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Local kindergarten teacher retires after 37 years

Masha Scheele

After 37 years of teaching in the Hinton area, Sharon Braun is handing over her kindergarten teaching position at Crescent Valley School to a former student. 

In recent years, Braun has taught alongside multiple former students at Crescent Valley.

“For me, it’s like a flashback because I look at them and I remember what they were like in Grade 3. But they’re just excellent teachers and they’re very passionate so that’s great,” said Braun.

Throughout the years she saw many changes and is proud of her ability to adapt. One of her biggest challenges was learning to teach kindergarten, which she took on in the early 2000s after teaching mostly older grades when she arrived in Hinton in 1981.

“Everything is changing so much and sometimes you think you can’t do something and then you take it on and you realize can do it,” she said.

“Every year there is something new that you didn’t expect before and you have to adapt to that.”

Braun also noticed that the way students learn shifted from reading to a more visual approach as technology changed and was introduced into the classroom.

Braun was up for the challenge and learned how to integrate new strategies of teaching into her classroom. Besides the effect of technology, kids also speak differently and reference things they see on TV or in movies.

“Speech has changed a lot in the last 40 years, the way people communicate. [I try] to get them to explain things in their world and when they bring show and tell there’s a lot of cultural things you won’t know about from television and other sources, so then I’m learning from them as well,” said Braun.

“They’ll say something funny from a TV show or a movie and even when I don’t know what they’re talking about, I’ll get them to explain it to me, and then they’re all laughing at the same time.”

Braun originally came to Alberta from Ontario to finish her teaching degree at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, after which she was hired by Mountain View elementary school in Hinton to teach four classes per day of core French.

She then moved onto Roche Miette, and eventually worked at Crescent Valley until her retirement this year. She laughed at the fact that 37 years have flown by when she thought she wouldn’t be in Hinton longer than a couple of years.

“I’m going to miss the day-to-day little things that happen, the funny stories I come home with. Kids really do say funny things, they’ll blurt out something that their parents probably didn’t want them to say,” Braun said with a laugh.

“There’s a lot of joy in teaching, when kids are excited about something, or the first time they understand something. It’s that ‘ah-ha!’ I’ll miss that.”

All-in-all, Braun is proud to have survived it all, the changes, the challenges, the new, and the unexpected. For now, she plans to enjoy her retirement by travelling and visiting her family more often.

“A lot of my retired friends tell me that they’re busier now because they’re just involved in so many different activities, like volunteer work and all those sorts of things. So I don’t think I have to worry, I think there will be a lot of opportunities,” said Braun.