École Allain St-Cyr’s Heather Bilodeau has won a national award for teaching excellence after being told she wouldn’t amount to much in the field of education.
Bilodeau was recently presented with a Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence in Ottawa alongside Eugene Jenks of Inuvik.
Bilodeau and Jenks were the only educators from the Northwest Territories to be recognized this year. Only 33 other teachers from across the country were honoured with the award.
As the only full-time English teacher at Yellowknife’s Allain St-Cyr, Bilodeau credits her colleagues for making her feel included in the Francophone community.
She admits to being surprised by her nomination.
“Quite frankly I was dumbfounded because I didn’t expect it,” Bilodeau said. “I wasn’t expecting that kind of recognition and then I felt a great honour for being nominated.”
Bilodeau has taught in Yellowknife for 10 years now after previously teaching in northern Alberta, British Columbia, Quebec, Manitoba and even South Korea.
But despite teaching in different jurisdictions, Bilodeau says her motivation has never wavered.
“It’s 100 per cent about the students,” she said. “I think it’s my students that have made me the teacher I am today. I have students that are engaged and interested in learning and they make me want to better myself.”
As a Grade 7-12 teacher, Bilodeau says the use of technology is paramount in today’s classrooms.
During her nomination process, Bilodeau was credited for her use of educational software and video projects as a means of adjusting to student needs.
“[Technology] represents the lives of our students because they are so involved in it,” she said.
For Bilodeau, teaching wasn’t always something she wanted to pursue from an early age. She was even told by some of her colleagues that she wasn’t cut out for the profession.
“I didn’t think I wanted to be a teacher,” she said. “I was one of those students who wasn’t sure at all what they wanted to do.
“In fact, at one point I was told I would never be a good teacher and should think of something else to do with my career.
“But I’m glad I was tenacious and I’m glad I kept at it because it is a very rewarding career and has been a very rewarding career.”
The Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence has honoured elementary and secondary school teachers in all disciplines since 1993, with almost 1,500 teachers honoured to date.
According to the Government of Canada, “recipients are honoured for their remarkable achievements in education and for their commitment to preparing their students for a digital and innovation-based economy.”
You can find a full list of 2015 recipients here.
Previous winners from the Northwest Territories include: