During his studies at the University of Windsor in the Bachelor of Education program, Keith Reinhart was able to complete a practicum on the Kettle and Stony Point Reserve as part of the Beginning Times Teaching course and travel to Tanzania with Teachers for Tanzania. These experiences provided rich learning opportunities and ignited Keith’s passion for teaching in unique situations and remote areas. Upon graduating in 2015, Keith visited the Teach for Canada website and learned about this non-profit organization that works with First Nations communities in Northern Ontario to recruit teachers. Keith was able to apply through the Teach for Canada website and then completed a number of skype, phone, and face-to-face interviews. Teach for Canada was able to match Keith to a community in need of his skill set. With primary/junior and physical education additional qualifications, Keith was placed in a one-year contract at John C Yesno on Eabametoong First Nation Reserve as a gym teacher for grades kindergarten through 8.
Teach for Canada provided Keith with a 6-week teacher enrichment program which included a trip to Lac Seul First Nation reserve the summer prior to beginning their positions. After the enrichment program, a Teach for Canada contact provided Keith with continual support and kept in communication with him throughout the year.
Keith spent the year in the small (about 1,400 people) ‘fly in’ community, with his colleague, University of Windsor graduate Will Nicholson, and was able to immerse himself in a culture quite different from his own. The experience began with excited students waiting to meet him at the airport, a community talent show which Keith was able to participate in, and an opportunity to enter his first year as a teacher with an open mind. Keith - or as his students call him, Coach Keith - has had enormous success in Eabametoong. He enjoyed being able to build trusting relationships with his students and their families and became a part of a community with a “strong sense of togetherness.”
Keith credits Dr. Allen and Dr. Beckford’s 2015 trip with Teachers for Tanzania, the University of Windsor’s Beginning Time Teaching course with Paul Petatehgoose and Dr. Cobb, as well as his rich teaching placement experiences for preparing him for this position. Keith encourages future Bachelor of Education students to enter the teaching profession with an open mind and to be willing to take risks. Keith also noted that new teachers shouldn’t be afraid to get out and volunteer in schools and communities. He encourages candidates to take the opportunities available to teach in the North as it opened his eyes to teaching in other parts of Canada.
Keith was excited to tell his students at John C Yesno, who are used to a high teacher turnover, that he will be returning in the Fall for a second year-long contract. Keith hopes to continue an exchange of learning with the students and community of Eabametoong and to continue to shape his professional teaching perspective.