Skip to content

Champion of Inclusivity and empowerment wins prestigious teaching award

Natalie Raedwulf Pogue was awarded with the 2024 Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence.
Natalie Raedwulf Pogue, a teacher at Carihi Secondary, won a Prime Minister's Teaching Excellence Award. Photo submitted by SD72.

Carihi Secondary School Natalie Raedwulf Pogue was honoured with the 2024 Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence as a dedicate advocate for students with autism and other disabilities.

Her lived experience as an autistic and disabled educator allows her to demonstrate what is possible and help her students overcome barriers to pursue their goals.

"I am passionate about inclusive representation, disability justice and accessibility for every learner, staff member and community member in our public schools. It means a lot to me to be given a national award that creates space, and conversation around these topics near and dear to my heart," Raedwulf Pogue says. "It is a common belief that autistic and disabled teachers are few and far between and that is simply not true."

Raedwulf Pogue was in high school when she knew she wanted to become a teacher. As an autistic person, school was difficult for her, despite being academically capable with a strong love of learning. 

"I heavily relied on the support of compassionate teachers to make school tenable enough to graduate," she says. "I remember in Grade 10 deciding that I also wanted to make a difference and contribute to school accessibility and well-being for other students."

She completed her Bachelor of Education in 2010 and became a teacher-on-call before deciding to take an opportunity to work full-time in education. She moved to Asia for four years, coming back to Campbell River in 2014 and started working at School District 72. She has been with Carihi since 2018 when she shifted from teaching in the classroom to learning support with a specialization in supporting students with various disabilities and conditions.

"We need more representation in education so that our autistic, neurodivergent and disabled students also see themselves as future professionals, educators and leaders in our community and beyond," she says. "Inclusion, representation, and disability justice only happens as a community collaboration, and this work cannot be done in silo. It truly is a team effort, and I could not accomplish what I do without the support of this incredibly inclusive school community."

It is the first time she has won an award related to teaching. However, she did win a Reach Award earlier this year for research in understanding and supporting autistic students and teacher experience in public schools.

Raedwulf Pogue says she appreciates her colleagues who nominated and supported her for this award.

Inviting elders into her classroom to share their teachings with staff and students are some of her favourite memories while in the classroom. 

"Some of my other all-time favourite memories are watching students accomplish goals they may have previously believed were out of their reach. Beyond the moments, however, I would say that what I cherish the most about teaching are the relationships. I have the honour of teaching some of the most creative, humorous, clever and resilient individuals, and they gift me daily with life lessons and inspiration."

Pogue was one of two Campbell River-based teachers to be honoured with the 2024 Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence. Timberline Stephen Joyce was the other. See his story on