We had the pleasure of getting to know and inspiring instructor, Sara Thompson of the Addictions and Community Services Worker program at our Calgary North campus.
Sara has worked as instructor with Reeves College for over five years. When she’d first seen the job opening for an instructor position at another campus, she wasn’t able to take the position as it was too far from her home. Several months later, Sara got a phone call from a campus director letting her know about another instructor opening at a campus that was closer to her. She has been an instructor of the Addictions and Community Services Worker program ever since.
Why Work at Reeves College?
Sara earned a degree in addictions and started working in the field for 13 years in crisis-based roles. During that time, Sara decided she wanted to have a family, so she took a step back and worked at a non-profit organization while she raised her children.
"[Instructing] fits well with my life. I feel like I have a good relationship with my supervisor. She allows me the autonomy to do things I need to do, gives me support and constructive feedback. I really care about the students and enjoy working with them because I learn something new every time."
Rewarding Aspects of an Instructor
Sara has many passions, but she is most passionate about encountering students with different capabilities because they all come with their own lived experiences. In addition, she loves to support her student in growing through their career training at Reeves College.
"I was really missing working the field of addictions with people. That's what led me to apply to the position I'm in. Originally, I started as a part-time instructor, but the program grew, so my role grew to full time, and now I have upwards of 60 students," says Sara T.
She continued, "It's amazing to watch students grow over the period of the program. Gaining confidence in themselves and putting together great presentations. That's one of the reasons why I continue to do what I do. It's remarkable to watch people who thought they would never excel in education thrive and overcome any obstacles," says Sara T.
Another rewarding aspect of her job is relationship building with students, as it was something she missed working within the field.
Sara recalls a heartwarming encounter with one of her students. "I remember a student who had lost their son to an opioid overdose. When she first shared that with me I wasn't sure if she could handle the course material, but I was amazed to see that her whole desire was to learn about addictions and learn about her family and son. She created good boundaries for her mental health when she need to and tremendously inspired me. That's just one of them, but I have so many more amazing people I have met over the years,” Sara said.
Engaging with the Community During COVID
COVID has made it a challenge for students in the program to engage with the community because the field works a lot with populations that are vulnerable to COVID. Reeves College and campus directors have been creative in finding appropriate practicum placements for students to gain work experience in the field while keeping safe.
"COVID has brought a lot of gifts to my family and my life and my career. I often remind students that the pandemic was a turning point for many people. Many quit their jobs , many changed directions and returned to school to find their passions," says Sara.
Sara talks to students about becoming advocates for addiction in the community. She encourages them to dispel myths around addictions in the community with others. Fighting stigma toward these topics is essential in understanding and being able address issues surrounding it.
Fun Fact About Sara
Sara has always been passionate about animals. Growing up, she was always finding animals that she wanted to bring them home. Now in her adulthood, she's already rescued two dogs of her own. When she's not working or taking care of animals, Sara likes to go camping.
Learn more about the Addictions and Community Services Worker Program here.