Former Elk Island principal Tanya Thiessen will join the Teacher Employment Services program area as the ATA’s newest executive staff officer.
Thiessen joins the Association from Our Lady of Mount Pleasant Catholic School in the Elk Island Catholic School District, where she served as principal. She had previously been principal of St. Mary’s Catholic High School, and has held a variety of school leadership and teaching positions at the secondary level.
Thiessen also brings some international flair to the ATA: she returned to Elk Island last July after serving for three years as the principal and assistant principal of the Canadian International School of Guangzhou.
Thiessen holds a bachelor of education as well as a masters degree in school counselling. She has been active in the executive of ATA Local No. 21, serving as the chair of professional development and as a member of the Professional Conduct Committee. She is fluent in French, and is proud of her Metis identity.
For Thiessen, her new role means being able to give back to her colleagues across Alberta.
“I am very excited to be able to work alongside educators from across Alberta and to know their stories, learn from them and to be their advocate,” she says. “Healthy, happy and supported teachers create happy, healthy students that are ready to learn.”
Thiessen begins her role April 29. ❚
6 More Things about Tanya
Who or what inspired you to be a teacher?
Growing up I often found myself in a “teacher role.” I assisted with children’s liturgy at my church, I volunteered to teach drama to young students with Stage Polaris Academy and I was a French tutor. I’m not sure if I really chose teaching or if teaching chose me. I certainly view education as my vocation and it has never really felt like a job. I can also say I had quite a few very memorable and impactful teachers growing up in Beaumont — teachers who were kind, passionate about the subjects they taught and truly enjoyed being with young people every day. I am sure that many of them helped plant the seeds of my future career path.
What makes you the most excited to start work at the ATA?
I think it is an honour to be able to work for all teachers across the province. I am also excited to learn from my new colleagues at the ATA. Everyone has been very welcoming and friendly via email and I look forward to meeting them face-to-face.
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give yourself in your first year as a teacher?
This is a tough question. I was very fortunate to have strong mentorship and support as a first-year and beginning teacher. I started my career at Archbishop Jordan Catholic High School with a whole group of other first-year teachers and so I had a ready-made support system to share in the joys and failures of being a beginning teacher. Maybe that is the one bit of advice I would want to give to all first-year teachers: find your marigolds, believe in mentorship and forgive yourself when things do not go as planned.
What is the greatest life lesson teaching has taught you?
Believe in all the things you ask your students to believe. It is OK to make mistakes, say sorry when you are wrong, be kind, be curious, try again ... all the little tidbits we give to our students we also need to remind ourselves. Laugh, find joy, be silly, play and have naps when needed … ha ha.
What is your favourite song to put you in a good mood?
I have very eclectic taste when it comes to music. It really depends on the day. I have always had a commute to work, and I think one of the reasons it has never bothered me is because I really enjoy singing in my car. I do not sing well but that does not stop me. I can say that my go-to songs for karaoke are often Disney classics.
Favourite COVID-safe activity
My husband and I added a puppy to our family in October 2020. I love taking her for walks or to visit different dog parks in our area.