June 16th, 2024

PRPS board honours Community Champions for Education

By Samantha Johnson Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on October 26, 2023.

The board of trustees for Prairie Rose School Division and recipients of the 2023 2023 Community Champion for Education awards, which were presented this past Tuesday.--NEWS PHOTO SAMANTHA JOHNSON


The Prairie Rose Public Schools board presented the 2023 Community Champion for Education awards at Desert Blume Golf Course on Tuesday, based off nominations by both community and PRPS staff.

PRPS Board of Trustees Advocacy Committee, made up of trustees Shauna VanderSpruit, Graeme Dennis and Nancy Haraga, then chose winners.

“Education is the cornerstone of progress in our rural Alberta communities,” board chair Lois Bedwell said to those gathered. “And we know there are unique challenges in providing quality education.”

Paulette Heller was the first recipient, a longstanding member of the PRPS board who continues to be involved with Kaleidoscope of the Arts along with volunteering her time and energy in other areas.

Next up was Nichole Neubauer, founder and co-ordinator of the Agricultural Discovery Centre at Irvine School.

“This is incredible because when I stand back from where I am, my vantage point is all my thanks need to go to you because the work we’ve done and the people I’ve worked with and the ability to take what was once a dream and turn it into reality is really hard to put into words,” said Neubauer. “As much as I appreciate this recognition from the bottom of my heart – thank you so much for the gratitude you are showing me – my thanks is to you for your trust in me and allowing me to take risks and make mistakes and to take this somewhere that we’ve never been before.”

Terri Super, Les Little, Sheri Little and Doug Little of Super T Aviation received the next award for their partnership with the South Alberta Flight Academy.

“As you experience every day in the high school world, it is something that grows on you,” said Super. She went on to say how she wakes up at night thinking of ways to build leadership skills in Grade 11 students, who are often more challenging students when in Grade 10. “The flight school was our way of us giving back to aviation because we’ve had such good careers … It’s been very rewarding … We are enjoying it and it’s such a unique program and the kids, you see them develop.”

Last but not least was Willie Desjardins was recognized for his work with the South Alberta Hockey Academy.

“It’s kind of amazing when you look at it. They are all such great accomplishments and it’s all because of Prairie Rose, it all comes under that umbrella where they found a way to make it happen,” the Medicine Hat Tigers coach and general manager said. “Lots of times people always find reasons it won’t work … Prairie Rose is different, they find reasons it will … That’s really unique and it’s everywhere, it’s not just one part.

“One thing I want is kids to be able to follow their dreams and I don’t care what the dream is … it’s just the opportunity to follow your dreams and grow, and I know this school division makes an effort to do that.”

Each recipient received a banner except for Heller who was presented with a plaque.

“These programs, for some students, they keep them coming to school at times and keep them engaged as learners,” VanderSpruit commented in closing. She also added the idea of banners came at a hockey game when she noticed a partnership banner hanging above the rink and loved the concept.

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