New C.J. Schurter Elementary School vice principal and two new Grade 2 teachers always wanted to be teachers.
Vice principal Jodie McMahon (pronounced McMan) says she was a bit of a geek as a child, always forcing her siblings to play school. She was usually the teacher.
As a child, Jenna Trimming would shelve library books for fun. The librarian would give her old books. She brought those home to play school.
Asked why she became a teacher, Cara Haubrich (pronounced Habrik) says, “I always knew I wanted to growing up.”
Haubrich also played school often as a child.
McMahon isn’t new to the High Prairie School Division, but is new at C.J. Schurter Elementary School. Schurter is the Slave Lake public elementary school for Kindergarten to Grade 3.
McMahon was the vice principal at Kinuso School and now she holds the same position at CJS.
“It’s not my first rodeo,” says McMahon. “It’s my sixth year being vice principal. I’ve been from K to 12, and I’ve taught in a bachelor of ed.”
C.J. Schurter is McMahon’s eighth school. She has taught in Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and Alberta. The bachelor of education program she taught in was at Aurora College in the NWT.
McMahon went from teaching to teaching teachers to being a principal, “because I always wanted to keep on having a bigger and bigger impact,” she says.
“I grew up near the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia,” says McMahon. When she was 10 to 15 years old, she lived in Bolivia and Costa Rica. Her parents were missionaries.
McMahon studied in Nova Scotia. She did a bachelor of arts honours (BAH) in French and Spanish.
“I did my third year in France,” she says. “I barely made it.”
It was a French university. McMahon even took a Spanish class in French. Finances were also tight.
“My uncle gave me a jar of pennies,” she says. “And I worked as a nanny while I was there and I made it through.”
After her BAH, McMahon did a two year bachelor of education at Acadia University.
“Acadia had a big focus on inclusive education,” she says. “CJ has a lot of families from diverse cultures including our staff.”
In 2019, McMahon and her husband moved to the Lesser Slave Lake area after 17 years in the Northwest Territories. Their goal was for their children to be able to be in competitive sports, but COVID-19 intervened.
They have a house on Lesser Slave Lake part way between Slave Lake and Kinuso.
Both Haubrich and Trimming graduated mid-COVID from the University of Alberta. They teach Grade 2 at Schurter. The two met briefly at university and are now roommates.
It is Haubrich’s first full year.
“I taught a half year at H.P. (Elementary) in High Prairie,” she says. “I actually did my final practicum at High Prairie.”
In the midst of COVID, Haubrich went straight from a practicum to a part-time teaching position. The transition was “insanity” she says. To go from textbook learning to being in charge of 25 students in a situation that no one expected.
Haubrich was born and raised in High Prairie. Her family also briefly moved to Drayton Valley. After high school, Haubrich moved to Edmonton to go to university.
Once university was finished, “I quickly got my butt back to this region,” said Haubrich.
Haubrich enjoys teaching Grade 2.
“They’re so happy and fun, and they’re a joy to be around,” she says.
Haubrich took a bit of extra time with her university because she was managing a curling club in Sherwood Park. She doesn’t curl.
Haubrich is engaged. Her fiance teaches at Kinuso School.
“I grew up in Leduc,” says Trimming.
Trimming didn’t just go into teaching because she enjoyed playing school as a child. Her younger sister is deaf. Through the years, she saw how teachers supported her and the impact they had.
She became a teacher, “so I could be that teacher for someone else,” she says.
Last year, Trimming took a teaching position in Joussard right out of university without every having come to the Lesser Slave Lake area. She almost had to live in an old hotel in High Prairie.
Before she became a teacher, Trimming worked in customer service. She much prefers teaching.
“I like watching them grow,” says Trimming about teaching in elementary. Also, in teaching “every day is different.”
Both Haubrich and Trimming have added or expanded projects at Schurter.
Haubrich has brought a STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) ‘collaborative challenge’ to the school. This is student led.
“It’s is very very fun cool teaching,” she says.
Trimming has been working to improved recycling at the schools.
Both Trimming and Haubrich are very excited that Slave Lake has a blue box system. In High Prairie, they had to sort their recycling.