School’s back in session: Welcoming Jasper’s newest teachers
As Jasper schools welcomed back its students, Sept. 6, École Desrochers, Jasper Junior/Senior High School and Jasper Elementary also welcomed new teachers. By way of introduction, the Fitzhugh caught up with each new recruit. Here’s what we found out.
Fresh from Vancouver Island’s Port Hardy, Marian Minar is looking forward to exploring what Jasper has to offer, both inside and outside the classroom.
As Minar and his family settle into their new home, Minar will have his hands full settling into his new position as the Grade 7, 8 and 9 math and science teacher—a role he spent seven years doing in British Columbia.
“I grew up in the snow and the mountains so this is kind of like coming back for me,” said Minar, adding that he and his family moved to British Columbia from the Czech Republic when he was just a boy. “It’s really an awesome opportunity for me and my family—I can already tell this is going to be incredible.”
Along with science and math, Minar said he’ll also be teaching some cartooning, drama and other art classes.
“As a family we were ready for a change—this allows us lots of new things,” Minar said. “We’ve only had a chance to explore a bit of Jasper in the past three weeks, but we know this is only the tip of the iceberg and we’re looking forward to finding out more about the community.”
After a two-year trip exploring South America, Maryse Dion is ready to settle down for a bit and call Jasper home as she embarks on her new journey as École Desrochers pre-school teacher.
“It’s so magnificent here—it’s a good environment with beautiful nature and the people are so nice and polite. We felt very welcomed right away,” said Dion, adding that she just arrived in Jasper at the beginning of the month. “I love nature and tranquility so I think I’m going to enjoy being here a lot.”
However, what Dion said she’s excited about most is meeting her new students. Her classes begin Sept.12.
“I haven’t even met them yet, but I have a feeling it’s going to be a great year.
Having grown up in a small town in Quebec, Dion said she can’t wait to share her culture and language with the youngsters of Jasper.
“It’s really refreshing when you meet kids that are actually excited for school and want to come and learn French,” Dion said. “I think when they are in pre-school that that’s a good age to learn a language because when you are younger you’re less timid—they’re open to everything.”
Math, science, social studies, history—you name it and Marie-Eve Bissonnette has probably taught it.
Over the past decade, Bissonette has called many places home, but it wasn’t until about three years ago when she moved to Jasper that her and family felt like they were finally ready to start setting down roots.
“We love it here so everything we’ve been doing these last few years has been moving forward to make this our home,” Bissonette said.
Since moving here, Bissonette has been bouncing around from one contract to the next, but this year she’s happy to say she’s signed into a full-time position as one of the high school’s French immersion teachers.
“I’ve taught everything, but I’m a French immersion teacher so I’m happy to be back in my comfort zone,” Bissonette said. “I’m so happy to have a job that has the possibility of continuing—I always find work so that’s not the worry, but it’s nice to know that if I start getting involved in a program that I’ll be around to continue building and improving it.”
Aside from French immersion, the Montreal native will also be teaching outdoor education and social studies.
“I’m really excited for outdoor education,” she said. “My goal this year is to give students access to things in their own backyard—we don’t even need a school bus. We have so many things to do right here.”
Sara Kongsrud is no stranger to the community, having first moved to Jasper to 2000 for work in the Tonquin Valley.
After finishing up her bachelor of education, Kongsrud and her husband knew they wanted to make Jasper their forever home and for years Kongsrud bounced around various teaching gigs in Jasper before taking on a three-year contract in Hinton.
Now she’s happy to say that she’ll be returning to the Jasper students as the new Grade 5 math and science teacher.
“Being back at home is fabulous and I’m loving the commute,” Kongsrud said. “It’s so nice just being able to bike to work and to stay in my own community.”
Along with math and science, Kongsrud will also be filling in on some language arts positions.
“I’m kind of scattered throughout which is great because then you’re in touch with so many different age groups,” Kongsrud said. “Jasper is just such a tight-knit place so I’m really looking forward to being back in its teaching community.