Excellence in Teaching for Northland math teacher

By Lindsay Ducharme

Kirk Keating may live in a small town; however, he has been thrust into the provincial spotlight after being nominated for Alberta Education’s Excellence in Teaching Award. For Keating, the recognition is doubly meaningful, as the nomination has come in part from those most important to him-his students.

“Kirk’s nomination basically stemmed from the feedback his principal was receiving on his teaching from Kirk’s students,” said Curtis Walty, communications coordinator at Northland School Division.

“Geoff Petley-Jones, Keating’s principal at Anzac Community School and Bill Woodward School, said Kirk received a ringing endorsement from students about his ability to teach math and for being very positive,” he continued.

Excellence in Teaching has been recognizing outstanding teachers in the province since 1989. In order to be nominated teachers must receive references from their own students, colleagues, administrators and community members. The awards set out to recognize teachers and principals who have demonstrated creativity and innovation in their classrooms.

“Obviously it’s a huge honour, at this professional level it really gives me great feedback that I am showing students how to succeed in school and they are taking that on and learning something from it. My main goal is to allow students to show success in school, it’s a great feeling for sure,” Keating said.

“It’s almost overwhelming, it continues to give me confidence to keep doing what I’m doing and not stop,” he continued.

Keating, a relatively new teacher, began his career four years ago at Athabasca Delta Community School in Fort Chipewyan teaching math and science to grades 10 through 12. Last year, he took on his current position in Anzac at Bill Woodward School teaching math to grades 7 through 11. Keating says that while some may overlook the benefits of working, and living, in small community, he truly values it.

“It’s great in a small community too because you see these students outside of school all the time too and while our main goal is to teach, it’s also to be a role model. In a small community it’s great that you can see the kids outside of school at the rec centrer and things like that, it allows you to build those positive relationships outside of school as well, and I think it’s very important.”

“It’s been great in both communities. Anzac is a wonderful, growing community with great community members and great kids. I feel lucky to be in Anzac both teaching and living here,” he continued.

Walty echoed Keating’s sentiments about small town schooling, nothing that two other teachers within the Northland School Division have also been nominated for Excellence in Teaching Awards.
“I think there is a perception that there’s not as many good teachers that go up north, but I’ve been to every school in our district and it’s amazing the amount of talent there actually is in a lot of these remote communities. I think this type of award; the Excellence in Teaching is good for especially Northland because these teachers are getting the recognition they deserve. Who knows if they get chosen as recipients at the end of the day but they get recognition regardless just being nominated.”