Leedale teacher chosen colonies’ best



For the winner of the 2011 outstanding colony educators’ award, teaching is a wonderful profession and one she enjoys tremendously.

“It’s a great job,” said Gwen Olsen. “I love what I do.”

Olsen, who lives near Rimbey, has taught at the Leedale Colony for 10 years. She was selected for the award at the recent Alberta Colony Educator’s Conference in Medicine Hat.

She is honored and humbled to receive the award.

“It is really a credit to the great teams of educators I work with both in the Colony Professional Learning Team and the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement Team and I share this award with them.”

Olsen, who is originally from Vermilion, began her career working in Maidstone, Sask. teaching grades 5 and 6.

Later, she and her family moved to Denmark to be closer to her husband Steffen’s family.

While in Denmark, she learned the language and taught grades 9 and 10 English, physical education and outdoor education in a private school and also Grade 2 in the public system.

Her teaching experience in Denmark led her to apply for a colony teaching job when the family returned to Canada. She applied to teach at a colony so she would have the opportunity to take part in a teaching process called “looping in” which teachers have students for more than one year.

“Looping is popular in Denmark and I could see some real benefits to it,” she said.

Olsen, who has served as an AISI leader for four years, was instrumental in the formation of the division’s first Colony Professional Learning Team.

She has represented other colony teachers in the jurisdiction, led and assisted with their professional development work and helped create and adopt new paradigms in assessment and reporting.

She also led the team in completed a detailed analysis and sequencing of the language arts and math curricula in Wolf Creek Public School’s colony schools.

WCPS assistant superintendent, Gerry Varty nominated Olsen for the award.

“Gwen is a true champion of colony teachers. She really wants the best possible professional development and working experiences for them, and wants colony teachers to feel like they are well supported and appreciated in their roles. She strongly believes in the connected nature of education and social fabric of the colonies,” he said. “She strives to meet the needs of the students in a rich environment that respects the traditions and structure of colony life.”

Other colony schools in the Wolf Creek Public Schools jurisdiction include Alix Colony School, Bentley Colony School, Ferrybank Colony School, and Pleasant Valley Colony School.