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Four Educators: Finalists for Premier’s Awards

Four of 30 finalists for this year’s Premier’s Awards for Excellence in Education are from Burnaby Schools.

Launched in 2018, the annual awards began as an opportunity to recognize the contributions of teachers, principals and vice-principals, school and district leaders, and support staff who go above and beyond for K-12 students in BC.

Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony at Government House in Victoria on October 4, the day before World Teachers’ Day. Those who win receive a $3,000 personal bursary for professional learning, a $2,000 contribution to their school community, and a commemorative work of art. Runners-up will receive a certificate of recognition signed by the Premier and Minister of Education.

Sabha Ghani, Teacher at Burnaby South Secondary
Nominated for Extracurricular Leadership Award
A teacher for 22 years, Ghani has a natural ability to engage with her students in a meaningful and supportive way. The social studies teacher is dedicated to her role as sponsor of her school’s WE Council and provides a safe, inclusive and encouraging environment for members. She gives students the confidence to build community beyond the classroom setting, and supports them to play an active role in the world at large. Through her work with the WE Council, she has created more than just an after-school club. She has developed a collective of conscientious student activists and community leaders who are dedicated to supporting local, national and international causes, are committed to social justice, and who have been empowered to create lasting change.

Victoria Lee, Principal:

Sabha is a talented Social Studies teacher who is passionate about empowering students.  She views the We Council as an extension of her classroom goal to educate students about the world around them and to provide them with the essential leadership skills they need to bring about social change.”

Bryan Gidinski, Teacher at Chaffey-Burke Elementary
Nominated for Social Equity and Diversity Award
Teaching for 23 years, Gidinski believes strongly that all students should feel included in the classroom. Valuing diversity and equity, he works hard to create positive learning opportunities and welcoming spaces for all students. He encourages and empowers his students to take action to positively influence their community. He has been instrumental in fostering an appreciation for diversity and supporting people of all sexual orientations, and gender identities and expressions in his school community. He is actively involved in his school’s professional development committee, and engages his peers in activities that help them recognize and celebrate their differences, and connect those understandings to their professional practice.

Claudio Bortolussi, Principal:

Bryan is a brilliant teacher, who makes learning fun for students, engaging them in dialogue and conversations. Focused on foundational learning and extending for personal growth to each and every student in his classroom and school.”

Scott Stefanek, Teacher at École Brantford Elementary
Nominated for Extracurricular Leadership Award

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 – cross country, volleyball, basketball, track and ultimate frisbee included. For cross country and track, he not only coaches, but helps run the district event as a convener. He helped organize a biking program, launched a run club for students and staff that participates in the Vancouver Sun Run, in addition to several other clubs, from 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 both in the classroom, during their club time, and on the playing field.

Kurt Gurney, Principal:

Scott is an absolute inspiration… infectious energy, selfless generosity… an extraordinary teacher who goes above and beyond for everyone he knows.”

Wendel Williams, Safe School Specialist at Alpha Secondary
Nominated for Outstanding Support — School Community Award
Having served in this position for 25 years, Williams plays a critical supporting role in the safety and well-being of students. 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. 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. 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.

Tim Wozney, Principal:

I can honestly state that I have never worked with anyone in any capacity, who has had more impact on Burnaby students than Wendel Williams.”  

Premier John Horgan:

When we open the doors of opportunity for young people, we give them the chance to succeed and our whole province benefits. This year’s finalists have gone to incredible lengths to help BC students inside and outside the classroom. I commend these hard-working education professionals for their leadership, innovation and determination.”

Read the Ministry of Education news release.

Read the Burnaby Now story.


Posted July 2019