4 Burnaby educators named as finalists for Premier’s Awards for Excellence in Education

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BURNABY – New Democrat MLA Anne Kang congratulates four educators from School District 41 on being named as finalists in this year’s Premier’s Awards for Excellence in Education. Sabha Ghani, Scott Stefanek, Wendel Williams, and Bryan Gidinski are four of thirty education professionals throughout B.C. to have been named as finalists, chosen for their leadership, innovation, support and dedication to the students and school community.

“Congratulations to all the finalists,” said the MLA for Burnaby-Deer Lake. “As a former teacher, I understand the dedication, creativity, and resilience it takes for an educator to help students succeed. The fact that four of thirty finalists are from the Burnaby School District is proof that we have some of the best educators in the province.”

Biographies of the 4 finalists from School District 41 can be found in a backgrounder below.

Launched for the first time in 2018, the annual Premier’s Awards for Excellence in Education are an opportunity to recognize the contributions of public, independent and First Nations school system teachers, principals, vice-principals, school and district leaders, and support staff who go above and beyond to make life better for K-12 students in B.C. This year, 10 awards are being given out with six honouring teachers, two recognizing school and district leaders, and two honouring support staff members. The nomination period ran from Jan. 7 to April 30 and 140 nominations were received.

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony at Government House in Victoria on Oct. 4, the day before World Teachers’ Day.

Winners will receive a $3,000 personal bursary for professional learning, a $2,000 contribution to their school community for professional learning and a commemorative artwork. Runners up will receive a certificate of recognition signed by the Premier and Minister of Education.

Learn More: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2019PREM0080-001377



Sabha Ghani, teacher, Burnaby South Secondary school

A teacher for 22 years, Ghani has a natural ability to engage with her students in a meaningful and supportive way. The social studies teacher is dedicated to her role as sponsor of her school’s WE Council and provides a safe, inclusive and encouraging environment for members. She gives students the confidence to build community beyond the classroom setting, and supports them to play an active role in the world at large. Through her work with the WE Council, she has created more than just an after-school club. She has developed a collective of conscientious student activists and community leaders who are dedicated to supporting local, national and international causes, are committed to social justice, and who have been empowered to create lasting change.

Scott Stefanek, teacher, École Brantford Elementary school

Since arriving at his school, Stefanek, a caring and engaged teacher, coach and mentor, has served as the head coach for every sporting activity at the school – cross country, volleyball, basketball, track and ultimate frisbee included. For cross country and track, he not only coaches, but helps run the district event as a convener. He helped organize a biking program, launched a run club for students and staff that participates in the Vancouver Sun Run, in addition to several other clubs, from anime to coding. He goes above and beyond to support students to participate and do their best, is always their biggest cheerleader, and encourages them to achieve their goals both in the classroom, during their club time, and on the playing field.

Bryan Gidinski, teacher, Chaffey-Burke Elementary school

Teaching for 23 years, Gidinski believes strongly that all students should feel included in the classroom. Valuing diversity and equity, he works hard to create positive learning opportunities and welcoming spaces for all students. He encourages and empowers his students to take action to positively influence their community. He has been instrumental in fostering an appreciation for diversity and supporting people of all sexual orientations, and gender identities and expressions in his school community. He is actively involved in his school’s professional development committee, and engages his peers in activities that help them recognize and celebrate their differences, and connect those understandings to their professional practice.

Wendel Williams, safe school specialist, École Alpha Secondary school

Having served in this position for 25 years, Williams plays a critical supporting role in the safety and well-being of students. He is skilled in the art of conflict resolution, mediation, crisis intervention, threat-risk assessment, and de-escalation of potentially violent situations. His proactive efforts have prevented the occurrence of countless potentially harmful incidents.  He works hard to build relationships with students based on trust and respect, and provides a much-needed lifeline for many kids, connecting them with local community agencies and partners as required. His efforts have resulted in students feeling safe and connected at school, and when concerning situations do arise, they feel comfortable seeking him out for advice and support.