Calgary high school teacher raises awareness on global issues in the classroom

Anna Ponce, Calgary high school Social Studies teacher

Anne Ponce is a high school teacher based in Calgary, Alberta.  For many years, Anna has participated in opportunities offered by ACGC for educators, including ACGC’s annual conference, teachers’ conventions workshops, educator reading circles and currently, regular educator community of practice. 

Anna has introduced the stories and concepts she learned from ACGC to her classes as well as to the school’s Social Justice and Indigenous clubs that promote and honour Indigenous culture and identity as well as spread awareness on Indigenous issues, and book clubs that she leads. As Anna stated, “I have incorporated a vast amount of resources as well as just using the information I learned from these professional development sessions” into her classroom conversations with her students.  She also established a book club for her students that has now been replicated for teachers. For example, she said “got inspiration after reading Shakil Choudhury's Deep Diversity: A Compassionate, Scientific Approach to Achieving Racial Justice, with the Educators Roundtable”, she commented, and also read Restoring Democracy in an Age of Populists and Pestilence with her Social Studies 30 students.

Anna recalls attending a particular session offered by ACGC’s Inspiring Action program that focused on gender equality and the situation of women in Afghanistan. She stated that she was moved by the speaker's and organization's motivation to continue, despite all obstacles and roadblocks, to further women's rights in Afghanistan. What was presented about the Taliban and the rigid regime they are bringing back inspired her to, at the very least, use her voice as a teacher to bring these issues into the curriculum. Taking inspiration from this activity, she says she “always find(s) ways to weave in feminist perspectives and ideas of gender equity” into her Social Studies 30 class.  Because of these efforts, “students made more comments reflecting the leadership of women”. Anna said, “I feel like the more I learn, the more I can teach my students. I also feel that students who are already invested in furthering their knowledge about gender equality and global issues, are further motivated by teachers who make this a priority to teach, and are reinforced about the value and importance of their own pursuit of empowering women. Thus, these students gain a deeper appreciation and learn the nuances in an enhanced way.”

Thanks to their teacher’s dedicated efforts in her classroom and school, leading conversations on sometimes difficult topics, students from a Calgary high school will be better equipped to understand, and ultimately solve, global challenges.

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