Mario Milovac, the program support teacher at Princess Alexandra School and Harry Camsell School, is this year’s winner of the Program Staff Award, one of the Excellence in Education Awards presented by the South Slave Divisional Education Council.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

A Hay River educator has been honoured with one of the 2020 Excellence in Education Awards, which are presented annually by the South Slave Divisional Education Council (SSDEC).

Mario Milovac, currently the vice-principal and program support teacher for Princess Alexandra School and Harry Camsell School, was named the winner of the Program Staff Award.

“In all honesty, it was a bit of a surprise,” said Milovac, who found out about the honour on Aug. 27 during a Zoom conference of educators.

Those eligible for the Program Staff Award include teachers, administrators, consultants and education assistants.

“It’s clearly great recognition,” Milovac said. “I do appreciate it. It’s not anything that I think any teacher generally strives for. You forget the things that you do throughout your career. But I think the part that touched me most was that the nomination came from the teachers that I work with here and it was supported by others.

“It’s a good feeling to know that the work that you do is making a difference.”

As the program support teacher, Milovac assists other teachers in developing programming at the two schools.

“It’s great to be able to collaborate with them,” he said. “However, it really is the work that you do with the students that is the most impactful. You don’t go into this kind of a career without hoping you make a bit of a difference.”

Milovac said he has been very blessed to work in Hay River the majority of his career.

“You not only get to know kids and their parents, but I’m at the stage now where I’m teaching the children of students I would have taught,” he noted.

The 51-year-old Milovac began his teaching career in 1991 in Fort Smith, before moving on to Fort Resolution, and then to his hometown of Hay River.

In announcing the award, Curtis Brown, the superintendent of the SSDEC, praised Milovac for positively impacting thousands of students at Harry Camsell School and Princess Alexandra School.

“His strong instructional practices, combined with his solid understanding in social-emotional learning, helped to create an environment within the classroom that resulted in fewer behavioural issues each year,” Brown noted.

Two other recipients of the 2020 Excellence in Education Awards were also announced.

The Partner in Education Award went to Brian Green and the Lutsel K’e Co-op.

As the manager of the store, Green was honoured for the assistance he has offered to the staff and students at Lutsel K’e Dene School.

The Jill Taylor Above and Beyond Award recipient is Todd Sturgeon.

As the SSDEC’s manager of information systems and technical services, Sturgeon has for more than 15 years ensured teachers and students have the technology services and support they need.

The Zoom meeting during which the Excellence in Education Awards were announced was a replacement for an in-service conference normally held in Hay River prior to the school year. The SSDEC conducted the in-service conference through Zoom this year because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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