Each year, the Alberta Teachers' Association (ATA) awards the William Aberhart Gold Medal in Education. This award is given to the University of Lethbridge Faculty of Education student who attains the highest general proficiency in the final two years of a Bachelor of Education program. This year's recipient is Hayley Bedard (BA/BEd '24).

Originally from Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Hayley has found a new home in Lethbridge's School Division. Often described by her peers as an emerging teacher who will change the field of education, Hayley attributes much of her success to those who have helped her along the way.

I feel immense gratitude for the many educators who have guided me on my journey to becoming a teacher, especially the exceptional professors in the Faculty of Education. There is something truly special about teachers who teach future teachers. Their passion for the field and endless optimism has a profound impact on students. I want to thank them for their unwavering commitment to investing in and uplifting beginning teachers.

Hayley describes her path to finishing her degree as less than traditional having changed her program plan multiple times. However, she reflects on this journey as a testament to power of curiosity.

"Whenever possible, make space for your curiosity to guide you! Some of my best learning experiences happened when I followed what interested me", she says.

Hayley recalls registering for the course "Canada After 1939" taught by Dr. Amy Shaw, despite having a minimal history background. In this course, she researched concepts she would have never anticipated, including the moral panic surrounding comic books in a post-war Canada. While these topics were "completely out of left field" for Hayley, they fascinated her, making the course one of her favourites from her entire undergraduate experience.

When people say that university is a time of self-discovery, it's not just a cliché! I learned so much about myself during my time at the ULethbridge. If you let your curiosity lead you and view this chapter of your life as a journey of learning, amazing things can unfold!

Placing curiosity as a cornerstone of her education, Hayley's eagerness to learn has helped her achieve a near perfect GPA in the classroom. By applying these same principles to her Professional Inquiry Project, focused on increasing student engagement through thinking routines, her efforts received top honours.

Hayley's commitment to embracing every opportunity to learn and evolve as an educator was evident in her highly successful PS III internship at Nicholas Sheran Elementary School. Following the completion of her internship, she stepped into a Grade 2 position and was thrilled to end the school year as a part of the Nicholas Sheran community.

Teaching is a career of lifelong learning. Looking ahead, my greatest hope is to hold on to the magic of teaching that drew me to this career in the first place. Some of the most incredible educators I've had the privilege of learning from are those who, even years into their career, understand how incredible and exciting this field truly is. As I move forward in my teaching journey, I hope to always bring the passion, optimism and sense of creativity I feel now as a new educator, into every classroom I enter.
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