Ever Striving, Ever Seeking…..by Amy Stafford

25 05 2017

Dear family, friends, Alumni Champions and supporters,

My name is Amy Stafford, and I am a member of the STAMP Champions for Health program as well as a current teacher candidate in the UFV Teacher Education Program (TEP). When I began TEP in late August of this year, I was introduced to the STAMP program as an offering for an extension of our certifying practicum, and I was hooked on the idea from the word go. My goal upon completing TEP this year is to continue to upgrade and earn my Plus 5 (between a Bachelors and Masters degree) in Home Economics, because I firmly believe that creating well rounded, healthy and thriving students who will be successful long after they leave school is best done through this field. Learning more about the nature of the Champions program, I realized that Dr. Jo’s philosophy (Care for Self, Care for Others, Care for the Environment) fit in perfectly with my teaching vision, and I had to apply for this opportunity. Other than paying my fees on time, it is likely the best decision I have made in my early teaching career.

 

While the past seven days of teaching have flown by for myself and the other STAMPers, and we were a bit saddened to leave students and teachers we had just started to form connections with, I know we were also curious to experience today’s Antigua and Barbuda Teacher Union meeting. Having just begun my teaching career I am very eager to take part in as much professional development as I can, and I was also curious to see how the conferences in Antigua differ from my own experience in Canadian professional days. Two major things struck me during this conference:

 

  1. Other than the fact I was sitting in a room of Antiguan teachers, and the day started with singing and public prayer, the conference could have easily been held in any BC public school setting. The many issues facing teachers – lack of government funding, lack of resources, high teacher burnout rates and the feeling of being under or not appreciated by the public – are all issues that I have faced moving into my new career and were all raised by the union representative in his impassioned speech to the assembled audience, including the Minister of Education and visiting dignitaries from the nations of Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago.
  2. The passion of the teacher is a worldwide phenomenon, and when teachers come together to achieve collective goals amazing feats are accomplished. Although it appears that Antigua and Barbuda has come a long way in forming better government and teacher union relationships, including met pledges for increased funding, teacher training and school campus space – there is still much to be accomplished and no one will settle until the job is done and done well. Both sides appear to be striving for improvement, and seeking input from the other, which any good Champion will tell you fits the tenants of Teamwork, Communication and Collaboration (life skills we have been teaching the students). It is extremely heartening to know that I am going into a global profession where I will have support around the globe.

 

This program has pushed me out of my comfort zone in many ways – teaching a subject I do not have much formal training in, with an age group I am not professionally trained to teach, in a country that I have never been to with people I had only briefly met in planning sessions. However, I have been blown away by the kindness and openness of the teachers and students in the Antiguan schools, as well as profoundly moved by the dedication and passion of Dr. Joanna Sheppard and her team. All of you deserve a shout out, but special thanks goes to my roommate Christine McGuire for making me feel so at home; my Villa Primary teaching partners Kristi Rexhepi and Shalene Sherman; and my close friends, family, and boyfriend Erik who have pushed me to attend and give this program everything I had (and then reminded me to drink water and apply more sunscreen). I feel honoured to have attended but also highly encouraged that there is so much support and passion for teachers out there – as long as we continue to strive to seek it out.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us on this journey! You are all Champions.

Sincerely,

Amy Stafford

Villa Primary School

 


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