Karine Tregear was 21 when she filled a little backpack after graduation and headed off to Hawaii in search of a teaching position. Fast forward 23 years, and Tregear has found her niche teaching Grade 5 at Strawberry Vale elementary, where she has spent the past 10 years.
“It’s kind of a cliche but I really enjoy working with kids and helping them with reading, writing and arithmetic,” said Tregear, one of this year’s Great Teachers selections. “You get to be with a group of 25 kids in a self-contained classroom, and really form bonds that makes it easier to connect with their learning styles.”
Working at a nature-based school is a key element in explaining why Tregear thoroughly enjoys her work.
“The flexibility of having the option to take the kids outside or extending a particular class because they need it really works for me,” said Tregear, who decided to be a teacher while in Grade 7.
She credits Lenny Ross, who retired last year, as a significant factor in shaping the school’s direction.
“He still comes back and is here all the time teaching kids about the watershed, the nature trail or the pond he created on the school property,” she noted. “He’s a huge influence on me.
Kiersten Brookes, Bev Ross and Jen Horton have all been inspired by Lenny and have taken his nature-based approach to learning to the next level. “We have a very supportive administration as well.”
Tregear’s class entered a national writing contest last year for students from Grade 5 to Grade 8 sponsored by Genworth Canada. Her students claimed the top three prizes, raising more than $50,000 for Habitat for Humanity.
“That’s never happened before so it was really amazing,” she said. “The kids worked very hard on writing and editing their stories, it was very gratifying.”
Tregear admits she was surprised to be named as one of the nominees for this year’s Black Press Great Teachers feature.
“I didn’t expect it and it caught me totally off guard, but it’s kind of neat to be acknowledged,” she admitted. “Teaching is definitely not about the money. There’s so many amazing teachers out there that do incredible work.”
When Tregear’s not in the classroom, chances are you’ll find her riding horses along a trail with her children.
“It’s nice when your kids have similar interests,” she said. “Children and animals have always been my passions. I was on a horse before I could walk and used to judge and compete in horse shows,” she added. “I was pretty serious about it back in the day but there’s no time for that now with three kids.”