GREAT TEACHERS: Nomination writeups paint a clear picture of service

Greater Victoria teachers beloved by their students; parents voice appreciation, too

Congratulations to all who were nominated in our Great Teachers campaign.

The following is a list of nomination entries received by Black Press during our Great Teachers campaign held in May and June. Some nominators made their thoughts short and sweet while others wrote poignantly about how their favourite teachers make a difference, go above and beyond the call of duty and were deserving of special recognition.

We tend to agree and hope you enjoy reading these letters. Maybe you’ll find a teacher you or your child had this year or in the past.

Congratulations to all who were nominated and thank you to those who took the time to nominate these excellent educators.


Nominator: Kirsten Quealey

Teacher: Betsy Clarke

School: Ecole John Stubbs Memorial School

Grade: 2

Some people are flowers, some folks are french fries, others are stinky socks, but the best description of Betsy Clarke has stuck throughout the year. She is warm, compassionate, caring, kind and nurturing. She really cares very deeply about the well-being of her students. She makes learning fun, relevant and interesting, but when these wonderful little people are only in Grade 2, they still need the gentle care and tenderness that Betsy offers.


Nominator: Kirsten Quealey

Teacher: Jennifer Gibson

School: Ecole John Stubbs Memorial School

Nomination Category: Middle School


Jennifer is the type of teacher I hope my children always have. She is compassionate, caring and treats all her students with the respect and level of maturity they earn and deserve through their own actions. She is fair, understanding and makes learning an absolute joy.

She guides them and encourages them to go out into the world as leaders and strong individuals.

She is a great listener and her actions are always professional, thoughtful and kind.

Her love, dedication and passion for teaching goes above and beyond.


Nominator: Neil Barman

Teacher: Sarah Goulet

School: Margaret Jenkins Elementary

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: 2

Sarah Goulet, even in just her first two years of teaching, has shown incredible understanding for and connection with her students. She clearly enjoys her job and her role with the kids. She is both compassionate with them and motivates them to do their best.


Nominator: Ivan McDonald

Teacher: Ian Daykin

School: Selkirk Montessori

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: 4

My name is Marijke McDonald. I am finishing grade 4 this year at Selkirk Montessori School. I would like to nominate my Music Teacher Ian Daykin, for Great Teacher.

Ian is a fabulous music teacher for grades 4-8, an Outdoor Education teacher for grades 7-8 and an energetic gym teacher for grades 1-2. We learn through stories and videos he shares with us. If we’re not getting something Ian tries to help us as a class and then if needed he will help individuals as well. Often using a circle drawing, Ian demonstrates how one thing leads to another.

In his free time Ian directs various clubs like Strings, Rock Bands and Badminton. He is so much fun to be around and is really funny. He enjoys writing his own songs and changing lyrics in others! Ian trusts his students and that feels great. He can play so many instruments and inspires me greatly.Ian Daykin is a kind and thoughtful teacher. He is very generous and giving of his time toeach and every one no matter what their skill level is.


Nominator: Katelyn Smith

Teacher: Jamie Davis

School: Spectrum Community School

Nomination Category: High School


I nominate Mr. Jamie Davis as one of the most outstanding, understanding teacher and marching band, expert. He puts everything into helping his kids and helping them succeed in achieving their life goals. He always puts his students before anything else. He loves us, he cares, and he understand. He knows what our best is and he helps us show it at every concert, performance, and parade. He can get upset with us at times when we start slacking but he knows we are trying hard.

He doesn’t give us a hard time. He knows how far we can go and what we are capable of doing performance wise. We love Mr. Davis and we hope he is proud of us. He deserves this nomination.


Nominator: Lexy Pearce

Teacher: Noelle Arnott

School: Savory Elementary

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: 4

Noelle is simply amazing, this was my son’s first transition to a new school and she made it easy, which is quite a stunt when you have a child who does not like change. She went out of her way to get my son Kevin, who was recently diagnosed with dyslexia, the help he needed and praised him every step he made. He has had tremendous growth this year, is functioning way better than others had thought was possible. When I have stopped into the classroom she brags about Kevin’s work, kind of like a proud parent who shoves pictures of their child at anyone willing to look. And it’s not just for Kevin, she goes the extra mile for any student. I could go on and on about how wonderful she is and still not do her work and attitude justice. Noelle Arnott is an amazing teacher!


Nominator: Janis Jean

Teacher: Mrs. Marilyn Hodgson

School: KELSET Elementary School

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: 2/3

Marilyn Hodgson’s influence on all of her students over the years will be with them for the rest of their lives. Marilyn loved, encouraged and believed in every child that walked through her door. It was impossible to have a bad day around Mrs. H. Teachers have that unique potential participate in shaping and forming children’s future – there are hundreds of children and youth out there that are better today because of Marylin Hodgson. I asked my daughter to write about Mrs. Hodgson and this is what she said: Looking back on school, I’ve had some pretty fantastic teachers. I’ve had goofy teachers, kind teachers, meticulous teachers and enthusiastic teachers, but none of them can compete with Mrs. H.

When you walked in to the class every morning you got a huge grin and a hug. Classes were taught with excitement and humour. With a caring and warm heart she looked after the kids as if they were her own children. One thing that Mrs. H taught me was to smile. Mrs. H was always smiling. Her optimism still inspires. She also taught me above all to never give up – no matter what. Thank you Mrs. H.

Emma Jean, 13


Nominator:  Rob Bertrand

Teacher: Michelle Bertrand

School: Home School

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: N/A

I’d like to nominate my kids’ teacher. I have five kids, three of which are in school, two in elementary and one in high school. She’s been teaching them collectively for the past 11 years and she’s never been off the job, sick or anything. She takes her students education seriously and is personally invested in it. She spends time well into the night (after school hours) searching for the best curriculum and frequently looses sleep trying to figure out the best way to reach the kids’ goals. She pours her very life into them. Not only does she teach them academic subjects, she’s also nurtured and cared for them since they were babies. My kids are home schooled through Regent Christian Online Academy. Their teacher is their mother.


Nominator:  Xiuchuan Luo

Teacher: Ann George

School: Tillicum School

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: K

Mrs. George was my daughter’s Kindergarten teacher in 2008. As an ESL teacher, she helped my daughter transition to a new culture smoothly. She is a great teacher because she loves children and above all, she is so kind and so good at communicating with the young and tender hearts.


Nominator: Leanne Renfrew

Teacher: Doreen McCullough

School: Lakewood Elementary

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: Kindergarten

Mrs. McCullough is a phenomenal teacher with her class of 22 kindergarten kids. She is always busy teaching or doing something with the kids. There is never a dull moment in her class.

One special example of her awesomeness is with my daughter, Jennifer. Jennifer was unable to print her name, read any words, or count to 100 in the summer of 2013. From September until now, not only has Mrs. McCullough taught Jennifer how to print, read, and count, she has given Jennifer the confidence to speak clearly and to be able to read an entire book to her parents with little or no help.

Doreen has boundless energy, despite teaching all day, she also tutors outside of the classroom in addition to working on her Master’s Degree. She always has time for her students, never rushing them. And she also takes the time to explain ideas/things to her students. I believe she deserves to be recognized for the phenomenal teacher that she is.


Nominator: James Dale

Teacher: Mimi Cimon

School: S.J. Willis Secondary

Nomination Category: High School


Mimi has shown enthusiasm, commitment and empathy far beyond what could be expected.

She has an intuitive sense of exactly what to say at the right moment. She cuts through all the trappings of clothing, language and attitude to see the real essence of the student in front of her. Her ability to overcome her struggles have made her what she is today. She cajoles, supports and inspires. She can be as quirky as anyone I have ever met, but her heart shines true like a brilliant beacon drawing me towards a brilliance I did not know that I possess. She sees my faults and offers a hand up. She sees my desire to be a better person and urges me to excel at whatever is meaningful to me, knowing that if I shine brightly that the whole world will see more clearly. The world is a much better place because of her presence.


Nominator: Kathy Kegalj

Teacher: Mr. Bettridge

School: St. Joseph’s Elementary School

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: 5

I believe this teacher deserves special mention because he is so kind to his students. My aughter came home saying, “Mom, Mr. Bettridge lets us wear a regular sweater over our uniform.”

“He lets us drink fizzy drinks and eat chips at lunch.”

“He’s so nice.”

Mr. Bettridge had a pizza party for his class a few months ago just because he felt like treating them. He’s very communicative with the parents and I think that’s why the parents love him.


Nominator: Christine Osborne

Teacher: Sandy Crisp

School: Oaklands Elementary

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: K

Mr. Crisp is an excellent teacher. As we sent our eldest child off to school for the first time he not only made the transition that much easier for our daughter (and all the other children) but for us parents as well. Mr. Crisp’s fun, organized, respectful and energetic style of teaching is also adapted to each child’s individual learning needs. He takes the time to connect with children and their families. It’s no wonder Mr. Crisp is a favourite at the school.

He has been a leader in teaching and coaching extra-curricular sports, encouraging other student-teachers, parents and students to do what it takes to help our kids shine. Mr. Crisp certainly deserves to be recognized as a Great Teacher!


Nominator: Mark Stoer

Teacher: Mr. Larocque

School: Arbutus Middle School

Nomination Category: Middle School

Grade: 7

Mr. Larocque is my favorite teacher because he was the nicest teacher to me. He did a lot of fun experiments with me and I enjoyed learning with him.


Nominator: Dorothy Melody

Teacher: Claudia Jay

School: Hillcrest Elementary

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: 1

All of my children had Claudia Jay as their teacher. We came here from Germany six years ago and the kids didn’t speak a word of English. Claudia Jay is the most patient and awesome teacher I know, She is kind and fun and my kids spoke English within a year. My youngest son Elias is currently in her Grade 1 class and loves it.

She is an awesome teacher!


Nominator: Riga Godron

Teacher: Mr. McCarthy

School: Vic High

Nomination Category: High School

Grade: 12

I had the great fortune of having Mr. McCarthy for Chemistry 11, Chemistry 12 and Calculus 12.

Prior to entering Vic High I spent two-and-a-half years at the Girls Alternative Program after attending school in the Queen Alexandra hospital for six months, and having dropped out of the Flex program at Reynold’s in Grade 8; consequently, my foundation skills were lacking or non-existent when I began studying math and sciences.

Mr. McCarthy began spending time before school, during lunch and after school explaining the scientific process to me and encouraging me to become an analytical thinker.

Mr. McCarthy empowers his students and takes an interest in helping them to achieve their dreams.


Nominator: Flora Stanley

Teacher: Nicole Irwin

School: Deep Cove Elementary

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: K

Mme. Irwin is the kind of teacher you hope your kids will get. She brings enthusiasm to the school everyday that is truly contagious. She leads the whole school in aerobics every Friday morning because she believes a healthy body is key to good learning. (So much so she is doing her Masters on the subject.)

Mme. Irwin also leads the dance club and they were so successful this year. She leads track and field, is involved with basketball and games day and never once complains about all the extra work she does. Academically she challenges her kids giving spelling words to her class that rival my Grade 2 sons’ words – but makes sure she gives her younger students lots of time to practice. She is an excellent communicator with parents and is always positive with her feedback. She is a role model to all her students and parents and our school would not be the same without her. Mme. Irwin is without a doubt a very special teacher and she should be recognized for all her work. Not often does someone go above and beyond so consistently and with such a great attitude.

Ask any parent at Deep Cove and they’ll agree, Nicole Irwin is simply the best.


Nominator: Linda Bryant

Teacher: Jamie Davis

School: Spectrum Community School

Nomination Category: High School


He truly cares about his students and spends many, many hours outside of his ‘regular’ work day tending to the needs of his students. He never gives up on any of them and is always positive.


Nominator: Catriona Black

Teacher: Mark Vanakker

School: Victoria High School

Nomination Category: High School

Grade: 11

Mr. Vanakker is a gentle giant of a man whose excellent communication skills, patience and sense of humour have made learning for his students achievable and fun. I have been told he even uses dance moves to illustrate mechanical concepts. As they are in-class with him all day, Mr. Vanakker has come to support his students not only as learners but as teenagers who are facing challenges that extend far beyond the walls of the classroom. He is teacher, mentor, confidante, ‘parent’ and life guide to the boys and men in the shop. Mr. Vanakker organized with his pupils and purchased a children’s book and stuffed animal for the baby of a new young dad in his class. In the evening, he has emailed the happy results of tests taken along with diplomatic and clear explanations on quiz questions that were incorrectly answered.

Inspiring valuable work and supportive friendships: there are no greater gifts a teacher can give his pupils.


Nominator:  Ted Zerbin

Teacher: Darren Smith

School: Spectrum Community School

Nomination Category: High School

Grade: 12

I would like to nominate Mr. Darren Smith, otherwise known as “Smitty” as he has been a great mentor in our son’s life. Being blind in one eye since eight months of age and having to wear glasses with very thick lenses, our son struggled his way though elementary school. In grade 8 he decided to apply out of district for his high school years and chose Spectrum Community School for the Spectrum Hockey Academy. Darren and I had a long chat regarding the program and Lane’s disability and after the conversation I felt Lane was making the right choice by choosing to go to school at Spectrum.

The program teaches the students more than just hockey skills, they learn athletic leadership, sports science and strength and conditioning. Smitty jogs to the rink with the students and watches and helps the hockey instructors as needed. He is always available to the students for support on and off the ice. He has made Lane feel welcome to a new school since day one and has guided him through his four years with subject and career choices.

He is a great mentor to all the kids and we are very blessed to have had him help guide Lane through some of the most important school years.


Nominator: Erin Kelly

Teacher: Mrs. Matheson

School: James Bay

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: 3

Our son had Mrs. Matheson for Kindergarten and Grade One at Oaklands. She is now teaching at a school in James Bay.

She was one of the best teachers we have experienced to date. She is caring, conscientious and insightful. She taught each child to his or her abilities. She modified her curriculum to help each excel in their strengths. She appropriately recognized each child’s achievements.

She went over and above in terms of all elements of school – before, during and after. She was tireless in her ability to teach kindergarten kids the right behaviours. I am impressed with her and, now that my son has moved on to a different Grade 3 we miss her skills, her patience and her enthusiasm so much.

She is now teaching a very tough class in James Bay and has brought in pets, taken the kids to visit with seniors and provided the kids love, nurturing and attention. I cannot imagine a school experience without thinking of her.


Nominator: Piper Hargreaves

Teacher: Eric Stoehr

School: Bayside Middle School

Nomination Category: Middle School

Grade: 8

Eric Stoehr is a great teacher! He is really fun and makes science and math interesting. I hope he wins.


Nominator: Wendy Miranda

Teacher: Anne Jespersen

School: KELSET Elementary

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: 3

When I first walked into Mrs. J’s class, I thought that it would be boring. But then after one or two days it gradually got better. She’s VERY creative and loves to do art and PE, and she teaches us the lessons we need. She’s patient, joyful and happy and I’m grateful that she’s my teacher. She’s always happy when we get to class and does a lot of great stuff for us like when we’re supposed to be doing silent reading she lets us write our own stories and draw pictures to go with them and then they go on the story shelves for anyone else who wants to read them! She loves to give hugs, which makes me feel AWESOME! Mrs. J is the best! by Brandon (now it’s mom’s turn …)

Mrs. J has been invaluable to Brandon’s Grade 3 year. She’s so encouraging to him to keep up on his work, as focus and staying still are a big challenge for him. We’ve exchanged many emails, classroom visits, hugs and high-5’s both with tremendous success stories on how Brandon is improving in many areas, as well as how we can work together on doing OUR best to help HIM succeed. She’s very affectionate and loving with all the students, which

Brandon thrives on, and she goes over and above to praise each student in public and private.

Mrs J is crazy and fun and creative and athletic and keeps those kids on their toes! It’s so easy to love and smile about her as a person and a teacher and I couldn’t have asked for a better grade 3 experience for my son.


Nominator: Nicholas Johal

Teacher: Mr. Smyth

School: Dunsmuir Middle School

Nomination Category: Middle School

Grade: 8

He is very funny and nice. He is a great teacher and vice principal.


Nominator: Ann Ngai

Teacher: Jamie Davis

School: Spectrum Community School

Nomination Category: High School

Grade: 11

Mr. Davis is always encouraging us to do our best; he’s always there when you need help; all-round nice guy.


Nominator: Sharlene Sherring

Teacher: Dave Shortt

School: Frank Hobbs Elementary

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: 8 and 10

Mr. Shortt was our Grade 5 teacher. He was exceptional; so patient and kind. He acknowledged efforts and encouraged greater performance. He listened and was always fair. He has a very organized classroom. He has a great combination of humour and seriousness to maximize the learning in his class. Three to five years after being in his class he remains memorable in my and my brother’s memories of a great teacher. We always think of him and visit him annually to give him an update on how we are doing, as we know he truly cares.

Nominator: Sharlene Sherring

Teacher: Omar Azim

School: Royal Oak Middle School

Nomination Category: Middle School

Grade: 8

Mr. Azim is particularly special because he recognizes and& acknowledges the individual strengths in his students and always has something positive to say about each one of them. He is patient, kind, understanding and a great story teller. He has inspired me to become a history teacher myself. His compassionate nature and passion for teaching make him a special teacher whom students would be fortunate to have the pleasure of working with.


Nominator: Suzanne Zerbin

Teacher: Connie Warrender

School: Spectrum Comminty School

Nomination Category: High School

Grade: 12

I would to nominate Mrs. Warrender as she has made a huge difference in my son’s life since he started school at Spectrum. She has turned out to be much more then just a helper for Lane. She always called us to give us updates on his progress and was always available to see us whenever we needed a face to face visit. She is one amazing teacher, person, friend and mentor that my son, myself and my husband are thankful to have had her be a part of my sons success through his high school years. I know even when he graduates and leaves Spectrum if we ever needed her help with something she would be there for us all. She does so much for Spectrum School from working with children with autism, organizing reading programs, social thinking groups and the PEERS program.


Nominator: Hagen Herold

Teacher: Dian MacKinnon

School: Journey Middle School

Nomination Category: Middle School

Grade: 9

Teaching kids through puberty is not an easy thing to do. Mrs. MacKinnon, however, sympathizes with every kid in her class, and makes them forget all their worries. She is able to fit all sorts of fun activities into a school year, while never coming off the course of the curriculum and teaching in a passionate way that will allow every student to understand exactly what she means. She laughs with the kids instead of scolding them, and provides all sorts of extracurricular activities for all of Journey Middle School. She is as passionate about the sports she coaches as she is about the subjects she teaches, and transfers that passion to the players, and the results are evident on the court, field or whatever it may be. Former students (like myself) pay her regular visits and are welcomed with open arms and perhaps a cookie if her students had not been overly successful at Friday’s famous “Cookie Trivia.” She is the kind of teacher whose students will not let her go after a year, but will recite her as “the best teacher I ever had” to their kids in future years.


Nominator: Shannon Phillips

Teacher: Sarah Wallace

School: Glenlyon Norfolk

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: 1

Sarah Wallace puts her heart and soul into teaching and it shows each and every day as the children progress through the school year. My personal experience with what an amazing teacher she is started at the beginning of the school year when my youngest daughter, then 6, entered Sarah’s Grade 1 class. I watched my daughter’s confidence and self-esteem around her learning soar as a result of Sarah’s guidance and warmth. It has been a pivotal year for my daughter because of this gifted teacher. And, finally, Sarah not only knows how to communicate with and understand her students, from a parent’s perspective she is always approachable and answers any questions or concerns with honesty, clarity and warmth. I can’t recommend Sarah Wallace highly enough. She is the best teacher we have ever had for one of our children and we will be sad to say goodbye to her at the end of the school year. If anyone deserves an award, Sarah Wallace is it.


Nominator: Kathryn Brown

Teacher: Jamie Davis

School: Spectrum Community School

Nomination Category: High School

Grade: 11

Mr. Davis is one of the most influential men in my life. He lives and breathes the Spectrum Band Program, and has been there for me since i met him in grade 5. He is the reason that I got into music in the first place, and the reason I am becoming a music teacher.

He encourages all of his students to do our very best and can always make us laugh. Mr. Davis has taught us the value of hard work, and it sure paid off when we won Gold at MusicFest Nationals. The band is the pride of Spectrum and it is quite obvious why; Mr. Davis has led us to great victories, whether that is winning the Victoria Day Parade, or getting Superior+ at festival.

Most teachers work a long day, but Mr. Davis exceeds that. He arrives at school before the sun has come up, and is often still there after the sun has set. He used his Spring Breaks to take us on music trips abroad and is 100 per cent committed to the band program and his students.


Nominator: Jennifer Rowan

Teacher: Art Ross

School: Oak Bay HIgh School

Nomination Category: High School

Grade: 9

Art Ross as been an amazing Grade 9 teacher for my daughter this year. He teaches French and Social Studies (French Immersion) and engages the kids with humour and fascinating lectures that go beyond delivering the curriculum content. He sounds so great I wish I could take a class with him.


Nominator: Stephen Baxter

Teacher: Katrin van der Leeden

School: Ruth King Elementary

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: 4

Ms. van der Leeden has consistently demonstrated that she sincerely cares for the education of my daughters. She has not only taught the core subjects very effectively, but also helped my daughters grow emotionally and socially. She has gone above and beyond my greatest expectations, and always with great humour and charm. Of all the teachers my daughters have had over the years (and there have been many great ones!), Ms. van der Leeden has been mine (and their) favourite.


Nominator: Evan Norris

Teacher: Jennifer MacDonald

School: Eagleview Elementary

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: 5

Mrs. MacDonald is a phenomenal teacher. Always going the extra mile for the kids, always caring for each one of their individual needs. Always diffusing confrontation before it becomes an issue or awkward situation. She’s like the Mother that you want watching your kids all day, shaping and molding them and prepping them for Middle School.

She never lets any kids fall behind and is always so attentive to each individual kid. Each child is special both in the classroom and outside the classroom; both their educational needs and anything going on in their family life is duly noted.


Nominator: Joshua Seabrook

Teacher: Mr. Rémo Bussoli

School: Claremont Secondary School

Nomination Category: High School

Grade: 12

Mr. Bussoli is much more than just a teacher to me – he’s a life coach. I cannot put into words how much Mr. Bussoli means to me. The way he collaborates with his classes is unparalleled to anything I have witnessed in the past 12 years of my life at school – he has undoubtedly changed my life for the better. He is constantly providing valuable insight into the future for me and the rest of his students.

Mr. Bussoli really cares about his students and is practically a god at my school – everyone knows him, I can guarantee it. Me and my friends have a joke at our school, it’s that our school is overcrowded because Mr.Bussoli teaches at our school, that’s how good he is. I would really appreciate it if I won this contest so Mr.Bussoli could have some form of recognition for setting up the next generation of kids for prosperity and success.


Nominator: Miranda Mundel

Teacher: Sue Thorne

School: Maria Montessori Academy

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: 5

Trustworthy (She is always there for me)

Elite (She is the top of her class)

Athlete (Inspires me to be a long distance runner) Caring (Checks in, emails successes, always there to talk) Humble (Always thinks about others first) Energetic (Helps with track, theatre, camp outs, raising her own family, trains as a competitive long distance runner, studying for her PhD and much much more) Remarkable (I never want to miss a day of school!)

This is what type of teacher Miss. Sue is to me!

Keysa Mundel


Nominator: Crystal Pollard

Teacher: Mrs. Kennell

School: Eagle View Elementary School

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: 1

I am submitting this nomination on behalf of my son who wanted to share why he thinks his teacher, Mrs. Kennell, deserves to be recognized. He loves how she has a special smile as she says good morning to him. He loves how she reads stories to his class. He loves that she helps him when he is having a hard time with his work. He loves that she lets the kids choose who they get to sit beside in class. He loves how she is sometimes silly and funny. As a parent, I love how she has a genuine desire to get to know who my son is; she encourages his sense of wonder, and supports his thoughts and his ideas. She recognizes the value of friendships that the children have formed. How nice is it to be able to sit beside your special friend in class! You see, it is not one thing she does, it is who she is. It’s the good morning smile at the start of each day, it’s the care she takes to make learning fun and the interest she has in supporting my son’s overall growth.


Nominator: Astrid Hawkes

Teacher: Mr. Denver Rawson

School: Lansdowne Middle School

Nomination Category: Middle School

Grade: 8

Mr. Rawson is the band director at Lansdowne Middle School and he is one of the most hard working and dedicated teachers that I have ever met. He not only brings out the best from his students musically but he is always willing to go that extra mile to ensure that we are exceeding our own expectations. Even though he is a stickler concerning our practice cards, his patience with the students musically and socially (we are teenagers) will be appreciated for years to come. Mr. Rawson is kind, respectful and has a fantastic sense of humour. He deserves a great teacher award because he listens to our ideas, provides excellent feedback and makes himself available in and outside the timetable to all of his students.

Mr. Rawson has provided me with an opportunity to discover my musical talent as well as giving me a supportive environment to become the absolute best person that I can be. He made a great choice to become a teacher and is an excellent role model. Mr. Rawson has made a positive impact on my life and I feel fortunate to have been taught by him.


Nominator: Kellie Clarke

Teacher: Lisa Lockerbie

School: Sanster

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: K

My daughter Shya is in the Nature Kindergarten class and she has the most caring, soft spoken, thoughtful and fun teacher in the world. I was saying to my daughters, “Have I told you I love you?” and Shya says, “Yes mom, we know you always tells us that!”

Then she tells me how Mrs. Lockerbie always says that to them too.

“Have I ever told you all that I love you and you are the best class ever?”

You could tell that Shya felt so loved and confident in that they were the best class ever. For a teacher to say those words to our children makes me feel so warm and fuzzy inside. To think that, as a mother, the first year we have to let go of our children a bit that they have someone that loves them and is such an amazing role model to start their school journey off. Our family is so thankful for her.


Nominator: Courtenay Neville-Rutherford

Teacher: Rick Paquette

School: Parkland Secondary

Nomination Category: High School

Grade: 12

Mr. Paquette is a very dedicated teacher and always makes sure his students have the resources they need to do the best they can. He takes extra time out of his day to help students who need it. He comes in every morning at 7 a.m., he is in the classroom at lunch, and is often available after school for help. In his math classes he always gives us plenty of practice sheets before a test to make sure we are prepared. Mr. Paquette is always willing to help you even if you are not in one of his classes. Also when I needed a reference letter for a scholarship application I went straight to him and he didn’t hesitate to write one for me with kind words. Even when he had surgery earlier this year the students were able to email him with questions and he came back to school much earlier than his doctor recommended.

He is the most dedicated teacher I have ever had and he deserves to be recognized for all his hard work and dedication to his students.


Nominator: Lesley Davenport

Teacher: Andrea Blair

School: Gordon Head Middle School

Nomination Category: Middle School

Grade: 8

My son is learning disabled, but still wanted to join the band at his school, so Mrs. Blair, his band teacher, set out to design a new form of sheet music, based on colour, that he could read, allowing him to play in the band. It has taken her three years to develop but now they have an amazing form of sheet music that learning disabled kids can understand. This music has to be seen to be appreciated. She has been meeting with him before school, during school, and even come to our home, to help him be successful in band.

Mrs. Blair works on her own time, with a pile of pens and graph paper converting sheet music into the “Blair” form of music that my son can read. The time and effort she has put in to make music an option for my son is just incredible. My son had tried to play music before, but since he could not read the music, it was a failure. Thanks to Mrs. Blair he can now fully participate in school. This innovative music approach could help many children welcome music into their lives.


Nominator: Marilyn Pollard

Teacher: Patti Keenan

School: Marigold Elementary

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: 4

Patti Keenan is a Great Teacher! She has a knack for stimulating kids, and makes them want to learn and to do better. They can tell she’s invested in them and really cares about them.

She has taught two of my daughter’s children: a high-spirited girl of nine, and one boy, now 12, with some mental and physical challenges. She knew what to do to bring out the best in both of them, and has helped to set them on a better path for future success in school and in life. Both my daughter and I are grateful for her positive influence and devotion to her chosen profession.


Nominator: Orissa Henderson

Teacher: Mr. David Masini

School: Willows Elementary School

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: 5

Mr. Masini is an incredible teacher. While he can be very serious and give too much homework (according to three of my children who have had him as a teacher), he also has a very fun side. He puts his Smart board to good use. One minute he’ll do a page of Jump Math and the next he’ll be showing a hilarious Youtube clip! To celebrate birthdays he’ll put on dance music and allow all the students to have an impromptu dance party! He is a big part of the school’s musical production every year, putting in countless extra hours after school.

He plays in a band and utilizes his musical talents at school. He sings and plays the drums, to the delight of his students. He coaches the track & field, soccer and rugby teams. He compiles a slide show of photos and video clips of all the students in the school for the last assembly of the school year. The number of his former students that are constantly visiting his classroom attest to the affection that his present and past students feel for him. My children’s fondest memories of him will be “kickball, jellybeans and Wormie (his catfish)!”


Nominator: Beulah Bowering

Teacher: Mr Turner

School: Dunsmuir Middle School

Nomination Category: Middle School

Grade: 8

I am nominating Mr. Turner because my granddaughter Olivia was behind terribly in Science. For a lot of mornings I would drop her off at school at 8:15 for her to go into his class and get extra teaching. I recall this happening with my daughter also, quite a few years ago. We need teachers like Mr. Turner.


Nominator: Sophie Belanger

Teacher: Isabelle Boutin

School: Ecole Victor Brodeur

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: 1

Isabelle has so many qualities. I have never encountered such a patient teacher. She is calm, loving, smily, hard worker, environmental friendly, artistic, funny, dedicated, open and a great pedagogue.


Nominator: Elizabeth Nyland

Teacher: Joyce Manning

School: Kelset Elementary

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: K

Mrs. Manning is an outstanding teacher. Her empathy and dedication to the children’s individual needs is unsurpassed at this level. She works very closely with the parents based on the child’s needs and does everything she can to make each child feel at home in their new environment. She goes above and beyond the call of duty in being in contact with parents and making sure we know what has gone on each day at school. Her upbeat attitude and caring nature have made every day at school an amazing day for our son. She even makes our 4 year old daughter feel like one of the class children whenever she is there for drop-off/ pick-up. I can only hope that each year is as fun and exciting for my kids!


Nominator: Dima Maizik

Teacher: Doug Mallory

School: Reynolds Secondary School

Nomination Category: High School

Grade: 9

Mr. Mallory has the ability to make learning fun! When he is teaching, you don’t even notice that your are learning. He Also keeps student on track and engaged in the activities at hand.


Nominator: Sebastian Hansen

Teacher: Laura Christensen

School: Christ Church Cathedral School

Nomination Category: Middle School

Grade: 7

The reason I think my teacher should win is because of the way she teaches. She doesn’t use old boring ways of teaching, she uses very up to date things to learn with that really connect with kids of our generation. Some of these examples using social media apps to to projects on and about. She also thinks of fun types of projects to do so when you are doing the project it doesn’t feel like you are doing one. These learning methods are not only fun for me but I also think very effective on kids who sometimes may have a more difficult time learning than others. Because kids like myself these days very often use their electronic devices it is a very smart way of teaching and I think that more teachers should catch onto this idea.


Nominator: Jeanette Rogers

Teacher: Sandra Peebles

School: SIDES

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: 1

Sandra has been an inspirational teacher for many years and has taught two of my children over the past 10 years. She is always willing to listen to the littlest detail that the child feels is important. She makes time to listen to them, and to address them personally. She tailors her teaching style to each individual student and makes them enjoy learning. She is always willing to make time for extra tutoring and help when needed, I could not be happier that my sons have benefited from her teaching. Right from the special needs child up to the gifted child, no child is left behind.


Nominator: Floriane Shala

Teacher: Mr. Lienard

School: Oak Bay

Nomination Category: High School

Grade: 9

Mr. Lienard is my French teacher. He is such an amazing teacher, he’s also a very humorous person. Mr. Lienard teaches French so well and understandable. I am so fortunate to be in his class. He’s also a phenomenal artist, and an amazing singer. I’m sad to end Grade 9 because Mr. Lienard does not teach Grade 10, so I have to wait till Grade 11 to be in his class again. Mr. Lienard is my favourite teacher.


Nominator: Alex Lord

Teacher: Patrick Schreck

School: Spectrum Community School

Nomination Category: High School

Grade: 11

Mr. Schreck always works hard to teach students and helps them with all of their work.


Nominator: Adrienna van Hoek-Patterson

Teacher: Helene Poulin

School: Campus View

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: 5

Madame Helene Poulin is a fantastic teacher. She has a calm and kind manner and is very approachable by students and parents. She is really interested in finding teaching methods that can be applied in the classroom in different situations. She genuinely cares about the kids and is able to adjust her teaching approach to suit the student’s needs. She is creative and puts effort into presenting the material in a fresh and fun way. Helene has an ability to go with the flow as well as keeping the children engaged in what they’re learning. I have been impressed with her as my child’s teacher and she has helped my son be successful in school and have a good attitude about school. We will miss her as my son moves on to the next level, and future teachers will be held up to compare against her standard.


Nominator: Per Sekhon

Teacher: Don Adams

School: Oaklands Elementary School

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: K

My son entered the world of public school this past September. This has been an amazing ear for him and for all of us as a family. Mr. Adams is truly a remarkable teacher, he is an extremely innovative teacher who has taken the use of technology and play to a whole new level. My son reads to his class every Tuesday using the technology of Mr. Adams smart board, as well as using it as a tool to learn everything from reading, writing and dancing!

Mr. Adams has a very special and unique teaching style which empowers all these young children to be motivated, engaged, and kind to each other. He never rushes or turns away a parent who wants to check in as to how their child is doing. He most recently integrated his vast knowledge in Eductional technology and created mPortfolios for each child instead of the standard report card process. We were able to see videos of our son reading to his class, demonstrating the various things he has learned etc. Don is the teacher we all hope and dream of having – a true role model.


Nominator: Aaron Jones

Teacher: Meghan McMillan

School: Spectrum High school

Nomination Category: High School

Grade: 10

Mrs. McMillan is one of the most devoted, caring, and friendly teachers. She teaches a

Planning course at Spectrum and she educates students on how to prepare for life after school. She recently helped a young student to prepare for her first job and the young student was hired. She encourages the use of the latest technology and spends her own personal money on teaching tools to make her classes exceptional.


Nominator: Tina Nienaber

Teacher: Mrs. Anne Piedalue

School: Pacific Christian School

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: 6

She builds up the confidence of students with humour and kindness.


Nominator: Valda Hall

Teacher: Mrs Doreen McCullough

School: Lakewood Elementary School

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: K

My daughter’s first year of school has been the most wonderful time of her life, thanks to her amazing teacher, Mrs McCullough. Her enthusiasm and love for her little kindergarteners is evident every day, as the children just love her. My daughter can never wait to go to school and is thriving. Kady says: “I like her because she teaches her favourite and best things! She reads us the best stories. I like the homework. She is the best teacher ever. I like her because we get to play before we have snack outside in the morning. I like it when sometimes we go to the park before the bell rings. I like it when we get to go on field trips.”

Doreen always has a sunny personality and is always happy and enthusiastic to see the children in the morning, and is always just as energetic at the end of the day when I pick up my daughter. She is a very warm and wonderful lady, and being a kindergarten teacher is definitely her calling.


Nominator: Adrianna Stewart

Teacher: Ms. Jennifer Davidson

School: Wishart Elementary

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: 3

A truly wonderful teacher who inspires children to be the best of themselves. My son has learned so much this year, and has flourished. My son was shy and truly did not enjoy going to school, but now he really can’t wait to get to class. In addition to the dramatic performances and the in-depth academics, Ms. Davidson encourages positive peer relationships.

To sum it up in a word or two, she is absolutely wonderful.


Nominator: Karen Hanson

Teacher: Mr. Amman

School: Vic High

Nomination Category: High School

Grade: N/A

This guy is amazing. He really helped my son through high school and specifically in math.

I would get a call from him every second Sunday evening to discuss the progress or issues my son was having. He would give my son bus fare or lunch money if he forgot it, he was available almost any time to help after school and lunchtime. He changed the way my son thought. My son said he was the toughest but fairest teacher he had ever had. Kudos Mr. Amman.


Nominator: Petronilo Palaroan

Teacher: Amabel De Lara

School: Selkirk Montessori School

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: K

I nominate Amabel De Lara for passion for teaching. She makes learning fun and educational for all of her students. She is also a great mentor and co-teacher in her classroom and a huge support to the rest of the school.


Nominator: Julie Barrows

Teacher: Ms. Durrance

School: Oaklands Elementary

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: 7

This teacher is amazing. My son had her in Grade 4 now he is in Grade 7 at Lansdowne Middle School. The reason I think she a great teacher is she loves each and every one of her students. My son has a learning disabilty and she has made a difference in his schooling, for example she called me at home on a Sunday and asked if he could do an oral test in science because he didn’t do well on the written one. My son still goes up to the school  and visits her, they talk, have fun and laugh. There are other kids that go and visit her also. She is funny, caring and upbeat and loves these children. This is the kind of teacher who deserve our praise. I wish all teachers were like her.


Nominator: Julie Pitre

Teacher: Ms. Dianne Cardin

School: Eagle View Elementary

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: 4

Ms. Cardin is an inspration to our daughter! She works the kids hard and pushes them to achieve the best of their abilities! Mak bounces out of bed each day so excited to head to school and 100 per cent engaged in the day ahead. It is truly a blessing to see a teacher with so much passion for what she does! When our daughter has a tough day, Ms. Cardin is there beside her encouraging her to continue to be the best she can be. Our daughter has grown both educationally and in her personal growth and confidence because of Ms. Cardin this year. Words cannot describe the impact she has had on her Grade 4 class this year.


Nominator: Kelly Eshtiaghi

Teacher: Donna Dickinson

School: Sangster Elementary

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: 3

In the past I have been impressed with the teaching staff, but this year I am in awe. My son is in Donna Dickinson’s Grade 3 class. He struggles with vision difficulties that make it difficult and exhausting to focus. Throughout the year, Mrs Dickinson has tried different strategies to support my son, even going to the extent of purchasing tools for each member in the class room, ensuring no one person was singled out. When a teacher support report was received by the school, listing the steps a teacher can implement to assist a student, Mrs Dickinson had already discovered them and had them in place. Due to her careful attention to his needs, my son has become serious about school. His grades have risen over the year, resulting in a more confident, happy and proud boy. Mrs. Dickinson has been crucial in this transformation and I am thankful for her.

In addition to her careful attention to her students, Mrs. Dickinson can be seen volunteering at the school fundraisers. She always greets one with a smile, and her energy and enthusiasm are contagious.


Nominator: Jacqui Anderson

Teacher: Ms. Stracker

School: Wishart Elementary School

Nomination Category: Elementary School

Grade: 4/5

I would like to nominate Ms. Stracker from Wishart Elementary School.

I have a special needs son in Ms. Strackers’ class, and this teacher goes above and beyond to make my son feel included and accepted in the class. She always takes time to listen to him and is always open for ideas on how to adapt to his many needs.

It is so nice to hear and see my son growing up in this classroom with confidence. A big thank you to Ms. Stracker.


Nominator: Andrea Johnson

Teacher: Mrs. Evans

School: N/A

Nomination Category:

Grade: N/A

Mrs. Evans, my wonderful music teacher, has inspired myself and so many others through music. She writes a musical every spring, and they are amazing! She gives us the wonderful opportunity to sing and dance on stage, which inspired my schoolmates and I to be involved in other plays and musicals. Even if you’re shy, she encourages you to take part in the musical, and you won’t regret it. She also spends so many hours arranging so many concerts. She makes choir so much fun. What I love about Mrs. Evans is that sometimes, when you’re having a bad day at school, and nothing can cheer you up, you go to choir practice, and the beautiful music that Mrs. Evans teaches you makes you forget about your troubles, and for the rest of the day you’re happy. So in a way, music is magical. I think what Mrs. Evans wants us to do is enjoy every moment of our lives through music, to do something amazing, because no one lives forever. This is why Mrs. Evans is my hero.

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