My name is Kushkarn Senghera. I was born in Clearwater, British Columbia. Currently, I live in Edmonton, Alberta and I am an educator. I have a degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Educational Psychology. What influenced me to become a educator? I truly appreciate this question because it reminds me of my grandparents. My grandparents were my first teachers. For me, teaching is a very human profession that connects people of all types, regardless of race, religion, gender, ability or age. My grandmother taught me how to count, to speak Punjabi, to be compassionate, and to have a moral character. My grandfather taught me the importance of having an excellent work ethic, to always have a positive outlook, to be grateful, and to be resilient. My grandparents were amazing teachers; and when I thought of what I wanted to be when I “grow up”, being a teacher always seemed intriguing. During that time however, I didn’t fully understand the reasons for why I wanted to be a teacher, nor did I give it too much thought.

After graduating high school, like most students, I didn’t know what to pursue as my career. The careers that mainly came to mind were the ones that earned lucrative monetary values. I chose a career in engineering purely for the pursuit of profit; I knew engineers made a lot of money. However, during the engineering program, I started to feel disconnected with life and started questioning my choice. At the age of twenty-four, I finally asked myself – who am I and what do I value? The answers to these questions led me back to my grandparents. My grandparents were immigrants and always believed that your education is forever yours to keep. Reflecting on this, I understood that in order to stay true to myself and the child who wanted to be a teacher when he “grew-up”, I would need to follow my heart and become a teacher. After finding meaningful answers to my questions, I decided to pursue a degree in Elementary Education at the University of Alberta and graduated from the program in 2013.

During my teaching practicums, I had enriching teaching experiences in various socioeconomic and multicultural areas of Edmonton. I learned quickly that developing a “human-to-human” relationship with the students rather than a “teacher-student” relationship was much more important in gaining trust and understanding of the students. Notably, a relationship I will always remember was with a student who recently emigrated from Sri Lanka. She was a timid, timorous student who lacked confidence due to language barrier. My main priority was for her to feel a part of our classroom community. When I was out during supervisions, I always noticed her standing in the corner alone. One day, on my supervision duty, I started asking her questions about Sri Lanka and what she missed about the country. As our conversations became more frequent, she slowly began displaying cheerful dispositions in class, engaging in classroom activities, and gaining more confidence.  Another heartfelt memory that I will not forget is on my last day of the school year, a student’s parents visited to thank me for teaching their daughter. The parents mentioned that their daughter’s academic ability and confidence had immensely improved and were very noticeable at home. The profound improvements that the student made were reflected by her mother’s emotional gratitude. As I stated previously, I know to always treat students as humans first and students second. I came home from work on my last day, reflecting on my time as a teacher, and I was reassured that I made the right choice by following my dreams and becoming a teacher.