Two Burnaby school district educators took home first-place honours at the Premier's Awards for Excellence in Education in Victoria last week.
The awards, launched by the NDP government last year, recognize exceptional teachers, administrators and support staff working in public, independent or First Nations school systems.
École Alpha Secondary safe-school specialist Wendel Williams won in the category of Outstanding Support – School Community.
Williams has spent 25 years as a youth support worker in the district, making connections with students and resolving conflicts.
“He works hard to build relationships with students based on trust and respect, and provides a much-needed lifeline for many kids, connecting them with local community agencies and partners as required,” states a write-up about the award. “His efforts have resulted in students feeling safe and connected at school, and, when concerning situations do arise, they feel comfortable seeking him out for advice and support.”
École Brantford Elementary School teacher Scott Stefanek, meanwhile, won the Premier’s award in the category of Extracurricular Leadership.
Since arriving at Brantford, Stefanek has served as the head coach for every sporting activity at the school, including cross country, volleyball, basketball, track and ultimate Frisbee, according to the award write-up.
For cross country and track, he not only coaches, but also helps run the district event as a convener.
THe has also helped organize a biking program and launched numerous clubs for everything from running to anime to coding.
“He goes above and beyond to support students to participate and do their best, is always their biggest cheerleader and encourages them to achieve their goals in the classroom, during their club time and on the playing field,” states the write-up.
Chaffey-Burke Elementary teacher Bryan Gidinski and Burnaby South Secondary social studies teacher Sabha Ghani were also finalists this year in the Social Equity and Diversity and the Extracurricular Leadership categories respectively.
Besides kudos, Williams and Stefanek got a $3,000 personal bursary for professional learning, a $2,000 contribution to their school community for professional learning and a commemorative work of art.
Runners-up got a certificate of recognition signed by the Premier and Minister of Education.