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TheRockies.Life Staff

Alberta’s Educators Win Big: Bring Home National Awards

Almost 20 Alberta teachers received national awards, showcasing the province’s educational talent.

Alberta is home to some of the brightest students in the country. But behind every great student is an equally great teacher. 

Luckily, we have lots of great teachers in Alberta—perhaps more per capita than any other place in Canada. 

Sarah Steinbach (left) with the H.J. Cody School’s junior girls’ volleyball team | Sylvan Lake News

The Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence recognizes elementary and secondary school teachers in all disciplines from across Canada. Almost 2,000 teachers have been honoured since 1994, including Alberta teachers like Sarah Steinbach, Melanie Beebe, and Michael Saretzky.

In total, almost 20 Alberta teachers received national teaching excellence awards. We had the second most recipients out of any other province, just behind Ontario. 

And Ontario has over three times the population, so on a per capita basis, Alberta is easily number one! 

Sarah Steinbach is one of the local winners. She is a teacher at H.J. Cody School in Sylvan Lake, just outside Red Deer. Steinbach is a jack of all trades, teaching biology, forensic science, general science and physical education. 

She was nominated for the award by students and colleagues, including Principal Alex Lambert, who called Steinbach an “exceptionally strong teacher who cares deeply about her students.”

A nominator must fill out a lengthy form to nominate a teacher for the Teaching Excellence Award. Part of the form includes writing a nomination text that explains why the nominee should receive one of Canada’s highest honours in teaching. Steinback was touched by the letters of nomination she received.

Melanie Beebe (middle) with students at École Oriole Park in Red Deer | Red Deer Public Schools | rdnewsNOW

“Steinbach is not someone who can be easily summarized in two pages; you cannot summarize the good she brings into a persuasive essay. Like many others, my life is forever impacted by the presence of Sarah Steinbach, and we will thrive as citizens because of her,” wrote student Masaii Pummings.

“Sarah not only raised her two children to be good humans, but she has raised ten years of high schoolers to be better people,” continued Masaii in her nomination text.

The letter Steinbach received reminded her of the privilege teachers have to impact students’ lives. 

Melanie Beebe, a former teacher at École Oriole Park, felt the same after obtaining the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence in STEM, recognizing outstanding science, technology, engineering, and mathematics teachers.

Beebe retired in June but began teaching in 1992. Her teaching career began in Edmonton, but she spent the 13 years leading up to her retirement in Red Deer. Throughout her long teaching career, Beebe taught math, science, french, English, social studies, and physical education.

“I have always loved kids. I love their energy, and I love that they just give. Something that was really important to me was to create a classroom that was safe and caring where students felt that I loved them,” Melanie told rdnewsNOW.

Michael Saretzky pictured outside of St. Patrick’s Community School where he teaches | Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools | Red Deer Advocate

The school’s Principal, Lori Irvine, nominated Beebe because she taught students to be good people and helped them connect with the community. Beebe’s big achievement is the Red Deer Capstone Educational Program.

Beebe created the program, which asked students to plant and harvest vegetables. In 2022, the program won the Canadian Geographic Queen’s Jubilee Classroom Challenge grand prize of $1,150

Another Red Deer teacher, Michael Saretzky, received the same award as Beebe.

Saretzky teaches language arts, science, digital media, video game design, laser, and vinyl design at St. Patrick’s Community School. He also leads the digital media class, which puts together announcement videos for the school. Principal Mandy Reed credits Saretzky for providing students with a foundation of strong academics. 

Great teachers are the foundation of a prosperous society. Great teachers are the key to Alberta’s future. We’re lucky we have more of them per capita than any other province in Canada.  

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