Red Deer teacher integrates new Canadians

Mandy Reed encourages students who are new Canadians to incorporate memories and recipes from their homeland into school assignments.

Mandy Reed encourages students who are new Canadians to incorporate memories and recipes from their homeland into school assignments.

June 13, 2016
RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Mandy Reed is known for ensuring that her students have every opportunity to succeed.

"A lot of our students are new Canadians," says Reed, who teaches English as a second language, social studies and Canadian studies for Grades 10 to 12 at Red Deer's Notre Dame High School.

"We make sure that they understand how a Canadian classroom works, what are our Canadian values, what does it mean to be a Canadian citizen, what are we called to do by Christ and what are we call to do by our government to make a society a great place."

Notre Dame High has more than 300 new Canadians, so Reed works at integrating them and their families into the school and giving them the supports they need to build a new life.

She also makes it a priority to know her students, their interests and their immigration stories, which she incorporate into her daily teaching.

"It's all about making our classroom environment accessible to our students," she explains.

One of Reed's projects was to develop a study unit that incorporates their stories. Called Taste of Home, the unit requires students to bring recipes and memories of home to class.

"So they all bring food from their home country, they present their stories to their families and then we share a meal."

The Taste of Home unit is Reed's favourite unit to teach. "It's really important that we respect and honour our students' culture from home," she said. "We don't want people to forget where they came from.

"We don't want them to become homogenized. We want everyone to be unique and to celebrate those differences."

Reed is also known to run immersive classroom activities to stimulate and engage students while still connecting with the curriculum. For a unit on the federal political system, for example, she runs her classroom like a parliament building.

"They have to come in and they have to observe the rules of parliament. So we arrange our desks like the parliament building. They all have speeches that they have to write. They have bills that they have to present. So again (we) are making learning engaging for our students."

Why does Reed go the extra mile at Notre Dame? "I'm called by God to do this," she said. "It's a calling every day when I wake up in the morning.

"It's a calling to come to work and teach our students who are sometimes overlooked and to teach our students that need that extra assistance and need that extra love to achieve excellence."