Mackenzie Bouchard Hooker wants to be a catalyst for positive change in the education system and she's using the knowledge she gained at UNBC to make a difference in the lives of her students. The three-time UNBC graduate is the Valedictorian at Ceremony 1 at UNBC's 2022 Convocation.
As a Métis person, improving Indigenous student achievement in the K-12 system is an issue close to Mackenzie Bouchard Hooker’s heart.
As a teacher and soon-to-be three-time UNBC graduate, Bouchard Hooker is in a position where she can make a difference.
“I feel an innate and urgent need to be one of many educational leaders who act as catalysts for positive change in schools,” she says. “My goal is to make sure all of my students and their families feel welcome at school and that school is a safe place for students to learn and grow.”
This goal was at the core of her research for her Master of Education in Multidisciplinary Leadership degree. On May 27, Bouchard Hooker will receive her degree and give the valedictory address during the morning ceremony at UNBC’s 2022 Convocation.
“Being awarded Valedictorian means a great deal to me,” she says. “The previous Valedictorians are accomplished and remarkable human beings. When I think of someone like Lila Mansour, who was one of the valedictorians last year, I just know that she is going to go off and accomplish amazing things to help change the world.”
Bouchard Hooker also wants to change the world by making a difference in the lives of her students as a classroom teacher and, she hopes, eventually a principal.
During her master’s degree, she researched the most effective leadership practices that contribute to culturally responsive schools. Working with her supervisors at UNBC and expert staff at School District 57, she produced a staff handbook, a student report card template, and many student self-assessments that all include Dakelh language translations and reflect the Dakelh holistic lifelong learning model.
“I am so proud of the work that I did for this project because I know that it will help teachers incorporate the Dakelh language and culture into their everyday teaching practices with students,” she says.
The project is a culmination of a seven-year journey at UNBC for Bouchard Hooker that began as a transfer student in 2015. She came to the University after beginning her undergraduate studies at Concordia University of Edmonton.
“The UNBC admissions team was exceptional,” she recalls. “They went above and beyond, looking at all of my transferable courses and reviewing my course outlines to make sure I got credit for as many of my previously completed courses as possible.”
After earning a Bachelor of Science with a major in Biology in 2017, Bouchard Hooker began her training to become a teacher, following in the footsteps of her grandmother, sister and mother-in-law who are all teachers.
“Teaching others and working with kids is my life passion,” she says. “I love education because the possibilities are endless and you never experience the same day twice. I get to share the topics that I am most passionate about with my students, and I love getting to see them reflect the same excitement for the topic that I have.”
During her Bachelor of Education studies, Bouchard Hooker received the Maxwell A. Cameron Award, given to an education program graduate who demonstrates strong practicum teaching placements and dedication to social justice issues, as well as the Ricci Dalton Award for academic excellence and dedication to the teaching profession.
Since graduating with a BEd in 2019, Bouchard Hooker has taught at Duchess Park Secondary, Ron Brent Elementary, School District 57’s Centre for Learning Alternatives and Harwin Elementary, where she currently teaches Grade 5.
Looking back on her time at UNBC, Bouchard Hooker is grateful for the lessons she learned in the classroom, the experience she gained during practicum placements, the friends she made and the connections she developed with her instructors.
“I would not be Valedictorian if it were not for the close friends and amazing professors in my life pushing me to pursue applying,” she says. “They are always there to build me up when I begin to doubt myself. I am so grateful for the people I've met in my educational journey while attending UNBC.”