A local teacher was recently honoured with an Impact award from Knowledgehook.

This year saw the 2nd annual iteration of the awards, which are given to teachers who have demonstrated dedication to their students and have utilized research-backed methods in their teaching.

Lyndsi Irwin with the Foothills School Division (FSD) was one of the 28 Canadian teachers honoured this year.

Over her 20 years in education, she’s taught high school and elementary in Okotoks and spent a year volunteering in Hawaii. Most recently, she’s been a teacher with FSD’s Hub@Home.

She’s been involved with Hub@Home for about a year now, teaching grades 4-6 in the most recent school year.

It’s been a unique challenge for Irwin, and one that’s shown her how vital positive interactions in the educational environment can be.

“One of the things that has carried me through is realizing that for so many of these kiddos, to be in whatever situation they might be in at home and whatever their background is, it’s really important to have the teaching that allows them to really be engaged and interacting as much as possible to minimize the fact that they are not learning in person. I’ve really learned the importance of that engagement and interaction with students. I try to provide that for them.”

Knowledgehook has a few key areas they look at when selecting recipients.

Those include adjusting instruction based on student needs, Activating students as owners of their learning, and embedding social-emotional learning into everyday practice.

Though those are all things Irwin has aimed for across her entire career, the unique setting of Hub@Home has necessitated some innovation.

Face-to-face interactions are limited, so she’s had to be pretty creative with how she delivers those engaging learning moments for students, and unlike in in-person classes, she often doesn’t get to see the direct result.

“It’s one of those situations where I can deliver the material and I can have it set up for students, but I’m not on the receiving end with them. So it can feel like a powerless position on that end of things. You just kind of have to hope that you’re making the impact you’re desiring to have but you don’t necessarily get to be the recipient of seeing that happen right in front of you.”

With that being the case, receiving the Impact award was pretty reaffirming to Irwin.

Impact is something that most all teachers aim to create when they enter the profession. For Irwin, her desire to make an impact on students started with her own father.

“One of the main reasons I went into teaching was because of my dad. He’d been teaching for 15 years and then we moved away. The number of students who would come and talk about the impact that he had on their lives was one of the real reasons that I desired to go into teaching. To now see that I can have a positive impact on someone’s life, it’s really powerful.”