Two Kelowna teachers were recognized by the Central Okanagan Board of Education this week for their innovative teaching initiatives.
Suzan Miles, a teacher at South Rutland Elementary, has been awarded a 2018 Golden Star Award from the BC Retired Teachers Association, while Lynn Langille, a district vision resource teacher, was named recipient of an excellence in teaching award at the recent national vision teachers’ conference in Edmonton.
Miles was saluted for her efforts, beginning last year, to have her students interact with seniors living at Sun Pointe Village in Rutland in the senior buddy/junior buddy program.
She is one of four teachers from across the province to receive the Golden Star Award.
Her inspiration for the teaching collaboration lesson came from her parents. She recalled how when her father passed away, her mom was despondent and showed little interest in socializing on any level—except when young students would pay a visit to the facility.
So outside of a period between November and February, Miles brought her students to the residence once a month to interact with their buddy seniors, doing all kinds of fun activities from playing games and reading books to decorating the Christmas tree and carving pumpkins.
Miles says the students bring energy and friendship to the seniors, and in turn learn and gain a greater respect for the challenges facing elders while living out the final stage of their lives in the Sun Pointe complex care and dementia wards.
“Our students see the complicated and diverse needs that seniors require, and those lessons will be hopefully be reinforced to them as they move on to Rutland Middle School because Sun Pointe is right across the street,” Miles said.
Two South Rutland Grade 5 students, Ashlyn Swan and Hashim Alshakhs, also spoke to the school board about their experiences as two-year participants in the seniors’ program, both saying how much fun it was to interact with the Sun Pointe residents and the friendship that evolved from their buddy relationships.
Langille, in her 30th year of teaching, works with vision impaired students, one of three vision teachers in the district who also contract their services to neighbouring school districts. She personally works with students in Kelowna, Osoyoos and Oliver.
Thirteen years ago, Langille founded the Children’s Low Vision Project where she, along with a team of doctors and educators travel around B.C. six times a year, providing low vision assessment and give free optical aids to school-aged children.
Langille credited her success to the constant support she has reeived from the school district administration, in particular her program director Peer Molloy.
She said Molloy encouraged her to follow her goals for enhancing learning tools for vision impaired students and the support to help make it happen.
School district superintendent/CEO Kevin Kaardal said Langille’s efforts are an example of a teacher’s commitment to her students in the classroom being advanced to become a benefit to the greater community.
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