In the spotlight:
Mother-daughter teachers attract media attention

November 22, 2016 ATA News Staff
Teachers Suzanne Préfontaine and Moselle Semeniuk pose during a photo shoot for an upcoming issue of the ATA Magazine. The shoot came about due to previous media stories focused on the fact that the mother and daughter team teach at the same Edmonton school. Taking the photos is ATA staffer Bromley Chamberlain.

By now, Suzanne Préfontaine and Moselle Semeniuk are getting used to interviews and being in front of cameras. The mother-daughter team both teach at the same school, a rare occurrence that drew the attention of CTV and CBC at the beginning of the school year.

“It was a positive news story,” Préfontaine said of the resulting coverage, which had her and her daughter interviewed on the radio and profiled in TV and web stories. “Quite often that first week of school, all you’re hearing is the negative — overcrowding, buses aren’t operating — so this was kind of a cute story.”

Préfontaine has been at Edmonton’s Holyrood School for 28 years. This is Semeniuk’s third year of teaching and first at the school. Being on the news generated a lot of attention within their circles.

“Lots of messages from our friends. We were getting phone calls telling us it was such a nice story,” Préfontaine said.

Semeniuk attended Holyrood herself and had her mom for Grade 6. She stays in touch with friends from that time, who also got a kick out of the news stories.

“They all just thought it was so cool ... that I’m teaching here and that my mom is still here,” Semeniuk said.

While it’s not uncommon for the offspring of teachers to also enter the profession, Préfontaine believes it’s quite rare for parents and children to teach in the same school.

“Not many principals, I think, would be willing to take the risk of having a mother-daughter team at the same school,” she said. “There would be the fear that they would rely too much on each other, possibly.

“Or students’ parents might assume that the younger teacher was hired because of the mother,” she said.

What’s it like?

Préfontaine said that seeing her daughter as an adult working in an adult world has been interesting and a source of pride.

“I’m noticing that a lot of the things I do, she does as well.”

Both teachers are organized and systematic, and both tend to put in extra time on the weekends.

“There’s a great sense of pride when you see her with the little ones, saying (to myself) ‘I did a good job,’” Préfontaine said.

For Semeniuk, teaching with her mother means she has the best possible support, whether it be professionally or personally.

“For me it’s like having the best support system someone could ask for ... your own mom, who always wants to make sure that you’re doing OK and has your best interests in mind.” ❚

Cover models

The previous media coverage put Préfontaine and Semeniuk on the radar of the associate editor of the ATA Magazine, who asked them to serve as models for the cover of the magazine’s next issue, which will be built around the theme of retirement.

“The overall aim of this magazine issue is to pass wisdom from retirement experts and retirees to teachers who are still in the midst of their careers, so that these working professionals can set themselves up for a successful retirement,” said associate editor Cory Hare.

“Suzanne is close to approaching retirement age and Moselle is at the beginning of her career, so I thought they were a natural choice to convey the idea of one generation passing knowledge to the next,” he added. “I’m very thankful that they agreed to go along with it.”

The next magazine will be published Dec. 5.

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