Winners and finalists of this year’s Premier’s Awards for Excellence in Education gathered at Government House in Victoria Oct. 15. Top row, third from the right, is Birdy Markert, School District 54’s Indigenous education principal and winner in the Indigenous education category. Right below her is custodial/transportation manager Rolanda Lavellee, a finalist in the school support category. In the first row, in red, is Lt. Governor Janet Austin and beside her is Premier John Horgan. (Government of B.C. photo)

Winners and finalists of this year’s Premier’s Awards for Excellence in Education gathered at Government House in Victoria Oct. 15. Top row, third from the right, is Birdy Markert, School District 54’s Indigenous education principal and winner in the Indigenous education category. Right below her is custodial/transportation manager Rolanda Lavellee, a finalist in the school support category. In the first row, in red, is Lt. Governor Janet Austin and beside her is Premier John Horgan. (Government of B.C. photo)

Two school district employees honoured by Premier John Horgan

Birdy Markert and Rolanda Lavallee recognized for contributions to education

Two School District 54 employees have been recognized provincially for their work and contributions within their chosen fields.

District Indigenous education principal Birdy Markert is the winner in the Indigenous education category and custodial/transportation manager Rolanda Lavallee in the school support category of the 2022 Premier’s Awards for Excellence in Education.

Winners within 10 awards categories were chosen from 34 finalists taken from 113 nominations from around the province.

“Both of these candidates were deserving of the recognition by the Premier. It is very rare for a small northern school district to have two employees recognized at this level, which speaks to how highly regarded their work has been,” said school district superintendent Mike McDiarmid.

“Both are strong student advocates, particularly for students that have been historically marginalized in schools.”

McDiarmid said Markert has made the school district and schools a more welcoming place for Indigenous students and that she represents a bridge between communities within the school district and area.

“All of our students and staff have also benefitted from the many amazing learning opportunities that Birdy has arranged and delivered over the years and the overall awareness and appreciation for Witsuwit’en culture, language and traditions has increased dramatically across all schools,” he said.

Lavallee was nominated during her time as a custodian in volunteering outside of her regular work hours in supporting the student Gender-Sexualtiy Alliance in schools in both Smithers and Houston.

“Her support and care for these students who needed a safe space in school was an exceptional and brave choice at the time,” said McDiarmid.

“Rolanda’s work with these students is fondly remembered and appreciated by the students and staff that she worked with.”

Winners were presented with their awards at a ceremony hosted by Lt. Governor Janet Austin and Premier John Horgan at Government House in Victoria.

“Every day, you go above and beyond to put students first. The Premier’s Awards are our chance to thank the teachers, staff and educational leaders who bring out the best in B.C. students and represent the best of our province,” he said.

Winners receive a $3,000 taxable personal bursary for professional learning, and a $2,000 contribution to their school community for professional learning. Runners-up receive a $1,000 taxable personal bursary for professional learning, and a $1,000 contribution to their school community for professional learning.

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