Whether a community’s problem is poverty, violence, drug addiction, or virtually any social issue one can imagine, education is often key to improving conditions. So it’s long overdue that B.C. give attention to the province’s best teachers and the administration officials who support them.
Over the weekend (October 5), the provincial government held it’s second annual "premier's awards for excellence in education".
"All British Columbians benefit from the outstanding efforts of teachers, administrators and support workers," Premier John Horgan said quoted in a B.C. Ministry of Education media release. "The education professionals honoured through the Premier's Awards for Excellence in Education are exemplary in their commitment to student success, making schools safe and welcoming places for all, innovative learning approaches and strong leadership, and having made lasting impacts on peoples' lives."
The education-system members who were selected for the honour made it onto the list for having gone “above and beyond to creatively inspire” their students' learning experiences.
Here’s the list of recipients and a short bit about how they have stood out.
Sandra Breslin, an educational assistant at Abbotsford’s Prince Charles Elementary School
“A dedicated, passionate and enthusiastic educational assistant, Breslin wants every child to be the best they can be and to feel safe, loved and cared for at school,” a ministry release reads in part. “She works hard to find strengths in all students and celebrates the differences that make every one of them special and unique.”
Lisa McCullough, a superintendent with the Sea-to-Sky region’s school district 45
“An energetic and empathetic leader, McCullough led her school district through a carefully planned, collaborative and strategic initiative to change the culture of learning and improve student achievement,” a ministry release reads in part. “The culmination was an education plan that resulted in the significant increase of Indigenous and special education graduation rates, overall graduation rates and grade-to-grade transition rates, as well as a decrease in suspension rates.”
Grace Broadfoot, a teacher at Kaslo’s J.V. Humphries Elementary and Secondary school
“Described as a game changer at her school, Broadfoot shows a real concern for her students and their learning,” a ministry release reads in part. A highly respected teacher, she is attentive to students’ social emotional as well as physical health, incorporating mental health curriculum into her classes.”
Chad Jobe, a teacher and coordinator at Port Alberni’s Vast Centre and Learning Alternatives
“Jobe believes in creating inclusive and experiential learning opportunities so all students can be
successful in the classroom and beyond,” a ministry release reads in part. “He team teaches more than 50 students from grades 8 to 12 in the About Program, which incorporates unique learning opportunities using Indigenous cultural education as the foundation to core academics. He helps students create a weekly podcast on topics like racism and poverty, giving them an opportunity to demonstrate personal responsibility, tolerance and respect for the ideas and beliefs of others.”
Jordan Smith, a teacher and program coordinator at Kamloops’s Twin Rivers Education Centre
“Smith works hard to connect students with Indigenous culture and history, and to create an environment of safety and belonging,” a ministry release reads in part. “Each year, she identifies a thematic focus that connects experiential learning, art, community involvement and field trips to an elective course that all students are enrolled in. In keeping with the theme, students engage in a variety of hands-on learning opportunities, such as traditional fishing, gathering with local Elders and working with Indigenous artists.”
Scott Stefanek, a teacher at Burnaby’s École Brantford Elementary school
“Since arriving at his school, Stefanek, a caring and engaged teacher, coach and mentor, has served as the head coach for every sporting activity at the school, including cross country, volleyball, basketball, track and ultimate frisbee,” a ministry release reads in part. “For cross country and track, he not only coaches, but also helps run the district event as a convener.”
Troy White, principal of Kelowna’s École Kelowna Secondary school
“An innovative and respectful leader, White is tireless in his pursuits to enhance the learning and success of all staff and students at his school,” a ministry release reads in part. “He continuously updates his leadership style to meet the ever-changing needs of his school’s 21st-century learners.”
Alan Gee, a teacher at Vernon’s Clarence Fulton Secondary school
“In his 32 years as a teacher, Gee has worked hard to support his students to cultivate both classroom and community connections,” a ministry release reads in part. “Passionate about experiential learning, he has created educational opportunities for his students at both local and global levels.”
Wendel Williams, a safe school specialist at Burnaby’s École Alpha Secondary school
“Having served in this position for 25 years, Williams plays a critical supporting role in the safety and well-being of students,” a ministry release reads in part. “He is skilled in the art of conflict resolution, mediation, crisis intervention, threat-risk assessment and de-escalation of potentially violent situations. His proactive efforts have prevented the occurrence of countless potentially harmful incidents.”
Brendan Robertson, a teacher at École Beairsto Elementary school
“A tinkerer at heart, Robertson is a natural fit in his district leadership role as technology innovation co-ordinator, as well as a grade-four teacher,” a ministry release reads in part. “He is committed to integrating emerging digital technology tools into the classroom to enhance learning and engagement for all students.”
All 10 winners received a $3,000 bursary for professional learning, according to the ministry of education’s media release. The province also gave $2,000 to each recipient’s school community for professional learning.
“This year's 10 winners, who were chosen from 140 nominations received between January and April 2019 and narrowed down to 30 finalists, were announced at the ceremony. Premier John Horgan, Rob Fleming, Minister of Education, and Lt. Gov. Janet Austin attended,” it reads. The annual awards ceremony is held at the same time as World Teachers' Day. This year's is being marked internationally on October 5.”