Beaufort Delta superintendent honouredRecognizing 25 years educating in the North
Evan Kiyoshi French
Northern News Services
Monday, February 15, 2016
Denise McDonald said she liked school when she was growing up, so a career in education was a natural choice.
David Stewart, left, deputy education minister, Denise McDonald, superintendent for the Beaufort Delta Divisional Education Council and winner of the 2016 Distinguished Service Award, and Education Minister Alfred Moses celebrate McDonald, as she receives her award in Yellowknife last week. - Evan Kiyoshi French/NNSL photo
"I have always enjoyed learning," she said, while holding her prize - the 2015 Distinguished Service Award, which is given to territorial educators who have made significant contributions to public education in the NWT.
"And I enjoy being with children, so it seemed like a natural career to go into," she said.
The superintendent for the Beaufort Delta Divisional Education Council, was honoured for her career of more than 25 years in the North during a ceremony in Yellowknife last week.
She said she's seen many changes such as the advent of communication technology and social media and schools beginning to target children facing "deep health and wellness issues" but there's more that could be done to improve education.
"I definitely feel we need to address early childhood matters," said McDonald. "More emphasis needs to be put on communication challenges. We really have to zone in on early (childhood) arts and communication."
The ceremony was attended by Education Minister Alfred Moses and Education, Culture and Employment deputy minister David Stewart. Yellowknife Education District No. 1 superintendent Metro Huculak congratulated McDonald and handed her the award.
Following the ceremony, McDonald said she was touched by the recognition of her peers.
"I'm very honoured," she said. "I'm very touched and very happy about it."
McDonald began teaching at Fort Smith's Joseph Burr Tyrell Elementary School in 1985, and became an administrator at the school in 1996. She became the aboriginal languages and culture based education co-ordinator in Yellowknife in 2000, before she moved to Samuel Hearne Secondary School in her hometown of Inuvik in 2002. McDonald was the health and wellness manager for the Gwich'in Tribal Council from 2004 to 2008 and became assistant superintendent in the Beaufort Delta in 2011, before taking over as the superintendent and CEO in 2013.
McDonald said she went to school at Aurora College, the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Alberta.
She said early childhood education is one of her main concerns for Northern schools in the future, and she is eagerly waiting to learn about the future of the junior kindergarten program - which would offer free, optional schooling for children when they hit the age of four years.