Olympic curler mentors a class in Weyburn

Joanne Courtney and a Grade 7 class from St. Michael School in Weyburn have joined each other’s mutual appreciation club.

Courtney, the second for Rachel Homan, and the class have been in contact throughout the school year as part of the Classroom Champions. The program brings former and current Olympians in contact with classrooms to help teach lessons that only Olympians can.

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The students got to go to the Home Hardware Canada Cup in Estevan Thursday and see Courtney and her team win one of their matches.

“It’s been a really great experience,” said the class’s teacher Jari Fleck. “Every month she gives us a challenge. We’ve done goal-setting and this month we’re focused on community. So we’re looking at ways to get out in the community and do some volunteering. It’s been great to not only see her and live-chat with her but this experience has been really exceptional.”

It’s also the first time Courtney has been a mentor through Classroom Champions and she’s enjoyed the experience.

“There’s a lesson with every video I record,” Courtney said. “We talk about things that are important not just in sports but life, and qualities that are important to grow, like appreciating diversity, the importance of perseverance and the importance of supporting a community. It’s been really cool being able to really think about that stuff in the background. And we always set challenges every month.”

Some aspiring curlers are part of the class but it’s more than just athletics or the experience of being an athlete that are being taught by the champions. The goal-setting aspect was a part of that.

“It can be a personal goal, say you want to make the lead role in the drama production by the time you’re in Grade 9,” said Fleck. “It’s not just in sports, but it’s your entire idea about setting a goal and being able to achieve it and being held accountable. It’s really nice to see someone that’s gone on and done great things.”

Every month, Courtney sends a video, which includes a challenge from her. They’ve also done video chats with her.

“We told her in that video chat that we were able to come and watch her curl (Thursday) and so we were able to tell her. The kids were able to share that with her and it was great for her to come in,” Fleck said.

Courtney has six classrooms in the program and most of them are in Weyburn.

“It was such a positive experience to get to see what they’re thinking about and what’s at the top of their minds,” Courtney said.