We're excited to share this month's Educator of the Month with you - Jenny Stirling. Here's how she answered our questions (hint: we love her insights!)
Ms. Stirling, we're thrilled to have you as educator of the month! Let's get started! Where are you from?
I was born and raised right here in Merritt!
Great! How long have you been a teacher at SCIDES?
This is my third year at SCIDES, and prior to this, I taught 10 years at Merritt Secondary School.
We love your commitment to the Nicola Valley! Now tell us, why did you become a teacher?
To be completely honest, when I first thought about becoming a teacher as a high school student, I was competing heavily in rodeos, so weekends and summers off were a priority. Once I got to university, however, I really fell in love with learning and wanted to share my passion with others. I also recognized that some students don’t enjoy school for various reasons, and I felt that I could help change that. As for the weekends and summers off, it turns out that is when I do most of my marking and prep. C’est la vie.
Funny how things turn out sometime, eh? What’s your favourite aspect of being a teacher?
Working with students is the best part. I love challenging them to be independent thinkers and connecting what they learn in my classes to real-life situations. Engaging students in a meaningful way to the curriculum is always a goal of mine, and I feel proud when I can make this happen. I also feel a lot of pride when my students meet with their own successes in their classes, sports, performances, or whatever their interests may be.
That is very inspiring! What’s your least favourite aspect of being a teacher?
There never seems like there is enough time or resources to do all the things I want to do as a teacher. I feel a lot of time is spent doing paperwork about working with kids when I just want to spend that time actually working with kids. I recognize the necessity of the paperwork, but it is my least favourite part.
You are not alone with this, most of your colleagues are not huge fans of paperwork :) So what’s your best advice for a student who wants to figure out their career path and calling?
Learn how to be a good student first. If you don’t know how to study, manage your time, take notes, set goals, write tests, or communicate effectively, post-secondary schooling will be difficult. You want to be able to have all the tools and skills you need in place, so you can focus on your new learning or area of passion.
Fantastic advice! Now back to you - what’s your favourite book and why?
My favorite book is “Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie. This book addresses the most real and raw issues of adolescent First Nations peoples but does so in such a humorous way. It amazes me how funny, yet tragic, this novel is. I love the opportunities this book creates to have conversations about racism, poverty, puberty, friendships, stereotypes, sarcasm, and historical events. After reading it numerous times, I still get a real kick out of the jokes and pencil comics.
That sounds like it need to be on everyone's to-read list! Now let's dig a bit deeper: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
It was not really advice, but a statement that brought an awareness and perspective to me as a teacher and as a mother. My teacher friend said, “Guilt will be your nemesis.” She was right; it often feels like you don’t do enough for your students or your family, so it is important to keep focused on what you can do, rather than what you cannot or don’t have time to do. I work harder to try and put my energy into what really matters and what will have the most positive impact. Now I feel like I celebrate more, and regret less.
Wow, that's awesome. And a great habit for everyone to get into. What do you still want to learn?
I have a passion for Aboriginal Education, so I’m always trying to keep up on that; but now that I am teaching online, my focus is more on learning different technology. On a personal note, I would love to learn how to surf.
Final question: When you’re not busy helping your students and marking assignments, what do you enjoy doing?
I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. We like to camp, fish, and snowboard/ski together. I also like playing hockey and softball, and I love spending time out at Nicola Lake, boating and wake-surfing.
Thank you, Ms. Stirling, for taking the time!
Do you have questions about how we can help you take charge of your education? Connect with us via our website, where you can also browse course and program options, and find study tips for elementary and secondary students.