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Elmwood educators earn Excellence in Education Awards

May 4, 2021
Elmwood - Excellence in Education

Four Elmwood High School educators are among the ten Manitobans to receive Excellence in Education Awards. 

On April 18, the province announced the recipients of the annual awards. Elmwood teachers Laura Buller, Rhianna Church and Darren Alford received the Premier’s Award for Excellence in Education, while principal Mike Babb received the Outstanding School Leader Award.

Buller, Church and Alford were recognized for their contributions to Elmwood’s Student Success Centre (SSC). Established in 2010, the SSC grew out a three-year provincial pilot program aimed at increasing graduation rates in areas with high rates of poverty.  

From 2000 to 2010, the average graduating class at Elmwood was 59 students. Since the implementation of the SSC in 2010, the average graduating class is 89 students, a 50 per cent increase. 

“It’s been a huge success,” Babb said.

Buller said the SSC is successful because it “encompasses the whole child.”

“We take a look at their academic needs and their social-emotional needs,” said Buller, who is the social-emotional support teacher in the SSC.

“I connect students with the Student Success Centre, with resources, with community organizations, with anything they might need outside of us. That way, once they graduate, they already have some sort of support system in place.”

Church and Alford provide academic support in the SSC. Church said that support is tailored to suit the student.

“Each student needs something different,” Church said. “The beauty of our program is we get to deliver it in whatever way that they need. Whether that’s scheduling conflicts, credit recovery or just support to feel confident in class, we get to do that for our students.”

“We meet the student where they are and we help them out the best we can,” Alford added. 

According to Babb, 75 to 80 per cent of Elmwood’s Grade 9 to 12 students access the SSC at some point in their high school career. 

“It’s a voluntary program, so students aren’t ever forced to be there. They choose to be there based on the connections that we’ve made,” Buller said.

“At the end of the day, I think it comes down to those connections. If students didn’t feel safe in the space, they wouldn’t want to come. It’s inviting and it’s encouraging. We just love them from every angle, whether it’s academically or socially and emotionally.”

Babb said the SSC continues to improve every year due to teachers like Buller, Church and Alford. 

“Some excellent work was established by Joanne Sabourin and Grant Andruchuk and these teachers have continued to enhance the work that they’ve inherited,” Babb said. 

Church said there’s a pretty simple reason for why the SSC works so well. 

“Students really flourish when they know they’ve got someone in their corner,” Church said. “We’ve watched lots of students who struggle in Grade 9, but when they have that home base, they grow, they flourish and they realize they can do it.”

“It’s not even us. We just say ‘Hey, you can do this.’ And they’re like, ‘You’re right, I can.’”


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