April 25, 2022
Education Week, April 24 to 30, 2022, provides an opportunity for school communities to share in celebrating the achievements of students and staff, and to acknowledge the contributions that many people, in supporting roles, make to our public education system. This year’s Education Week theme is Cultural Responsiveness – Meeting Students Where They Are.
One of the features of the Provincial Education Week Committee’s activities is the recognition of staff and partners who have made outstanding contributions to their work relative to the theme. The Strait Regional Centre for Education congratulates the following recipients who have been formally recognized for their outstanding leadership and commitment to cultural responsiveness and meeting the needs of students where they are:
- Catriona Beaton, Early Childhood Educator, Tamarac Education Centre
- Jennifer Desmond, Teacher, St. Andrews Consolidated School
- Jasper Jordan, Building Operator, St. Mary’s Education Centre/Academy
- Amy MacKillop, Teacher, East Richmond Education Centre
- Christopher (Chris) Martins, Teacher, Chedabucto Education Centre/Guysborough Academy
- Mary Lou McKenzie, Teacher, Whycocomagh Education Centre
- Colleen Pelley, African Nova Scotia Student Support Worker, Chedabucto Education Centre/ Guysborough Academy
- Crystal Richards, Vice Principal, Fanning Education Centre/Canso Academy
- Candice Sylliboy, Mi’kmaq Language Teacher, East Richmond Education Centre and Richmond Education Centre/Academy
“Congratulations and thank you for your impressive contributions to building positive relationships and creating safe, caring and inclusive learning environments where all students feel welcomed and a sense of belonging, see themselves reflected throughout their learning journey and supported in their efforts to achieve success,” said Paul Landry, Regional Executive Director of Education for the Strait Regional Centre for Education.
Please access a copy of the celebration posters at:
NOTE: Please see below for respective biographies of the SRCE 2022 Education Week Award Recipients.
Strait Regional Centre for Education
Recipients of the 2022 Education Week Awards
Catriona Beaton, Early Childhood Educator
Tamarac Education Centre
Catriona Beaton is an amazing Early Childhood Educator at Tamarac Education Centre. She is always looking for ways to expand the children’s learning with culture in mind. Catriona regularly researches programming ideas and gathers materials to add to the school’s Pre-primary class that reflect the children's culture, such as clothing added to the dress-up area, maps and globes, tabletop activities and children's books. She recently devoted many hours on developing a “hello” board posted in the Pre-primary classroom that displays the word ‘hello’ in many different languages to ensure each child is represented.
Catriona speaks Gaelic, which the children enjoy listening to, whether it is reading a book or singing a song. She is knowledgeable about many languages and is a lifelong learner. Catriona encourages the children and families to share their home cultures.
Catriona’s contributions have ensured that every child sees themselves reflected in the Pre-primary classroom.
Jennifer Desmond, Teacher
St. Andrews Consolidated School
Jennifer Desmond, Teacher at St. Andrews Consolidated School, is genuinely interested in, and inclusive of, those around her. Each day, she leads her class in the poem “I am a great somebody…” which reminds her students what they can be when they put their mind to it. Jennifer teaches her students about positive affirmations and shows them how they can change attitudes toward learning and toward life. Jennifer helps her students see the way that they act towards others can change the world for the better and learn amazing things about culture, history, race, and ethnicity in her class. Her students also learn about freedom, rights and responsibilities. Additionally, they learn how kindness and love open them to the possibility of being able to achieve anything they want.
Jennifer is described as a hard working, energetic, empowering, affirming, patient, accepting, and understanding educator.
Jasper Jordan, Building Operator
St. Mary’s Education Centre/Academy
Creating safe and inclusive schools begins with how students are welcomed upon their arrival in the morning. Jasper Jordan, Building Operator at St. Mary’s Education Centre/Academy, greets students in the morning with a smile and a “how ya doin”. This act of kindness goes a long way in helping the students start the day with the positive mindset needed to begin their learning. As students step off the bus, Jasper warmly welcomes every student and always makes time to share stories of hockey or weekend adventures. Pre-primary children are also met with a good morning message and a welcoming bow as they walk by setting them up for a successful day in the classroom. Children and students know he is genuinely concerned about their well-being and successes, both in school and in the community.
All St. Mary’s Education Centre/Academy students know the name “Jasper” as they regularly greet him with a friendly “hello”. Beginning the day with positive social interactions with children and students who often need a quick pick me up is one way that Jasper contributes to building healthy relationships and a positive school culture.
Amy MacKillop, Teacher
East Richmond Education Centre
Amy MacKillop encompasses what it means to be a culturally responsive teacher. She is described as a dedicated, hardworking teacher with a positive attitude. Amy’s organizational skills and work ethic creates a student-centered environment with opportunities for students to be validated and affirmed. She is dedicated to each individual student and their well-being, through her cheerful and caring approach to connecting with all students. Amy provides many opportunities for students to work collaboratively and allows for flexibility in seating and workspaces. She is an enthusiastic teacher who embraces each student in her classroom and thrives on celebrating their culture and unique life experiences. She embraces new technology and learning opportunities and incorporates these into her teaching and learning environment.
Christopher (Chris) Martins, Teacher
Chedabucto Education Centre/Guysborough Academy
As a teacher at Chedabucto Education Centre/Guysborough Academy, Chris Martins shares his exceptional knowledge and love of Fine Arts, Humanities to help students find their voice. Chris is dedicated to providing experiences for students and does so with enthusiasm. Chris provides anti-racism educational experiences to his students through multi-cultural and culturally responsive lessons. He helps to organize Mi’kmaq cultural workshops and exhibits for students including medicine bundles; drumming, rattles, chanting; working with quills, birch bark and traditional foods; and leads school wide Truth and Reconciliation activities such as this year’s “Rock Walk”. Throughout the year, Chris educates, promotes, celebrates, and honours many cultures and their stories including people of African, Indigenous and Acadian descent.
Chris generously devotes time to the school community through extra-curricular and educational activities. He has directed numerous Drama performances, organizes and leads the Kelso assemblies, coaches soccer and basketball, is a member of the school’s Culturally Responsive Lead team and organizes the Heritage Fair.
Chris is an outstanding teacher and leader. His school and community involvement and work towards equity and social justice embodies this year’s Education Week theme, Cultural Responsiveness – Meeting students where they are.
Mary Lou McKenzie, Teacher
Whycocomagh Education Centre
Mary Lou McKenzie has been an outstanding Learning Support Teacher with the Strait Regional Centre for Education for six years. She has also been the Guidance Teacher at Whycocomagh Education Centre for the past two years, always providing a safe and nurturing environment for all students.
Mary Lou is kind, loving, fun, and cares about her students as individuals and learners. Mary Lou values what each child brings to the school community, and finds and uses each child's unique strengths to help them overcome their struggles and develop positive self-confidence.
Mary Lou has worked diligently to help the school be an inclusive, welcoming and respectful learning environment. She is an active member of the School Advisory Council, has served on the playground fundraising committee, and has participated in the successful implementation of three Professional Development Assistance Fund grants from the NSTU to further enhance cultural responsiveness at the school.
Mary Lou is a lifelong learner. She proactively seeks out opportunities to enhance her instructional skills by regularly taking advantage of professional learning that specifically reflects the learning needs of students.
Colleen Pelley, African Nova Scotia Student Support Worker
Chedabucto Education Centre/Guysborough Academy
Colleen Pelley is a Student Support Worker at Chedabucto Education Centre/Guysborough Academy. As a colleague she is described as friendly, welcoming, sincere and humorous. Colleen is dedicated to her work which is evident every day around the school. As a positive role model, she has supportive conversations with all students, she prepares food for the Breakfast Program, takes and delivers lunch orders and works with elementary students.
Colleen’s knowledge of students’ home communities and their individual experiences enables her to be a strong and positive presence in classrooms to support student well-being and success. Colleen helps students stay on task, learn organization skills, and create positive relationships. She collaborates with staff and her honesty and hard work is appreciated while working to improve classroom learning.
Crystal Richards, Vice Principal
Fanning Education Centre/Canso Academy
Crystal Richards is a long-serving Vice Principal at Fanning Education Centre/Canso Academy. Crystal demonstrates an unwavering commitment to the education of the whole child for all students. Her success, as a culturally responsive educator, results from the strong relationships she has cultivated with her students and their families through her tireless dedication to them both in and out of school. This caring approach has resulted in a collective student body who feels safe, valued and supported to achieve.
Crystal has been a leader in coordinating and delivering a healthy and robust breakfast program for all students and this display of warmth and nourishment is how she welcomes students each day. In the area of student services, she leads a collaborative model of delivery with her staff to ensure the learning needs of all students are met. Crystal’s commitment to student well-being is at the heart of her work.
Candice Sylliboy, Mi’kmaq Language Teacher
East Richmond Education Centre and Richmond Education Centre/Academy
Candice encompasses cultural responsiveness each day that she walks through the doors of East Richmond Education Centre and Richmond Education Centre/Academy. She is an advocate for all students and has become a trusted adult and mentor for Indigenous students. Candice is a proud Mi’kmaw woman who is determined to share truth of the past and respectfully challenges patterns, thoughts, ideas, and opinions that do not align with truth and help move us all towards Reconciliation. Candice can often be found spending time with students in the cafeteria, playing sports or sitting with them in her classroom where they know they have a safe space.
Candice has shown exemplary leadership in the marking of the First Truth and Reconciliation Day and the creation of a Peace and Friendship Garden at East Richmond Education Centre. She continually looks for resources to support Mi’kmaq students as well as those that will help all students and staff understand true First Nations history, our shared history. Candice is an integral member of the school communities.