After dedicating nearly 30 years of his life to teaching, you can bet Victor Thunderchild has impacted the lives of several students.
Now, a student counsellor at Carlton Comprehensive Public High School, Thunderchild cares as much about building a relationship with his students as much as he does providing them a quality education. Its part of the reason he was awarded ‘Best Teacher’ in the Best of the Best Awards this year.
“I have been here long enough that I have taught the parents of some of the students here,” said Thunderchild with a laugh.
Throughout his career, he has coached volleyball and initiated several cultural activities within the school including a powwow on National Indigenous Peoples Day and Roiund dances within the school.
“About 40 per cent of the student population is First Nation and I am the only Cree speaking teacher here so that allows them to feel a little more comfortable,” said Thunderchild. “I know their background and story and that is really huge. It gives them an opportunity to speak with somebody who has a shared history.”
Last spring, Thunderchild promoted with about 15 teachers what he called a ‘Two-by-Ten’ program which encouraged staff to engage with two at-risk students a day for ten days about non-school related topics.
"After 10 days you've started to develop sort of a relationship with these kids where they start coming to you…and after that you can start talking with them about school," he said. "In order for them to learn more about what they're supposed to be learning about in school... you build a relationship with somebody…and that can go a long way."
He said building relationships with students is a way for teachers to truly connect with their pupils.
Thunderchild has completed a masters in curriculum and instruction in an effort to help further the development of all of Carlton’s students. When he isn’t teaching or coaching, Thunderchild is active in the community and can often be seen at powwows, round dances, feasts and other traditional ceremonies and although he said he has ‘considered’ retirement, he shows no signs of slowing down.
“Right now, I am just going to focus on my position and focus on what I am doing here.”
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