Sherwood Park, AB. — A teacher’s first year is always filled with challenges and learning experiences as they adapt to the job and find their rhythm in the classroom. But it can be especially hard to settle in when your first year of teaching comes during a pandemic, a time with so much change and uncertainty. Despite the challenges, first-year teachers across Elk Island Public Schools (EIPS) still found ways to succeed in their new roles. Some new teachers, like Haven Wong, even found ways to excel.

Wong, a special education math teacher at Sherwood Heights Junior High, has been selected as the EIPS nominee for this year’s Edwin Parr Teacher Award, an award given by the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) to recognize excellence among first-year teachers. Wong stood out for her commitment to fostering a safe and caring classroom, her drive to improve her own abilities and teaching practice, and her ability to build trusting relationships with students, families and fellow teachers.

“I knew I’d have to work hard in my first year as a teacher,” says Wong. “So, when challenges arose, pandemic-related or not, I felt ready to take them on.” Wong found that the goals of teaching she’d learned in university hadn’t changed in the pandemic setting—not just delivering material, but connecting with students and removing barriers to their success. What had changed were the methods of meeting those goals.

“Technology integration is such a big part of an education degree these days, so I was able to adapt pretty quickly and even offer technological support to other teachers,” says Wong. “In turn, I was able to learn so much from my teaching partners when it came to discovering new strategies for assessing and engaging students remotely.” Wong’s practice of reaching out for support, feedback and development opportunities quickly caught the eye of the school’s administration.

“Haven signed a teaching contract at the beginning of what could be called one of the most challenging years in education,” says Paul Pallister, the Principal of Sherwood Heights Junior High. “Nevertheless, she’s managed to thrive in her new role. She not only shows dedication as an educator, but connects with students in a way that inspires them to find success. I couldn’t be more pleased with her efforts, and I’m proud to have her on staff.”

Congratulations to Haven Wong for a job well done and thank you to all the first-year teachers working within EIPS who have shown such initiative and resiliency during this unconventional year.


Elk Island Public Schools is one of Alberta’s largest school divisions, serving approximately 17,000 students in 43 schools. We are proud to be an integral part of our communities, including Sherwood Park, Fort Saskatchewan, Vegreville, Strathcona and Lamont counties and the western portion of the County of Minburn.




For more information contact:
Laura McNabb, director, Communication Services, EIPS 780-417-8204 cell 780-405-4902