Vernon teachers honoured for excellence at provincial awards

Fulton Secondary’s Alan Gee and École Beairsto Elementary’s Brendan Robertson both received awards

Two Vernon teachers have received top honours for their care, creativity and enthusiasm in the classroom.

Teachers from across the province who go above and beyond for their students were celebrated at the Premier’s Awards for Excellence in Education in Victoria on Friday. Clarence Fulton Secondary teacher Alan Gee was the winner in the Community Engagement Category, while École Beairsto Elementary teacher Brendan Robertson took the top spot in Technology and Innovation.

In his 32-year teaching career, Gee has developed a passion for experimental learning, to the benefit of his classes. He challenges his students with diverse perspectives, inviting a list of community members into his classroom that includes a Holocaust survivor, a refugee and a hypnotherapist.

Gee has created a global education course highlighting civic and global issues, a Japanese language program and an organized a canoe project in partnership with the local First Nation. Whatever class he’s teaching, his goal is to shape his students into independent thinkers.

A tinkerer at heart, Robertson is a natural fit in his district leadership role as technology innovation co-ordinator, as well as a Grade 4 teacher. He integrates new and exciting digital tools into the classroom, leveraging the power of technology to transport students far beyond the classroom. To take an example, he has taken students to virtual field trips to a refugee camp in Jordan and the Museum of Modern Art using augmented reality. He uses drones in his physics and math classes, and even applied technology to French immersion classes.

It’s the second year the awards have been held, and this year’s 10 winners were chosen out of 140 nominations received between January and April – a list that was narrowed down to 30 finalists.

Gee, Robertson and the rest of the recipients were handed a commemorative work of art by Claire Jorgensen, a 17-year-old Reynolds Secondary student in 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.

“All British Columbians benefit from the outstanding efforts of teachers, administrators and support workers,” said Premier John Horgan at the event.

“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.”

Kelowna Secondary School principal was also an award winner, topping the School Leadership category.

Simi Sara, host of CKNW’s The Simi Sara Show, served as emcee of the event, and highlighted the common characteristics of all teachers who were honoured at the event.

“The creativity, enthusiasm and care demonstrated by these education professionals contributes to building a bright future for British Columbia.”

READ MORE: Vernon Performing Arts Centre announces 2019 bursary winners

READ MORE: B.C. education minister says focus is on new curriculum, filling on-call teacher ranks

Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
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