Two Salt Spring Island teachers were honoured by a former student on Feb. 14.
GISS teacher Ray Colleran and former principal Judy Smith were awarded the Loran Scholarship’s Teachers Building Leaders Award after being nominated by Cole Smith, who graduated from GISS in 2013 and was a Loran Scholarship recipient.
Judy Smith was principal at GISS when Cole Smith was a student. He moved to Salt Spring Island in his Grade 11 year and attended GISS until graduation. He remembered Smith’s influence and impact on his education, saying that she “played an absolutely life-changing role in my development as a leader. She would pop in to see classroom presentations, attend performances and challenge students about their myriad pursuits in the multi-purpose room. She was the most directly active in student lives of any administrator I’d encountered until this point.”
Colleran was Cole Smith’s English teacher in his senior year at GISS. Though the former student nominated Colleran specifically, he mentioned other teachers as well in his speech on Feb. 14. Colleran received his award at the GISS honour roll presentations.
“They kind of called me out as a special thing at the end,” Colleran said. “It was a nice surprise. The students all got to their feet and that was really heartwarming. I was saying afterwards that everybody should be given an opportunity at some point to be given a standing ovation for just coming to work and doing what you do.”
Colleran said GISS’ supportive environment is extremely helpful to students.
“I’ve had a number of my colleagues from the school, teachers and staff, say that they felt like they were all sharing in it,” he said. “I think that you can feel unappreciated at times. You can go long stretches without knowing what kind of job you’re doing here. To be reminded of that is really nice.”
In addition to the awards, the two educators were given letters from former Governor General David Johnston.
The Loran Scholarship is Canada’s largest four-year undergraduate award. Valued at $100,000, up to 34 students are chosen each year from over 5000 applicants. The award covers a full four years of tuition as well as mentorship opportunities and a summer internship. Cole Smith won the award in 2013 after graduating from GISS. He attended Queen’s University in Kingston to take his undergraduate degree in math and philosophy.
For more on this story, see the Feb. 21, 2018 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.