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Q & A: Psst! Wanna be an ATA executive staffer?

December 2, 2014 Gordon Thomas, Executive Secretary

Question: I’m interested in working on the Association’s executive staff. How does that happen?

Answer: The Association openly recruits for all executive staff positions, and advertises in the ATA News as well as the Calgary Herald and the Edmonton Journal. Our advertisements are also provided to other teachers’ organizations across the country.

A valid Alberta teaching certificate (or eligibility therefor) is a requirement, along with at least five years of successful teaching experience. Most candidates have completed (or are on their way to completing) a master’s degree.

Applications come from across the education sector, including classroom teachers, school administrators, central office teachers, superintendents, members of faculties of education, Department of Education staff and others. Prolonged involvement with the Association (or another Canadian teachers’ organization) is a clear asset. The ability to work in French is also an asset. Good health and stamina are needed. The hours are long, and include evenings and some weekends. A demonstrated commitment to public education is required.

For each executive staff vacancy, Provincial Executive Council elects a selection committee. The six-member selection committee is chaired by the president, and I serve as the committee’s secretary. For rank-and-file executive staff positions, the coordinator of the program area is also a member of the committee.

Three members of Council, elected by Council for each selection committee, also serve. The committee receives the applications, shortlists the candidates, determines the interview process, assists in drafting the questions and interviews the shortlisted candidates. The selection committee makes a recommendation to Provincial Executive Council. Council considers the selection committee’s recommendation and, if accepted, the candidate is appointed to executive staff.

There are currently 33 members of executive staff (31 for provincial operations and two assigned at the request of two local associations). I anticipate continued turnover of staff over the next few years (12 members of staff are currently eligible to draw pension) and significant opportunities to ­obtain employment at Barnett House or the Southern Alberta Regional ­Office (SARO).

I always encourage members who are interested in Association careers to remain active in their Association at various levels and to become known to members of Council. There are many ways to volunteer for Association service, both at the local level and at the provincial level. Get on your local executive, be a school representative, get active in local affairs. At the provincial level, volunteer to serve on an ATA committee, as an ATA representative or as a member of our various corps of teachers (e.g. Association instructors, economic consultants, PD facilitators). Serve on a specialist council executive or on a teachers’ convention board. There are many ways to get involved in your Association.

The Association always seeks the very best candidates to work for Alberta’s teaching profession.  ❚

Questions for consideration in this column are welcome. Please address them to Gordon Thomas at Barnett House (


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