Jennifer Lukas, Secondary Teacher
McKinnon Park Secondary School
Getting to Know Grand Erie puts the spotlight on one of the many Grand Erie staff members learning, leading and inspiring in their daily work. The Q&A series brings the staff member into focus by sharing – in their own words – the lessons they’ve learned in leadership, teamwork and belonging.
What’s your favourite part of your job?
Every day is different, I never feel bored. I find the students interesting and hilarious. I am also lucky to work in a very supportive environment – my co-workers share my love and passion for education; we know when to put our heads together to create something amazing and positive in the school, but also know when to have a good laugh.
What does Grand Erie’s vision – to learn, lead, and inspire – mean to you?
I really connect with the idea of always learning; it’s the only way you can continually move forward and be open-minded. I really am that “lifelong learner.” The variety of leadership and inspiration through Grand Erie has shown me it doesn’t always have to be a leadership ‘role’ per se, but leadership exists in so many ways – even the smallest things can help lead and help inspire.
What is one recent moment that made you say: “this is why I do what I do”?
When a friend of mine who works at the Hamilton Spectator was looking for coverage for National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. She reached out to me to ask about the Indigenous Studies course (NAC2O) that I teach at McKinnon Park Secondary School, and wanting to cover it, along with our school. Being in the newspaper for making a difference is an incredible accomplishment for me. When I saw the front page with our students on it – so well spoken, so ready to change the world one day – I literally had that thought, “this is why I do what I do.”
What’s the best advice you’ve received?
A principal I had while teaching in Hamilton always said, “what are you doing for kids?” and I have never forgotten that. At the end of that day, that’s what it should always be about, and I’ve carried that with me for my whole career – almost 15 years. I ask myself each day, “what are you doing for kids?”
What’s a skill or talent you possess that might surprise people?
I was a competitive Highland dancer for almost 20 years. The kilt, sword, whole thing. I spent a lot of time travelling across Ontario and other parts of Canada for competitions, especially in the summer – all the Highland Games!