Congratulations to Julie Bertles, one of our two Madeline Korfman Memorial Scholarship recipients!
Here is what her nominator had to say:
“She exudes a love of teaching and learning, with a deep compassion for students and a clear understanding of the importance of building strong relationships to enhance student learning. Julie has been like a sponge, soaking up information and using feedback from her instructors, her FA, her mentor teacher and the students she works with to improve her instruction and practice.”
“This award is such an honour,” says Julie. “It’s really affirmed for me that I’m on the right track and this is the work I was really meant to do. I’m so excited to see what’s up and coming for our society, and the great passionate minds we have coming up into this world.”
Before entering the Bachelor of Education (BEd) program, Julie Bertles was a child and youth support worker who was feeling frustrated that she couldn’t enter school property to help her young clients.
“I was hearing from my clients, mostly adolescents, that where they needed the most support was in school,” says Julie. “That feedback is what draw me to pursuing my teaching degree.”
But the BEd program hasn’t been what she expected.
“It’s been different in the best possible way. Education isn’t anything like how it was when I was student. I had a vision of how I would love my classroom to be and I was prepared to ruffle feathers, but this program has been exactly what I envisioned for myself. It’s very social emotional focused, student centered and whole-body learning.”
Her original plan was to receive her BEd degree and go on to pursue her master’s in counselling to be a high school counsellor, but the more time she spends in the classroom, the more her mind is changing.
“I’m falling in love with teaching and the work that teachers do in the classroom,” she says. “I’m always learning something new from my students and in some ways, I think I learn more from them than they do from me.”
For Julie, one learning opportunity has come to her while she standing in front of the classroom.
“It can be nerve racking being in front of a group of students, particularly older students, for the first time,” she says. “I found the more authentic I could be with them, the more I could let them see that I also make mistakes, the more genuine the relationships I built with them were. I’m a perfectionist myself and I’ve had a hard time not always doing things perfectly, but the more I let my students see that and show them that it’s okay to fail and here is how you can fail safely has been a huge ah-ha for me.”
In addition to a shift in her career path, Julie has found herself building lifelong relationships.
“I’ve made connections with peers in the program and colleagues during my practicum in the school district that are second to none. I’ve made some lifelong friendships with passionate people and it’s been a great environment to be a part of.”
For those interested in pursuing their Bachelor of Education degree, Julie advises going into teaching with an open heart and open mind. She also encourages prospective teachers to lean into the connections they have around them.
“Spend the time to build a network of support around you, because it can be exhausting emotional work and you’ll need a sounding board, you’ll need support.”
About the Scholarship
This scholarship has been endowed through a bequest by Madeline Betty Korfman to honour her love for teaching. Madeline Korfman taught school in southwestern Saskatchewan before relocating to the Okanagan in the mid-1900s. This scholarship is awarded to two teacher candidates who significantly demonstrate a “love for teaching” based on the recommendation of Okanagan School of Education faculty.