Chilliwack teacher up for great teaching award

Julie Lade, teacher at Highroad Academy, has been nominated for a top teaching award and is seeking Chilliwack's votes.

Julie Lade

Julie Lade

Highroad Academy’s ‘Mama Lade’ is up for a reward of a lifetime.

Teacher Julie Lade, nicknamed Mama Lade, by her students, has been nominated for the Canadian Family Great Teacher Award, which could bring in $2,500 for the school if she wins.

Out of more than 500 applicants, Lade’s nomination was one of 13 to make it into the semifinals. In order to win, she needs community votes.

But the competition is fierce.

Lade is up against teachers in big cities like Toronto, Edmonton, Richmond, and Peterborough that already have thousands of votes behind their names.

Still, it’s not hard to see how the Chilliwack teacher got this far.

Lade has been teaching at Highroad Academy for 21 years, but has been attached to the private school for the better part of 34 years.

When Highroad Academy opened in 1978, Lade began her adventure at the institution as a bright-eyed Grade 5 student. She met her husband at the school that same year, and several years later, had her own children attend the school.

Her first full-time teaching position also came at the doors of Highroad.

“I feel like Highroad is part of my DNA,” said Lade.

Lade heads the humanities department, teaching socials studies, English, law, and history. She’s in charge of student leadership and oversees the school’s service and outreach program, which motivates students into making a difference in the community. Her lessons have also filtered out into the global community, leading missions trips to Thailand working with refugees from Burma, to the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, to less-fortunate schools in the hills of Jamaica.

“These trips have been an important part of what I get to do as a teacher, enabling students to see need and respond to it both in our local community and beyond,” said Lade.

Next year Lade will be taking over as head of the high school.

“I love the kids,” she said. “I love that nothing is the same. I love the passion and energy. I love being a part of their lives and seeing them understand new concepts.”

Teaching for her isn’t just about teaching textbook material, it’s about building relationships, and starting students on a lifelong path of learning.

“A lot of my students call me Mama Lade because the role I have here is in many ways like a parent,” she said. “I want my students to know that I care about them, and I think they’re important, and that they have a role to play in this world that nobody can play except them.”

The top three winners of the Great Teacher Award will receive $2,500 to be used toward programming and supplies for their school. They will also be featured in the September issue of Canadian Family magazine.

To vote for Lade, go to the website

Votes can be cast daily until June 30.

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