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Outstanding Student Nominates Remarkable River Heights Teacher

May 10, 2022 News Story
Outstanding Student Nominates Remarkable River Heights Teacher

An alumnus from École River Heights School is sharing academic accolades after receiving an award for her post-secondary studies at the University of Manitoba.

Suzan Palani attended River Heights between 2008-2010 for Grades 7 and 8. Currently, Palani is set to graduate from the U of M in the Faculty of Nursing. The Faculty of Nursing nominated her for an Outstanding Student Award.

Palani is involved with the university's senate and student union, and her continued commitment to ensuring equitable treatment of Muslims in Canada contributed to her nomination.

The university student took the opportunity to in turn nominate two educators who have impacted her life through school and post-secondary. At the school level, Palani nominated River Heights teacher Petra Thanisch.

"I am amazed to receive this award and appreciate the opportunity to nominate two important teachers, one at the university level and another from grade school, who helped me realize this goal," Palani said.

The University of Manitoba recognized Thanisch for her significant contribution to excellence in teaching through the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Advancement of Teaching and Learning.

Thanisch teaches English and Social Studies at the Grade 7 level at River Heights.

"To be recognized by a former student over a decade later is very significant. It's a nice recognition that my work is appreciated beyond the classroom," Thanisch said.

Palani said she nominated Thanisch because she always made learning and any activity fun. Thanisch has taught and coached three of Palani’s siblings and nine of her cousins. Palani's younger sister, Bafraw, noted that "Ms. Thanisch always had my back."

Palani said that Thanisch allowed her students to explore their cultural backgrounds; Thanisch set the groundwork for Palani to find her voice in the community and her chosen profession.

Thanisch herself is a first-generation Canadian who always works to create safe spaces and activities for newcomer students. Palani recalls that she enjoyed spending non-instructional time in Thanisch's classroom as it was a safe space for her and her friends.

"For Suzan to reach out and say I was important in her development and honouring me is very special," Thanisch said. "Suzan can trace her strength back to here at River Heights."

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