There can be no doubt in the minds of teachers who live in Summerland that they are very much appreciated.
While on the picket lines, all Summerland teachers and their families were invited to a Teacher Appreciation Dinner, held at the United Church Hall on Tuesday, Sept. 16.
The spaghetti dinner was hosted by retired teachers, CUPE staff and many other individuals and community supporters.
The reason for the dinner was to show respect and appreciation for the teachers and to say thank you to them for standing up for public education.
Sandy Nicolson first came up with the idea. She asked Linda Beaven what she thought and her response was “it’s an awesome idea.”
Together they invited Marian Rudisill, Pat Gartrell and Donna Graham to join them on the organizing committee.
Through phone calls, emails and word of mouth, they soon had the funds needed to rent the hall and book the caterer. Desserts for the dinner were baked and donated by willing individuals.
“It was a stage when teachers were feeling really low and we thought they really needed a boost and somebody to say we appreciate what it is you are doing,” explained Beaven.
“We wanted to let people know that we support teachers and respect them and are convinced that a well- funded public education system for all children is what we need,” said Nicolson.
Kirby Sands, staff representative for Summerland Secondary School, said the dinner was a huge morale booster. He explained that it had been a difficult time for teachers.
“We have a lot of two-teacher income families, so they’ve had nothing to live on at this time, as the last full paycheque we had was in mid-May.”
Sands also wanted to thank the community as a whole for all the support they had shown to teachers. Many people had dropped by with donuts and coffee and stopped to wish them well during the strike.
Teacher Shona Becker said she was “incredibly touched” that someone had thought enough of the teachers to get them all together and to say that public education was important.
“It really speaks volumes about our Summerland community. We are incredibly lucky to have such a tight knit community that would put on an event like this for teachers and their families,” she said.
Becker and her husband have been teaching for 17 years, but are also parents with two young boys in the school system.
“We really want the best educationally sound supportive system, not just for our kids, but for all kids,” she added.
Another teacher, Kevin Bond, said there had been a lot of support from drivers honking and passers by giving positive feedback.
“The dinner tonight really demonstrated support in a tangible way, by meeting the needs of our families and giving us food. We really appreciate this and it’s quite meaningful to know that people in this community appreciate what we do for kids and the position we have taken.”
Anita Berekoff added her voice saying,
“I think we were all just taken aback by the kindness of this community and of past teachers who really understand the issues and understand why we were out there.”
As a teacher, Jandi Doyle expressed that she felt there was a desperate need to stand up for students and public education.
She at times had been frustrated by the way teachers had been misrepresented in the media.
“It’s hard not to take it personally when people are bashing teachers, so a night like tonight means so much. It really warms my heart,” she said.
“It’s been a fairly trying time. It’s nice to have this sort of help and recognition,” said Susie Haverkamp. “It puts a positive spin on everything …a feel-good dinner.”
Coincidently the appreciation dinner for the teachers was held on the evening of the same day that a tentative agreement had been reached between the teachers and the government. This no doubt resulted in a somewhat more celebratory mood in the hall that night than otherwise might have been the case.
If you know a positive story about someone in our community, contact Carla McLeod at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Summerland Review newsroom at 250-494-5406.