Meet this year’s Great Teacher nominees: Helena Ewald

Helena Ewald teaches French immersion to Grade 1 students at Doncaster elementary school

Helena Ewald teaches Grade 1 French immersion at Doncaster elementary school.

Helena Ewald said she was “totally surprised” to learn she is one of the nominees for the Black Press Great Teachers feature.

“I’m sure there are a lot of teachers out there who are more deserving than me,” said the Doncaster elementary teacher. “I really appreciate Black Press taking the initiative to recognize the work that teachers do, and I’m sure my colleagues appreciate it as well.”

Growing up in Deux Montagnes outside of Montreal, like a lot of girls, Ewald thought about becoming a teacher when she was young. After working in banking for a number of years, she made the decision to become a teacher around the time she turned 30, and hasn’t looked back.

She has been a teacher for 15 years in B.C., the majority of that time teaching French immersion to Grade 1 students at Doncaster, where she has been for the past 10 years.

“Teaching young students can be exhausting, but it’s so rewarding,” she said. “They are so honest and constantly saying funny things. I find myself laughing a lot at work and bringing funny stories home to my husband.”

Although teaching French immersion has its share of challenges because the majority of students come into the program with limited speaking or reading skills in French, Ewald wouldn’t change a thing.

“There’s so much growth, especially in Grade 1,” she noted. “It’s so inspiring to see the progress they have made by the end of the year. The parents work really hard with them at home, which makes my job so much easier.”

A parent who nominated Ewald and volunteers in her class described her as a “star teacher totally committed to her students … her work goes beyond the call of duty.”

If Ewald could change anything, it would be to provide more resources for students that struggle because of difficulties with learning or situations at home.

“I wish there was more we could do for kids that need that extra help,” she said. “At the end of the day you do the best you can because it’s all about helping the kids. The more support we have, the better a job we can do. It’s a huge responsibility because in some ways we’re shaping the future with the kids we teach.”

Keeping pace with a class of six-year-olds doesn’t leave much time for other pursuits, said Ewald, who listed “playing a little guitar badly,” and walking and hiking as things she enjoys when she’s away from the classroom.

Despite the difficulties involved in introducing a second language to children embarking on their first year of schooling and her reluctance to talk about herself, it’s clear that Ewald savours the opportunities that have arrived with her decision to become a teacher.

 

“The kids keep me motivated and they keep me young,” she said. “It’s a great career and I’m sure you could talk to a million teachers that feel the same way.”

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Improvements flowing to Sooke salmon hatchery

Sooke River Jack Brooks Hatchery hooks major funding

Laid-off hotel workers begin hunger strike demanding job protection

Laid-off workers not sure what they’ll do when government support programs end

UVic, rowing coach sued over alleged ‘fat shaming’ and verbal abuse

Lawsuit says Barney Williams subjected coxswain Lily Copeland to offensive and belittling language

VicPD investigating two stabbings after confrontation in Centennial Square

Two men in hospital, one with life-threatening injuries

Langford boy wakes up from surgery to find stuffed puppy wearing the same cast

Hospital staff outfitted ‘Eddy’ the puppy to match the young patient

VIDEO: Disabled Vancouver Island feline teaching foster kittens ‘how to cat’

Life goes from sour to sweet for Lemon, an adopted cat from B.C. SPCA Nanaimo

COVID-19 could mean curtains for film and TV extras

Background performers worry they’re being replaced by mannequins on film and TV sets

‘Huckleberry’ the bear killed after B.C. residents admit to leaving garbage out for videos

North Shore Black Bear Society said it was local residents who created a ‘death sentence’ for bear

Researchers find cannabis use in pregnancy linked to greater risk of autism

Researchers caution findings only show association — not cause and effect

Small Manitoba town mourning after well-liked teens killed by tornado

Melita residents feeling profound grief after the deaths of Shayna Barnesky and Carter Tilbury

Antonio Banderas says he’s tested positive for coronavirus

Acclaimed actor celebrating his 60th birthday in quarantine

Parksville artist takes home Sooke Fine Arts People’s Choice Award

Francine Street’s winning piece is titled ‘Ken’

Shady Lady: legendary Catalina touches down on Vancouver Island

Two flying boats test the waters west of Youbou, make Port Alberni pitstop

Bear put down after being found on Vancouver Island kitchen counter

Bear trapped and killed near Ucluelet after repeated instances of entering sheds and homes

Most Read