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Voices of AHCOTE: Casey Fehr
Casey Fehr was born and raised in Fort St. John, a community she loves to call home. She grew up an avid reader, and always stayed up way too late reading with a flashlight under the covers. She teaches a grade one-two split at Margaret “Ma” Murray Community School in Fort St. John and can be found adventuring with her dogs, drinking too much tea, and travelling as often as she can in her spare time.
Sipping tea on a cold winter day, Casey sat down with Northern Lights College (NLC) staff member, Georgia Green, to share what life has been like since graduating from the Alaska Highway Consortium on Teacher Education (AHCOTE) program in 2015.
Georgia: So, Casey, tell me why’d you pick the AHCOTE program?
Casey: When I first graduated from high school, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. It took me a while to get there! I was taking courses at NLC anyway, expecting to transfer somewhere else and at the time I was anticipating going into an x-ray technician program. But the more I took courses here at NLC, the more I heard about AHCOTE, and I knew a lot of teachers — my mom is a teacher as well — so getting to know their experiences in town and the fact that I was able to pursue my education here in Fort St. John was a big pro, which is kind of what pulled me in. I was interested in working with kids and I knew it wouldn’t be a boring job!
G: You just mentioned that you wanted to be an x-ray technician. Was being a teacher ever on your “when I grow up” list?
C: I had a vague idea, but it wasn’t towards the top! I really didn’t know what I wanted to do but I knew I wanted to have options and I was excited to take courses here.
G: What does being a teacher mean to you?
C: Being a teacher… means setting my students up for success. It involves helping them reach their full potential and grow into the people they’re meant to be. So, not standing in their way and being sure to give them as many opportunities to learn. Just … helping to create well-rounded individuals who enjoy learning and become lifelong learners.
G: What’s your favourite part of teaching?
C: I’m never bored (she says with a laugh)! I love getting to see the excitement of seeing how kids get involved and how invested they get in their learning.
G: So, on that same note, do you have a favourite subject to teach?
C: Mmm. I LOVE teaching reading! The coolest thing ever is to see a kid at the beginning of the year, barely knowing their letters and letter sounds, being able to read a full story with no issues — and understand what’s happening in the story — by the end of the school year.
G: If you could go back and give yourself advice at the start of your education journey, what would it be?
C: I would say … be openminded because you never know when something you learn will be valuable and be willing to learn from all kinds of people and their experiences. My job is not straightforward nor is it cut and dried, and the learning I’ve had in my courses has all come into play in my job. So just, be willing to learn.
G: What advice would you share with next cohort of AHCOTE students, specifically?
C: Enjoy the process! It’s a lot of fun, and there’s a lot of learning to be done. There are so many tips to pick up. And don’t rush it, just enjoy.
G: How about some advice for the most recent AHCOTE graduates who are just entering their careers as teachers?
C: Take care of yourself first, manage your priorities, and know that you can’t be everything to everybody. And never forget, you are making a difference.
G: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
C: The AHCOTE program was a really great experience. The small cohort has allowed me to stay connected with the teachers I finished the program with. Having a small cohort gave us the chance to build close relationships with each other and our instructors which I think was valuable in our learning journeys. We got to learn in such a supportive environment!
Casey's story is an example of how the AHCOTE program opens doors for teachers in Northern BC. Teachers are in high demand, and accessible programs such as AHCOTE provide prospective teachers the opportunity to pursue education close to home and begin fulfilling careers in communities they know and love.