Congratulations to Mary Richard, a school counselor at École Notre Dame, on receiving the 2020 Laura Bird Memorial Beacon of Hope Award.
This annual award is bestowed by our Board of Trustees on staff who are active, articulate witnesses to Jesus Christ, and who demonstrate dedicated, selfless service to further the hope and future of others.
The Board established the Laura Bird Memorial Beacon of Hope Award in 2017, in memory and honour of Ms. Laura Bird, a teacher in St. Albert in the 1960s and ‘70s, who served students through a spirit of inclusion and advocacy for their needs.
Following the Opening Mass for the 2020-2021 school year, Board chair Joe Becigneul, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, presented Mary with the prestigious award.
What is the Laura Bird Memorial Beacon of Hope Award?
The Laura Bird Memorial Beacon of Hope Award recognizes mentors of faith within Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools’ school communities. Now in its fourth consecutive year, the annual award honours division staff who are active, articulate witnesses to Jesus Christ by serving the needy in the most selfless manner possible.
Such service exemplifies Laura Bird, a teacher in St. Albert in the 1960s and ‘70s, who served students through a spirit of inclusion and advocacy for their needs.
The Board of Trustees established this award in 2017 to celebrate a staff member who, through any realm of service within a Catholic faith community, has demonstrated dedicated personal service to further the hope and future of others.
Who is Laura Bird?
Laura Bird was a Catholic teacher in St. Albert in the 1960s and early-1970s who was passionate about prioritizing service to students in the area of special needs education. At the time, the only option for St. Albert families who needed special education supports was to have their children bused to Edmonton.
Through Mrs. Bird’s pioneering work, special education started its gradual evolution to the inclusive, diverse learner-based model that our Division supports today.
In October 1960, Mrs. Bird initiated the establishment of an Opportunity Room in Vital Grandin School. Mrs. Bird was a teacher in this program, and her efforts gave her students and their families hope that an environment dedicated to addressing a broad spectrum of learning needs could be established in one faith and learning communities. Mrs. Bird's initiative enabled our schools to learn that all students best realize their God-given potential within a community where they are known and nurtured by all of its members.
Eligibility and process
- Any staff member at GSACRD is eligible to receive this award on the basis of a recommendation by any member of the GSACRD community, including a trustee, parish priest, or a local, provincial, national and/or international Catholic faith community affiliate.
- Nominations for the award may be submitted by any member of the Greater St. Albert Catholic School Community to the Superintendent in writing.
- All nominations must include a description of the service or contribution made by the individual being nominated according to the following criteria:
- how the individual has endeavoured to bring honor to others about himself or herself;
- how, through Christian service, the individual has been self-sacrificing and has prolonged this dedication over time; and
- how the individual has accepted demanding challenges and set new standards for the rest of us to follow.
- While a letter addressing these criteria will suffice, a nominator may choose to submit the application form to complete the nomination process.
- The award recipient will receive be officially recognized with:
- a personalized, etched-glass trophy keepsake;
- a nameplate on a permanent plaque, designed for all recipients, current and future, displayed in the GSACRD boardroom; and
- a public announcement
- The successful nominee will be notified prior to any public announcement.
- The announcement of the award recipient will be made at the division mass at the opening of the school year in fall. The presentation of the award may be made at the same time or at a mutually agreed time in the future.
- The award may be presented posthumously.
- In the event that there are no nominations accepted by the Board, the Board may determine the need to issue a nomination itself for that year.
- If there are no nominations for the award, the Laura Bird Memorial Beacon of Hope Award may not be awarded in that year.
- The selection committee may advance any current nomination to a future year for reconsideration.
How do I submit a nomination?
Write a letter clearly addressing the above criteria - and/or use the official nomination form - and submit your nomination by the deadline announced each spring.
- DOWNLOAD Nomination Form (.pdf)
- Board Policy 20: Laura Bird Memorial Beacon of Hope Award (.pdf)
When is the nomination deadline?
The deadline for all nominations is at a specified date in spring each year.
Who are the past award-winners?
- 2020: Mary Richard
- 2019: Dolores Andressen
- 2018: Suzanne Rokos
- 2017: Diana Groten