2020 Teacher Retirees

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2020 RetireeLilianne Alexandre

Known as the D-Day baby, Lilianne was born two days prior, four kilometers south of Omaha Beach in Normandie, France. After the war, she immigrated with her parents to Rockglen, Saskatchewan. Thanks to a neighour, who thought she was finally tall enough to attend school, at age 8 she started Grade One in a one-room (grades 1-8) school, knowing only five words of English, but able to write in the European script form as well as knowing how to add, subtract, multiply and divide as efficiently as the grade 8 students. This was thanks to her mother!

A proud student of the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon; she started teaching in 1965 at Crane Valley High School, after completing a 2-year Standard A Teaching Certificate. In 1980 she obtained a Bachelor of Education degree and in 1994 completed a two-year post-graduate degree in Educational Administration.

Through her 54 years of work, she has taught students from ages 6 through 64. She has worked in nine school divisions across Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, working mainly as a high school teacher, but also held positions in administration, counselling and as an ESL teacher. She also worked for the University of Regina, Federal Penitentiary Services and Canada Manpower.

Students have enjoyed trips to France, exchanges to Quebec, weekend French language activities, cultural cooking and various out-of-the-classroom experiences. Her most treasured name has been “Madame” and she treasures all her students and colleagues.

Her last 10 years has been with Medicine Hat High School, teaching French, Fashion, Foods and Math. It has been a very positive experience with special memories.

The future will build on memories with friends and family. It will bring time for travelling, gardening, cooking, reading, writing, learning and resting.

After Covid19, there will be more hugs from Kent, Alexandra, Will, Rhonda, Zack, Luke, Crystal and Gary.

A special thanks to her brother Alain and her sister Nellie who were there for all the moves!

2020 RetireeDanielle Beach

Born and raised in Medicine Hat, I attended Vincent Massey, CHHS and Manyberries High School, then graduated from MHHS in 1983.  I went to Medicine Hat College and completed my education degree at the UofL in 1988.

Following my convocation, I started my career in education with Medicine Hat Public School Division at MHHS. I taught briefly at AJHS then remained at MHHS for the next 10 years.  While at MHHS I discovered my love for coaching and spent several years coaching the JV Girls Volleyball team. I then transferred to Vincent Massey for one year, teaching Kindergarten and grade 4. Reigniting my love of teaching small children, I moved to Webster Niblock to teach grade 1 and have remained there for 21 years.  I feel extremely fortunate to have spent my entire teaching career with SD76.144

Throughout my teaching career I have always firmly believed that developing honest connections with your students is the way to truly reach them and make a difference.  A difference not just in their lives but in mine as well.  As I reflect on my career, it is those connections and relationships with both my students and their families that I will cherish the most.   I feel thankful that many of those relationships have become lifelong friendships.  I also will be forever grateful to the many colleagues that I have worked with along the way who have shared their wisdom, guidance and friendship with me.  You all have made my career a very satisfying and fulfilling experience.

…..The end of every school year I find myself crying… because no matter how challenging or how wonderful, your kids have become my kids and are a part of my heart and I don’t want to say goodbye…… Author Unknown

2020 RetireeRick Burry

I was born and raised in St.John’s Newfoundland and graduated from  Memorial University of Newfoundland in 1988. After a teaching practicum in London, England

I was born in St. John’s Newfoundland and graduated from Memorial University of Newfoundland in 1988. After a teaching practicum in London, England and spending 3 summers working in Banff, I moved to Medicine Hat to begin my teaching career. The plan was to stay for 2 years. However, life takes many turns. I meet my wife Marnie and we settled here raising our son Mark.

I spent the next 32 years teaching in Medicine Hat, most of which were at Medicine Hat Christian School, where I served as a vice-principal and junior high teacher. Thank you to the staff of MHCS for your support over the years I look forward to reconnecting with many of you in the new school year. The last Three years were spent at Medicine Hat High School teaching math. Thanks to all the staff for making me feel welcomed to a truly extraordinary team of teachers. Special thanks to the math department for your constant support and guidance and your dedication to math and to student success.

A huge thank you to Marnie, whose support I could never repay. Having a wife who is also a math teacher gave opportunities to hone our skills, sharpen our perspectives and ultimately improving our practice so that students had the best opportunity to learn. By the way, our son is also studying to become a math teacher. We are looking forward to continued travel in retirement after things get back to “normal”

“Normal”, what is normal. This is not how I expected to retire, teaching on-line from home away from the students and colleagues. But life does take many turns and will continue to do so. To the students, you have moved me and inspired me more than you will ever know. Be blessed.

2020 RetireeLorna Denis

Upon graduating from the UofA with a major in Early Childhood and a minor in French I was willing to take any position except kindergarten. Never say never- my first job was establishing the first French Immersion Kindergarten in Spruce Grove, Alberta.  I basically learned French along with the kids from my Franco-Albertan EA and the program eventually grew into a K-12 school.

After two years I moved to Whitecourt, Alberta to actually live with my husband!  For the following 26 years I taught in Whitecourt and we raised our two children there.  Kindergarten caught me again and kept me for 11 years; one of those years was starting a kindergarten program from scratch again.  The rest of my years there were teaching Grade One and Two. I loved the challenge of teaching children with special needs.  I never wanted to get my master’s but wished I could audit special education courses. 

An “audit by immersion” opportunity came when I accepted the Early Learning Teacher position at Ross Glen School. The staff were incredible even though their staff room became my classroom! I learned more in those 2 years about children and meeting their needs than I had in the previous 20.  The expertise of the service providers who supported my classroom taught me so much. 

In 2009 opportunity knocked again when I was offered the position of being a Community Early Learning Teacher. The colleagues I have worked with in this position are second to none. They have stretched me beyond what I ever thought I could be.  These ladies and the Ross Glen staff are my Hat family. 

After 42 years it is time to retire to my grandchildren with many thanks to my biggest cheerleader, Michael, and to my children, Bailey and Sheldon, who endured living in a small town with a teacher-mom.

2020 RetireeRuss Konschuh 

I grew up on a farm near Cluny, AB and graduated High School from Cluny Bow Valley High School. At the farm, I developed an interest in all things mechanical and pursued a journeyman ticket in automotive mechanics at SAIT.  After a few years working as a mechanic for General Motors, and then later, the oil and gas industry, I enrolled at the University of Calgary.  I graduated with a Bachelor of Science with distinction and B.Ed. after degree. 

I started my career at Medicine Hat High School teaching science and automotives. By the next year, enrollment in automotives had increased and I realized I had found my calling.  I spent the rest of my career teaching automotives exclusively and in 2000 won a provincial excellence in teaching award.

Over the years, I watched countless students turn their interest in automotives into a lifelong career.  It is very rewarding to see students use the foundations learned in the automotive program to become contributing members of society and to achieve success of their own.  Rarely do I enter an automotive-related business in Medicine Hat where I do not encounter a former student.  What a great legacy! 

I won’t miss the regimented school schedule, but I will surely miss the light-hearted banter and camaraderie with my colleagues.  I enjoyed being part of such an amazing group of highly dedicated people and I am grateful that they put up with my antics. 

In retirement, I plan to slow down a little bit, spend more time with my family, and hopefully travel more. 

2020 RetireeHenry Rempel

Henry Rempel is a prairie boy at heart. Having been born in Manitoba but moving to BC for his school years and the start of his welding career, he has returned twice to the prairies – this last time to finish his second career as a metalwork teacher.

Having spent the last 18 years at Medicine Hat High School, Henry completes 21 years of teaching high school and 15 years of teaching continuing education at what was a small community college and is now known as the University of the Fraser Valley.

Henry is pleased to have worked alongside so many great teachers and administration. He will miss the engagement of seeing his students delighted with learning new skills while they ‘played with fire’- namely, welding.

Henry looks forward to hiking and exploring mountain trails in BC, traveling with his wife and visiting family and friends. Lord willing, he might even see if he can finally paddle a kayak in some of the beautiful lakes during his travels.

2020 RetireeJackie Sehn

Jackie Sehn (Fischer) grew up as a farm kid attending New Hilda School for grades 1-9.  After 3 years of traveling daily on a bus to Medicine Hat, she graduated from Medicine Hat High School in 1982.  Rural life made a big impact on Jackie and set the stage for her strong belief in the value of positive relationships as the foundation for effective collaboration to support students, families and colleagues.

Jackie feels fortunate to have started her post-secondary education at the Medicine Hat College before transferring to the University of Lethbridge and achieving a Bachelor of Education degree in 1986.  Embracing the path of lifelong learning, Jackie completed her Master of Education degree in 2009 from the University of Calgary.

Over the course of her career, Jackie has enjoyed a wide variety of roles.  She has been a classroom teacher at Herald, Jenner, Seven Persons, Crestwood and Southview Schools.  Crestwood School came into her life in 1988 and has been a significant component of her professional roles and growth. It has also been the source of many lasting friendships from the years with this school community.  Jackie was also a teacher librarian, school counselor and learning coach at Crestwood School.  She was vice principal for six years at Crestwood School and later for a year at Herald School. In addition to school-based roles, Jackie enjoyed system level leadership as a Director of Students Services for a couple of years, optimal learning consultant for a year and concluding with this year as Regional Manager of SE RCSD (secondment).

As it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a strong support group to be a dedicated educator.  Jackie is very grateful for the support of her family; parents, husband and two adult children in her professional journey. 

2020 RetireeDianne Spencer

Dianne grew up as a farm kid in Willow Bunch, Saskatchewan (home of the Willow Bunch giant, Edouard Beaupré) where she attended a small French Immersion school. After graduating from high school, she ventured off to the University of Regina where she earned her Bachelor of Education degree in 1985. Dianne spent the majority of her career teaching in the French Immersion program in numerous communities including Saskatoon, Kamloops, Regina, Lillooet, Vernon, and Kelowna before settling in Medicine Hat.  During this journey, Dianne also earned a Master’s Degree from the University of Regina. Dianne taught primarily at the elementary level (Grades One to Seven) and even had a short stint at the high school level. Although she loved teaching students of all ages, her fondest memories were of learning and playing with her kindergarten students at École Connaught School.  Besides being a classroom teacher, Dianne was also the Learning Coach/CST for several years. During the last four years of her career, Dianne was fortunate enough to be engaged with all the students, parents, and staff at École Connaught School in her role as a Vice Principal, where she got to put her 35 years of experience to good use.

Dianne would like to thank her daughters, Shelby and Kelsey, for their patience and support. As children, they spent many Sunday afternoons in her classroom or in the school gym.  She would also like to thank her husband, Les, for his encouragement and unwavering support. Dianne also wishes to extend her appreciation to the members of the Connaught family, who hold a special place in her heart.

In her retirement, Dianne plans to golf, spend time at their cabin, golf, travel, golf, and relax with family and friends. You will probably even see her back in the classroom as a substitute teacher!

2020 RetireeAnita Van Ham

Once receiving my Bachelor of Education degree through the University of Saskatchewan I was fortunate to have been involved in various teaching positions.  My career began in 1986 where I took on temporary positions teaching anything from ESL/Resource to gr. 1-7, English gr 10-11, and working with youth offenders.  After moving back to Medicine Hat in 1989 I landed my first opportunity with SD #76 teaching a combined 1/2 at Vincent Massey.  I moved over to George Davison in 1990 teaching gr 5/6 where I spent the last 29 years of my career.  In 2018 I appreciated the opportunity to take the role as the Phys. Ed Specialist for gr K-6.

During my career I have felt privileged to have had in my classroom many fine young people.  It was 34 years ago some of them began to teach me how to teach.  They helped me build the first bridges.  From them I learned true teaching is a special partnership.  It only works when the teacher reaches beyond the outer images, looks into the heart, understands and respects what they see.  The student’s role is to allow the scenes to be seen, not just for who they are, or have been, but also for who they could be.  I look back with gratitude.  I entered a profession dedicated to the challenge of assisting young people to achieve their potential, helping them to reveal or find their best selves.  As I am leaving the students will live in my memories of the things we achieved together.  I’m truly going to miss the visits from former students keeping me up to date on their lives!  I pay tribute to the many wonderful students, colleagues, and parents over the years for their support, friendship, laughter, and fond memories.  Looking forward to new adventures in retirement.


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