Our Stories

Reaching for the Stars at Banded Peak School

EDUC_Pics_Peak_SaraSign EDUC_Pics_Peak_Sara

Sara Tkachuk's goal from day one in the Mount Royal University Bachelor of Education program was to obtain a teaching position with the Rocky View School Division. She achieved this dream in the spring of 2015 when she was hired to teach Grade 7 and 8 Social Studies at the Banded Peak School in Bragg Creek.
Sara's journey was one of focus and persistence. She completed her fourth year practicum at CW Perry Middle School in Airdrie during the winter 2015 semester and was fortunate to receive a position on the substitute teaching list with the Rocky View School Division. While subbing in the spring, she applied for every teaching position that was advertised with this school division. During her second interview with Banded Peak School, she was able to explain the Social Studies unit that she had designed for an inquiry-based approach to learning during her practicum at CW Perry including a wall display at the back of the room that reflected the inquiry nature of the unit based on the guiding questions from the Social Studies Program of Studies. Sara emphasized how the unit had made the learning "real" for the students outside of the classroom. At the end of the interview, the school administrators told her that she was definitely in the right profession and Human Resources later called to offer her a position. Fortunately Sara was asked to substitute teach at Banded Peak for the last two weeks of the school year which provided her with an opportunity to meet the students and teachers in the school. Sara even got to be part of the "Moving On Up Ceremony" where she personally met each of the students who would be in her class this year.
Sara indicates that both Banded Peak and the Rocky View School Division have been very supportive in her transition to becoming a first year teacher. "Everyone has been very helpful at making sure that I have everything I need and what is expected of me before the first day of class. I was actually able to be in the school by mid-August to set up my classroom. Back in June, I also made sure to sign up for a Rocky View Community of Practice (CoP) in order to get to know other teachers in the school district. Our CofP is called the Design Schools XChange and it focuses on creating opportunities for students in different grade levels to teach and learn from each other."
In addition to Sara's Social Studies teaching assignment at Banded Peak, she is also helping to coach volleyball three times each week and assist with the school's marching band. Her Grade 7/8 teaching team meets every Friday morning.
Sara states that the MRU BEd program's assessment course, ePortfolio (Professional Learning Plan), and two practicums helped her prepare for her first year of teaching. "The assessment course really helped me conceptualize different ways to provide students with formative feedback for ongoing growth and development. I've developed a binder with a page for each student where I can record ongoing formative assessment notes for each one throughout the day. At Banded Peak, I'm required to maintain a teacher professional growth and development plan and I'm finding that I'm pretty good at making a goal and then developing strategies to meet it because that is what I did with my B.Ed. program portfolio. I'm also finding that I'm pretty good with organization as I developed some tools and strategies during my third and fourth year practicum."
In terms of advice to Education students just starting the MRU program, Sara recommends developing a vision for where you want to be after the B.Ed. program. "Everything I did in the program I tailored to getting a teaching position with Rocky View. Also, embrace an inquiry-based approach to learning because the first hand experiences will help you prepare for teaching in this sort of environment. It was not until my third year during my placement at Mitford School in Cochrane that I really understood what inquiry meant in a teaching context. It was important for me to see it in action."