Australian teacher making the most of Sylvan Lake opportunity

An Australian teacher and her family are quickly settling into life in Central Alberta where they will spend the next year

Australian teacher Jill Jenkinson (right) and daughter Paige

Australian teacher Jill Jenkinson (right) and daughter Paige

An Australian teacher and her family are quickly settling into life in Central Alberta where they will spend the next year as part of an international teacher exchange.

Jill Jenkinson, who hails from Adelaide in Australia, is teaching Grade 2 at C. P. Blakely School. She switched places with Tammy Burton, who now lives and teaches in Australia.

Jenkinson arrived in Red Deer with her husband and three children on Dec. 27. Her husband is part of the exchange, and teaches at Innisfail High School, where he took up Mr. Burton’s post.

Together, they are adjusting to their new lives in Canada, and making the most of the many opportunities here that are unavailable to them back home.

“We’re totally enjoying it,” said Jenkinson. “We love the snow, and when we wake up and see our cars covered in snow, we’re very excited. When we see the snow falling outside the window, we just think it’s the bee’s knees.”

Although there’s no snow back home, this isn’t their first experience with the white stuff.

Three years ago, Jenkinson’s husband completed a teacher exchange in Thunder Bay, Ont., with the rest of the family in tow.

“That was our kids’ first experience with snow, and they loved it,” said Jenkinson. “We like to get out there and do things, so we’re going to do lots of walking, and hopefully some cross-country skiing.”

They’ve already tried skating and snowshoeing and are looking forward to planned trips to Lake Louise and Mexico.

Inside the classroom, Jenkinson admits to still “learning the ropes”.

With the exception of several cultural differences, however, she feels her schools here and in Australia are essentially the same.

“It’s very similar to back home,” she said. “It’s a good feeling to know that you can still come into a classroom on the other side of the world and still teach, and the kids know what you’re talking about.”

One of the biggest differences, she noted, lies outside the classroom.

“We don’t get to go and play outside because it’s too cold, whereas we don’t get to play outside back home because it’s too hot,” she said. “That’s a bit of a contrast.”

She’s still dealing with some of the obstacles associated with moving to a new country — such as buying a car and applying for a credit card — but insists that she has so far enjoyed her time teaching here.

“They’ve been very welcoming here at the school,” she said. “They’re very friendly.”