Every school board has excellent first year teachers, teachers who deserve to be recognized for their outstanding efforts by being nominated for the Alberta School Boards Association’s (ASBA) Edwin Parr Teacher Award. University of Lethbridge Faculty of Education alumni, Nathan Comstock is the 2020 recipient of the prestigious Edwin Parr Award.
"Growing up in a rural community and having the freedom to explore and create my own entertainment was crucial to developing my curiosity and desire to learn,” says Nathan Comstock (BA/BEd ’19). Nevertheless, in the K–12 school he attended in Drumheller, Alberta he struggled until he met an extraordinary Grade 9 teacher. “She believed in my ability to excel,” he says. “When she took time out of her day to assist me, I felt inspired that I could not only be successful in my goals, but help others in accomplishing theirs. By the end of the ninth grade I knew I wanted to become an educator.”
Comstock chose the University of Lethbridge Faculty of Education for its prestigious reputation and the sense of community and belonging he knew he would find in a smaller institution. “Classes were small enough for effective communication and collaboration among students, allowing them to grow individually and collectively,” he says. He notes the outstanding calibre of faculty who surpass their roles as instructors as they actively engage with students.
“One important lesson I learned is that relationships are the first step in succeeding as a teacher,” says Comstock. “Teacher/student relationships build a positive environment crucial to establishing mutual respect, feelings of safety, and achievement.”
All of Comstock’s practicum placements were in rural schools, where he enjoyed the advantage of getting to know the parents and families of his students. “These schools are very community-driven,” he says, adding that student teachers often have opportunities to develop extra-curricular programming in rural areas that have a lasting impact.
Comstock credits his rural background for positioning him to succeed. Just as working on his grandparents’ farm and ranch instilled in him a strong work ethic and sense of responsibility, rural connections eased his path to employment. “I chose somewhere rural,” he says of the Grade 9 teaching position he accepted in Brooks, AB. “I feel lucky as a first-year teacher to have such a great opportunity.”
From struggling Grade 9 student to inspiring Grade 9 teacher, Comstock has come full circle. “I want to continue to help others and be an advocate for those who need a positive role model in their lives,” he says.
Writer: Elizabeth McLachlan, Photos courtesy of Craig Comstock
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