By Brett Hooton
There are scarecrows, witches and pumpkins for Halloween, of course. But over the past few weeks, a number of somewhat unusual decorations have lined the walls at the McGill Childcare Centre. Hearts with colourful swirls, shiny pressed leaves, tiny stickperson portraits, and a giant hand-painted sign in the entryway – each work of art, in its own way, says congratulations to Lisa Gallagher, the daycare’s director.
A few weeks ago, Gallagher received a Certificate of Excellence as part of the 2012 Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence and Excellence in Early Childhood Education, which honour “exceptional early-childhood educators who help build the foundation that young children need to make the best start in life.” It was the first year that centre directors were recognized alongside classroom educators.
“The Prime Minister’s Award of Excellence in Early Childhood Education is a great honour and I am extremely proud to be among the first recipients as a centre director,” said Gallagher. “It was a great pleasure to accept the award in the name of our entire community, as it is thanks to the excellent work and dedication of the educators as well as the tremendous contribution of our parents, with whom we enjoy a great partnership, that we are able to provide such a high level of childcare services.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper presented the awards at a ceremony in Ottawa on October 3. This year, awards were given to 94 teachers and educators from across Canada, with 27 national winners, including Gallagher, travelling to Ottawa to receive their Certificates of Excellence from the prime minister. The recipients also attended three days of celebratory and professional development activities.
“Good teachers help lay the foundation with which we interpret and navigate the world. They make a valuable contribution to Canadians being among the brightest and most innovative citizens in the world,” said Harper. “It is a real privilege to honour educators who have imparted their knowledge and inspiration to us and our children, helping all of us become the best we can be.”
The nomination for Gallagher noted the multiple duties she carries out on a daily basis, from supporting educators and overseeing renovations to playing restaurant with toddlers and reporting to her board of directors. Time and again, the colleagues and parents who contributed to the package returned to Gallagher’s professionalism, openness, and leadership as the qualities that make her an exceptional childcare administrator.
“The community of CPE McGill worked together to refresh and update our mission statement over a two-year period, so that it better reflects on our common vision and values,” explained Gallagher. “This award is extremely meaningful in that it brings recognition and validation to our work, which focuses on putting children and families at the heart of all that we do.”
Gallagher’s award marks the second year in a row that a member of the McGill Childcare Centre has been recognized through this prestigious program. Alma Crane-Hennessey, an educator who retired in June, received the award in 2011.
“Early childhood care and education is joyful work,” said Gallagher. “Knowing that we have both the ability and responsibility to contribute to the experiences and memories of young children in a meaningful and positive way is what makes what we do so fulfilling.”
Just look at the walls of the McGill Childcare Centre and you can see that Gallagher is making a lasting impression on the children, educators and parents in her community.