A Chinook’s Edge teacher has been recognized as the Town of Innisfail’s Mentor of the Year.  

Grade 5 and 6 teacher at the Innisfail Middle School, Erin Holt, received the award for her work in implementing a ski program for students.  

Over the past two years, more than 200 students have participated in the program, going to the Innisfail ski hill, and learning from Holt and other certified instructors.  

Holt has also volunteered in various coaching roles for the school and regularly at the local ski hill, and acts on the Board of Directors.   

When she found out she was nominated, Holt said, “I felt so happy. I am not doing what I do for recognition, but it’s nice to know that people see what I’m doing, and they see positive changes as a result.”  

Holt added that she is motivated by providing opportunities for students.   

“If a student’s family doesn’t do sports, or they haven’t tried skiing before, then the ski program creates an opportunity to try something new, and it might be something they want to continue doing,” she said.   

Innisfail teacher Erin Holt and students at the ski hill.Innisfail teacher, Erin Holt, has implemented a ski program for students at the local hill. Photo courtesy of Dan Evans Media.

Holt loves seeing students continue to try skiing on their own time after she has introduced it to them.   

“It’s my favourite thing, on a Wednesday night, to be at the top of the tow rope saying hello to students who are there enjoying skiing,” she said.  

In her spare time, Holt likes to hike, backpack, scuba dive and participate in sports.   

Her passion for an active lifestyle is something she hopes inspires her students.   

“I’m pretty proud when students start to embrace their athleticism,” she said. “I love introducing students to new sports and showing them that they are never too old to learn a new skill and develop a passion.”  

Two Educational Assistants, Kari Fox and Candi Martin, nominated Holt for the award.   

“We could both see the impact that the ski program was having on students. It’s fun for kids and we saw their improvement,” Fox said. “Bringing an awareness to the sport and making it feasible for students and their families to experience it. We’re fortunate to have a ski hill in Innisfail, and someone like Erin to help kids enjoy it.”  

Ted Hutchings, Principal of Innisfail Middle School explained that Holt is very deserving of the award, as she took her vision and did the hard work to make it happen.   

“She planned, worked with the ski hill, got volunteers in place, and created this amazing and special opportunity for students,” he said. “It's been fascinating to watch the students' progress in their skills. Athletic students as well as students who haven’t been as involved in sports have all progressed and found success. That has increased students’ confidence, and when kids realize they can be successful that is valuable. The ski program opens another opportunity for students to enjoy the outdoors and to have an active lifestyle.”