Throughout their teaching careers, Sharon Armstrong and Joe Bower were both well known for possessing a great passion for education. Both were appreciated for sharing their ideas, knowledge and experiences. And, over the May long weekend, both will be awarded honorary membership in the Alberta Teachers’ Association at the 99th Annual Representative Assembly (ARA).
The teaching profession’s highest award in Alberta, honorary Association membership is reserved for members or other persons who have given meritorious service to the teaching profession or to the advancement of education.
Armstrong retired in 2015, leaving a footprint that extended far beyond the town limits of Hinton, where she spent the last 35 years of her career teaching at Harry Collinge High School. She loved teaching and working with students and demonstrated the same level of dedication to her colleagues and the teaching profession.
Highly involved in the Association at the local and provincial levels, Armstrong served as president of Evergreen Local No. 11 for eight years before being elected in 1999 to Provincial Executive Council as district representative (DR) for the Central North geographic district. She held the DR position until 2009, when she was elected vice-president, a position she held until 2013. After 2013, Armstrong elected to spend more time with her family rather than run for another term. However, until she retired, she stayed involved with the Association as a member of its Council for Inclusive Education.
Over her career, Armstrong served on more than 40 Association committees and specialist councils. In 2010/11, she served as a member of the Association’s Strategic Planning Group alongside fellow honorary membership recipient Joe Bower.
Bower’s honorary membership award will be presented posthumously. He died at the age of 37 after suffering a heart attack in January of this year. A loving family man and resolute advocate for teachers, students and public education, Bower is missed, but his passion for teaching and ability to draw global attention to education issues continues.
Bower’s Twitter feed still has more than 17,000 followers. His blog For the Love of Teaching had more than 27,000 page views in the 30 days prior to this writing. His social media following includes individuals and organizations from Red Deer to Swaziland. Organizations include schools, media outlets and education advocacy groups. Individuals include students, parents, authors, researchers, social scientists and thousands and thousands of teachers. ❚