"It has not been one boring day." That from Betty Peters, who has spent the last 35 years helping to keep families stable, so their children can succeed, in her role as a School Liaison Worker with the Western School Division.
Peters' hard work and dedication were recently recognized when the Manitoba School Boards Association (MSBA) presented her with the 2023 President's Council Award at its annual convention earlier this month. The award celebrates exemplary service and outstanding achievement, innovative thinking and personal initiative, and lasting and pervasive impact in the field of public education.
"Oh my goodness. I am so honoured, and I feel so humbled, because I wasn't even aware there was such an award. I just couldn't explain it to myself how this happened to me," remarked Peters, adding it was also an honour to meet Lt. Gov. Anita Neville at the presentation.
Peters beat out some heavy hitters to snag the award.
"I did not know that! So, when they said on the stage they hoped those other people would be nominated again, I just...that's when it really hit me. This award is real, and for a real reason."
According to MSBA, nominees for the President's Council Award will have made a significant contribution to education through in-school, board-wide, extra-curricular and/or volunteer work within the public education.
"I'm a pretty behind-the-scenes kind of person," added Peters. "And so, being in the centre, I was very, very nervous, and was hoping I wouldn't forget to thank people, especially the school board association. Also our own school board for nominating me, and people that have believed in me since I began this job so long ago. The persons that believed in me the most, at that time, were Randy Penner and Donna Kormilo."
As a School Liaison Worker, Peters works with all manner of families; two-parent families, single-parent families, newcomer families and at-risk families. Ensuring their stability sometimes includes meeting food security needs, handing out alarm clocks, offering kids rides in order for them to get to school on time, providing information on local resources and sometimes it means bringing kids to doctor appointments. "Those kinds of things that help families be successful in school and the community," said Peters.
"Each and every one of my families has a story, and we have to listen to those stories and work with those stories," she added.
"The thing I love doing the most is seeing students succeed, families succeed," said Peters. "Because I've been here so long, I've seen some families where the kids have graduated, they've gone on and come back to Morden. They say hi to me in the street with their own kids now that I don't work with."
It was the Western School Division Board of Trustees that nominated Peters for the award. Chairperson, Brian Fransen, says it was for many reasons.
"The number of lives that Betty has profoundly impacted over the years with her work in the division is, I don't even know if I could come up with a number," said Fransen. "If you've ever had a chance to spend time with Betty, she is so humble and so likeable that when we talked to her about this she said, 'I'm just doing my job'. Yes, you've done an amazing job, and you've had such an amazing impact on the community of Morden."
Underscoring Fransen's point, Peters says she couldn't have done her job all these year without the support of her colleagues.
- Written with files from Robyn Wiebe