Palliser counsellors earn Ambassador Award

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Palliser Regional Schools’ Family School Liaison Counsellors team was the recipient of this year’s Ambassador Award at the Opening Day Celebration.

VULCAN – Their work behind the scenes helps staff and students concentrate on the task at hand. At Thursday’s Opening Day Celebration Palliser Regional Schools’ team of Family School Liaison Counsellors (FSLC) took a well-deserved bow centre stage.

To celebrate their exemplary work the FSLC team was recognized in front of more than 800 colleagues from across the school division as the second-ever recipient of Palliser’s Ambassador Award.

“The idea behind the Ambassador Award is for those people who go that extra mile,” said Associate Superintendent Education Services Pat Rivard. “And last year in particular, that team functioned so well as a team during some challenging circumstances.”

Whether they are dropping all their caseloads and gathering to support a specific school in crisis management, or working proactively through presentations on healthy relationships and the like, those 11 counsellors have a very real impact on the classroom.

When students’ anxiety levels are high – for whatever reason – the teacher has to deal with the resulting behaviours in the classroom. The work of the FSLC team allows for a better learning environment for those students.

“I think that without kids’ basic needs being taken care of, and that includes their emotional health, they can’t be in any kind of a position to learn,” said Laurie Wilson, the Director of Learning who introduced each of the recipients Thursday. “Our counsellors help those kids be in a position to learn. The work that they do is amazing. They are such a strong team, and one that advocate so strongly for kids.”

The FSLC team of Eric Burgess, Melinda Greenaway, Cindy Lerner, Terrilyne Leroux, Tamara Menzies, Lavonn Mutch, Blythe Provost, Kathy Roe, Kelly Schmaltz, Dalayna Taverner and Lynette Theroux follow in the footsteps of Dan Doerksen, Palliser’s Low German-speaking Mennonite liaison worker and the inaugural winner of the Ambassador Award.

Their intuitiveness and expertise in approaching students who might appear troubled has literally helped saved lives, noted Rivard.

“There are cases where a child is at high risk of suicide but would have never told anybody. Because an adult cared and was aware of their circumstances that child could open up,” he said. “As a team, they are our unsung heroes.”

Counsellors’ work varies from school-to-school. In the larger cities within Palliser’s boundaries the counsellor may be helping connect families to existing community resources. In some of the more isolated communities, however, those counsellors are the local expert.

“And their work with students reduces the anxiety of the whole family by letting them know we are taking care of their kids in the best way we can,” said Rivard.

The celebration included recognition of 135 long-service employees, who have devoted a collective 1,635 years of service to students in Palliser Regional Schools. They ranged from those with five years experience, to bus driver and former teacher Hans Hulstein, with 40 years service.