Looking around at those gathered to pay tribute to family, friends and colleagues, it was easy to tell we had three special people on our hands.
The smiles were wide and some tears were shed as the crowd heard snippets of stories submitted by current and former students, as well as parents, who nominated Jamie Davis, Andrea Blair and Marilyn Hodgson for awards in the inaugural Black Press/Staples Great Teachers campaign.
The comments, shared during a celebration of the trio's achievements held at Staples' Tolmie Avenue store, helped paint a vivid picture of the level of devotion these three consummate professionals bring to their work on a daily basis in their schools.
"… I can truly say she will be one of the few teachers that will leave a forever lasting impression on both of my children …" (Hodgson)
"… The time and effort she has put in to make music an option for my son is just incredible …" (Blair)
"… He is the reason that I got into music in the first place, and the reason I am becoming a music teacher …" (Davis)
For the celebration, Blair, music director at Gordon Head middle school, was boosted by the presence of her mother, who flew in from northern Alberta to be there. Also on hand was a dyslexic band student for whom she designed a special colour-cued music reading system.
Elementary honouree Hodgson, whose 35-year teaching career comes to a close this year, had raced in from a retirement party for herself and a few other colleagues at ´Kelset elementary in North Saanich, some of whom joined Hodgson and her family.
Supporters also heard how secondary honouree Davis, just 30, had almost singlehandedly resurrected the music program at Spectrum Community School.
The stories of the three teachers were spread further through our friends at CTV Vancouver Island, who were on hand to record the special moments.
Getting to this stage has been a wonderful journey for those of us at Black Press who had the opportunity to tell community members' stories about Great Teachers past and present, and ask current and former students what makes a teacher great.
The nomination letters, submitted online by Black Press community media readers at vicnews.com over a six-week span, presented our panel of community judges with a tough job in determining their selections for the three grade categories.
Judging by the submissions, it's clear all of the nominated teachers are worthy of recognition and have made an impact on their students.
In celebrating all of the nominees through the following Great Teachers publication, we'd like to thank Staples and fellow sponsor Thrifty Foods for recognizing the value of teachers' work and helping us create this celebration of educational excellence in Greater Victoria's communities.
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