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Teacher recognized for more than two decades of work in the NWT

Lyndsay Herman
Northern News Services
Published Monday, June 4, 2012

Meeting a child's needs is the best way to support their learning, says Chris Baron, a long-time teacher and a firm believer in the philosophy of "teaching the whole child."

NNSL photo/graphic

Chris Baron, left, accepts her induction in to the NWT Education Hall of Fame May 29 at the legislative assembly while Jackson Lafferty, right, minister of Education, Culture and Employment listens attentively. - Danielle Sachs/NNSL photo

"I spend a lot of my day interacting with them as little people," said Baron. "Meeting their emotional needs, handing out hugs and Band-Aids, giving them a morning snack, if they're hungry they can't learn. I meet their emotional and physical needs and then we learn together."

From there, Baron's teaching focuses on preparing students to be healthy, happy and contributing members of society.

"I'm very passionate about literacy and I believe that teaching a young child to read is the best skill I can give them for life," she said.

Children in Baron's classroom are also encouraged to embrace their cultural identity, national identity and roles as global citizens. Baron said this complete understanding of their identity helps children "be the very best person they can be."

Baron began teaching in Saskatchewan after finishing her Bachelor of Education degree at the University of Saskatchewan. She moved with her husband and four children to the North for a teaching job after having taught for three years in Saskatchewan. Kindergarten to Grade 5 classes in the Tlicho region have since benefited from her committed to teaching for 25 years and she has no interest being anywhere else.

"It's the interactions with students, that's what's kept me in the classroom and why I decided to remain in the classroom as I'm finishing my career," said Baron. "I want to be on the front lines working with kids."

Baron said her work in the NWT has been incredibly rewarding and credits the territory with tremendous opportunities for teachers to advance professionally. In addition to her classroom work, Baron has been involved in curriculum development, pilot projects, the Western Canadian Protocol for English and Language Arts, and served on the Alberta Achievement Test Committee. Baron has also shared her extensive teaching experience through internship training and new teacher mentoring.

"(Teaching) won't be a straight and narrow path, there will be all sorts of curves in the road," she said. "The (educators) that come in optimistic and flexible and prepared to learn themselves have the greatest chance of being successful. It's challenging, being a teacher here in the North."

This observation comes from celebrated expertise. On May 29, Baron, along with six other NWT educators, was inducted into the NWT Hall of Fame for her contributions to education in the NWT.

Baron said the induction was a great honour and she is very thankful for those who helped her learn the skills she's recognized for today.

"I am especially grateful to (the Department of Education, Culture and Employment), (the Tlicho Community Service Agency), and the principals that I've had over the years for encouraging me to develop through professional development opportunities and curricular work," she said. "These things have helped me to contribute to Northern education and also to become a better teacher for the students in my classroom."

Fact file

Other Education Hall of Fame inductees

Helen Kitekudlak - Ulukhaktok

Betty Barnaby - Fort Good Hope

Margaret Thom - Fort Providence

Kevin Antoniak - Fort Smith

Angela James - Yellowknife

Dr. Curtis Brown - Behchoko

Source: Samuel Hearne Secondary School

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