Excellence in Public Education Update June 2021

For a second year, public health restrictions due to COVID- 19 prevented the in person presentation of BCRTA’s Golden Star Awards. We received several applications from teachers who found safe, creative ways to offer intergenerational programs despite the pandemic. Like the recipients of the awards, we had to pivot and find another way to celebrate outstanding intergenerational programs in BC’s public schools.

Thanks to Zoom technology, Excellence in Public Education Committee members were able to attend all Golden Star Award presentations this year! This year, committee members located in Coquitlam, Nelson, the Okanagan and Vancouver joined virtual presentations to recipients in Coquitlam, Surrey, Thetis Island and West Vancouver. We had the enormous pleasure of speaking with teachers, students, seniors, a superintendent, principals, parents, a school board Trustee, and a care home representative, all through the magic of technology.The only things missing were the cake and ice cream.

This year, we celebrated presentations on June 1st, Intergenerational Day. Zoom took us to a classroom in White Rock where the grade 3-4 students had made golden star wands to wave at us as they said “thank you” in unison. From there we went to a beautiful forest in Surrey where the grade K-1 class called “thank you” from their outdoor classroom amidst towering evergreens. June 2nd found us across the water on Thetis Island where we enjoyed original presentations by K-7 students in their 100 year old one room school house. Next we joined recipients at an elementary school in Coquitlam where students expressed their gratitude through prose and poetry. Our final celebration was with recipients at Sentinel Secondary School in West Vancouver where senior students expressed their heartfelt thanks to BCRTA for the support received.

At every Golden Star Award event, each person who spoke emphasized that the benefits of intergenerational interactions are life changing for all participants. During the pandemic, the selected programs were key in combating the loneliness and isolation experienced by many seniors. Students benefited in important ways and, amongst many other attributes, developed empathy and an appreciation for the wisdom of seniors. Kudos to teachers Harriette Chang, Cecily Evans, Laura Fitzpatrick, Ellen Petersson, Genny Redman and Lisa Tomé for their dedication to excellence in intergenerational programming in BC’s public schools.

Many thanks to Kristi and Laurie at the BCRTA office for facilitating essential aspects of the Golden Star Awards program and to committee members Cheryl Halsted, Caroline Malm, Barb Mikulec and Grace Wilson for their work on behalf of BCRTA members.

Caroline Malm, Chair, Excellence in Public Education Committee