Early childhood education teacher at Maple Ridge college receives provincial award

A Maple Ridge child care teacher was recognized for her achievements in course curriculum by the province.

Karen LeSage, who is the Early Childhood Education program chair at Ridge Meadows College, was awarded a ChildCareBC Award of Excellence for Child Care Leadership at a ceremony held on Saturday, May 27.

LeSage was notified she had been nominated for the award and then she was told about two weeks ago by email that she had won.

“I had to ask someone, am I reading this correctly,” she laughed, adding that she was both surprised and humbled, not only to receive the award, but to receive nominations for it as well.

At the event she talked with the BC Minister of State for Child Care Grace Lore about some of the challenges she had heard from people in the community surrounding child care.

“I think the biggest thing for me is the awareness it is bringing to Maple Ridge and the child care situation in Maple Ridge,” said LeSage.

She said winning the award means a lot to her because she has been working in the field for almost 30 years in various roles.

“I think it’s just a coming together of everything that I’ve experienced and learned from everyone,” she said, noting her experience working with many families over the years and in different communities has shaped how she now teaches students and new early childhood educators coming into the field.

LeSage also praised her team at the college, whom, she said, helped her refresh the curriculum.

“I’m still kind of trying to process it all,” she added of winning the award.

A selection committee, made up of stakeholders and ministry staff, reviewed the 50 nominations received this year and awarded 12 Child Care Awards of Excellence in seven categories. Nominations were submitted by peers, parents, child care advocates, local governments and other organizations. The awards, handed out every two years, were given to people and teams who support families in their communities through exemplary leadership and by providing access to affordable, quality and inclusive child care programming.

For LeSage, the committee noted that since she joined the college’s faculty, she has led a complete curriculum refresh, in partnership with the Katzie First Nation and the Katzie Early Years Centre, in order to incorporate Indigenous content throughout the curriculum. She was also complimented on her personal, hands-on approach with her students, assisting them with professional and personal issues whenever possible. And, the committee added, LeSage has also put in place supports for neurodiverse students.

“The ChildCareBC Awards of Excellence honor the outstanding achievements of individuals, organizations, school districts and local governments who help families and communities thrive by providing or supporting the delivery of child care,” said Grace Lore, Minister of State for Child Care.

“The winners and nominees represent the dedication and commitment of the child care sector as a whole that brings to work every single day. It’s an honor to be able to celebrate and highlight the work of these professionals who provide critical care for our children,” added Lore.

Other recipients include Connie Bourne of Metrotown YMCA Child Care in Burnaby, who won the Lifetime Achievement Award, and Little Badgers Early Learning Programs of Windermere, which took the Inclusive Practices Award.

In addition to the ChildCareBC Awards of Excellence, 28 child care facilities with more than 40 years of service received the Child Care Legacy Award recognizing the generations of BC families they have been a part of.

The awards were launched in 2008 and celebrate the achievements of individuals, organizations, school districts and local governments helping families and communities thrive by providing or supporting the delivery of quality child care in the province.

May is Child Care Month in BC.

For more information about the ChildCareBC Awards of Excellence, including award criteria and previous winners, go to: gov.bc.ca/childcarebcawards.

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