Part of the reason why Parkland School Division No. 70 is the winner of the training and development category comes from trying to do both the ordinary and the impossible. Shae Abba, the director of human resources, says the school division “invests in you, and really cares about you as a person, not a number.” Simple enough – everyone says that. But, she adds, “the superintendent, Tim Monds, really tries to get to know every single employee, even though we currently have 1,100!” If that’s not a sign that the division is invested in their employees, what is? Well, you could point to a number of things Parkland does that also count. With the operation of 22 schools and more than 10,000 students under its purview, the school division provides its staff with access to lots of external training programs, to great medical benefits and employee and family assistance programs. But it also goes above and beyond with other kinds of workshops and training, from a bevy of leadership events, like Exploring Leadership sessions, a one-day “Leadercast” that brings together speakers from across the world for insight into leadership, its Education Assistant Bootcamp, or a mandatory set of training sessions based off the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. And all that leadership training actually pays off. “People come into my office all the time asking, ‘How do I advance myself?’ ” Abba says. “I always say, ‘Don’t ask for more money – ask for more professional development, because that becomes part of you.’ ” The school division also employs out-of-the-box techniques like mindfulness training, held in the Parkland botanical gardens, no less. Everyone, young and old, takes this training, Abba says, and “we’re constantly learning because we offer all these resources to all our teachers, and we find that our teachers are highly sought-after.” And when new teachers arrive, they take part in two orientation days and five call-back sessions throughout the year. Plus, each teacher is assigned a mentor teacher to whom they can go for help. It’s also exciting for the teachers to be a part of a school division that so readily embraces technology and other forms of learning. “We’re trying to develop 21st-century learners, moving away from basic classroom instruction where teachers are at the front of the room and children sit down at their desks and listen,” Abba says.

The Finalists

Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission, Edmonton The AGLC is a partner in the Not Myself Today initiative, which support those with mental health challenges.


Horizon North Calgary Horizon’s employee and family assistance program gives employees and their families access to counselling, advice and life coaching even if they’re not dependents under the insurance plan.


United Construction, Acheson United has had zero lost-time incidents since 2009, unprecedented for the industry.


Workers’ Compensation Board, Edmonton As you might expect, the WCB has a thorough employee health and safety program, including on-site massage and physiotherapy, ergonomic assessments, a flu clinic and nutritional counselling.