have a good relationship you can definitely make good things happen.”