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Yellowknife teacher wins national award

Dorothy Westerman
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Mar 08/06) - Nothing makes a difference more in a teacher's life than to be acknowledged by their students, says an educator awarded in the ninth annual Thank You for Making a Difference school campaign.

NNSL Photo/graphic

Range Lake North teacher Sandy Schmalz is making a difference in the life of student Austin Sparks, 8. He nominated her in the Thank You for Making a Difference school campaign. - Dorothy Westerman/NNSL photo

Sandy Schmalz, a resource teacher at Range Lake North school, was presented with the national honour during a school assembly recently.

The award winning entry came from Grade 3 student Austin Sparks, age 8.

Students were encouraged to submit entries explaining why they felt their teacher deserved special recognition for their efforts.

Schmalz was one of two teachers chosen from the North after students submitted applications on why their teacher should be recognized for their work in the classroom.

"It's an honour and a privilege to be acknowledged like that," Schmalz said.

"It goes right to your heart. Teaching is a passion for me. I've been teaching since 1982 in Yellowknife."

Schmalz's reward included an airline ticket from First Air.Austin said he likes to get help with his writing and reading at school. "She was the first one to ever do that for me," he explained.

As a result, Austin said it is now easier to spell words. He now enjoys reading lots of adventure books.

Austin recited from memory a portion of his winning entry form during an interview with Yellowknifer.

"Dear Mrs. Schmalz, thank you for making a difference in my life and for helping me read and write."

Austin's entry earned him a new laptop computer, for which he already has plans.

"I will probably send my Grandma e-mails," he said.

This year, there were more than 1,400 entries sent from NWT schools.