Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ Hul’qumi’num coordinator Mandy Jones helps a LSS student card wool last school year. (Mike Gregory Photo)

VIDEO: Ladysmith teacher receives inaugural Premier’s Award for Excellence in Education

A Ladysmith Secondary School teacher committed to preserving the Hul’qumi’num language and imparting Coast Salish traditions to youth is among nine inaugural winners of the Premier’s Awards for Excellence in Education.

Mandy Jones received the award in the Indigenous Education category on Friday as part of a ceremony at Government House in Victoria to mark World Teachers’ Day. The event was also attended by Premier John Horgan; Rob Fleming, Minister of Education; and Lt. Gov. Janet Austin.

“What motivates me is seeing my students grow. I see them walk proudly and I see them get our community involved,” said Jones in a video released by the BC government.

The Premier’s Awards for Excellence in Education are intended to honour the achievements of education professionals working in public, independent, First Nations and offshore schools.

Jones is the Hul’qumi’num coordinator for the Nanaimo-Ladysmith Public Schools District, as well as a teacher at LSS, and has played a key role in the Language and Land-Based Learning program at the school.

The course, which started in 2016, is a first for SD68 and has brought together the First Nations and student communities through activities such traditional Coast Salish weaving and the Elder Project.

Jones said teaching is hands-on and that’s how she remembers being taught as a child.

“My grandmother was my biggest inspiration. She’s the one that taught us how to wash and clean the wool and prepare it for her for the winter and so this has been our way of teaching in the Land-Based program,” she said.

Winners were awarded a commemorative artwork, a $3,000 personal bursary for professional learning and a $2,000 contribution to their school community for professional learning.

“The teachers, administrators and support staff being honoured here today are truly exemplary,” said Horgan. “I’m grateful for their commitment to making life better for students in British Columbia both in the classroom and their communities. Great educators give our students the opportunity and tools to succeed, today and into the future.”

A total of 188 nominees were put forward by peers during the April 23 to June 30 nomination period. After careful review by adjudication and judges panels comprised of current and former B.C. education professionals, 27 finalists were announced Aug. 30, 2018. All were invited to Government House for the ceremony.

SD68’s Tanya Adelborg of Randerson Ridge Elementary school also received the Extracurricular Leadership Award on Friday.

LSS vice principal Liliane De Oliveira said Jones’ impact has been felt across the student population.

“Her role in language revitalization has been huge in our school. We saw a sense of pride built in our students and they became leaders,” she said.

Teaching colleague Bill Taylor added that Jones is “committed to awakening the language, Hul’qumi’num, to awakening the culture embedded deep in our students and she’s here to help us understand who we are, where we are and what makes us all special.”

Other winners included Murray Sasges, Vernon Community school (Community Engagement Award), Kim Halayko, Lillooet Secondary school (Diversity and Inclusion Award), Maymie Tegart, Blue River Elementary school (Outstanding New Teacher Award), Jeannine Lindsay, Aboriginal support worker, Lake Trail Middle school (Outstanding Support Award), Angelo Morelli, principal, École K.B. Woodward Elementary (School and District Leadership Award), Ryan Cho, Terry Fox Secondary (Social Equity Award), Sean Robinson, École Riverside Secondary school (Technology and Innovation Award).

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