Jean Porter (2005)
I worked for the Millet Museum and Visitor Information Centre through the STEP program from May to August 2005, between my third and fourth year of university. I learned about the job in the Millet newsletter that comes with our utility bill. This was the year before when I was doing a summer semester and I was excited by the possibility of applying the following summer. I was a history major in my Bachelor of Education program and knew this was the job I wanted for the summer. I was excited about learning more about the town I was living in and interacting with the public.
STEP funding was crucial for the museum to be able to hire the other two students and myself. We are a small town and they would not have had enough revenue to hire us without it. I was a mature student, recently separated and with four children, so the funding was vital to me for continuing my last year of my education.
I learned so much about the history of the town and so many of the people living here. We were working on the War Memorial Wall during my summer there. I was so impressed by how many people stepped up to serve during that time from such a small town. I learned about archiving and the care and attention given to the documents and artifacts there. I got to attend sessions where I learned about tourism and places to visit in Alberta and I got to visit other small museums. I worked on a registry for Millet of our businesses and local attractions. The other students and I toured sites in the Millet area such as a new bed and breakfast that had just opened up and cabins available to rent. I developed such pride in my community and many of its hidden treasures.
I loved the learning sessions we had with children on things like the science behind the structure of teepees and some fun projects with dinosaurs. Providing tours for visitors to the museum was one of my favorite things about working at the museum. I developed confidence in interacting with the public and sharing so much history. Almost every visitor was shocked to see how much we had at the museum, especially when I would take them downstairs to see the exhibits down there. I learned a lot from the visitors as well, as many older guests would share some of their memories that were triggered by things they saw in the displays.
I graduated from university in 2006 and I am a full time teacher. While I teach a few subjects, my focus is Social Studies. I teach grade 7 students at Father Leduc Catholic School in Leduc and often talk to my students about things I learned at the museum such as the fact that we are not named after the grain, but that Father Lacombe named the town after his paddler, August Millet. I encourage them to attend the museum as it has much more to see than they might expect.
I previously taught at Christ the King School in Leduc and facilitated a Rotary Interact Service Club within the school and took groups of students to Costa Rica in 2012, Ecuador in 2014 and Costa Rica in 2016, along with two other teachers, to work in an orphanage for two weeks each time. We learned about the culture and history of these countries and interacted with the children in the orphanage. I made lifelong friends with the people who hosted us in those communities. I got to watch my students transition from self-absorbed teens into mature giving adults and some of them I even teach with today. At Father Leduc School, I am a facilitator of our school’s Social Justice Club.
As a teacher, I have become very active in the Alberta Teachers’ Association, helping to establish the Saint Thomas Aquinas Teachers’ Local No. 45. I currently serve as the President of the Local and have held the position for a few years. Previously I was the first Vice President. Before forming our own local, I was Secretary of the Greater Black Gold Teachers’ Local. Many of the skills I learned at the museum help me with the organization skills that have transferred to my work as a teacher and president of my local.
My favourite memory at the museum was working with Tracey, Janet, the other students, Scott and Mia, and the members of the Millet & District Historical Society. I encourage other students to enjoy every moment working with the very special people connected to the Museum. They have so much knowledge to share with you.