Teacher Appreciation Week: TNYF thankful for everyday extra efforts of teachers

May 3, 2021 10:17 am by Jason Friesen Dynamic Featured Image

Spending lunch hour with a student to give them an opportunity to chat with someone outside their household. Encouraging students to be active during class even when it isn’t relevant to any course content. Sharing offices in a socially distanced manner for students to have a quiet place to be.

All of those are examples of how teachers have gone above and beyond during the 2020-21 school year to ensure their students find success in an extremely challenging time. Educators are always worthy of appreciation, and the True North Youth Foundation (TNYF) is ever grateful for the important role they play in their programing, but amid a pandemic, this year’s Teacher Appreciation Week seems more important than ever.

“The work of teachers delivering and supporting Project 11, the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Academy (WJHA) and Camp Manitou allow our foundation to empower the potential in youth across our province,” stated TNYF Executive Director Dwayne Green.

For the WJHA coaches, teachers are their link to students.

“The teachers we work with really understand what our student athletes need to succeed and are an important connection between our coaches, volunteers and tutors, and the students themselves,” said Murray Cobb, WJHA Director. “In a way, they are an extension of our own WJHA coaches and they’re in constant communication with us about students’ progress and the challenges they may be having.”

That constant communication has remained even throughout a challenging year. In fact, it’s become a year where that communication about how students are doing has been more important than ever, with irregular schedules of doing schoolwork from the classroom and from home making many youth susceptible to falling behind.

“There are many reasons to not show up and many reasons not to be in the classroom right now, but teachers are there,” said Winnipeg Jets Hockey Academy (WJHA) Manager of Academic Performance Jennifer McAlpine. “It is that consistency that students look forward to having every time they go to school.”

Teachers have also been consistent in their belief in Project 11’s mental health programming. The cross-curricular prevention program that targets Language Arts and Physical Education/Health Education outcomes has been as important as ever amid the pandemic, and teachers have shown that through the number of educators that have been trained in the program over the last year.

“From the very beginning of the pandemic, teachers were reaching out to become trained and gain access to our program,” noted Angeli Booz, Project 11’s Administrative Coordinator. “They recognized that the mental health of students needed to be supported, and with all of Project 11’s lessons being delivered via video, they were flexible enough to be explored in classroom or during remote learning.”

To Project 11, recognizing the needs of students and adapting to them is something every teacher needs to be good at it, even if they are learning alongside their students. Educators’ efforts to focus on mental health during these difficult times is just one example of that.

“We’ve seen so many examples of teachers going above and beyond for their students, supporting their academic success as well as supporting them emotionally and helping students to be resilient,” said Kerri Waldbauer, Project 11’s Manager of Educational Programs. “A kindergarten teacher reached out to tell us that after completing a Project 11 lesson about kindness, the class brainstormed ways they could show kindness to others in their communities, even during a time with so many restrictions. It was such a beautiful message about the impact that a little kindness can have on ourselves and on others during tough times.”

Though Camp Manitou often hosts school groups throughout the school year, that hasn’t been an option for much of the past year. Instead, camp has focused on filling the times when kids aren’t in school – namely spring break and the upcoming summer holidays. Through their spring break and planned summer day camps, Camp Manitou staff seek to continue the positive influence on kids lives that teachers carry for much of the year.

Camp staff know full well that the teachers the TNYF works with through the WJHA and Project 11 encourage their students to enjoy Camp Manitou in the summer, and in some cases go above and beyond to ensure that their students are able to be there.

“In the past, we’ve had educators who have provided rides to and from camp each day for students who didn’t have the means to get there,” said Green. “That’s not only showing students that they are cared for by their teachers and that they are worthy of that kind of generosity, but it pushes others – whether teaching colleagues, members of the community, or us at the TNYF – to match that level of dedication to these youth.”

Teachers are making those above-and-beyond efforts each day for their students, and for that the TNYF and its staff are extremely grateful.

Thank you Manitoba teachers!