A Peace Wapiti Public School Division teacher is being recognized for excellence in her first year of teaching at Sexsmith Secondary School, with an Edwin Parr Teacher Award. Nicole Cooper was commended by her colleague, Sexsmith Secondary Assistant Principal, Jennifer Thompson, for her collaboration with colleagues and the depth of practice she brings to the school.

Thompson says Cooper’s understanding of relationships, pedagogy, and assessment— despite having only graduated from the University of Lethbridge in 2019— are at the level of a seasoned instructor.

“Miss Cooper exceeds in all aspects of teaching, but fostering effective relationships is a highlight of her practice that does not stop at the classroom. She has worked tirelessly as coach of the boy’s volleyball team and is an example of a great leader who not only grows great athletes; she also coaches them on how to be good people,” says Thompson. “She has worked with parents through a difficult situation and offers a sign-up sheet for students to add the date and time of their extracurricular events so that she can go and watch them.”

The Edwin Parr Teacher Award was established in 1964 and honours six first-year teachers across the province annually. Cooper will be among her fellow winners from the other five award zones in Alberta being honoured for their achievement at the annual province-wide Alberta School Boards Association celebration. An exact date for which has yet to be determined, though it is expected it may be held virtually this year.

Cooper says she is “speechless,” in expressing her initial reaction to the award, and describes her first year in the field as an adventure.

“I could not predict having to teach through a pandemic in my first year, but my phenomenal coworkers have gone above and beyond,” she says. “It can be difficult to fully comprehend the depth of what being a teacher really means. For me, every day spent working with young, bright minds is new and fresh. Their ability to teach me as much as I can teach them is invigorating and rewarding”

Additionally, at the same event at which Cooper was commended, Grande Prairie’s three school divisions presented a joint Friends of Education Award to the 3D Children’s Charity.