Homegrown in Aspen View: Bethany Irla

Bethany IrlaI am a proud graduate of Aspen View Public Schools. I attended Boyle School from Kindergarten to Grade 12, graduating in 2015. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered how fortunate I was to have been educated in a rural school.

I am especially fortunate to have had both of my parents in school with me on my journey, with my dad as the vice principal and my mom as a substitute teacher. Although not every student is lucky enough to have their parents teach them, many of the other teachers in Aspen View Public Schools were valuable role models to many. One such teacher was Mrs. Diane Duplessis, whose warmth and kindness as a loving parental figure had an enduring impact on her students’ lives. She taught her 20+ students how to make ‘friendship stew’, which included trusting 6 year olds to cut up vegetables. She also brought me and my classmates to visit her acreage, where we were given a chance to roam and discover parts of nature previously unknown to us.

The small size of my school allowed me to experience all the perks of rural education alongside 20 or so of the same classmates (with a few leaving and joining along the way) from Kindergarten to Grade 12. Although diminished by distance and the passage of time, a bond was created between us that will never be forgotten.

From when I was 5 years old until I graduated high school, my parents drove me to and from Athabasca up to 5 times a week, where I spent my evenings at the Athabasca Dance Society. As I grew older, I was given opportunities to work alongside my dance instructors teaching younger students. It is here that I discovered a love for teaching and decided to pursue my Bachelor of Education.

Up until my fourth year of university, I was adamant about never returning to rural Alberta to teach. However, the more years that I spent away from my hometown, the more I realized how much I love the environment, the people and, most importantly, the schools. Living in Edmonton made me miss the smell of the forest in the spring, driving across town in 2 minutes, and recognizing nearly everyone in my local grocery store.

I have now been teaching Grade 4 at Landing Trail Intermediate School in Athabasca for almost 2 years. I have seen firsthand that the life experiences Aspen View Public School students receive cannot be matched. My students have been given the chance to practice orienteering in the forest on the Muskeg Creek Trails, and experience a variety of possible careers during Flying High. I look forward to a long career with Aspen View, and to raising my own children in the schools that I’ve grown to love.

 

Aspen View Public Schools

Bethany Irla
Teacher
Landing Trail Intermediate School

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