Her work as an Educational Assistant for the North East School Division and Star City Colony inspired Myriam Fortier and instilled in her a love of learning. She knew she wanted to encourage that passion for learning by working with children and by pursuing further education, but she also realized opportunities in rural Saskatchewan are limited. As parents of 2 small children, Myriam and her husband have made their home on a farm close to Melfort. When she heard about the Bachelor of Education cohort program at the Cumberland College campus in Melfort, Myriam knew this was her chance. This program enabled students to take the entire 4 year B.Ed program within the community, rather than attending on-campus in Regina. Myriam started on her goal by beginning her university education in 2016, a year before the program began. She took classes that were part of the degree and then entered the off-campus, face-to-face program when it started in 2017. In this way, and with a commute that was manageable, Myriam was able to keep her family intact, manage her time and achieve her goal of an education degree!
When talking about her experiences at Cumberland College, Myriam said she could not have asked for better staff to “take care of” the students. Regardless of their role within the College, Myriam felt the staff always cared about the students and were ready to help. She was also impressed by the caliber of the instructors and their willingness to teach outside of the larger centers. Some of the instructors in the program came from as far away as Regina and Saskatoon, the significance of which did not escape Myriam. One instructor in particular had a major impact on Myriam during the first half of the program. She was marked by his empathy, kindness, and ability to help the education students understand the human perspective, the human facet of being an elementary school teacher. His connection to his own students vastly influenced her and she is grateful for all she learned in his class.
Most students experience challenges and obstacles during their education. Myriam was no exception as she struggled with babysitting and family balance. She acknowledges that we all miss our children when we are not with them all day, but as a young family, it was important for Myriam to do well academically and to qualify for some of the generous scholarships available through Cumberland College’s awards program. She is also grateful for the help of close friends who supported her especially as her family included an 8- month old when she began her face-to-face classes. In addition, technology created challenges for Myriam, particularly when COVID struck and the program changed drastically. As Myriam lives on a farm with limited or no internet, she had relied quite heavily on the computers and other equipment available for students to use at the College. When the campus closed due to COVID-19, she had to become creative by using her phone for data, borrowing internet capacity from a neighbor, and working with instructors for different methods to participate in assignments and presentations. COVID-19 also made Myriam realize how much she missed the personal connection with the staff and other students in the class.
Currently, Myriam is completing her internship at Ecole Vickers Public School in Prince Albert. In her words, “Life is about enlarging our hearts and our minds.” She believes strongly in every child’s potential to succeed and she hopes to encourage young learners on their educational path. As for the future, Myriam, who is Métis and fluent in both French and English, admits that although she and her family are open to new adventures, her preference would be to teach in a French speaking school within the region. She loves small town Saskatchewan and her heart remains in rural areas.
In addition to working with children, Myriam enjoys gardening, tending to her chickens and sheep, and being outdoors with her children.
Congratulations on achieving your goal, Myriam. Regardless of where you teach - big city, small town, or rural area - your students will be lucky to have you as a teacher!
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