There’s likely not enough shiny red apples in all of Saskatchewan to properly show how appreciated teachers are.

At least that’s how Nathan Favel, northern constituency representative for the Saskatchewan School Boards Association, feels about the hard work exhibited by teachers and staff at schools across the North each and every year.

“Even before, but especially during, the pandemic I considered teachers to be heroes because they make those connections with the youth in our communities,” Favel said. “I have come to respect them all, and not just the teachers but also the support staff – custodians, librarians, teachers’s aides, bus drivers, they’re all a team.”

The Government of Saskatchewan has proclaimed Feb. 6-12 Teacher/Staff Appreciation Week. Throughout this week, residents are encouraged to thank teachers and staff for their efforts to provide safe and quality learning environments. This year’s Teacher/Staff Appreciation Week theme is ‘Pulling Together’, something Favel said has been happening at schools throughout the North a lot since the onset of COVID-19.

“Our teachers and staff have been dealing with the pandemic going on almost two years,” he said. “I believe we have managed in the North and, without a doubt, our teachers and staff carried that extra workload and should be recognized for that.”

A resident of Ile-a-la Crosse, Favel represents three school divisions at the SSBA – the Northern Lights School Division, Ile-a-la Crosse and the Creighton School Division.

“Ile-a-la Crosse is a local school division and I have always been about giving back to my community,” he said. “It’s very rewarding to give back at the local level and to sit on the board at the provincial level. I have also found the majority of our (Ile-a-la Crosse) teachers are local as well, which goes to show past teachers have influenced and inspired new teachers locally, and that’s great.”

Meanwhile, in Meadow Lake, Courtney Hildebrand serves as chair of the school community council at Gateway Middle School, as a member of the Jubilee Elementary SCC and as principal at Transition Place Education Centre.

“As an SCC member, every year we appreciate teachers but the last couple years it’s been an especially challenging job,” Hildebrand said. “I really appreciate what the teachers have done to make school as normal as possible in the midst of a very difficult situation. I know how much the teachers have had to change and to adapt, and my kids have never come home and had anything but positive things to say about the teachers and the other staff… I appreciate how much they have done during these difficult times.”

As an educator herself, Hildebrand also said it’s nice to be appreciated.

“It feels good,” she said. “It’s never why you do the job, but it’s nice to be recognized.”

by Phil Ambroziak