Kaitlin McMitchell, Edwin Parr Award Nominee

Spring Glen Elementary School is a small school on the northwestern boundary of Westwind School Division. They were very fortunate to have hired an excellent teacher in 2016, who we are nominating for the Edwin Parr Award. Kailin McMitchell is a new teacher in her first year teaching after completing her university degree. She has a major in English language arts and a minor in social studies. During her university career, she received the Jason Lang Scholarship two years in a row, as well as the Simpson-Markinch Award. She graduated with Great Distinction in both her Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education degree paths. 

At Spring Glen Elementary Ms. McMitchell has been teaching Grade 2. She focuses on fostering literacy skills in her students and on having personal interactions with all the students and staff at the school. Principal Kelly Thomas remarked, “She has been able to get very close to all of her students and they know that she is someone they can trust, they feel safe around her and she builds them up all the time.”

Principal Thomas also spoke to the importance of having a new teacher who is dedicated to expanding their skills, “Ms. McMitchell is a great teacher in part because she has developed a large repertoire of instructional strategies she uses throughout the day. She uses mindfulness breaks while instructing to help increase the focus of students.” Mr. Thomas explained that Ms. McMitchell is always trying to understand how each student learns best, and how to empower their potential as learners and as people. 

For these reasons and many others, Westwind School Division is proud to nominate Kaitlin McMitchell for the Edwin Parr Award this year. 

Edwin Parr was a homesteader and school board trustee in the Athabasca School Division in the 1920s. He was involved in selecting new teachers and stressed to the applicants that they must go beyond the duties normally expected of teachers. He was adamant that they make the students feel at home so that they would finish high school and have the opportunity to continue their education. He was especially interested in the performance of first-year teachers and often visited the schools after hours to talk to the principals about the new teachers. With Edwin Parr, children came first and he expected every teacher to feel the same. He wanted teachers to be a positive influence in the community. They were encouraged to visit the children’s homes and attend Home and School Association meetings.

Edwin Parr’s interest in first-year teachers led to his school division instituting an “Annual Teacher Award.” He encouraged the Alberta School Trustees’ Association to consider a similar award at the provincial level but his dream was not realized in his time. In searching for a way to perpetuate the memory of a man who served as the Alberta School Trustees’ Association’s president from 1956 to 1962 and to honour the profession he so deeply respected, the Association established the Edwin Parr Teacher Award. The award is presented each year to a novice teacher who demonstrates initial teaching proficiency.