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Making their community proud

Kassina Ryder
Northern News Services
Published Monday, June 28, 2010

KUGAARUK/PELLY BAY - Ten Kugaaruk residents made an entire community proud when they graduated from the Nunavut Teacher Education Program earlier this month.

"They were really happy, the community has been looking forward to us graduating," graduate Jeannie Illuitok said. "The whole community congratulated us."

NTEP co-ordinator Jim Legge agreed.

"You could see the pride of the community at the graduation," he said. "It was just a very memorable event."

Illuitok and nine classmates have spent the past four years completing the NTEP program before graduating on June 11.

Nine graduates have secured teaching jobs in Kugaaruk while another will move to Taloyoak to teach at Netsilik School.

Illuitok will teach Grade 1 at Kugaardjuq School in Kugaaruk, which she is thrilled about.

"I was interested in teaching anywhere from kindergarten to Grade 3," she said.

"I just love that age, they're so cute and I just enjoy being around that age group."

Illuitok has six children and said help from family members, especially her mother-in-law, helped her to make it to graduation day.

"It was hard, but it was good at the same time because my mother-in-law really supported me," she said.

Because students could not miss more than three days per course, Illuitok said one of the most difficult aspects of the program was leaving her kids to the care of others if they got sick.

"The hardest part was staying up late doing the homework and when our children were sick," she said. "It's hard leaving a child behind when they're sick."

Nunavut Arctic College partners with the University of Regina to deliver the program.

Illuitok said even though it was hard work, she knows she chose the right path.

"It was worth it," she said.