Local teacher earns Prime Minister award

Vernon educator’s passion for children has been recognized by the highest level of power in the country

A Vernon educator’s passion for children has been recognized by the highest level of power in the country.

Shawna Miller-Poitras, who teaches four-year-olds at the North Okanagan Child Care Society, received the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence from Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Ottawa Tuesday.

“The whole experience has been an honour and a privilege,” she said of meeting Harper.

“I love working with children and I feel fortunate that I have this in my life.”

Miller-Poitras, an early childhood educator for 25 years, is being acknowledged for introducing her students to the world around them.

It’s common for her class to visit the community garden, share experiences with local seniors, perform in local festivals or partner with elementary and high school students.

“I am looking for ways to help them contribute to their community,” said Miller-Poitras.

As an example, the class recently helped paint yellow fish symbols at storm drains to create awareness about how pollution impacts the environment.

“I want to showcase their strengths and abilities. I want them to have a love of life and learning.”

Miller-Poitras also supports child development through lunch-time discussions, monthly newsletters and memory books.

She played a critical role in the development of Vernon’s children’s charter of rights.

“She takes on projects that are leading the way to immersing our children within the community in which they belong,” said Hollie Henderson, North Okanagan Child Care Society executive director.

Miller-Poitras says the prime minister’s award has inspired her to continue with her work.

“I find it very motivating and validating,” she said.