Thank you to all of you for the warm acknowledgement of this special honour bestowed on me today. I would like to extend a special thank you to my colleague and friend, Al Samsa, for his nomination of me for this award and to the OBEA executive for granting me this honour.
In accepting this award I am cognizant of the deep history and significance of it. I am fortunate to have some past winners celebrating with me today but to ALL past winners who have made life-long contributions to excellence in education I say ‘thank you’ for inspiring me, for mentoring me, and for inviting me into your membership.
Thank you to the members of the OBEA executive, the corporate sponsors, the vendors, and the general membership, all of you, for your confidence in my professional abilities and for which you have afforded me many exciting professional learning opportunities; from greeter and presenter at our conferences, to writer and contributor for some of our vendors and our newsletter, and for selecting me as a curriculum writer at the local and provincial level. Some of these OBEA opportunities require a lot of energy, time and commitment as well as moments of frustration and some even take me out of my comfort zone, but ALL of them serve to strengthen my abilities.
I would add a special thank you to Linda Brown for her introduction this morning. Her kind words and ‘embellishment of my accomplishments’ has made my heart beat a little faster. I am not sure if that is because, in listening to her words, I realized that she summed up 30 years of a career in about 2 minutes or whether I realized in those 2 minutes that, as she reflected on my career in education, I too needed to savour this moment and use it to reflect on and appreciate what a career in education has given me.
I started my career in education in the classroom and 30 years later I ended my career in the classroom. And, there isn’t anything I would have done differently for it was there that much of my professional learning, mentoring, and growth took place and it was there that many of my additional career accomplishments, some of which Linda spoke about earlier, were initiated and fostered.
Whether mentoring students from the faculties of education, delivering new lessons for the first time or revised lessons that keep the content current and relevant, to observing and working with the many and varied learning abilities, personalities and behaviours of our students, growth, development, and experience for me, as a teacher and for my students, most notably, occurred in the classroom.
For all of us who have chosen education and for all of us who have had the opportunity to experience a classroom setting, in my opinion, there is no greater opportunity to make a difference in the life of a young person. Firstly, we have a responsibility to foster academic success, and your commitment to attending this conference, some of you for many, many years, is evidence that your professionalism and your classroom are important to you.
We also have the ability to shape behaviour, to develop beliefs, and to form the foundation of socially responsible individuals that will leave our classrooms with a set of skills and abilities they will need to make a difference in a future workplace and in the lives of their families, friends and communities. There can be no greater gift.
When we listen to our students we all learn. With few exceptions, whatever they are interested in, I would argue, can always be infused into a business lesson.