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Building relationships key to successful first year Teacher Tosha Sim

Edwin Parr Nominee

Growing up, Tosha Sim always knew she wanted to be a teacher. One key role in her decision to pursue her passion was the relationships she formed with her own teachers along the way.

Tosha, a first year teacher at Aspen Heights Elementary, has been named Red Deer Public’s nominee for the prestigious Edwin Parr Teacher Award.

Each year the Alberta School Boards Association honours six outstanding first-year teachers with the Edwin Parr Teacher Award. School boards may nominate any first-year Kindergarten to Grade 12 teacher who has taught in an Alberta school jurisdiction which is a member of the ASBA.

Rob Moltzahn, Associate Superintendent of Human Resources for Red Deer Public, said Tosha was chosen as this year’s nominee because she is a reflective and creative teacher whose students are enthusiastically engaged in the classroom.

“Red Deer Public has fantastic teachers from our first years to our veterans, allowing students to benefit from this wealth and depth of knowledge,” he said. “Tosha is clearly passionate about teaching. Her interaction and connection with students was remarkable to see. Tosha took care of the needs of all students in her class without missing a beat.”

For Tosha, she said the nomination took her by surprise.

“The special part was that my principal, Bill Kwasny, said in his whole career that he’s never nominated a first year teacher before. It was really cool,” she said.

Tosha has had a lifelong dream of becoming a teacher, and remembers Career Days in elementary school where she would dress up as a teacher.

“I truly love everything about being a teacher. There isn’t a day where I don’t want to get up and come to work,” said Tosha, who currently teaches a Grade 4/5 combined class. “It’s incredible to be part of each of my students’ lives at this time in their life and help mold them into the beautiful people they will be. It’s amazing - I can’t imagine not teaching.”

Growing up, relationships with teachers were an integral part of Tosha’s school years, and played a significant role in her decision to pursue teaching as a career.

“I can name off every single teacher in my life, and there are some that have been so special,” she said. "Being taught by phenomenal teachers has given me a solid platform as I begin my career and I'm very grateful for that."

Since being in her classroom since last fall, Tosha said seeing her students learn and grow has been extremely fulfilling.

“It’s been amazing to see where they are now compared to where they were in the fall. Their growth in learning has been incredible to see.”

Last July, Tosha taught at Reading College, a program of the Foundation for Red Deer Public Schools, which helps Grade 2 students who are struggling readers become readers of potential. It was an experience she will never forget, and will always be grateful for.

“I will sing Reading College’s praises for my whole life,” she said. “It was an incredible experience. I think the biggest part was learning how to build those relationships in those four weeks - it really helped me in my classroom now. And helping kids develop a love of reading will play a part in the rest of my career as well!"

Bill Kwasny, Principal at Aspen Heights Elementary School, said Tosha has been an excellent addition to Aspen Heights Elementary.

“She has built a classroom that is caring, inclusive and safe,” he said. “Her students know that she cares deeply for them and she respects and values their differences.Her students have celebrated her nomination and feel pride that they are responsible, in part, for her success. Tosha’s passion for teaching is apparent for the time you first step foot in her classroom. It is a pleasure having the opportunity to work with Tosha.” 

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