Each year, the Alberta Teachers' Association (ATA) awards the William Aberhart Gold Medal in Education to the ULethbridge Faculty of Education student who attains the highest general proficiency in the final two years of a bachelor of education program.

As medal winner Mahaliah Peddle (BEd '23 (BA '19)) prepares to walk the stage at Spring 2023 Convocation, she shares how following her own interests has helped her thrive and find confidence as a new teacher.

I am excited to begin my teaching career in middle school French Immersion in September! I hope to share my many passions and interests with students and continue to learn and grow to be the best teacher I can be.

Meet Mahaliah: Passionate. Creative. Reflective.
Hometown: Lethbridge, Alberta
Program: Bachelor of Education | Major: ModLang Ed: French/Spanish

What does this academic recognition mean to you?

I am honoured and grateful to receive the ATA William Aberhart Gold Medal. I was fortunate to learn from the incredible Faculty of Education professors and to apply my learning in practicum experiences that developed and refined my teaching skills. I also benefited from participating in rich employment and professional development opportunities that further enhanced my view of and experience with the teaching profession.

What is your most memorable ULethbridge experience?

I have many, but two really stand out!

In my final practicum, I created and taught a radio podcasting unit in French Language Arts. Because of my connection to the CKXU radio station through my radio show, Billet doux, I was able to organize a field trip to the radio station where my students recorded their radio segments they created in class. This project was engaging and impactful for students, and I felt so supported by my Teacher Mentor and my administrators, who gave me the freedom to bring this idea to life and encouraged my creativity while teaching this unit.

During my Education coursework, I took Science and Phys. Ed. for non-majors in the 2022 summer session. These courses gave me the opportunity to see these subjects in a new light, develop my teaching abilities, and have fun learning from and working with my peers. The non-major courses are a great way to enhance your versatility as an educator and gain confidence teaching subjects outside of your major.

What is the most important lesson you learned during your time at ULethbridge?

The most important lesson I learned is to follow my natural curiosities related to professional learning. I was initially stressed about developing an idea for my Professional Inquiry Project but then chose a topic I was genuinely interested in and was excited to explore with my students. I was able to connect this topic to work I was doing for a U of L professor, and later had the opportunity to share my project at Teachers' Convention. In my current teaching position, we had a presenter at a Professional Learning day lead a workshop related to my topic, which allowed me to grow even more and apply my learning in a new context. I love to see and encourage my students' sense of wonder toward learning, and I strive to keep that same sense of wonder and curiosity in my own professional learning.

Having a real interest and passion for what you choose to focus on in your professional growth is essential to having the experience be enriching and enjoyable!
Photos submitted by Mahaliah

Is there someone specific who had an important influence on your ULethbridge experience?

My parents, my brother, my partner, and my friends have all unconditionally encouraged and supported me since day one. They all inspire me to be the best teacher I can be and have always been there to celebrate with me and offer support.

My PSII/III Teacher Mentor, Lisa Bryden, gave me the perfect combination of independence and support to flourish as an Intern Teacher. She was always willing to share her expertise, guided me through the many unique situations I encountered during my practicum, and encouraged me to find my own authentic teaching style. She truly embodies all the qualities of an excellent mentor and I am delighted that I get to work with her again in the fall!

Beth Cormier, the Curriculum Librarian, always helped me find resources for anything and everything I was teaching during my practicums and connected me to professional development opportunities that enriched my teaching practice. I am so grateful for the U of L Curriculum Lab and its amazing staff!

What advice would you give to those who are about to begin their journey at ULethbridge?

Teaching is a wonderful profession because there are so many different ways to be a good teacher and make a difference in students' lives. Being yourself and being open to ideas, experiences, and feedback are, in my opinion, some of the keys to feeling energized and effective as a teacher.

It is also so valuable and important to have good relationships with your peers and colleagues. Collaboration is essential in teaching and at the U of L, you have many opportunities to gain knowledge and skills through working with your fellow students in coursework and with your colleagues in your practicum placements.

Lastly, it is essential to take time to nurture your non-teaching interests and self. Teaching is a rewarding but demanding profession, so it is important to maintain the activities and interests that bring you joy and replenish your energy!

Congratulations, Mahaliah!

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