MLA-elect Sarah Hoffman focused on inclusivity in the classroom, classroom sizes and childhood hunger during her address to educators at the Alberta Teachers Association Annual Representative Assembly in Edmonton Saturday.

Hoffman told the crowd that teachers deserve a partner in government.

 “A partner you can trust. A partner that works with you to protect our schools. A partner that understands the needs of our children. A partner that respects the values, and the important contributions and sacrifices that teachers make in our province. Friends I am thrilled to say that now you have that true partner in the government of Alberta.”

The MLA-elect for Edmonton-Glenora, Hoffman has served as the vice chair and the chair of Edmonton Public Schools since being elected to the board in 2010.

It has been speculated that Hoffman will become the NDP’s Minister of Education and many of those in the ATA think it would be the right choice.

“She has what it takes. She has the knowledge and she has the drive,” Veronica Doleman, a teacher from Fort McMurray, told CTV News.

Long-time teacher David Stawn agreed.

“I can tell from her speech that she really values teachers but also really values children.”

Calgary Catholic teacher Alexendra Jurisic said it was a positive move to have Hoffman speak at the event.

“It is sending a message that has been a keystone of the NDP’s platform, which is their commitment to partnership with the teachers association. That is critical to reassuring everybody in this room particularly as budgets are being – hopefully – revised in view of the commitment to backfill the education budget.”

Jurisic said it was the first time in a long time that most of those in the room did not feel they were in a defensive position following an election.

“We can look forward to working in a co-operation with this government, notwithstanding the difficulties that we are facing monetarily in this province.”

For Doleman teacher workload and class sizes were a concern in her district and she said she is optimistic the NDP will help renew the education sector.

“I think the big thing is just making sure our work conditions improve for all of Alberta.

“With Wildrose as our opposition I think that brings an interesting mix to the equation.”  

About 450 teacher delegates from across the province are expected to be at the ATA Annual Representative Assembly. They are expected to debate over 200 resolutions as well as set the budget for the organization.

With files from Veronica Jubinville