The 2019 school year started a little brighter for one Okanagan School of Education Bachelor of Education student. Sydney Fender was the recipient of the inaugural Kelowna Kiwanis Legacy Major Entrance Award in Education – an award accompanied by $10,000. Established by the Central Okanagan Kiwanis Community Service Society, the award is presented to a student pursuing the Teaching Children (Kindergarten to Grade 5+) pathway.
Teaching children wasn’t always the career Fender had in mind.
“I was often told I should be a teacher,” she says with a laugh. “And I resisted for awhile, but after taking a leadership role in a number of events and activities that primarily revolved around children, I began to see the fit and my passion for it.”
You may have seen Fender at one of the Okanagan’s countless events as she has been an active volunteer since she was eight years old. She has volunteered in a variety of places from assisting in care homes and community centres to preschools and in our local parks.
“My volunteer and leadership experiences have taught me how rewarding helping others is, and became a key reason why I am pursuing education,” she says.
It seems volunteering runs in the family as her grandfather, Sherman Dahl, was an active member in Kiwanis International. He was a volunteer in the Kiwanis Club of Regina-Wascana from 1980 to 1994 and was the president of the club from 1982-1983.
“I love hearing my grandfather’s stories about his time with the Kiwanis Society,” says Fender. “He has shared with me his experiences ranging from helping out at high school football games to planning wheelchair dances. Through his experiences, he has passed on his knowledge to me about good citizenship and valuing all people.”
Fender is looking forward to continuing passing on the knowledge of good citizenship to her future students.
“I want to teach my students about sustainability and the importance of nature,” says Fender. “I hope to have a classroom filled with student art created from found in nature objects like sticks and rocks.”
For future Bachelor of Education students, Fender has some advice to share:
“Spend as much time as you can with children and adolescents of all ages, backgrounds and socioeconomics so you can truly understand what you’re getting into,” she says. “Focus on something you’re passionate about and bring that passion with you to the classroom.”