Fostering genuine and caring relationships with students to help ensure they reach their fullest potential is one of the top priorities for this year’s Edwin Parr Award Nominee for Red Deer Public Schools.
Each year, school divisions across the province nominate an outstanding first year teacher for the Edwin Parr Award which is organized through the Alberta School Boards Association.
Brianne Bancroft, Grade 7 teacher at Eastview Middle School, was Red Deer Public’s nominee for the 2019-20 school year.
Her journey to teaching wasn’t a direct one. Before completing her education degree, Bancroft was working in the oilfield as a welder’s helper. “It was an amazing experience. I loved that I could create something out of nothing.”
Through her experience, Bancroft found a love of being around people, which ultimately led her to teaching.
“I wasn’t what you would stereotype as a good student. I liked school and I liked being at school, but I liked school for social reasons,” she said. “I was a struggling reader all of my life – I was taken out of classes to be in intervention programs and I was never one to excel. For me, when I decided I was going to be a teacher, it wasn’t because academia was my favourite thing, it’s because I developed a love for learning as an adult. Then I realized as someone who struggled for so long, that I wanted to be able to be a teacher that could give kids a space to struggle, but that it was okay to struggle and you can be successful and you can get there.”
Reflecting on her childhood, one pivotal moment for Bancroft in her Grade 5 year was when her teacher read the class the book Holes by Louis Sachar. “I was not at a Grade 5 reading level. I could not read the book Holes on my own. My teacher read it to us and we followed along and I remember following along and understanding the book while listening to her. It inspired me to then be able to read the book myself. She read it to us and then shortly after, I re-read the book myself. To this day, Holes is still my favourite story.”
Another memorable teacher was one in high school. “She understood kids and what they needed. That is what made me want to be a middle school teacher because she understood that kids need to learn and curriculum is at the core of our practice, but kids can’t learn from someone they don’t have a relationship with.”
At the end of the day, Bancroft said it was her relationships with her former teachers and her newfound love of learning that led her down the path she is on.
“I genuinely love my kids. I love being able to work with them and see their growth and their struggles and see how we can get through that together,” she said. “I truly love my job.”