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AHCOTE student awarded Simon Fraser University Dean’s Medal for Education

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Jennifer Wilkinson is not your typical student. A wife and mother of two teens, she went back to school in 2012, doing online courses towards her degree. It wasn’t easy. Running a home, being a mom, and working at a job for the first semesters of her online studies required focus and hard work. Wilkinson noted that the plus side to taking online courses is that they can be done in your own time, but you really have to be organized and committed to putting the time in, as you are the only person you have to answer to.

“Being organized is my superpower!” said Wilkinson. “I have spent years volunteering as a Brownie leader, a soccer coach, a basketball coach and a Sunday school teacher… when I turned 40, I thought, do I want to spend the rest of my working career doing what I was doing, or do I want to do something I am passionate about? …people say where you spend your free time is where your passions lie, so I decided to become a teacher!”

Having been a Brownie leader, soccer and basketball coach, and a Sunday school teacher, Wilkinson followed her passion for working with children and entered the Alaska Highway Consortium on Teacher Education (AHCOTE program) in 2014.

Once Wilkinson was in the AHCOTE program, taking classes at Northern Lights College was a nice change from her online work.

“Being in a class with an instructor and other students enriches your learning experience, I think,” she said. “You can bounce ideas off of other people; it increases the clarity of some things when you are face to face.”

Wilkinson said she would absolutely recommend the AHCOTE program. She appreciated that she could go to school and become a teacher where she lived. She didn’t have to pack up her family and go somewhere else, or leave her family to study somewhere else. A true Peace River area girl, she grew up in Tumbler Ridge, and has lived in Fort St. John for 24 years.

“It was such a great way to pursue my dream, and still get to live in the North. I’m a Northern girl, for sure,” she added.
Although Wilkinson received the medal at Convocation last week, she found out about it a month or two ago. She was thrilled and very grateful to have had her hard work recognised. She is also happy to have found a teaching job close to home. This year she has taught a grade two/three split at Taylor Elementary School, and next year will teach a three/four split at Duncan Cran in Fort St. John

Her practicum teachers, Ruth Lee and Jenny Lavoie, said her excellent work ethic and dedication to her practicum clearly showed that she is very deserving of this award.

“I still keep in touch with Jenn and hope we can be colleagues one day!” said Lee.

The next intake of the AHCOTE program is planned for September 2018, and the application period will be opening in Fall 2017. For further information, please email