The choice to return to the university was an easy one, as Iron wanted to share his passion for the Cree language with students. He has watched his moshomak (grandpa) and kohkomak (grandma), and his mother, aunts, cousins, friends and wife graduate from the ITEP program and knew it was right for him.
“It is rewarding to be a classroom teacher and hear positive words, receive kind notes and ‘hey uncle’ from Aboriginal students,” said Iron. “Being a role model and providing valuable learning experiences to the students makes it all worth it.”
Iron earned his Bachelor of Arts in 2004 from the U of S, and with transfer credit options he needed to complete just half of the credits for a Bachelor of Education degree. With determination, Iron completed his degree in just 22 months and will walk across the stage as one of the 22 Bachelor of Education students—15 from ITEP—at U of S Fall Convocation on Saturday, Oct. 27 at TCU Place at 2 pm.
“I am happy to say that I am already teaching in my own elementary classroom, incorporating Cree into all subjects,” he said proudly.
Upon finishing classes, it didn’t take Iron long to sift through offers and select Saskatoon’s St. Frances Elementary School, teaching in a Grade 5 classroom as his first job. Familiarity with the students, school and families made it comfortable for him.
Iron’s education journey at the U of S doesn’t end there. He is currently enrolled in the Indigenous Languages Certificate offered in the College of Education, taking the courses on the weekend. Through the course, he has gained further knowledge in ways to teach Cree, syllabics, place names and history that he can bring to his classroom.
“I am grateful for this adven-ture,” he said. “I am passionate about teaching Cree and can converse with the families [of my students] in Cree. I can see the appreciation and hear it in their voice when I can reply back in Cree. I am grateful that families are honoured and respected by me showing the importance of the Cree language.”
A mature student, winner of numerous U of S awards and scholarships, and now teacher, Iron said the most important lesson for current university students is to remember to develop a good work ethic and allocate enough time for studies, class time and social activities.
“The most important piece of this educational journey that has made it successful is that I am absolutely passionate about my vision,” he said. “My goal was to teach Cree. This drove the passion I put into my assignments and conversations. Find your passion, then the energy and effort will come easily.”