Carol Henderson, new ATA president, is Brienne Hurlburt’s favourite teacher

By Barbara Grinder
Release Date: August 10, 2009

Although Brienne Hurlburt was born in Fort McLeod, all her early memories are of High River, where her family moved when she was a toddler. After graduating from high school in High River, Hurlburt studied broadcasting at Calgary's Mount Royal College. In July 2000, she accepted her first position, at RDTV in Red Deer, where she garnered national recognition when a tornado ripped through Pine Lake, one of the biggest national stories of the year. From there, Hurlburt moved to broadcasting and anchor positions in Lethbridge, Saskatoon and Edmonton. In June 2005, Hurlburt accepted a position with Global TV Calgary, where she currently coanchors News Hour.

When asked about her most influential teacher, Hurlburt's response is quick. "I've had so many wonderful teachers, but I'd have to say my favourite was my Grade 1 teacher at Spitzee School, Carol Henderson. I remember Miss Henderson as being very elegant and attractive, kind of like Grace Kelly with red hair, but what I loved most about her was that she was so very kind and gentle."

Hurlburt says Henderson treated her students as friends, listening to them, talking with them as equals and building their trust. She particularly remembers story time with Miss Henderson. "She'd sit on her chair, with the girls and boys gathered all around her, and she'd read to us in this soft, gentle voice. She was very patient, and took the time to answer all our many questions. She made school fun."

Years after leaving elementary school, Hurlburt returned to Spitzee School. "When I passed my old Grade 1 classroom, tears came to my eyes," she says. "Miss Henderson was a wonderful introduction to school and has had a lasting impact on my life in general. She was the first person to show me I could develop a real relationship with adults who weren't part of my family. Along with one of my Grade 9 teachers at Cayley School, she taught me that teachers could be friends, not just big, bad people who gave you homework."

Henderson is not only Hurlburt's favourite teacher—she's also valued by her colleagues. The highly experienced educator was recently elected as president of the Alberta Teachers' Association (ATA).

Henderson has been very active in serving the teaching profession while teaching in the primary grades for Foothills School Division. She has served as chairperson of the ATA's Resolutions Committee and the Wellbeing of Children and Youth Committee, and she was a member of the Accountability Committee and the Subcommittee on Provincial Achievement Tests. In addition, Henderson has been a director of the Canadian Teachers' Federation and a member of the Education Faculty Advisory Committee of the University of Calgary.