Award Winners

Inspirational Student Award


Nicola is an exceptional young lady and what she has been able to accomplish so far in her young life is inconceivable. It is common for students to excel in academics, fine arts, athletics or community service; however, as her principal notes, Nicola manages to excel in all of these categories at a remarkable level. She has maintained top academic standing while organizing food and clothing drives for homeless people and fundraisers for cancer research. If that’s not outstanding enough, she’s received provincial and nation recognition for her athletic performance in Water-skiing, Track and Field, Gymnastics and Snow Skiing. Finally, she is actively involved at her school and the community from Musical Theatre to the Island Ukulele Group to her church organizations. Perhaps as notable as her outstanding achievements are her personal characteristics. She is described as exceptionally kind with strong interpersonal skills and a firm ethical grounding. It’s with great pleasure that we award Nicola the Victor Gim Inspirational Student Award and wish her the very best in her future endeavors.

Gail Edwards Memorial Award

Anita Girvan and Narda Nelson (Campus View)

Anita and Narda have made a big impact on Campus View and the community by putting on and organizing Earth Fest at the school for the last four years.  They recruit a green team of students early in the year to take charge of the school recycling and promote awareness on earth friendly initiatives.  Through their work, Anita and Narda inspire many more parents and school staff to get involved in Earth Fest.  The difference students have made has been mentioned in the legislature with members of the green team in attendance.  Despite being phenomenally busy moms, athletes and music students, they are often the first to sign up for school events.  They have inspired the next generation as well as the parent community volunteers they recruited to better our schools, our community and our environment.

Parents' Choice Award

Jenn Horton (Strawberry Vale)

Ms Jenn Horton is the 2015 VCPAC Parent’s Choice Award winner for the advocacy, dedication, and inspiration that her teaching practices bring to the children and to the entire school community.
Parents have unanimously agreed that “Jenn not only meets the award criteria, she surpasses it in so many ways!”
“Jenn empowers children to be responsible for and to take ownership of their learning and choices.”
Jenn bestows her gifts – not the least of which is a passion for thinking outside the box and emotionally guiding individuals to be inquisitive, critical thinkers - not only on the students with whom she works, but on their families and her colleagues as well.
Highlights include Jenn’s lessons on stewardship for the environment beyond the classroom walls, and healthy living.
Jenn excels at fostering individual relationships with students to make each and every one feel respected, safe and extraordinarily empowered to enrich the world in which they live.

John DiCicco (Victoria West) & Trevor McKenzie (Esquimalt)

These two gentlemen were nominated for the Parent’s Choice Award for their passion in enriching students’ lives through fostering relationships, literacy, and creativity.
Their energy and leadership has led to an amazing opportunity for pairing grade two students with grade 12 students to work together to create and illustrate a book.
In the words of Principal Deborah Courville – Victoria West Elementary --“Looking out my office window into our beautiful Rain Garden I had the opportunity to watch the face of one of our students as he sat side by side with his grade 12 buddy. It was profoundly moving to see the pleasure and joy on his face as they worked and laughed together.”

Arkell Award

Wendy Payne (Craigflower)

Wendy has been volunteering at Craigflower School since she retired six years ago.  She coordinates reading volunteers at our school with the classroom teachers.  With grace and flexibility Wendy handles it all.  When she started, the reading scores for students meeting expectations went from 20% to 55% in one year. 

Laura Anderson

Laura Anderson became part of the First Nations PAC when it first began at SJ Willis.  For many years she volunteered in the parent group despite not having children at the school.  With commitment and dedication, she cataloged up to 5,000 First Nations resources over the past 25 years getting the district library in order for the benefit of many people.

New Teacher Award of Distinction

Alison Calestagne (Arbutus)

Alison engages her students with many interesting and innovative projects and activities.  Among the many popular activities was the Paris Apartment Group Project where they turned their classroom into a Parisian apartment building.  She has a strong scientific background which she uses to explain complicated topics and inspires her students to become junior scientists.  She is a very hands-on science educator eagerly taking over the school's salmon release program which culminated in taking the students to Mt. Doug to release the salmon in the stream.  Madame Calestagne is always willing to continue to learn and seek out opportunities that will engage her students and get feedback on lessons and topics for projects.  She is very approachable, responsive and with only three years  teaching experience she deserves to be recognized as an exemplary educator.

Fine Arts Champion Award

Alex Clark

For over 30 years, Alex Clark has been an Aboriginal art teacher. He initially volunteered his time to listen and learn from the many elders in the Native Indian Education Program at SJ Willis in the early 1980s. He learned stories and art in a traditional manner and went on to share them respectfully with thousands of students at schools throughout the district. Alex is an animated storyteller, and wherever he has worked, more Aboriginal students have felt the pride of their knowledge and a love of their ancestry. In turn, non-Aboriginal students have also felt the pride of their knowledge and love of Aboriginal art and culture. An Aboriginal support teacher at Craigflower Elementary says of Alex: “The students many teachers find difficult or nearly unteachable, Alex has a gift for reaching. They literally come out from under tables to come listen to his stories and try their hand at Aboriginal art.” Alex is retiring this year, so we are especially pleased to be able to recognize his special contributions to our schools as winner of the Fine Arts Champion Award.

Denver Rawson & Nathan Georgesen (Lansdowne)

Denver Rawson and Nathan Georgesen (aka Mr. G) work together as a team of “one” to advocate, inspire and open the world of music to as many students at Lansdowne Middle School as possible. They provide students with the self-confidence that comes from being genuinely believed in. I cannot begin to capture the gratitude and admiration that filled the pages and pages and pages of their nomination package but I would like to share a couple of examples. One student expresses gratitude to Mr. Rawson who lent him a sax for over a year. Now in grade 8, that student owns his own sax and says “Mr. Rawson helped me play music when otherwise I wouldn’t have.” Mr. Rawson’s ability to relate to students is evident even without mentioning the time he dressed up as Spock or threw a clarinet across the room as an April’s Fool’s joke (okay I couldn’t help myself – I had to mention it). When it comes to Mr. G his commitment to reaching all students is obvious. For instance, Mr. G formed a Men’s Choir in secret by sending out an invitation to “play cards” at lunch time to all boys at Lansdowne. Without this secret invitation many of the boys would never have sung in a choir, yet they surprised the entire school with a performance at the year-end concert. It’s with great pleasure that we award Mr. Denver Rawson and Mr. G the Fine Arts Champion Award. Thank you for all your hard-work and dedication.

School Partnership Award

David Hovis (Campus View)

Many of the programs and activities would not have been possible without the close working relationship Mr. Hovis fosters between Campus View Elementary and the parents. For example:  a few years ago, students came to him to propose an Earth Fest to celebrate Earth Day and promote global citizenship, he commended the students for their initiative and immediately organized them into handling the school recycling and helped organize the parent volunteers to make it happen.  He co-created a book week in the school with staff to emphasize reading as a key part of learning with fun events for the family, students and staff including book exchanges, and dress as your favourite book character day.  He empowers his school community to flourish.  When parents have ideas to support children's learning he makes time to listen ensuring that they're heard and respected and takes enormous efforts to promote and enable parent initiative projects and programs.