On March 18, the Rocky View Schools (RVS) Board of Trustees announced Charnelle Fulcher, a teacher at East Lake School in Chestermere, as the division's nomination for the 2020-21 Edwin Parr Award.
The Edwin Parr Award is the Alberta School Boards Association’s (ASBA) provincial award that recognizes the efforts and achievements of six first-year teachers, and each year, RVS nominates one of its new teachers across the division to receive the award.
“We’ve been lucky to be adding new teachers to our Rocky View family each year. Some of those teachers are experienced teachers, but also some of these people are fresh out of university – they are brand new teachers to the profession,” said RVS superintendent Greg Luterbach at the March 18 Board of Trustees meeting.
“And could you imagine being a brand new teacher, and this is your year to be a brand new teacher? Taking on a pandemic, and taking on a school culture that is moving things forward, but doing that in challenging, unprecedented times.”
Fulcher was hired last June to teach a Grade 3 class in East Lake School’s English stream, but was informed one week before the start of class that she would instead be teaching a Grade 5/6 combined French immersion class.
“I was super nervous because I had never taught [grades 5 and 6] before, so I wasn’t even familiar with the curriculum,” Fulcher said.
“But I just kind of got right into it and I started talking to other Grade 5/6 teachers, introduced myself, and asked for help.”
The first-year teacher acknowledged that asking for help hasn’t been a one-time thing this school year, and that approaching more senior teachers for advice has helped her be more successful in her first year as a teacher, which in turn has helped her students be more successful, as well.
“My teaching community has been so amazing, and I’ve had so much support from admin and other teachers, and my students are always pumping my tires, so it’s been really great,” she said.
According to Fulcher, there were times as a first-year teacher where she questioned herself, but that it is “so validating” to know the RVS teaching community is supportive and sees something in her that she didn’t always see in herself.
Apart from not being afraid to ask for help, Fulcher said trusting in her own instincts and connecting with her students has been key to succeeding in her new profession. She said her favourite part of teaching is the connection she gets to make with her students.
“[My students] teach me so much and they’re so kind and wonderful to work with. I get to learn and grow alongside them,” Fulcher said.
“I definitely make my teaching student-centred and it’s important for me to have the connection with them first.”
Fulcher added she is looking forward to getting more outside opportunities with the kids as she would like to “reach more walls outside the classroom.” She credits technology with allowing the students to meet with people and participate in activities across Canada, but “it’s a lot more fun” to get out there in person.
“I'm super happy to be nominated and I think it's been a really hard year, just with COVID and everything,” she said. “But at the same time, it’s been a super positive year for myself, getting to know my colleagues and my students.”
Ward 1 Trustee Shali Baziuk, said each year, there is an “embarrassment of riches” in RVS’ jurisdiction when it comes to nominating teachers for the Edwin Parr Award.
“I’m thrilled that we have such a fantastic candidate. I’m equally thrilled that we had so many to choose from. I’m excited that this candidate happens to be from my ward,” said Baziuk, the trustee for Chestermere.
“Her students are very lucky to have her, and as the school division, we are too.”The six recipients from the ASBA’s respective zones in Alberta will be named later this school year.