Local teacher Scott Stefanek and safe-school specialist Wendel Williams, who go above and beyond to creatively inspire their students’ learning experiences, have received Premier’s Awards for Excellence in Education at an award ceremony in Victoria.
Stefanek and Williams were presented with their awards Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, at the second annual Premier’s Awards for Excellence in Education ceremony held at Government House.
This year’s 10 winners, who were chosen from 140 nominations received between January and April 2019 and narrowed down to 30 finalists, were announced at the ceremony. Premier John Horgan, Rob Fleming, Minister of Education, and Lt. Gov. Janet Austin attended. The annual awards ceremony is held at the same time as World Teachers’ Day. This year’s is being marked internationally on Oct. 5.
The awards were launched last year to honour the outstanding achievements of public, independent and First Nations school teachers, principals, vice-principals, administrators and support staff in the K-12 school system.
“All British Columbians benefit from the outstanding efforts of teachers, administrators and support workers,” said Premier John Horgan. “The education professionals honoured through the Premier’s Awards for Excellence in Education are exemplary in their commitment to student success, making schools safe and welcoming places for all, innovative learning approaches and strong leadership, and having made lasting impacts on peoples’ lives.”
Stefanek, a teacher at École Brantford Elementary school, was awarded in the category of Extracurricular Leadership. 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, including cross country, volleyball, basketball, track and ultimate frisbee. For cross country and track, he not only coaches, but also helps run the district event as a convener. He helped organize a biking program and 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 in the classroom, during their club time and on the playing field.
Williams, a safe-school specialist at École Alpha Secondary school, was awarded in the category of Outstanding Support - School Community. 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.
“British Columbian education professionals go to great lengths to engage their students to ensure they not only learn important lessons tied to the learning at hand, but that will serve them well as they graduate and enter the next exciting phase of their lives,” said Fleming. “These teachers, administrators and support staff members deserve to not only be recognized for all that they do, but also to be celebrated for the lasting legacy they’re leaving in the K-12 education system through their efforts to make life better for all those involved in their school communities.”
Simi Sara, host of CKNW’s The Simi Sara Show, served as emcee of the event, which featured musical entertainment by members of the Esquimalt High Senior Jazz Band.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to recognize the incredible work that these extraordinary teachers, administrators and support staff do for our students and education system,” said Austin. “The creativity, enthusiasm and care demonstrated by these education professionals contributes to building a bright future for British Columbia.”
Winners of this year’s Premier’s Awards for Excellence in Education received a commemorative work of art by Claire Jorgensen, a 17-year-old Reynolds Secondary student (SD 61, Greater Victoria). They also received a $3,000 personal bursary for professional learning and a $2,000 contribution to their school community for professional learning.
To view a video of Stefanek, visit: https://youtu.be/HKlfJf9BxoA
To view a video of Williams, visit: https://youtu.be/OJdfhsgWPGY
To read the full news release with all 10 winners, visit: http://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2019PREM0111-001913
For more information on the Premier’s Awards for Excellence in Education and to view videos of all 30 finalists, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/excellenceineducation