Each year, UBC Okanagan faculties award a student with the University of BC Medal for the Head of Graduating Class. In the Bachelor of Education (BEd) program, this award is presented to the top student based on their academic performance throughout their program.
The Okanagan School of Education is pleased to announce that this year’s Head of Graduating Class is Isabela Richard!
Isabela radiates positivity. It was one of the many reasons she was selected for the award.
“Receiving the award makes me feel acknowledged,” she says. “I’m glad they recognized my positivity and dedication to spreading good energy. It motivates me to continue being truthful to myself and make a difference in the lives of my students.”
Isabela’s passion for teaching stems from her caring nature and her desire to make a difference in young people’s lives.
“I’m a very caring person, and I love people,” she says. “I want to help them. I specifically wanted to teach high-school students because I know they’re in a vulnerable stage of their lives. I believe they need a role model who can guide and support them.”
Teaching runs in the family as both Isabela’s mother and brother are educators, and for Isabela it seemed like a natural fit at an early age.
Recalling a childhood memory, Isabela shared, “When I was in grade five, my mom had a staff meeting, and I decided to role play as a teacher in her empty classroom. I took attendance, filled out sheets, and pretended to be the students. When a teacher came back to grab her day book before the meeting, she was amazed at what she saw. She said, ‘Isabela was playing all the roles — student, teacher, and even the teaching assistant!'”
Isabela grew up in Kamloops, BC, and attended Thompson Rivers University for her undergraduate — majoring in English and minoring in theater.
“I absolutely love theater,” she says with a smile. “It helps boost confidence and public speaking skills, which are crucial for being an effective teacher.”
Theatre isn’t her only passion, she continued, “I love hockey, the Canucks are my favorite team, and Sundays are for Formula 1, cheering on Ferrari!”
Following graduation, she decided to move to Kelowna to pursue her Bachelor of Education at UBCO.
“I really wanted to teach high school, and UBCO seemed like the perfect fit for me,” she says. “My brother had attended the school and loved it, so I was confident that it would be a great place for me too.”
The move to Kelowna not only offered Isabela the degree she was looking for, but also provided her with the opportunity to indulge in her love for nature and outdoor activities.
“I love the lake,” she explained. “My family and I have always been fond of spending time on the water and going hiking. Kelowna’s beautiful lakes and hiking trails were definitely enticing factors for me.”
Although her BEd started online, Isabela noted that the experience was a positive journey.
“The professors made an effort to create a sense of normalcy. The positivity, thoroughness and support from the professors was really good. I’ve learned so much from them, and the reflective activities were valuable in shaping my teaching approach and helping me succeed.”
Reflecting on her favourite memories, Isabela shared her excitement about her practicum experience, saying, “Being able to go out and immerse myself with the students was my favourite part of the program. It was amazing to put into practice what I had learned and interact with the students directly. It felt fulfilling and gave me a taste of what being a teacher is truly like.”
For future BEd students, Isabela reminds them to take a deep breath and stay positive.
“Be open to different experiences. There are going to be moments where things might not be going amazingly and that’s okay. Try to come in with a fresh mentality, be open minded and try to make it your own. Try to be as real and positive as you can. The kids can see if you’re having a bad day, or feeling off. You just need to bring your best self forward and make every opportunity count.”