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Abbotsford teacher receives PM award

Patti Evans and a group of her students – Isaih Anderson (left), Brogan Sweitzer,  Taylor Rosell and Parker Forsberg (front) – play Go Fish with a deck of cards that use the letters of the alphabet. - Neil Corbett photo
Patti Evans and a group of her students – Isaih Anderson (left), Brogan Sweitzer, Taylor Rosell and Parker Forsberg (front) – play Go Fish with a deck of cards that use the letters of the alphabet.
— image credit: Neil Corbett photo

An Abbotsford teacher is among 94 educators from across Canada who have received the 2012 Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence and Excellence in Early Childhood Education.

Patti Evans is a Grade 1 teacher at Margaret Stenersen Elementary. Among the achievements for which she has been recognized is a program in which Grade 5 students are partnered with her Grade 1 class to assist in reading comprehension. Evans also teaches all her students sign language, and she holds an awards ceremony at the end of every year to honour her students’ achievements.

Evans was humbled to have been nominated by a group of parents of students past and present. They gathered recommendations from colleagues and did other legwork to make a case for Evans.

“It’s the ultimate compliment,” she said. “I would like to thank them. It was a lot of hard work.”

Evans taught at an inner city school in New Jersey before coming to Abbotsford. She has taught at Stenersen for 17 years, always in Kindergarten or Grade 1.

She has great relationships with her students, and every lunch hour one of her former students who has moved on to a higher grade drops in for a visit.

Evans said she tries to build her kids’ self-esteem by finding their strengths. A primary teacher has to teach them boundaries without stifling their natural enthusiasm.

“Her work is exceptional,” said principal, AnnaLisa Osterby-Batryn. “She ensures success for every student in her class, no matter what their needs.”

She said primary teaching is not easy. The students are motivated and willing, but their attention spans are short.

“You have to be an extremely  energetic teacher to keep them interested, motivated and on task.”

The Prime Minister’s Awards were presented at a ceremony in Ottawa in advance of World Teachers’ Day on Oct. 5.

The award included a certificate, a pin and a cheque for $1,000. Evans is still trying to decide how the funds could be best spent for a school project.

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