St. Mary’s teacher receives excellence in teaching award

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

Tiffany Seymour is the 2019-2020 recipient of the St. John Bosco Excellence in Catholic Education Award for the Living Waters Catholic School Division.

Information Seymour received about the award says, “The Excellence in Catholic Education Award recognizes Catholic teachers in Alberta who have done an exemplary job in preparing youth to grow into outstanding Catholic citizens. Nominees are passionate about Catholic education and the students they teach, inspire their students, and demonstrate commitment to Catholic Education and teaching excellence.”

Seymour teaches kindergarten at St. Mary of the Lake Catholic School in Slave Lake. She’s also taught Grade 1. When speaking about teaching, she exudes passion and excitement.

When Seymour’s kindergarten students’ eyes light up, when she teaches them, it makes her feel like a rock star.

“When you teach kindergarten,” she says, “you speak a different language. They’re still excited about learning. Everything is so new to them. It’s an exciting age.”

She’s in her sixth year of teaching: one in Drayton Valley and the last five in Slave Lake.

“I miss the water,” Seymour said, about teaching in Drayton Valley. “Slave Lake is a better fit for me, being from PEI.”

Seymour especially enjoys hiking the trails on Marten Mountain, northeast of Lesser Slave Lake.

Along with teaching, Seymour is St. Mary’s inclusive education coordinator.

Inclusive education is for “munchkins that come in that need extra help,” she says. Kids come with a range of needs. Seymour facilitates assessments and tests. She works with kids one-on-one, and makes recommendations to the teachers.

Seymour is originally from Summerside Prince Edward Island. As a child, she moved to Cold Lake, Alberta were her father served on the military base.

Seymour studied at Red Deer College, the University of Alberta (U of A), and online at Athabasca University. She is currently working on a Masters in school leadership online through Western Ontario University. She started out studying anthropology in Red Deer. At the U of A, she finished a BA in anthropology, another in sociology, and an after-degree in elementary education (B.Ed.).

Before her B.Ed., Seymour did two years of a law degree. She had thought she wanted to be a lawyer, but hated law school. She took some time off and went to visit an aunt in Ontario. She spent a month volunteering in her aunt’s kindergarten classroom and fell in love with teaching.

At law school, Seymour had been looking into youth law, but decided to switch to what she calls a more “ground roots approach: to help before they even get there (commit a crime).”

Her Athabasca degree is a post-bachelorette in inclusive education. The name of the degree changed part way through her studies. She’d never heard of a post-bachelorette before. It turns out it’s between a bachelors and a masters.

Seymour was nominated for the award by Courtney Lawrance, deputy superintendent of learning at the school board.

“Tiffany is an outstanding teacher,” Lawrance says. She’s taught at St. Mary’s for five years. Last year, she took over inclusive education. She advocates for her students and is involved in the wider Catholic community.

Seymour says, “she’s (Lawrance is) someone I have a lot of respect for as a professional. I was honoured to get the call from her.”

The award was supposed to be handed out at a ceremony on April 24. Due to COVID-19, the ceremony has been cancelled.

Seymour will receive the award in the mail, says Lawrance, and will be invited to next year’s event.

The award is presented yearly by the Council of Catholic School Superintendents of Alberta. Last year the recipient for Living Waters was the assistant principal at the Catholic school in Whitecourt.

Award-winning Kindergarten teacher Tiffany Seymour, isolated at home with her dogs.
Tiffany Seymour with her Kindergarten students at St. Mary of the Lake School in Slave Lake.

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