Education Week April 14-20


Education Week is recognized across Nova Scotia every year in April. This year, Education Week takes place from April 14 to 20 with a focus on Inclusive Education - helping our students and children succeed.

As part of Education Week, teachers, support staff and partners are recognized for outstanding work related to the annual theme. Congratulations to our eight AVRCE staff receiving Education Week awards, in honour of their efforts to provide inclusive supports, empowering students to reach their full potential in an environment that welcomes and includes all. 


Erin Arnold, Annapolis West Education Centre

Erin is a Math Intervention teacher at Annapolis West Education Centre. Every student Erin works with feels challenged and appreciated. She excels at identifying and targeting areas of development, while making learning hands-on, dynamic and fun. Erin empowers students to explore deeper math concepts and understand the ideas. Students are uplifted when they work with her; she encourages them to excel and to reach their potential. She is a fierce advocate for our most vulnerable students. Her room is warm, welcoming, and student-centered. Additionally, Erin provides excellent leadership in the middle level, encouraging her colleagues to adopt growth mindsets and a 21st century approach to learning. She pioneered a "house" system to promote multi-age student groupings for school spirit and STEM activities in order to encourage collaboration and positive community building. She works collaboratively with colleagues to foster positive learning and working environments for all


Gaye Coolen, Gaspereau Valley Elementary School

Gaye is an Educational Assistant at Gaspereau Valley Elementary School. Over the years, she has made enormous connections with students, exceeding expectations by finding strengths in each child she works with and finding ways to help them shine. She goes above and beyond expectations to provide students with support and items they need, like boots or shoes, so they can fully participate in life at school. When supervising students on the playground, Gaye will coordinate games to ensure all students feel included, involved, active and welcome. Gaye has also helped to build friendships that last a lifetime. For example, Gaye provided transportation on weekends so a student could watch their Acadia University SMILE (Sensory Motor Instructional Leadership Experience) buddy play hockey for the Axemen. This has made a positive impact on this student’s life. Gaye’s thoughtful, kind and caring personality has touched the lives of many, empowering students to reach their full potential.

Stephane Fraser, Avon View High School

As Avon View High School’s Career Access Teacher, Stephanie supports more than 26 students who have Individual Program Plans and a diverse range of academic, social, emotional and physical challenges. She is responsible for helping students integrate into the workforce and working with them to find ways to be productive, contributing community members. She advocates for students and creates life-changing opportunities. For a particular student with significant medical and physical challenges, Stephanie’s huge heart and caring nature have made an incredible impact on this student’s quality of life and enjoyment of school and community. 

Kelly Holleman, RCH/Hantsport School, Horton High School, Wolfville School, L.E. Shaw Elementary School

As Native Student Advisor to four schools, Kelly works tirelessly to support and encourage students. Students come to Kelly for encouragement, advice, or help with school work and applications for extracurricular opportunities. However, Kelly doesn’t wait for students to come to her; she stays connected with them, follows up with their teachers, connects with them in the wider community, and shows that she cares. She encourages participation in cultural activities, and helps students navigate the path to post-secondary education. Some of the students Kelly works with have complex challenges. She helps them feel engaged with school, developing confidence in themselves and their culture. Kelly provides individualized support to help students identify and pursue the goals that are right for them. Kelly is modest about the tremendous energy and initiative she brings to her work, preferring to shine a light on the ways her students are growing and transforming their lives. 

Victoria Laurence, Kings County Academy

As Principal of Kings County Academy, Victoria models inclusion in her leadership every day. She values the school’s Core Team and the student supports within our school. She is an advocate for Resource (Learning Centre, BIRT, Guidance, etc.). She fully supports our newly-created Gender Sexuality Alliance and Pride Week celebrations, our evolving Learning Centre, and our students’ overall safety, mental and physical health.  Examples of her commitment to providing a safe and inclusive environment include creating a safe drop-off loop, reading circles led by administration, a safe space in our Learning Centre, a Growth Mindset Initiative, and supporting our newcomer families. Victoria is a strong voice throughout the school and community in support of students. She provides guidance to staff through various situations while validating their decisions and empowering them to act individually. 

Theresa MacLeod, Lawrencetown Consolidated School

Theresa MacLeod is the Lead Early Childhood Educator at Lawrencetown Consolidated School. She is dedicated to inclusion and relationship-building. She is building connections between Pre-Primary and the school, running workshops on pedagogical leadership, collaborating with school administration, and finding ways for Pre-Primary children to be part of school life. Theresa understands that small children can have big challenges, but this shouldn’t prevent full participation in the program. Her philosophy is that children don’t need to fit the program; the program should adapt to meet the children’s needs. She sees the positive in every child and helps them rise to meet expectations. As a leader and learner, Theresa is passionate about trauma-informed care. She is always expanding her knowledge to better support children with diverse needs or early trauma experiences. When supporting children with behaviour or communication challenges, Theresa collaborates with partner agencies and is always willing to develop plans and adaptations to ensure children feel a sense of belonging in Pre-Primary.

Katrina Salmon, Northeast Kings Education Centre

Katrina Salmon displays inclusive practices every day in teaching English and Drama at Northeast Kings Education Centre. She provides every student with quality programming and learning goals that meet their needs, and provides a classroom environment where students feel safe and supported. The way Katrina teaches to such a diverse range of learning needs within a single classroom environment is truly amazing! For example, she may orchestrate a project to have students with and without special needs work together on a song to present to the school, where academic students write the song and Learning Centre students focus on motor development and choice through the use of rhythm and beat. All students feel valued and important in Katrina’s class. The interest she takes in each student is evident in her enthusiasm and ability to know the strengths and challenges of each individual learner. By fully including Learning Centre students in her classes, Katrina makes a positive difference in the programming offered at NKEC.

Whitney Van Blarcom, Cambridge and District Elementary School, Central Kings Rural High School

As a Math and Literacy Support Teacher at Central Kings Rural High School and Cambridge and District Elementary School, Whitney builds the kind of relationships that make children want to come to school. Her knowledge of students allows her to program in a manner that makes them the stars at the centre of their educational galaxies. While her toolbox of strategies and interventions is extensive, it is her ability to promote agency and help students see themselves in their learning that makes her so special. By carefully fostering that intrinsic motivation she helps students navigate towards success. If one is looking for Ms. Van, avoid desks and offices, try the places where students gather and there she will be listening, smiling, supporting and caring.







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