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Viewpoints: Teachers: thank you for your amazing work

September 26, 2017 David Eggen, Minister of Education

I want to take the time to wish all of you a wonderful World Teachers’ Day on Oct. 5. On that day, we will celebrate all of the amazing work that you do each and every day for Alberta students.

We know that teachers are the backbone of our education system, and that if we can retain good teachers in this province, we will continue to be successful.

I want you to know that you have a government that values what you do. We are building new schools, funding for enrolment and reducing school fees because we know that investing in education means we’re investing in the future of our province.

We opened more than 50 brand new and modernized schools across the province in the month of September, with many more to come throughout the school year. We will need many more teachers in the coming years to fill all of the new schools that our government is currently building and will continue to build into the future.

I understand the value all of you bring to our young Albertans. Your entire profession is rooted in making life better for Alberta families.

As I’m sure many of you know, I’ve been a teacher for more than 20 years. My first teaching position was actually not in Alberta. Right out of university I had the opportunity to teach in Zimbabwe for three years. It was an incredible way to start my career and really confirmed my decision to become a teacher.

Even as the minister of education I never forget that I am still a teacher and that I rely on my classroom experience to inform the decisions I make to protect and improve our education system. Our education system is widely admired in the international community, and I’m proud of the work we all do to prepare Alberta’s students for success.

I have to admit, one of my favourite parts about being the minister of education is meeting with teachers and students from every corner of this amazing province. I love meeting with people who are clearly so invested in the future of our students. It’s great to get the opportunity to visit classrooms from across Alberta. As a teacher, I spent most of my time in Edmonton classrooms. As minister, I get the chance to connect with you, my colleagues, and our students across the province.

I’ve seen students in Fort McMurray demonstrate their dance moves; some in Little Buffalo showed off the work their whole school is doing to improve literacy outcomes; students in Airdrie toured me through their innovative dual credit program … the list goes on. I’ve met teachers leading the way in blended environments, showing their students the ropes in CTS fields like robotics and culinary skills, or finding ways to integrate living walls and exercise balls into their everyday lessons.

A few weeks ago some students took the time to demonstrate Math Wars, a card game that is helping them master addition and card shuffling — both important life skills! I’ve even had the chance to bump into some of my own former students, who are now pursuing teaching careers of their own. It’s both humbling and gratifying to see them join the ranks of our profession. I want to thank all of you who have hosted me in your classrooms in my time as minister, and I look forward to meeting many more of you in the weeks and months ahead. Every time I have the opportunity to visit a classroom or an ATA event, I learn more about the things that make our education system one of the best in the world and the teachers who make that happen.

Over the last 100 years, Alberta has grown by leaps and bounds, faced challenges and overcome barriers to become a leader in education. Teachers have been there every step of the way, preparing students for a successful future and encouraging the kinds of positive change that make our province what it is today.

Our goal is ultimately a shared one: to improve the lives of students in the province and prepare them for successful futures.

I can’t thank you enough for your dedication and for all that you do to help our students succeed. Please know that the work you do each and every day is very much appreciated by me and all Albertans. Thank you, and I look forward to continuing to work together to make our schools even better for today, tomorrow and generations to come. ❚

This opinion column represents the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the position of the Alberta Teachers’ Association.

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