Teachers win Education Week awards

Hebbville Academy educator among recipients

KELSEY POWER PHOTO Sandra Himmelman is seen sewing the sweater of one of her students. He ripped it on the playground and she promised she would fix it for him before March break.

Sandra Himmelman is seen sewing the sweater of one of her students. He ripped it on the playground and she promised she would fix it for him before March break.

Sandra Himmelman exemplifies this year’s Provincial Education Week theme and motto, and it shows.

The family studies teacher at Hebbville Academy has won the Provincial Education Week Teacher Award for Lunenburg County.

Every education week has a theme; this year’s was “Schools as Communities: Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.”

“When it came out, one of the teachers on staff came up to me and said, ‘Education week is you – you’ve always got your heart open, and your mind is always open to new things and your door is always open to your classroom,’” said Ms Himmelman as she sewed the sweater of a young boy who ripped it earlier on the playground.

Ms Himmelman provides a safe space for students during recess and lunch, along with food from her classes and conversation with these kids.

“Just so they can go back to class after having their 40 minutes of free time without being stressed,” she said, “Sometimes they might need some food, so when I do my Grade-8 food and nutrition program I always make sure that there’s a little extra in the pot.”

She also tries to teach students about different cultures through the Social Justice Committee she’s been running for 10 years.

“They talk about things needed around here, but they also look across Canada. We might spend a week on Aboriginal rights or we might think internationally.”

She took these members to last year’s We Day, and she ensures they take part in other Free the Children activities. Currently this involves the school raising money to purchase $50 goats for poor families in Africa. So far, they have enough for one and a half. They also sell Rafiki bracelets.

“They’re helping women through empowerment, helping their families out, and at the same time … they’re helping fund another project: water, food, income, education and health care,” she said, emphasizing that she makes sure her students understand the scope of these issues.

“I want them to see outside themselves because junior high is a time of ‘me.’”

Ms Himmelman is also available for most families in need, at Christmas time or simply providing extra fabric whenever her classes make pyjamas.

“I know there will be some kids here that won’t be able to go get that $12 or $13 worth of fabric,” she said.

She organizes fundraisers including hat and PJ days, coffee houses, and bake and coffee sales for students and school staff.

“I’m humbled and honoured,” said Ms Himmelman of winning the award.

“We should all be making sure our doors are open, because there’s kids out there that you don’t know what situations they go home to,” she said.

Ms Himmelman taught in Yarmouth immediately after graduating from school, spent time working for the government, took time off to raise her children and was involved with the home and school association on a provincial and national level as a volunteer. She’s been in her current position for the past 11 years.

Cameron Strong, a teacher at North Queens Community School, won the award for Queens County.

Both these individuals and other teachers recognized by Nova Scotia school boards will be recognized at a formal awards ceremony in Dartmouth during Provincial Education Week, which starts April 20.

“Thank you for being such great examples for your students, fellow teachers, and school communities. Your hard work is appreciated and has not gone unnoticed,” said the South Shore Regional School Board on its website.

As originally published in LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin

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