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 Jamie Pettit
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From: Friday, January 19, 2018 9:46 AM -0500
Subject:Alumni Profile–Ann Marie Heuser-Barnes
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We are pleased to celebrate some of the many examples of staff excellence in Bluewater District School Board with our new alumni profile feature! This week, we highlight some of our former graduates whose career pathways have led them back to Bluewater to serve another generation of local students and families.
Image of Ann Marie Heuser-Barnes

Name:  Ann Marie Heuser-Barnes

Current position:  Learning Resource Teacher, Egremont Community School (working with students from all grade levels)

What Bluewater school(s) did you attend as a student?  Dundalk & Proton Community School, Highpoint Community School, Grey Highlands Secondary School

What year did you graduate from Bluewater?  1988

Please provide a brief summary of the career pathways (e.g. post-secondary studies and subsequent employment) you pursued after graduating from Bluewater.

I attended Wilfrid Laurier University from 1990 – 1993 where I obtained my Bachelor of Arts in Geography.  In 1994, I attended Brock Faculty of Education to pursue my Bachelor of Education in Junior Intermediate grades, along with certification in Outdoor Education.  I went on to pursue my Primary qualifications through Western University, and also additional qualifications for Specialists in Special Education and Inclusive Education.  I gained employment with Dufferin Board of Education as a French teacher in 1994.  From Dufferin (by then Upper Grand District School Board), I was hired to teach a junior level classroom at Highpoint Community School in 2001.  This was followed by a transfer to Egremont Community School in 2005 where I was a rotary teacher, Kindergarten educator, and moved into the Learning Resource role.  In 2011, I applied for my first system position with Bluewater District School Board, and performed the duties of Area Resource Teacher.  The following year, I was successful in applying for a System Curriculum Lead position, where I was supporting the French as a Second Language and Early Years portfolios.  I then moved back to Special Education/Student Services as System Special Education Lead Teacher in 2014.  I have recently returned to my roots and am fulfilling the position of Learning Resource Teacher at Egremont Community School.

What has been your greatest career achievement thus far?

My greatest achievement.....  I would say it cannot be described by one event.  My teaching career has allowed me to be flexible in pursuing a number of career pathways.  I absolutely loved the leadership piece that was part of my system positions, and acquired skills that have allowed me to grow professionally and personally in fulfilling the roles at the system level.  I have been able to "see the big picture" and how each of us has a role to play in supporting students, families, and educators in Bluewater.  This, combined with all of my experience as an educator, has culminated into a growth mindset outlook.  With a growth mindset, I believe that most of my abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work.  This view has created a love of learning and a resilience that is essential in pursuing any career path.

How has your education in Bluewater prepared you for your career pathway?

All of my teachers (then Grey County Board of Education) have had a positive impact on my career, so much so that I chose to pursue the same profession. They believed in my ability as a student, they pushed me when I needed to be pushed, and they provided leadership opportunities that allowed me to pursue a post-secondary path at the university level.  In Grade 8, I had chosen applied level courses.  My Grade 8 teacher phoned my parents and said, "We are changing Ann Marie's secondary course selection to an academic pathway."  My parents were supportive, however, the reality was that they were not involved in my education and felt that the teachers could handle that part of my life.  (It was the way of things in the 80's!)  So I moved forward in an academic pathway.  The same encounter occurred with my secondary school guidance teacher, who told me to apply to university.  I was the first in my family (and extended family) to attend university.  My secondary school teachers really promoted leadership opportunities that I could pursue during the day.  When you are a student at Grey Highlands Secondary School, your parents need to pick you up or you need to find alternative arrangements home if you want to pursue before or after school activities.  We lived near Mount Forest, and my parents were not available to provide that type of support, as they were factory workers.  The teachers recognized that there would need to be a "differentiated" approach in my case that would allow for my participation in these types of learning opportunities during the instructional day.  I am grateful for all the educators who have been part of my life, and would not be where I am without all of their support and guidance!

Other comments:

As a woman pursuing a career path in education, I have been grateful for the leadership opportunities and the opportunity to be employed in a secure position.  Bluewater had faith in my abilities, and I hope to continue along that path.  I am not sure, as a woman in Grey County, if I would have had the same opportunities or career path choices if I had another employer (though I do not have a crystal ball to know this for certain).  My family and I are proud of my accomplishments.  I know my father was particularly proud, as he was an immigrant coming to Canada during a very difficult time after the Second World War, and his journey was certainly challenging.  I think he was relieved and proud of my accomplishments, to be honest, and he was not afraid to let me know how proud he was.  My family and Bluewater (and the Grey County Board of Education) have been instrumental in supporting my career goals and aspirations.  THANK YOU!!!