Connections Last A Lifetime by Jenelle Atkinson

26 04 2016

Dear Champions Alumni and Family, Friends, and Followers of the Champions Program,

My name is Jenelle Atkinson and I am a 2nd year Champion, with this being my first experience as a Stamper.  Having just completed my Long Practicum at Tyson Elementary School in Chilliwack, my mind was very much focused on my relationships with my Grade Three and Four students. I had an incredible practicum experience, thanks to my inspiring teacher mentors (Mrs. Catherine Eggen, Mrs. Diana Wegener, and Mr. Dave Finley), encouraging faculty mentor (Mr. Glen Read), and amazing TEP colleagues at Tyson (Joelle Bausenhaus and Colleen Acker).  The last day of my Practicum was challenging because I was leaving a community that I had become a part of, which also meant leaving children that I had formed relationships with and will miss dearly.

However, we left for Antigua the day after we completed our Practicum, so I had to refocus.  I was determined to put everything I had learned in my Practicum at home into practice here in Antigua.  My goal for this trip was to be mindful and present and enjoy each moment.  After a motivating Unity Games run-through on Sunday, it was evident that our Champions team is extremely talented and will represent this program well in the schools and Antiguan community.  I found my place in this new community and was excited to see what this experience had in store for us.

With this being my second year in the program, I am fortunate to have been placed at the same school I was placed at in my undergraduate year: Pigott’s Primary School.  When Monday morning came around and we piled into the cars to head to school, I could barely contain my excitement.  I couldn’t wait to see the students that I had taught two years ago and to reunite with the staff.  I was not disappointed.  Monday was one of the best days of my entire life.  I felt so comfortable being back at Pigott’s.  As the students began to arrive and I saw familiar faces, I became flooded with emotion and was completely overjoyed to see these kids again.  Every time a familiar face arrived at the school, I practically ran over to them and embraced them with a “side hug.”  I couldn’t contain my excitement and happiness.  I told each and every one of them how excited I was to be back and how much I had missed them.  Even the teachers and the principal of the school warmly welcomed us back with big hugs.  My connections with these students and the relationships I had built with them had lasted two years, as many of them recognized me and remembered things that my teaching partners, Ann Scanlan and Alison Grashof, and I had taught them two years ago.  I felt like I was “home” in Antigua.

I am very grateful to have been accepted as a Stamper this year.  My Stamp teaching partner two years ago, Ann Scanlan, was an inspiration to me and helped me discover my teaching style.  After months of being mentored in my Long Practicum and recognizing the value of strong mentorship, I look forward to being the best mentor that I can be for my teaching partners Arden Holmes and Kirsten Lee.  However, after having only taught two days, I can already tell that they are going to make my job very easy.  Both of them have an exceptional teacher presence and are so comfortable in the teaching role. I have enjoyed collaborating with them and our success at becoming a team has already come through in our lessons with our students.

Overall, I feel like a completely different person than I was two years ago.  I have taken time to reflect on how I have grown, both as a teacher in the field and as a person.  I have discovered my teacher identity and who I want to be as a teacher and as a mentor.  Therefore, I am very thankful for Dr. Joanna Sheppard for having provided me with this opportunity, as I can put everything I have learned into practice and be the best teacher that I can be for these incredible children.  I also have appreciated learning from the Antiguan teachers at the school and observing their teaching styles.  As a new teacher, I find this very beneficial.

I can already tell how quickly these two weeks will pass.  After seeing my students again yesterday and today, I already know how hard it will be to say goodbye. Being a part of such a strong Champions team is truly rewarding and I am very appreciative to be here, surrounded by such motivating and encouraging people.

Thank you to my family and friends for all of your support in my adventure.  To Awneet Sivia, Barbara Salingre, and the entire UFV TEP faculty, thank you for your guidance and support.  Thank you for believing in us!  We hope to make you proud.  We miss you all and look forward to seeing you when we return.  Thank you to the wonderful staff at Tyson Elementary School, especially my Teacher Mentor Catherine Eggen and her Grade Four class.  Tomorrow I will be giving the Grade Four class at Pigott’s Primary School your cards and letters and they are so excited to learn about you and tell you all about Antigua!  Finally, thank you to the family, friends, and followers of this program.  We appreciate all of your comments!

Sincerely,

Jenelle Atkinson
Pigott’s Primary School


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8 responses

27 04 2016
Rosemarie Atkinson

Jenelle it makes me smile reading your blog as I can ” feel ” your joy and excitment through your words. We are very proud of you Jenelle and of the path you have chosen to take towards your teaching career. This Champions Program has been an exciting part of your journey and has enhanced and broadened your learning experiences. Jenelle, as well as your co-champions, enjoy and embrace every minute of it, as it will pass by quickly as you well know. Create wonderful memories that will last a life time. The Champions Program is an experience we know Jenelle will never forget and we are so happy and grateful she has had the chance to be a part of it, twice. Thank you Joanna for providing Jenelle with this opportunity of a lifetime. You are a wonderful teacher and mentor!

Rosemarie Atkinson

27 04 2016
Alison Grashof

Glad to hear you had such a great day back!! Wish I could be there teaching with you again! Enjoy your time 💕

29 04 2016
Sheryl MacMath

Jenelle…it is so wonderful to be able to reconnect with students. It shows how a teacher’s care and attention can last a lifetime. Sheryl

29 04 2016
Lesley Nicholas-Beck

It is easy to forget the impact that spending time and building relationships with others can have on us and on others. The value of taking the time and trying to understand the needs of each child can leave a life long imprint in their memory. A momentary smile, an ear to listen to a simple story tells that child they are worth it. Everyone wants to feel like they belong, that they are part of something special and that is what the champions provide to each to other while they are taking the time to add to the stories of the children in the classroom. Just as champions have had people in their lives to provide moments of compassion and guidance now they are paying it forward by doing the same in the classrooms in Antigua. Regardless of the path you walk in the future these minutes and seconds you spend together and in the classrooms will last a life time. Enjoy every second.

2 05 2016
Awneet

Thanks Jenelle for sharing your reflections with so much enthusiasm and passion. Your students here and at PIggot’s must be so excited about their pen pal cards! Enjoy this amazing experience and we look forward to seeing you soon…time is flying!
Awneet

4 05 2016
Ashley

Jenelle,

We miss our carpool buddy! It sounds like you are having the experience of a lifetime. I can’t wait to hear about it and your long practicum when you get back. Enjoy every moment and take it all in! Also, take lots of pictures for us 🙂

4 05 2016
Joelle

This is so beautiful. You are doing an amazing job there, but we all knew you would. We missed you at Tyson the last week, but all of the teachers, students, and I are excited about what you are doing in Antigua! I can not wait to hear all about it, especially the pen pals! Keep being yourself and having fun. I will never forget Dave’s comment at the staff meeting “This girl truly has fun while teaching and being in the classroom”. That is the passion that you bring everywhere you go!

4 05 2016
jbausenhaus

This is so beautiful. You are doing an amazing job there, but we all knew you would. We missed you at Tyson the last week, but all of the teachers, students, and I are excited about what you are doing in Antigua! I can not wait to hear all about it, especially the pen pals! Keep being yourself and having fun. I will never forget Dave’s comment at the staff meeting “This girl truly has fun while teaching and being in the classroom”. That is the passion that you bring everywhere you go!

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