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  |  Posted: Saturday, Jan 11, 2014 06:00 am

AUSSIE EDUCATOR – Leo Nickerson exchange teacher Amanda Cooper is currently teaching the Grade 4 Logos class at Leo Nickerson Elementary in St. Albert. Before her recent exchange, she was teaching Kindergarten/Grade 1 in her home town of Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia.
AUSSIE EDUCATOR – Leo Nickerson exchange teacher Amanda Cooper is currently teaching the Grade 4 Logos class at Leo Nickerson Elementary in St. Albert. Before her recent exchange, she was teaching Kindergarten/Grade 1 in her home town of Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia.
CHRIS COLBOURNE/St. Albert Gazette

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Aussie joins Nickerson staff

Leo Nickerson students will get some lessons from the land down under this year thanks to a newly arrived exchange teacher from Australia.

Amanda Cooper of Goulburn, Australia, started teaching the Grade 4 Logos Christian program at Leo Nickerson Elementary this week. Cooper, who arrived in Canada on Dec. 30, is part of a year-long international teacher exchange organized through Alberta Education and the New South Wales Department of Education.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for quite a long time,” Cooper said of the exchange, as she saw it as a way to build her skills. She chose Canada because a lot of good educational research had come out of its schools. She was glad that she ended up in Alberta specifically, as Alberta has essentially the same curriculum as New South Wales, except it has more experience with it.

Cooper takes over for Nickerson teacher Thom Sherwin, who takes over her old post at Goulburn’s Wollondilly Public School.

It’s always good to stretch yourself as a teacher, Sherwin said in an email interview, and he had family in Australia. “You get to live in another country and experience all it has to offer. It is basically like a year-long professional development class.”

Cooper said she’s had an outstandingly warm welcome from the school, with many students going “(Gasp!) You’ve got an accent!” when she greets them in the hall.

The weather was one big difference between here and home, Cooper said, as Goulburn usually gets one dump of snow a year at the most. “We left Goulburn in 33 C temperatures.” Schools here seem to be better looking and staffed, both of which support student learning.

Driving on the wrong side of the road took some adjustment, Sherwin said, as did going from 20 below in Edmonton to 28 above in Sydney. “I tell the Aussies how cold it was back home and they just laugh and say, ‘Bet you’re glad to be here, aren’t you, mate?’” All students also have to wear uniforms in Australia – his daughters do not approve.

Sherwin had yet to experience Australian teaching, as January was summer vacation for Australia, but recently visited the Wombeyan Caves – a tourist attraction known for its unusual limestone formations. “I was thinking to myself: I’m 40 metres underground and in one of the most beautiful settings I’ve ever seen.”

Cooper said she planned to write a research paper on her experience when she was done, possibly on how Nickerson has brought community groups into the school. She also plans to incorporate Australian animals into her lessons. “I certainly hope to have a really rich learning experience.”

Readers can follow @ThomSherwin on Twitter for details on his time overseas.

Kindergarten expo

New parents will get a first-hand look at the school experience this week as St. Albert hosts a number of kindergarten expos.

The Greater St. Albert Catholic School district is hosting a kindergarten expo from 6 to 8 p.m. this Jan. 16 at St. Albert Catholic High. A second expo for Morinville and Legal parents is set for Jan. 30 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Morinville Community High.

“People who have children entering kindergarten have some anticipation and nervous moments,” said Catholic district principal Lydia Yeomans, and expos are meant to address them. All schools offering kindergarten will be there to talk about their programs, as will bus drivers.

The St. Albert Public School expo runs from 9:30 a.m. to noon this Jan. 11 at Bellerose Composite, said spokesperson Paula Power. If you miss it, you can learn about local kindergarten classes during the many school open houses planned for next month.

These sessions are a great way to learn what to expect when your child goes to school, Power said. “An informed decision is the best decision.”

Visit the public and Catholic board websites for details on the expos.


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