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SD46 education assistant receives Premier’s Award for excellence in education

Elaine Tattrie, Tom Kellough and Sara Douglas were acknowledged for their support and collaboration in Sunshine Coast schools 

As the 2022 Premier’s Awards for Excellence in Education celebrated B.C. school staff making a difference, three Sunshine Coast School District No. 46 staff members were honoured for their work. 

Teaching how to give

Elaine Tattrie, who has worked at Gibsons Elementary for 20 of her 30 years as an education assistant, took home the top award for Outstanding Support - Teaching Assistant. A press release from SD46 says Tattrie works with the most vulnerable children and their families all year round. Her efforts include establishing the Family First program more than a decade ago, an annual toy and gift workshop in December that allows vulnerable students to pick out as many gifts as they need for their family. Volunteers then help the students wrap and label the gifts. 

While the gift workshop takes place at the end of the year, it’s a year-long commitment for Tattrie, who also collects money to purchase Christmas dinner and snacks for families who have fallen on hard times. She keeps an eye out for discounts and yard sales. Throughout the year, she ensures grocery store gift cards are available for families who needs support “support to get them from job to job, and meal to meal,” the release said. It’s Tattrie’s familiarity with the community that helps her know who to help. 

In a December 2020 interview with Coast Reporter, Tattrie said, ““That is my bottom line. It’s all about giving and teaching children how to give.”

“Elaine has the ability to work magic on not just the students, but the staff, the parents, and the community!” SD46 says. 

Band together

Two music teachers at Chatelech Secondary, Tom Kellough and Sara Douglas were also named finalists for the Outstanding Team Collaboration. 

For 20 years, Douglas has brought music into Sunshine Coast elementary schools, from concerts to extracurricular activities and summer music camps to choirs. Now in the secondary school level, Douglas brings busy teens together in choir and band to showcase their talents. 

Likewise, Kellough’s past two decades have been spent teaching band — junior, senior, concert and jazz — to a high calibre. His efforts have helped bring those students to provincial and national competitions, even earning gold (concert band) and silver (jazz band) at the Western Canada Music Festival in recent years. Bands under Kellough’s guidance also delight local venues, such as the Gibsons Jazz Festival. 

“Tom Kellough and Sara Douglas are stars in their own right; however, when they come together as a team, they make their students sparkle!” the school district’s release says.

Together, Douglas and Kellough banded together seven years ago to ignite a performing arts opportunity for students. In 2015, they began by directing less than 20 students in “Into the Woods” and from there the full-scale credit course musical production blossomed with 60-plus students for 2021’s “Brigadoon.”

“These accomplishments are extraordinary given our small community base, and even though it took talented students to achieve, Tom's guidance helped them rise up,” the release states. 

Superintendent Kate Kerr and board chair Amanda Amaral sing their praises of these staff members' dedication to students and the school community. 

With files from Sophie Woodrooffe