Recognition rewarding for previous Great Teacher nominees

Readers have until May 29 to nominate a teacher who has made a difference in their lives

Help us celebrate some of Saanich’s Great Teachers. You can nominate an awesome educator in your life by visiting saanichnews.com/contests and filling out the nomination form.

Black Press caught up with some of the previous nominees for this instalment of the Great Teachers feature. The series, sponsored by Staples in collaboration with Camosun College, applauds the dedication and stellar work of teachers and the important role they play in building a better future through positive interaction with their students.

 

Parker Jolliffe

Ask any music teacher and they will describe what they do as a “fun gig”, says Parker Jolliffe, who teaches junior and senior band, jazz and rhythm and blues at Esquimalt High School. When asked about being one of the Great Teachers nominees from last year, Jolliffe described the experience as a combination of “humbling and validating.”

“I’m sure any teacher would feel that way and every teacher is humble about that sort of thing,” he said. “You want what’s best for students, and for me, personally, you hope you’re creating the best atmosphere.”

The self-described, self-deprecating hopelessly modest trombone player is in his eighth year of teaching, a career he finds rewarding to a fault.

“It’s the kids in the community that make this group run,” he explained. “I feel privileged to be part of the process. I could easily think of 10 or 15 other teachers on staff here who are probably more deserving.”

Much more at ease speaking about his students than himself, Jolliffe did share his lifelong passion for the Boston Bruins. “My dad was born in Boston so I didn’t have a choice,” he offered in his defence, adding that receiving a letter from Bruins legend Cam Neely on his wedding day was “one of the coolest gifts ever.”

Jollife likes to spend his free time with his “sweetheart” sailing around in their little dingy. The couple are expecting their child, a boy, in June. It’s a given the little lad will be wearing the Bruins’ black and gold shortly after birth.

 

Karen Oraas

Karen Oraas recalled a flood of calls to her parents from their friends after her Great Teachers nomination last year.  She was thrilled when the nomination led to Carmen Sawchuck choosing to observe one of her classes last year. “She’s one of the pioneers of French immersion and was very pleased to see the level of French in my class,” said Oraas. “That was very gratifying and wouldn’t have happened without the Great Teachers nomination. I like how Black Press did the series. Hearing what other people have to say makes your job worthwhile.”

“It’s like receiving a card from a parent highlighting things that lets you know you’re doing your job well.”

Oraas, who is in her 17th year of teaching, moved within the Victoria School District this year to Macaulay elementary after a number of years at Doncaster elementary.

“Changing schools has been a seamless adjustment,” she noted during an interview between classes. “The teaching plan I have works with different classes with different personalities.”

 

Kiersten Brookes

Dedication to her craft leaves little time for a social life, but that’s just fine with Kiersten Brookes.

“I’m in bed by nine every night and I’m sure that’s true of a lot of teachers,” she said. “I store up energy on the weekends to be able to give my all during the week. When you are in public and putting on a show to a degree, it takes a lot to give your best every day. Children are our future, so it’s important to nurture them and create good learners and hard workers for our society. It can be very draining, but very enriching.”

In her 21st year of teaching, the past 13 at Strawberry Vale elementary, Brookes has found her niche teaching younger students. A year of teaching Grade 10 English helped her realize she prefers a multi-disciplinary and versatile approach that teaching a variety of subjects to elementary school students provides.

“Sometimes there’s issues engaging teenagers because of their age and the being cool factor,” she explained. “I find teaching younger kids more motivating and fun and they’re easier to reach.”

Brookes describes herself as quite an introverted, emotional person who thrives on putting a lot of passion and effort into her work. “I love teaching,” she said. “You get to inspire kids and make a real difference in their lives.”

 

Marilyn Hodgson

After a 35-year career in teaching, Marilyn Hodgson finds herself following a familiar path. A Great Teachers nominee in 2014, Hodgson volunteers two mornings a week in the classroom at Kelset elementary, and spends another morning conducting a running class.

“For me, I couldn’t just retire and say I’m out of here,” Hodgson explained. “I need to stay connected with the students and I love the chance to make a difference and stay in touch with my colleagues.”

Hodgson is a firm believer in setting high standards that her students can reach. “It builds pride. Success is huge when you make it fun. Extra curricular is huge as well.”

For many people, playing a number of sports and getting involved in the arts are some of the best experiences they took away from school.

“Communication and engagement with parents is key as well,” said Hodgson, who would send out a 300- to 500-word email to parents every Sunday to let them know what her students achieved during the past week and what they would be learning in the week ahead.

“Parents want to be informed,” she noted.

Hodgson said being nominated in the Great Teachers feature the year she retired was a great honour.

“I was blown away to be acknowledged by parents,” she said. “I thank Black Press and the sponsors for their efforts in highlighting the difference teachers can make in the lives of their students.”

If you would like to honour a teacher in recognition of the great work they do, let us know who they are, where they teach, what grade and why they are deserving. Go to SaanichNews.com, click on the Great Teachers icon and nominate the teacher of your choice by May 29.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Helping others, especially those struggling with mental health issues, keeps MOD Pizza owner Jim Hayden cooking. (RIck Stiebel/News Staff)
A 1900s writing box found in Greater Victoria contained ink, photos and a letter addressed to Clara McCaubry dated October 14, 1898. (Photo courtesy Suzanne Hervieux)
Mysterious 1900s writing box finds a home among Saanich Archives

Wooden chest owned by early Saanich resident Clara Isabelle McCaubry

(Black Press Media file photo)
Spooky online class cooks up funds for Greater Victoria Imagination Library

United Way Greater Victoria offers how-to for witch cookies, tasty coffin as fundraiser

Murray Rankin has announced he will seek the nomination for the Oak Bay Gordon Head riding in the 2021 provincial election (which could happen in the fall of 2020). The former Minister of Parliament for the Victoria riding from 2012 to 2019.
(MurrayRankin.com)
New Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Murray Rankin says he will use his federal connections

Rankin said being part of NDP majority government gives him a strong voice

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Most Read