Brittney Peters: 2021 Edwin Parr Nominee
From an early age, Brittney Peters knew that she loved being around children. Growing up in the Mennonite culture, Brittney was part of a large family and often spent time caring for her younger siblings. She loved to watch them grow and cherished the milestones they reached as they learned about the world around them. However, it wasn’t until she was much older that education became a priority in her life.
As is common in most Mennonite families, education was not emphasized as a priority. In most cases students attend school until the end of grade 9 and then move on to enter the work environment to help support their family. Brittney’s path started out much the same until she began housekeeping for a lady in Schuler who began talking with her about other possibilities for her future.
“I don’t even think she needed her house cleaned,” says Peters. “Her house was always spotless. I think having me there provided her with the opportunity to have the conversation about education and to push me in the right direction.”
Unlike others in her family, Brittney made the decision to give high school a try. Only weeks before her grade 10 year she registered at Eagle Butte High School. It was a decision that changed the path of her life and led her to a career in the education field.
“Grade 10 was kind of out of bounds for me”, says Peters. “I didn’t even know if it was even an option. I was living at the women's shelter at the time, and in order to avoid talking about my feelings in group sessions, I kept myself busy with school in the day and work at night. I ended up being really inspired by the teachers who took the time to get to know me and understand my background and where I came from. Their support really encouraged me to pursue this journey.”
Peters recalls entering high school without the skills to use technology or write an email. A teacher at the school took the time to work with her to learn these skills which gave her the confidence to carry forward beyond high school and obtain her education degree.
“When I saw the position open up at Burdett I was ecstatic”, says Peters. “I wanted to be there. I wanted to be that person that could push those kiddos who didn’t get pushed.”
“Brittney really strives to make good connections with her parents and students,” says Burdett principal Cheryl Rebmann. “As we are a mainly Mennonite school, Brittney’s background and ability to speak in German with her families is invaluable. As a young and enthusiastic teacher, Brittney is eager to implement new strategies, tools, and ideas that she believes will be well received by our community.”
In addition to teaching grades 1 and 2, Brittney Peters also teaches elective programs to the junior high students at Burdett School. This gives her the opportunity to have the same conversations with her students that the lady from Schuler and her high school teachers had with her.
“I love my junior highs”, says Peters. “I tell them. You might not know if you want to go to high school today. You might not know if you want to go tomorrow. You might not even know by the end of the year. I didn’t even know until two weeks before I went. But keep that door open. Three years is not a long time to keep that door open for yourself.”
The Edwin Parr Teacher Award is presented annually by the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) to six exceptional first-year teachers from across the province of Alberta. Each spring, Alberta school divisions nominate and recognize one outstanding teacher who will represent them at the zone awards ceremony. The Prairie Rose Public Schools board of trustees would like to congratulate Brittney and wish her luck at the Zone 6 awards event taking place in May.