Meet this year’s Great Teacher nominees: Helena Ewald

Helena Ewald teaches French immersion to Grade 1 students at Doncaster elementary school

Helena Ewald teaches Grade 1 French immersion at Doncaster elementary school.

Helena Ewald said she was “totally surprised” to learn she is one of the nominees for the Black Press Great Teachers feature.

“I’m sure there are a lot of teachers out there who are more deserving than me,” said the Doncaster elementary teacher. “I really appreciate Black Press taking the initiative to recognize the work that teachers do, and I’m sure my colleagues appreciate it as well.”

Growing up in Deux Montagnes outside of Montreal, like a lot of girls, Ewald thought about becoming a teacher when she was young. After working in banking for a number of years, she made the decision to become a teacher around the time she turned 30, and hasn’t looked back.

She has been a teacher for 15 years in B.C., the majority of that time teaching French immersion to Grade 1 students at Doncaster, where she has been for the past 10 years.

“Teaching young students can be exhausting, but it’s so rewarding,” she said. “They are so honest and constantly saying funny things. I find myself laughing a lot at work and bringing funny stories home to my husband.”

Although teaching French immersion has its share of challenges because the majority of students come into the program with limited speaking or reading skills in French, Ewald wouldn’t change a thing.

“There’s so much growth, especially in Grade 1,” she noted. “It’s so inspiring to see the progress they have made by the end of the year. The parents work really hard with them at home, which makes my job so much easier.”

A parent who nominated Ewald and volunteers in her class described her as a “star teacher totally committed to her students … her work goes beyond the call of duty.”

If Ewald could change anything, it would be to provide more resources for students that struggle because of difficulties with learning or situations at home.

“I wish there was more we could do for kids that need that extra help,” she said. “At the end of the day you do the best you can because it’s all about helping the kids. The more support we have, the better a job we can do. It’s a huge responsibility because in some ways we’re shaping the future with the kids we teach.”

Keeping pace with a class of six-year-olds doesn’t leave much time for other pursuits, said Ewald, who listed “playing a little guitar badly,” and walking and hiking as things she enjoys when she’s away from the classroom.

Despite the difficulties involved in introducing a second language to children embarking on their first year of schooling and her reluctance to talk about herself, it’s clear that Ewald savours the opportunities that have arrived with her decision to become a teacher.

 

“The kids keep me motivated and they keep me young,” she said. “It’s a great career and I’m sure you could talk to a million teachers that feel the same way.”

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The iconic and well-loved live music venue Logan’s is permanently closing its doors due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Google Maps)
Fernwood pub Logan’s permanently closing its doors

Live music venue unable to weather COVID-19 storm

The Starbucks at 3849 Cadboro Bay Rd. closed permanently on Sunday, Oct. 25. (Google Maps)
Cadboro Bay Starbucks closes despite petition signed by nearly 250 residents

Closure part of transition to more drive-thru locations, Starbucks spokesperson says

Shawn Magnus of Sidney Courier has partnered with Sidney Business Improvement Area Society for free commercial delivery for society members. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney business association partners with courier for free commercial delivery

Service started Oct. 26 and extends to a radius of 35 kilometres

Victoria police are searching for a suspect after a stabbing Monday night. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria police searching for suspect in late-night stabbing

Victim taken to hospital with potentially life-threatening injuries

Struggling to afford rent, Sylvia Bailey is hoping to trade her love of cooking for some more affordable accommodation. (Photo courtesy of Sylvia Bailey)
Retired Victoria woman looking to cook, clean or garden in exchange for rent

Sylvia Bailey is hoping to use her love for cooking to help afford rent

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

A picture of John taken at Children’s Hospital Vancouver last week. Photo courtesy, Alicia Sewid.
RCMP investigating after young boy run over by SUV in Campbell River parking lot

The seven-year-old has multiple injuries including a broken pelvis and was admitted to Children’s Hospital in Vancouver

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

A video message from Mrime Minister Justin Trudeau was streamed to attendees at the State of the Island Economic Summit on Tuesday morning. (Vancouver Island Economic Alliance image)
Prime minister greets Vancouver Island economic summit attendees

Vancouver Island Economic Alliance conference being held virtually this week

A woman walks through check in at WestJet at Pearson International airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Strong support for pre-flight COVID testing ahead of upcoming WestJet trial: YVR

Airport is partnering with UBC, which is helping choose the method of pre-flight testing

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

The Williams Lake Indian Band is stipulating no-go zones for mushroom picking in areas burned by last summer’s wildfires. 100 Mile Free Press photo
Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

‘We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things.’

Most Read