Bow Valley High graduate Meaghan Halkyard has been named the Chinook's Edge School Division's nominee for the Edwin Parr Teacher Award for outstanding first-year teachers.

The Bow Valley High School graduate teaches grade 9-12 English and social studies at the Hugh Sutherland School in Carstairs and quickly made a connection with her students.

It was that heartfelt connection that lead to the nomination.

Meaghan calls her students a loveable group.

"Teaching high school is amazing because the kids have such a great awareness of who they are, they have such unique personalities, and they really do put their all into everything, so I'm happy to be where I am."

She enjoys the connection offered in a classroom and feels fortunate to have been able to provide in-person instruction for most of the school year.

"I like to do a lot of hands-on experiential learning. We do a lot of debating, we've done mock trials, and we've done a lot of acting through our Shakespearean plays. As long as I can get the kids up and moving with a full mind and body connection to engage them in their learning, then I know I'm doing a good job."

Meaghan says she is honoured to have been nominated and speaks highly of the opportunity to teach in the division.

"It's such an incredible division to be a part of, and to represent this division as a first-year teacher being nominated for excellence really just shows the support the division puts in place for their first-year teachers, and their teachers as a whole."

Meaghan went to school in Cochrane from elementary to high school. She graduated from Bow Valley High in 2015 and is a University of Calgary graduate.

She says she was fortunate to have many inspiring teachers at Bow Valley High.

"One in particular that comes to mind is Robert Billington, the band instructor. He had such passion for what he did, and he really pushed us critically and creatively with our music. I owe him a lot, and watching him and being one of his students helped me a lot and definitely inspired me."

She went on to instruct violin at a studio in Calgary, and that lead to her decision to enter the teaching profession.

"Working one-on-one with a range of students, and helping guide people to find their own potential, and seeing them succeed with my help, was one of those major moments that made me know I wanted to become a teacher."

In her formal observations, Principal Jody Dennis referred to Meaghan as an exceptional member of the high school's humanities professional learning community.

"What is truly key to her success is her ability to form deep relationships," said Dennis. "She has worked to establish a home-school partnership with parents, and she's eager to become involved in school-based activities outside of the classroom."

Dennis said her meticulous lesson preparation allowed her to transition seamlessly from one activity to another.

"She has a talent for encouraging students to go deeper in their understanding of concepts, and much is accomplished in her classroom because they know she cares about them. She exhibits the strategies of a master teacher." 

Meaghan looks forward to continuing to inspire her students.

"I hope to continue to bring the passion that I have for learning and my own creativity to the classroom. Above all, I hope to continue to support them. They really inspire me every day with what they bring to the classroom, as well, with their own sense of resiliency, and just the advocacy they have for themselves. So, I hope to bring that back to them and continue to give them a platform for their own voices."

Meaghan is the second Cochrane high school graduate this year nominated for an Edwin Parr Award.

The award is sponsored by the Alberta School Boards Association to recognize those new to the profession who show significant promise in their first year.

This year, all nominees will be honoured at a virtual celebration on May 31.