Mike Mountain Horse Grade 2 teacher wins 2017 Zone 6 Edwin Parr Award

By Garrett Simmons

Lethbridge School District No. 51

Communications Officer

Brittney Petkau is the winner of the 2017 Zone 6 Edwin Parr Award.

The Grade 2 teacher from Mike Mountain Horse Elementary School took home the honour last night at The Heritage Inn in Taber, as Petkau was one of 10 first-year southern Alberta teachers nominated for the award, hosted by the Alberta School Boards Association, Zone 6.

“I never grew up wanting to be a teacher,” said Petkau, during her speech as Wednesday night’s awards banquet. “I was not interested in it. I had no passion for that.”

However, that quickly changed as soon as she had a chance to experience the atmosphere inside an elementary classroom.

“When I was about 20 years old, I had the opportunity to work in a school for a couple weeks. What happened there was a transformation of my life, and that was the beginning of my journey in the education field,” said Petkau. “I had the opportunity to work with a Grade 4 class, and building relationships with the students, being with them and experiencing life with them, seeing what they walked in carrying on their shoulders every day was just something I wanted to be a part of.”

That brief experience sparked a love of education, a love which has flourished this year at Mike Mountain Horse.

“I firmly believe that education changes lives – I’ve seen it in my own classroom this year and I’ve seen it in my colleagues’ classrooms this year. It’s what got me where I am today.”

Petkau added the teaching profession is simply unlike any other job in the world.

“I appreciate being in a profession that is dedicated to challenging people to be something more than what they even think they can be, to push them, to challenge them, to equip them for life and just believe in them,” she said. “It’s honestly the best job in the world. I’m sure everybody would agree they are just so honoured to be chosen to be in that profession, and I get to walk into a classroom and change somebody’s life every single day.”

The first-year Lethbridge School District No. 51 teacher added Mike Mountain Horse has been the perfect school to begin her career with.

“I love building relationships with people, with kids, with the staff. I work in a school that is amazing for how they have built relationships.”

Petkau added teaching is certainly not without its challenges, as she shared one of the key strategies she uses on a daily basis.

“I believe that laughter goes a long way, and this is something that I learned from my sister, which is that if you can laugh once a day with your kids, you’re doing OK. It can be the hardest day in the world but if you can laugh at least once, if they laugh at least once, it’s going to be OK. That’s what I have chosen to be in my classroom, so when things go wrong and when things are very unexpected, usually it’s something you can laugh at, and if you chose that, all of the sudden the weight of the world is not on that little kid anymore, and they know they have a do-over and they can do something different.”

Teaching students is just part of the equation for Petkau, who added she also has the opportunity to learn, every time she walks into her classroom.

“I’m teaching in a Grade 2 class so we do a lot of creativity, we do a lot of exploration and they teach me things new every day. There’s not a day that I go away that I think I’ve got it all together, but I’ve learnt something new every single day.”

Petkau added there are a lot of people who have helped make her first year a success.

“Thank you to my family that has always been there for me. Thank you to my principal, Erin Hurkett, for not only nominating me but hiring me out of my last practicum that I did at the school. She hired me right away and that was just a huge blessing to be continuing in that school. Thank you to the staff that is at that school – they are phenomenal – whatever I need they will do whatever to help me out. Thank you to the Board that has been so supportive. It’s been an honour to get to know you through this process and I just appreciate working in an area that is dedicated to providing whatever they can to make my life and my job easier, and ultimately to make education possible for every single student we come across.”

Date posted: May 11, 2017

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