Teachers engaged in their communities

June 12, 2012
Kim Dewar, ATA News Staff

ATA grant promotes relationships between schools and communities

Local Community Relations Grants (CRGs) play a key role in profiling the Alberta Teachers’ Association’s support of public education in Alberta and in illustrating how teachers, as concerned citizens, are actively engaged in their communities.

Support for public education is more important than ever as education systems around the world undergo radical transformation. Some of these transformations are informed, while others are moving toward the complete dismantling of the public education system. In the United States, for example, public education is fully under siege as the charter and private school movements try to position themselves as preferable to the public system.

In Alberta we are taking a different path, with more than 16 locals involved in promoting public education this year. The projects highlighted here provide insight into the variety of ways Alberta teachers have supported public education and the teaching profession through their active and engaged citizenship.

This year, the Association partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) to raise awareness of the importance of good mental health. Alberta’s teachers are concerned about the well-being of children and youth, and that is why the ATA is working with the Alberta division of CMHA to promote mental health, discourage the negative stigma often associated with mental illness and provide teachers with information and resources to help them support students with mental health needs. Locals were encouraged to use their 2011/12 Community Relations Grants for activities that promoted the mental health of children and youth.

Teachers triumphant in triathlon

Diane Lynch, Timberline Local No. 9

Thanks to a grant from the ATA, Timberline Local No. 9 recruited teacher volunteers for the Drayton Valley Triathlon, on May 12 and 13. Adult swimmers were given colourful swim caps featuring the Timberline and ATA logos, and the pool area was decorated with matching banners. Several Drayton Valley teachers organized school teams or individual students to participate in the Kids of Steel triathlon. The school division as a whole had many participants, including teachers, teaching assistants, maintenance staff and a superintendent. One high school teacher placed second in the women’s individual category.

Lucky 13 and the tournament of words

Lisa Cummings, Battle River Local No. 32

In July, Battle River teachers received a grant to participate in the Canadian Mental Health Association’s (CMHA) 13th annual Camrose golf tournament to raise money for mental health awareness. The tournament, one of the biggest in the region, typically raises more than $10,000 for CMHA. This community event promotes teachers as actively concerned about the mental health of children and youth.

Battle River Local also used its grant to sponsor a ­"Letters for Literacy" Scrabble tournament at the Camrose Mall during the Farmer’s Market. Teachers from across the division provided Scrabble boards, and the local sponsored ads in area newspapers. One participant was especially passionate about literacy. This man, originally from the Northwest Territories, had been adopted by a local family, who taught him to read and write. As a result, he is committed to literacy and was happy to see local teachers engaged in an initiative designed to promote literacy. Some of the funds raised during the tournament were donated to the Camrose Reading University, a literacy program for Camrose children held during the summer, and some to ABC Life Literacy.

Taking aim at mental health

Thomas Holmes, Sturgeon Local No. 27

On February 24, Sturgeon Local teachers challenged colleagues to games of pool, darts and trivia to raise awareness and funds for the CMHA. Bon Accord and Namao schools locked heads over a heated trivia round that saw Bon Accord winning the highly coveted Sturgeon Cup. The cup will move from Camilla School, where it had resided since the school’s big win at last spring’s ball tournament. Sturgeon Local No. 27 is proud to have raised $500 for the CMHA and ­expects to raise an additional $500 at its annual ball tournament later this summer.

Park Plains teachers make a difference

Rebecca McCullough, Park Plains East Local No. 31

On May 6, teachers from Park Plains East Local 31 promoted positive mental health in a fun and unique way when teachers participated in an Amazing Teacher Activity Race. Teacher teams, split between Vermilion and Wainwright, competed to locate services in their respective communities that were tied to mental health and wellness (for example, Alberta Health Services Mental Health, the RCMP and local community services) and then to complete challenges. The challenges included assembling and dissembling a tent while wearing oven mitts, running in a toothpick relay, catching water balloons with hands slathered in lotion, designing a positive mental health logo and choreographing a team dance. The day’s events wrapped up with a BBQ at Riverdale Min-Park, where donations were made to the local Habitat for Humanity. The day’s activities focused awareness on mental health, local charities and the teaching profession, and fostered camaraderie among teachers in Local 31, which consists of the Buffalo Trail Public Schools and East Central Alberta Catholic Schools.