What education have you taken?
I graduated from Grand Rapids School in 2004 with my High School Diploma, then it was off to University. I have beenattending Brandon University since the fall of 2004. In May 2008 I graduated with my Bachelor of General Studies (now known asthe Bachelor of PhysicalEducationStudies)with a major in Physical Education and a minor in History/Native Studies.I am currently in the final days of myBachelor of Education After Degree.My final 7 week practicum begins March 8th in Grand Rapids, Manitoba.
What accomplishments are you proud of?
In May of 2008 I received a Business Council of Manitoba Aboriginal Education Award which was a $3000 bursary. I have been an active member in the Brandon University Physical Education Club (BUPEC). In this club we created professional development opportunities and awareness of being physically active. I sat on the board as the Secretary Treasurer for one year. I have also volunteered my time at a local elementary school helping with their Families And School Together (FAST) program for the past 3 years. I have volunteered with the same school for their Multi-Age Grouping days. I brought in Aboriginal artifacts for their scavenger hunt and for them to learn about the items. That day I also helped in the kitchen with students and teachers baking bannock, the traditional aboriginal bread. Over the summers I have alsovolunteered in my home community, Misipawistik Cree Nation,on various occasions. We had a National Cree Gathering on our reserve in 2007. Ivolunteered my time helping in the organization and administration of the many events that took place.All of the accomplishments I have achieved have helped tosculpt me into the person I am today.
Tell me about yourself.
I am a proud23 year old Aboriginal woman from Misipawistik Cree Nation. In August of this past year I married the love of my life, Tyler Lavallee. We are both in our final year of our Education Degree graduating in May of this year. I have lived on the reserve my entire life with my parents, Reginald and Linda Ballantyne, my older sister Monica, my younger brother Reggie and my 8 year old niece Ainslee Rebecca. My parents always stressed the importance of school, family and education. I attended Grand Rapids School from Nursery to Grade 12. I graduated with the biggest class Grand Rapids School ever saw, 22, which led me to where I am today.
How did you become interested in your field of study?
Just like every other Grade 1 student I wanted to be just like my teacher – she is an exceptional woman. From that year I wanted to be a teacher, although throughout the years I have probably changed my mind about a million times. It wasn’t until my 2nd year of university that I decided to pursue my childhood dream and become an early years teacher. I have loved being in Education and getting the experience of working with children. I have found what I want to do for the rest of my career – work with kids.
What is your philosophy in life?
This is adifficult question. When I think about my personal philosophy I think back to a quote a friend of mine had onthe wall of her classroom. It said “hard work = opportunity”. This quote spoke to me in many ways. I have overcome numerous challenges to be where I am today in my life. This has been one of the hardest and most rewarding experiences of my life – a challenge to say the least. I feel that I have worked extremely hard to be where I am today and could not have done it without the support of my husband, my parents and my siblings. As I matured through University I began to take my role as a student with immense pride and dignity. In my education classes I was the only person of First Nations decent – that made me feel both proud and scared at the same time. No one can understand the amount of pride I felt being in these classes. I was scared because I was in an unfamiliar setting with 20 other people who were different than me in many ways. However, through hard work I feel I have given myself the opportunity to have the best life possible. When I become a teacher this is something I am going to stress to my students – I truly believe through hard work you become the best person possible.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
In the next 5 years I see myself as an Early Years Teacherwithin the FrontierSchoolDivision. I attended a Frontier school from Nursery to Grade 12, as well as having the opportunity to work for them as a substitute teacher. This wonderful experience has showed me what a great school division Frontier is and it wouldbe a pleasure to be able to work for them as ateacher. I want to continue tolearn andprogress in my skills as a teacher.Something I have considered iscoming back to Brandon University toobtain my Masters in Education. However, right now I am ready to begin my life as a professional teacher.
In my personal life Ihopeto be happily married to my best friend, travel the worldand have started our own family.
“Jess Lavallee is an interesting combination of calm, knowledgeable, engaged, and enthusiastic. She sees potential in a situation and acts to realize it. Any school that hires her will acquire a gem of a teacher.”