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Education graduate named French teacher of the year by national organization

By Lisa Pendergast | June 18, 2014

A recent graduate of Memorial's bachelor of education program with a French focus has been awarded the Canadian Parents for French Teacher Graduate of the Year Award.

Lieutenant-governor Frank Fagan presented Shalane Spurrell with the award. Ms. Spurrell’s mother, Lavina Miller, accepted the award on her behalf as Ms. Spurrell is currently teaching in Port-aux-Basques, N.L.

A volunteer-based advocacy group, Canadian Parents for French was founded in 1977 by parents who wanted to ensure that children would have the opportunity to become bilingual in the Canadian school system. The organization has evolved into a proactive national network with 10 branch offices and some 150 chapters in communities nationwide.

The award recognizes education graduates who, during their academic and internship sessions, have developed innovative strategies that illustrate their motivation to teach and demonstrate their passion for language development. To be eligible for the award, the teacher graduate must have completed a bachelor of education program with a French focus or a French teachable area. The student must have applied for or received a Newfoundland and Labrador teaching certificate. Ms. Spurrell received a one-week professional development session in Saint-Pierre et Miquelon for summer 2014 and a plaque for her efforts.

Ms. Spurrell completed her bachelor of arts degree with a French major, making French her first teachable area. At the post-secondary level, she studied at Memorial, where she also worked as a French monitor in the multimedia language lab. She also studied at the Frecker Institute in Saint-Pierre et Miquelon and worked in France for a year to further develop her French language skills. Ms. Spurrell was accepted into the bachelor of education intermediate/secondary program in 2012. She completed her internship at Bishops College in April 2013. During this time she taught both senior high French immersion and core French.

Ms. Spurrell happily accepted her first teaching position in Port-aux-Basques as a one-year replacement position at St. James Regional High as the core French teacher for Grades 7-12. She started a French club at the school, called Le Cercle Français. Their main focus has been to promote French in a positive way at the school and to fundraise for a possible trip to the Port-au-Port Peninsula, where a Francophone population exists on Newfoundland’s West Coast.

“Shalane is the best new teacher that I have seen in a long time and I currently have 26 years in the teaching profession," said William Carter, vice-principal of St. James Regional High School. "Her teaching abilities are superior and her desire to learn matches her personality. She has been a bright sun in an extraordinary winter in which we have been buried with snow.”