The students at the Busy Bear Preschool Club and Head Start operated by the Sumas First Nation in Abbotsford call her “Teacher Sophie” and they like the way she sits on the floor to have eye-level conversations with them.
Sophie Loewen’s approach to early childhood education has just won her a Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence.
She collected it in Ottawa last week from prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“It was a surprise, a wonderful surprise” Loewen told The News.
She said Busy Bear practices family-centred child care that encourages close ties between parents and teachers.
“I like the whole aspect where we get to know each other as people,” Loewen said.
“I get to know the families real well, which is nice. My son goes to their birthday parties, I go to their barbecues. It’s like family.”
An online backgrounder on Loewen cites her flexible and responsive approach to early childhood education, noting that she regularly rearranges activities and discussions to respond to their questions, develops approaches tailored to individual children’s development, and shares those techniques with parents.
She was also credited for working to keep the language and culture of the Stó:lō people alive, including writing stories incorporating sacred teachings that the children act out for parents and organizing a tea for elders during which the children performed two songs in the Halq’eméylem language.
Loewen was nominated by fellow early childhood educator Rachel Guvi.
“What comes through in the end is her unwavering commitment to provide only what is in the best interest of children and families,” Guvi said.
The Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence have honoured exceptional elementary and secondary school teachers since 1993
Almost 1,500 teachers have been honoured to date.
(Click below to play video from award ceremony.)