Years ago, Jenna Armstrong was playing against Calgary Academy as a student, trying to beat their team on the court. Now a Grade 8 teacher and coach, Ms. Armstrong is running alongside her CA team during practice and teaching in the classroom.
Ms. Armstrong had always loved school, learning, and getting involved in her community, socially and athletically. She figured that teaching was the next step in her journey, providing students with the same positive school experiences she had. Her intuition was right, as Ms. Armstrong is thriving as a full-time teacher at Calgary Academy.
Ms. Armstrong chose Mount Royal University (MRU) for her education degree because she got to learn in the same place she would spend her career, the classroom. Now in her first year teaching at Calgary Academy, she’s grateful for the support she’s received and the impact she has made in her community.
An Inclusive Practicum Experience
All MRU education students complete a mandatory 14-week practicum in the final year of their program. Before hers began at Calgary Academy, Ms. Armstrong felt ready to be in front of the classroom, teaching and preparing for her graduation. She had classroom experience in the previous years of her degree and was well-versed in lesson planning and delivery, and assessment.
Despite her preparation, much of what she needed to learn was only teachable on the job, like communicating with parents, troubleshooting students’ technology, booking field trips, and many other tasks teachers complete each day.
When she arrived at Calgary Academy, Ms. Armstrong assumed she would be treated as a student teacher, a temporary position. However, no one saw her as a student—they saw her as a peer.
“I felt a sense of belonging to the students, staff, and greater Calgary Academy community… People here are so immediately welcoming.” – Ms. Armstrong
The support was great, but moments of anxiety and doubt still crept in. Ms. Armstrong knew she had to embrace those feelings—she was learning just like her students. She was developing her skills with support from other teachers and practicum students.
“There are those moments of, ‘am I doing this right? Is this experience supposed to feel like this?’ Talking with other people who are in the same experience as you is very valuable.”
As Ms. Armstrong’s practicum ended, she found a full-time position at the school. She feels her time at Calgary Academy better prepared her for her current role and influenced who she is as a teacher.
“I think wherever you spend the most time teaching is where you really figure out who you are… You’re a product of your environment.”
Continuing to Grow in a Full-Time Role
Ms. Armstrong credits Calgary Academy for her consistent growth as a teacher. Now with her own classroom, she looks forward to more “problem-solving, creativity and connection.” Her colleagues help drive this growth with their passion for teaching.
“The amount of people that want you to succeed here is huge… Everyone is interested in helping you build your teaching career.” – Ms. Armstrong
Ms. Armstrong is more than halfway through her first year as a teacher and looks forward to a lifetime of helping children learn and grow. Balancing teaching, prep work, and extracurriculars is tough, but she reminds herself that you need to take life one day at a time. Teaching isn’t the easiest profession, but it’s one of the most rewarding.
“I’m exhausted, but I’ve never felt more energized. It’s incredibly rewarding to work towards a career you’ve wanted for a long time and to help students thrive.”