Educator of the Year.
Phill Brackenbury, a Grade 3 teacher at St. John Catholic elementary school in Perth, was honoured on Feb. 1 as the Rotary Club's teacher of the year.
PERTH - You’ve never heard Lean On Me sung quite like this.
The tune remained the same, but the re-worked lyrics told the tale of just how admired Phill Brackenbury, the Grade 3 teacher at St. John Catholic Elementary School in Perth is with not only fellow teachers, staff, and the wider community, but also, and most importantly, with his students.
“You just call on Mr. B to lend a helping hand,” Brackenbury’s students sang, as he watched, bemused and clearly delighted, a gold star hanging around his neck, in the middle of the ceremony honouring him as Educator of the Year.
“Some times in our lives, we meet that very special teacher,” sang the children. “Mr. B, you are the best/We need to honour you/We all need Mr. B to lean on.”
The musical interlude came as the Rotary Club honoured Brackenbury for his commitment to his chosen field at the start of the Terrific Kids monthly awards ceremony in the school gym on Friday, Feb. 1.
“We understand the role that teachers play in the development of children,” said Patrick Graham, current president of the Perth Rotary Club, before be bestowed the certificate on Brackenbury, as well as the plaque that will now forever bear Brackenbury’s name, which will hang proudly at St. John for the next year. Interestingly, the first teacher to win the award 10 years ago was another St. John teacher, Sandra Theobald.
“In the classroom, Phill goes beyond the curriculum expectations and helps his students to make a personal connection to their learning,” said Graham, commending Brackenbury for taking his kids out on trips to the Perth Museum, The Table, to a local garden or on a ghost walk.
Brackenbury not only takes on the challenge of coordinating the school’s food drive every year, he volunteers at The Table, volunteers with the Guatemala Stove Project, volunteers with the Friends of Murphys Point Provincial Park as an education coordinator. He is also an active member of the Tay Valley Township Ski Club, but his sports activities do not end there.
“He can be seen in the worst of weather flooding the ice rink used by the school and the community,” said Graham. “Phil Brackenbury is an exemplary teacher who constantly gives of his time and energy for the benefit of his school and community. Through experiential learning he connects to the needs and resources of their community. His sense of service and involvement in his community is a powerful example to students, teaching them that they can make a difference… He is a most worthy recipient who enhances his school and wider community through his presence and involvement.”
The students also had written their own reasons for why Brackenbury deserved to be honoured, which they had written down and told him, straight to his face, a teachable moment in gratitude.
“Thank you for making the rink,” said one student.
“Thank you for thinking of others,” said another.
“Understanding people’s problems,” said a third student.
“We love you Mr. B!” shouted his class at the end of their presentation.