The South Slave Divisional Education Council (SSDEC) has handed out its annual Excellence in Education Awards, including a new one in remembrance of a Hay River resident who passed away last year.
The inaugural Jill Taylor Above & Beyond Award was presented to Erin MacDonald, a teacher at Paul William Kaeser High School in Fort Smith.
“Always willing to go above and beyond for the benefit of others, this teacher is an exceptional role model for not just her students, but for all of us,” said Curtis Brown, the superintendent of the SSDEC, while announcing the award winners in Hay River on Aug. 29 during the organization’s annual conference of educators from across the South Slave.
MacDonald has been a teacher at the Fort Smith high school since 2004.
Over the last fifteen years, she has primarily taught junior high English Language Arts, Social Studies, and Foods.
She is also known for organizing on-the-land excursions for junior high school students each year, including the award-winning trips to the Sweetgrass Station deep in the Wood Buffalo National Park.
The Jill Taylor Above & Beyond Award is named in honour of an SSDEC co-ordinator who died last fall.
Among many other contributions to Hay River and its schools, Taylor was the founder of the Lights On program.
“Council was looking for ways to memorialize Jill Taylor and to recognize her contributions year after year,” said Brown in announcing the first recipient of the award. “And they came up with the idea of the Jill Taylor Above and Beyond Award, which is very fitting.”
The Jill Taylor Above and Beyond Award can be awarded to a staff member, parent, student, or partner who has gone above and beyond in making positive contributions to the wellbeing of South Slave children or youth.
Two other awards were presented by the SSDEC.
Ashley West-Pratt Beck, a teacher at Chief Sunrise Education Centre on the Hay River Reserve, was named the winner of the 2018 Program Staff Award.
“Her passion for teaching is fueled by a belief that all children want to succeed, and that it is her job to help them to become independently calm, alert and keen to learn,” said Brown. “As such, she has pioneered self-regulation techniques in her classroom, which have helped students with varying developmental and behavioural difficulties find success.”
The Partner in Education Award was presented to Jill Morse, a well-known volunteer in Hay River, including with a number of Parent Action Committees at several schools.
A winner of the Program Staff Award can include teachers, administrators, consultants and education assistants that work in South Slave schools.
A winner of the Partner in Education Award can include support staff, parents, students, volunteers and other community members, groups or organizations that work in support of student learning.