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Award winner always a teacher

May 31, 2022 Kate Toogood, ATA News Staff


University of Alberta professor Carla Peck speaks at ARA after accepting the ATA’s Public Education Award.


Carla Peck may no longer be in the classroom, but she still feels like a teacher.

Peck, a professor of education, active advocate for social justice, former teacher and self-described “very vocal critic,” was one of two winners of the ATA’s Public Education Award, presented at the Annual Representative Assembly in Calgary over the May long weekend.

Peck was recognized for her tireless advocacy for curriculum and dedication to using her research in support of public education. An expert in curriculum development and social studies, Peck has actively advocated for better education around history and how social inequalities lead to injustices around the world. She has lead national and international workshops for K–12 teachers in social studies and history education, and is the director of a national research project on K–12 history education.

When accepting the award, Peck noted that the current curriculum falls well short.

“Alberta’s students deserve nothing less than a world-class curriculum,” she said. “They deserve a curriculum that honours their identities, histories and interests. They deserve a curriculum that is antiracist, not rippled with racism. They deserve a curriculum that advances truth and reconciliation.

“They deserve a curriculum that challenges them, not bores them to tears with endless lists of Eurocentric facts that might help them win at Jeopardy but won’t prepare them to deal with the complex problems facing our society today and in the future.”

When accepting the award, Peck recognized the dedication of teachers to creating high-quality public education. She was quick to point out the strength of teachers, teaching assistants and administrators.

“A public education system is only as good as the people who work in and uphold it,” she said. “Teachers, administrators, educational assistants and all of the other professionals who ensure that the needs of Alberta’s children are not only met, but surpassed day in, day out.”

Peck commended the delegates for maintaining this commitment, despite what she saw as tremendous challenges to their profession and to their work.

“Even when teachers have been continuously disrespected and disparaged, and your concerns have been dismissed by a ruthless, unethical government, you kept showing up for your students and for your — for our — profession.”

“As a former elementary teacher, I can think of no greater honour than to be recognized by my teacher peers. While I may be working at the university level now, deep down, I am and always will be a teacher.” ❚

Nina Howorun accepts the Public Education Award from district representative Don Brookwell on behalf of her partner Darren Lund, who received the award posthumously for his decades of social justice advocacy.




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