Cochrane High alumni Mikaela McNab has been named the Lethbridge School Division's nominee for the 2020-21 Edwin Parr Award. 

Mikaela is a first-year kindergarten teacher at General Stewart Elementary School in south Lethbridge and is passionate about her students, school, and community.

"Being a first-year teacher, especially in kindergarten, I try to bring excitement and love for learning. I think my main goal is to have every single student in my class enjoy learning and to be curious. I think that having a growth mindset and having a hunger for learning is the best gift you can give your students."

General Stewart Elementary is a small school of about 100 students and 11 staff members. It was a perfect fit.

"We have a very close-knit community, which has made my first year teaching so supportive because I have such close relationships with everyone here. I know all of the students' names in our school, which is a pretty rare experience, so that has been very special.

"Another exciting part about being a first-year teacher here in Lethbridge is getting close to lots of parents and community members. We have someone from Petland doing a little pet tour with our class next week, we have someone coming in to chat about buffalo with the kindergarten class, so the community is really involved and awesome."

She only found out seven days before the start of the school year that she had been recruited by General Stewart Elementary. That didn't hamper her gift to teach.

In making the nomination, Prinicipal Chris Harris described McNab as an incredibly caring teacher who has gone above and beyond to form a connection with every one of her students and colleagues.

“She has learned an incredible amount in a very short time regarding policies, procedures, organizing and coordinating meetings with school staff, division staff, parents, and outside agencies," he was quoted to say by the Lethbridge School Division. "Despite the circumstances of the 2020/2021 school year, she has continued to provide engaging lessons, and creates innovative ways to support all of our students, in-person and at home.” 

Mikaela says the day she found out about the nomination, Principal Harris came into the classroom and asked if she could keep a secret.

"He let me know I was nominated for the awards, and I was pretty shocked right away. I was just so excited and so humbled that he had recognized all the hard work that I had put into my first year."

Mikaela is a member of the CHS Graduating Class of 2015 and graduated in 2020 with her Bachelor of Education degree from Mount Royal University with a minor in English and Physical Education

She lived in Calgary with her family but attended grade 10 to 12 at Cochrane High.  Her father, Rob, is a long-time Cochrane high teacher and well-known sports coach. 

"My dad had always shown me how important it was to have those relationships with your students and team members, and he's really shown me the importance of being on a sports team and how much it can impact who you are as a person. Playing sports with my dad as my coach has helped to form me into the person that I am today."

"I learned from Cochrane High how special sports are, and that was a huge part of my life. My fondest memories from being in Cochrane are all the major sports."

She played basketball, volleyball, soccer, track, cross-country, and pretty much "any sport I could get my hands or feet on."

A highlight she holds dear is winning a provincial gold medal in the 4x100 in grade 12.

That connection to sports came home in her final teaching practicum.

"I actually had the opportunity to coach basketball in Airdrie for my last practicum, which was really cool to take on that legacy of coaching."

Mikaela has thoroughly documented her first year on an Instagram account. She invites people to visit @ourhappyclassroom.

Each year, the Alberta School Boards Association honours six outstanding first-year teachers with the Edwin Parr Teacher Award. School boards may nominate any first-year K to 12 teacher who has taught in an Alberta school jurisdiction that is a member of the ASBA.

Mikaela will be recognized along with the five other zone winners from across Alberta at a ceremony this fall.