Local heroes

Colette Ernst, Success by 6 Coordinator


Every wanted to be famous? Maybe a rock star or a super hero. The fame, the recognition, everyone knows who you are. “Hey! Isn’t that … Joe?” Ok, truthfully in a small town, many people probably know who you are—at least by name. And similarly to famous people and super heroes, it’s easy to see superficially what that person is about, the stories or what they do for a living. But recognition and appreciation for going above and beyond is extra special.

Today, most often if I am recognized, it’s as my daughter’s mom. “Hey you’re Bree’s mom right?” Years ago, I had the privilege of working with the preschool children at Tumbler Ridge Children’s Centre and was “Miss Colette”. No matter where I was if there were kids I was recognized as a early childhood staff. Which made me feel a bit like a super hero.

And why not? Early years educators are super heroes and every May we take the time to honour those heroes in the South Peace at the Helping Little

Hands Awards of Excellence Ceremony on May 21. This year I had the pleasure of being one of seven members of Tumbler Ridge’s early care and learning professionals recognized for their work.

Nominations for awards were placed by members of the community, coworkers and parents who wished to acknowledge a program or individual who has been instrumental in helping care and teach preschool children. Awards were chosen by a committee formed by the Early Childhood Educators, Child Care Resource and Referrals, and the Dawson Creek Children First/Success by 6 table who sponsored the event.

Tumbler Ridge received seven awards, two for programs and five to individuals. The Tumbler Ridge StongStart program was awarded Community Early Care and Learning Program of the Year. The Tumbler Ridge Children’s Centre Society Preschool Program was awarded Licensed Preschool of the Year.

Amanda Blunden, who works at the Tumbler Ridge Children’s Centre and is pursuing her education in the field of Early Childhood Education (ECE), received an award for Support Staff of the Year. Chris Norbury, who has made the children’s library program continually new and exciting, received the New Faces award. Joy McKay, who has put in endless volunteer hours to make Tumbler Ridge a family friendly community and has been an active member of the Success by 6 table since it’s inception in 2007, was awarded the Community Early Care and Learning Individual of the Year. Chris Norbury and Samatha Petrovic were also nominated for this award. Shirley Oetheimer, who I have had the pleasure to work alongside and who’s passion for teaching and love of children is visible to all who know her, received the Dedicated to Early Care and Learning Award. Raelene Bauman, director of TRCCS, and myself were also nominated for this award. Lastly, I received an award for Community Early Care and Learning Coordinator of the Year for my work with Success by 6 in our community. But I am the least of the heroes, as my work involves facilitating the true heroes—those who have a direct impact on the lives of our children.

I no longer am called “Miss Colette” by children who see me, but you know, that’s okay. I get to rub shoulders with the heroes in our community, I get to be the Speedy to Green Arrow or play Gromit to the genius Wallace (or is that vice versa?)—assisting when needed. But if you see Mr. Chris, Mrs. O or anyone who is making a difference in an early years program in Tumbler Ridge… why not stop and say “thanks!”

As Voltaire, writer and philosopher, said “Appreciation is a wonderful thing; it makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”