Two local teachers have been nominated for the 2016 Excellence in Teaching Award – Katelyn Nalesnik from École Mother Teresa School and Kristin Miller from École Our Lady of the Rosary School.
Nominees for the 2016 Excellence In Teaching Awards are recognized through Alberta Education. Both teachers are honoured by the recognition.
Nalesnik has been teaching for five years, two of those years spent at École Mother Teresa School where she mainly teachers grade 7 and 8 math.
The School’s vice principal Ken Meraw along with some fellow teachers and a parent nominated her.
Her colleagues had noted her teaching style and everything she does around the school to help make it an amazing place to learn.
In addition to teaching math, Nalesnik is also the technology coach, the junior girls’ basketball team coach and ski club coach. She is also involved with a number of other initiatives around the school.
Katelyn said she builds connections with her students by having conversations with them and understanding what their likes and dislikes are.
If they are having a bad day she asks them what is wrong and treats them like a person and not just someone she works with.
“It’s having a one on one conversation with them,” she said. “I think that’s the best way.”
As a technology coach Nalesnik helps teachers incorporate technology into their classrooms.
“I can go into other classrooms and teach different lessons that involve technology in an effective manner,” she said. “Myself and the teachers can also plan different lessons too.”
She helps the teachers learn how to research effectively using computers, iPads, Google or apps.
“The kids carry their phones all the time but to make sure they are using their device effectively we teach them digital literacy and citizenship –that’s what we’re trying to do,” she said. “It’s not just to text your friends and be goofy, there’s a purpose we can use that technology for.”
Nalesnik said she likes the sense of community the School has. Being a catholic school, the teachers are able to pray with the students and have a good time within the community.
“I really feel that by knowing the students and staff as well as we do, we have built good relationships and I enjoy coming to work,” she said. “You see the growth of different students and staff from the beginning of the year to the end. That’s my favourite thing about teaching.”
She said her reaction to being nominated was one of immense joy – but one she was not expecting.
She said the application for nominating someone is big and knowing that her colleagues and a parent took the time to fill it out was rewarding.
“It was really nice to know that they had done that for me,” she said.
The reference letters from some of the teachers were heart felt and brought Nalesnik to tears.
“It’s something that people tell you, but then you see someone everyday and you read a letter they wrote. It’s really touching to see that,” she said.“It was the positivity and everything that they had said. I wasn’t expecting it. I was really humbled.”
Kristin Miller has been teaching for five years as well and teaches grade one at École Our Lady of the Rosary School.
The school’s principal Diane Kulczycki, assistant principal Tracy Trieber and one of the parents of the students she teaches nominated her.
She said she was surprised to be nominated but was honoured when they approached her about it.
The letters noted how Miller forms solid relationships with her students in addition to her quality of teaching and her instructional practices. She also has strong communication skills with parents.
She creates an open door policy with the technology she uses to allow parents to see inside the classroom and check in on daily activities.
Kristin is most proud of how she offers her students quality education and that she keeps striving for excellence by keeping up with the latest in educational research.
She is always striving for self-improvement, as she is currently a student herself earning her masters.
She maintains her quality of teaching with best practices, meaning she stays up to date with the most current of research in technology.
Technology isn’t just fun for her students to use in class, it also pushes for a high level of thinking.
Finding out she was nominated Miller said she felt honoured. She added she was excited to tell her family from Ontario and how it was nice to read all of the nomination letters written about her.
Something that was brought to light in the letters was how Kristen interacts with her coworkers. This relates to her always giving out compliments.
“I think it’s just my nature of going and complimenting people and telling them they are doing a good job. That was something I didn’t really notice that I do,” she said.
Miller is also proud of the foundation she has set in her classroom based on creating an inclusive community environment where students are able to learn in a safe and welcoming space.
Miller said it is nice to know that she is looked up to as a leader and how people have recognized her capabilities.
“I am by no means any master at teaching, I am still learning it,” she said. “I like to take risks with it and it’s nice to see there are leaders in our building.”