By Craig Albrecht
For Westwind Weekly News
When colleagues describe Allison Groenenboom they talk about how natural teaching seems to come to her. On the other hand, they also speak about the extra mile she goes to meet her students’ varying needs.
That combination of instinct and a healthy work ethic seems to have paid off as the Grade 3 teacher at Raymond Elementary School has earned Westwind School Division’s nomination for the Edwin Parr Award.
The award goes each year to the top first-year teacher. Each school division forwards its nominee and the Zone 6 winner will be announced May 13 at an Alberta School Boards Association banquet in Taber.
Groenenboom admits she was surprised and a little nervous to learn she was, first the school’s nominee and then, Westwind School Division’s choice for the award, which was named in the memory of the longtime trustee from the Athabasca area.
“They said ‘don’t worry about it, we have a lot of faith in you,’” she says of the supportive staff at RES. “I was blown away and really honored.”
Heather Bisschop, Groenenboom’s mentor teacher at RES, says she and fellow staff members often comment how the recent University of Lethbridge graduate seems to have a natural rapport with students and parents.
She notes, however, how hard Groenenboom works to try and meet the varied needs of every one of her students. That includes seeking the advice of her more veteran counterparts.
“That’s what makes you a better teacher – using the experience and advice of other teachers to become the best teacher you can,” says Bisschop. “Working together we can meet the needs of our students much better than we ever could on our own.”
Her principal at Raymond Elementary School, Marlin Hogg, says it was evident early on that Groenenboom had a passion for teaching and the drive necessary.
“In her (job) interview she came in, she was confident and well prepared,” he says of the graduate of Nobleford School. “She just kind of had it all together. As she came in the next time after her hiring, she continued with the same kind of, ‘I am here and I am ready. Bring it on!’ ”
Hogg says students at Raymond Elementary School benefit from a great team of teachers and support staff. A great team, he points out, is made up of great individuals and Groenenboom certainly shows she’s not out of place in that regard.