A teacher at Elmer Gish School is being honoured with a provincial Excellence in Teaching Award.
Carolyn Hunter, who has spent the last three years of her 17-year career at Gish, will receive the award Saturday evening at a banquet in Edmonton.
A total of 23 awards are being handed out to teachers from across the province. They were selected from a field of 326 nominations.
When she first heard the news Hunter said she was stunned and barely believed what was happening.
“The minister of education called me himself and he said some very nice things to me and honestly I can’t remember what they were, because in my head I was thinking how do I know this is the minster of education?”
She said the award makes her feel even better about the work she puts in at school.
“It is really, really gratifying to be recognized. You put in lots of time and effort and for someone to recognize that is pretty cool.”
Fellow Gish teacher Azmina Dewji nominated Hunter for the award, with support from a parent at the school. Dewji said Hunter has worked consistently to improve the education of all students.
“She works tirelessly in the background promoting best teaching practices and developing resources for teachers to use in their classroom.”
In the letter, Dewji said Hunter is a huge resource for Gish.
“I cannot adequately quantify Carolyn’s value to our school and community or the tangible and intangible benefits our school accrues from having her as a teacher.”
Dewji said her colleague has an incredible presence in the classroom, engages students and is always trying to find new ways to improve.
“It is just her charisma, her enthusiasm, her presence. She just has a way with the students,” she said. “She brings in new ways to do things, better models to implement in the classroom, so she is always on the search for new things.”
Hunter appreciated the show of support, but the endorsement of one of the parents is special too.
“When it comes from parents and they are on the outside looking in and they have recognized what you have done, it is very meaningful.”
Gish principal Duncan Knoll credits Hunter with the expansion of the Cogito program at the school. The program puts a strong emphasis on academics and regular homework.
“She has just been fantastic to the point where our Cogito population has virtually doubled since she has been here,” he said. “She probably wouldn’t take all of the credit, but she deserves a lot of the credit.”
Hunter said she really believes in Cogito.
“I think it really just makes students confident and comfortable and helps them excel.”
Hunter’s award will come with $4,000 that she can use toward professional development. While she hasn’t figured out what to do with that funding yet, she notes there is an international teaching conference in Hawaii next year.
The recognition itself is important, but also a little intimidating.
“It is a very nice recognition, but it is a little scary because there is now a label attached to my name, I have to be excellent.”