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MHC grad receives provincial education student award

June 24, 2022

Coming from a long line of educators in her family, Ashley Thompson always knew her passion was to become a teacher. As she graduates from the collaborative Bachelor of Education degree at Medicine Hat College (MHC) this year, she can now add Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Social Studies Education Student Award winner to her list of achievements.

In order to qualify for the award, students are asked to write an essay. Three students from across Alberta are chosen as finalists, who then create a presentation for the judging panel, consisting of teachers, the lieutenant governor of Alberta and a historian.

“This year, the topic was on influential Albertans,” explains Thompson. “I chose three Canadian soldiers who won the Victoria Cross, which is a special military award that is presented to soldiers who show bravery or valour.”

While technology is often used in the classroom to captivate students, one of the requirements of the presentation was that it must be free of technology, so Thompson resourced her creativity to come up with a plan.

“My boyfriend is in the military so I asked him to help me source props. He was able to get me a military kit, so I had a battle uniform, a hat and a British military shirt,” says Thompson. “When I did my presentation, I told the story of each soldier and how they won the Victoria Cross, with the prop I assigned to them and in their unique accents.”

She then made her presentation more engaging by tasking the judges with a goal.

“I presented as if I was teaching a grade 5 class, so to get them to really listen in, their mission was to figure out the criteria of someone who won the Victoria Cross based on the stories they heard. After my presentation, I asked them what they thought it took to win the Victoria Cross.”

Based on her captivating presentation and excitement for education, Thompson was honoured with the award. She attributes much of her success to the skills she built in the classroom.

“I took a social studies course with Colleen Andjelic, who talked about critical thinking and how to make social studies interesting, which was really helpful. That was the basis of the essay that I gave, which helped me become a finalist,” Thompson recalls. “I have also learned in other classes how to make learning fun and exciting and to make the kids use their brains as opposed to just telling them the information.”

Now that she is able to add this prestigious award to her resume, Thompson is most looking forward to using everything she has learned in her own classroom.

“You work for four years and you never think you’re going to be done and then all of a sudden you have a class of students in front of you and get to do what you want to do, so that’s exciting.”

Since classes ended, Thompson was quickly added to the substitute teaching list and continues to build her experience in kindergarten to grade 6 classes.

The next available intake for the Bachelor of Education program at MHC is Fall 2023 and applications will be open on October 1, 2022. To learn more about the collaborative program, visit www.mhc.ab.ca.