Katherine Therrien was born in Compton, Quebec on September 19, 1906. At a young age, Miss Therrien's family moved to Brosseau, Alberta. In 1922, at age 16, she became the single teacher of a one-room school. Her year's wage was only $900 and sometimes payment was made in garden produce. She was also responsible for carrying water in daily, lighting the fire to keep the school warm in winter as well as installing storm windows.
After teaching in the towns of St. Vincent, Plamondon, Falher and Vimy, Miss Therrien attended the University of Alberta and obtained her Bachelor of Education in 1944. She was then hired by the Edmonton Separate School Board (now called Edmonton Catholic School Division) where she taught at Grandin School. In 1950, she became Supervisor of Elementary Education for the Edmonton Separate School District. Her roles included hiring elementary teachers, providing professional development and addressing media questions when they arose. Over the next 22 years, Miss Katherine worked in various administrative positions, eventually retiring in 1972 as an Assistant Superintendent.
Katherine Therrien at her namesake school (Photo Credit Unknown)
Miss Therrien was a passionate and life-long learner. She loved to read which led her to help develop reading textbooks and a reading readiness program at St. Alphonsus, St. Basil and St. Michael schools. She implemented French fundamental programming in grade 4 classrooms. Her work also allowed her to travel internationally to study and observe instructional practices for disadvantaged children, using her knowledge to support students in Edmonton.
Edmonton Journal, Friday, November 7, 1975
On March 7, 1976, Katherine Therrien Catholic Elementary School was officially opened in her name where she gave the opening speech. As her commitment exemplified, we continue to honour her beliefs in our school's mission, vision and charism:
School Mission: Rooted in faith, we are committed to student-centred learning and empowering children to use their minds, hearts and hands to serve others as disciples of Jesus.
School Vision: To ignite all learners in becoming effective communicators and critical thinkers, prepared to serve with compassion and guided by the teachings of Christ.
School Charism: In the same belief as our school name, we:
- acknowledge that all children are God’s gifts and that we bring hope to our students through acts of love, sincerity and security.
- bring hope to our Christian Community by acknowledging, realizing and recognizing individual potential and skills.
- bring hope to our Catholic school, using Jesus as our model, though our respect towards children, teachers, staff members, and parents
Miss Therrien passed away on her 81st birthday in 1987.
Edmonton Catholic Schools Archives