(Fort McMurray, AB, September 6, 2022) The leaves are changing colour, the air is getting crisp and students are starting a new school year; this is an exciting time full of possibilities for many teachers. For others, it can also be a bit daunting, especially for those new to the profession. FMPSD teachers provide an engaging experience that opens up worlds of possibility; just as Aristotle said teaching could, “teaching is the highest form of understanding”. He wasn’t wrong; education creates growth opportunities when we take on board what our students need most: strong leaders that will inspire and engage us in lifelong learning.
According to Merrie-Rae Mitsopoulos, Assistant Superintendent, HR and Administration, the need for additional teachers is necessitated as enrollment grows.
“The Division has seen growth in student enrollment and we have teaching positions posted to respond to that growth. Currently, we have postings for various grades and subject areas available, with most at the elementary school level.”
Assistant Superintendent Mitsopoulos discusses teacher recruitment and the far-reaching areas from which FMPSD teachers come.
“Fort McMurray Public Schools access several avenues for teacher recruitment, including teacher job fairs with universities across Canada, postings on nationwide teacher recruitment websites, postings with university alumni job boards at nine universities across the country, and connections with university staff to share information about opportunities at FMPSD. The Division also hosts practicum students from a number of universities, which gives the student teachers opportunities to experience teaching in the Division and life in our community. Teachers come from across Canada: from BC to the East Coast and as far north as the Northwest Territories. Some of the teachers are new to the profession while others are experienced teachers new to the Division. We have a number of teachers coming to FMPSD from places within Alberta, including several who are former students of Fort McMurray Public and are returning to teach with the Division.”
Chelsi Ryan, a Composite High School graduate, is one of the many new educators in the Division this year. She is grateful for FMPSD-provided resources like training sessions for new teachers and the ability to network with colleagues. She anticipates with optimism what’s to come.
“I’m so excited to be returning to the Fort McMurray Public School Division for the 2022/2023 school year. Even though I’ve taught with the Division before, I feel like a fresh teacher all over again after having been away. Staggered entry has been extremely helpful in giving me time to attend Division-offered sessions on the new resources available at our schools, such as Heggerty, Flyleaf Decodables, and Jolly Phonics, as well as learning about the new assessments for literacy and numeracy. I also had a chance to attend the new teacher orientation, meet with our Numeracy Coordinator Shannon Dube about our available math resources, and spend time with my school and the Division team preparing for what is sure to be a busy year at Beacon Hill School. Peers around the Division have gone out of their way to support me with resources, listening ears and helpful suggestions as we prepare for students to come back full-time next week, and I’m so appreciative of their collegiality.”
Three new teachers, including Chelsi, will be welcomed by Principal Graham Abbott and the rest of his team.
“[They are] an enthusiastic group of hard-working new teachers who have seamlessly integrated into the Beacon Hill Bears family. They received endless support and help from the administration, returning veteran teachers, and educational assistants for a smooth staggered student entry.”
Stepping into a new environment fresh out of the University of Alberta, Poornima Menon, a first-year teacher, feels fully prepared for her new teaching role at Westwood Community High School.
“I’m extremely grateful to be surrounded by such great administration and colleagues who have been supporting me every step of the way since day one. Everyone is very welcoming and willing to share their resources with me. If need be, they’re willing to take the extra step to connect me with staff at other schools within the Division and help me access the appropriate resources from them.”
Jen Quigley, Director of Teaching and Learning, understands the difficulties faced by new teachers. To support new teachers she is facilitating “a six-session series over the course of the school year where sessions will cover topics related to report cards, IPP’s, the importance of building relationships, and practical classroom activities that support differentiated instruction, among a whole host of other topics”. The series is a fantastic growth opportunity for new teachers to come together and support each other while also learning how they may tackle the challenges ahead, both big and small.
“FMPSD’s Belief Statements, along with the Teaching Quality Standard (TQS), are the foundation upon which we engage in teaching and learning, and we have fabulous staff within FMPSD who are committed to these foundational statements. Staff, including our new teachers, truly Do What’s Best for Kids.”
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