Young teacher was a good fit
Okotoks: Courtney Anderson was magic’ in classroom
Wednesday, Feb 26, 2014 06:00 am
By Bruce Campbell
The principal at Good Shepherd School had a major headache taken care of when a first-year-teacher walked into his office just days before the opening of school last August.
Principal Wayne Lorenz knew Courtney Anderson was the perfect fit for the school’s Grade 3 classroom just minutes after she came in for her job interview.
“She had such an amazing presence,” Lorenz said. “She was funny, sincere and Courtney had a very strong faith life, which was very important to us… She just connected so well. She was the perfect candidate, who arrived at the perfect time.”
The school community is remembering the young teacher after she was killed in a car crash in British Columbia on Feb. 15. She was 24.
While Anderson was impressive in the interview room, more importantly she excelled in front of her students.
“She was magic —Courtney was wonderful with the students,” said Lorenz, who attended Anderson’s funeral in Ontario on Feb. 21. “She was so gentle and sincere with the kids — they loved her.”
She lived up to the Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools mission statement of Leave Not One Heart Behind, he said.
“She was always working to meet the needs of the many,” Lorenz said. “(Working with) Students with their various learning needs or various behaviourial needs — she worked hard to meet the students right where they were at.
“She had prayer activities with the kids and shared her personal stories of her life and in turn, they shared their stories with her.”
Anderson had a story of determination. She was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer in 2007 and was cured later that year.
Part of that determination was being a fitness buff. She ran marathons, triathlons and had set a goal of doing a full Ironman triathlon. Part of her training was attending spin and fitness classes at Motion Fitness in Okotoks.
Spin class instructor Kimberly Selders said the Feb. 18 session was dedicated to their friend.
“We all formed a circle around her bike where we had a big bouquet of flowers,” Selders said. “We started with a half-hour of just sharing what Courtney had meant to us.
“It was clear that everyone had a story to share about how Courtney had motivated or touch their lives in such a short period of time.”
Selders said Anderson was an important member of the fitness group.
“Our group is very tight,” Selders said. “She told me that her family was in Ontario and she felt so far from home and the group felt like a family. She talked about doing either a half-Ironman or a full Ironman.”
Anderson also started going on snowshoe trips with the group.
“She was just so very, very, sweet,” Selders said. “She had a lot of goals and ambitions — very driven. And yet she was so very sweet.”
Selders added one of Anderson’s goals went beyond physical activity, she wanted to travel to Africa and do charity work — something Anderson had done in the past.
The school division and Good Shepherd immediately started to help their students and staff to deal with Anderson’s death despite there being no classes last week.
“I contacted all of our staff personally and we contacted every family by phone and by e-mail as well,” Lorenz said. “We provided grief counseling support (for students) on Tuesday (Feb. 18). We wanted to be ready just in case.”
He said counsellors will be available this week to help staff and students.
A funeral was held for Anderson in her hometown of Mississauga.
Donations in memory of Anderson can be made to the SickKids Foundation at www.sickkidsfoundation.com.