WIKWEMIKONG—The Wikwemikong Board of Education honoured two retiring teachers and 130 staff during a staff appreciation luncheon held at the Wikwemikong High School on June 30.
“We are here to acknowledge the commitment and dedication of all of our staff to our community,” said Education Director Dominic Beaudry who introduced the retirees, Jean Flamand and Julie Pangowish.
The staff were greeted by band councillor and Culture and Education portfolio holder Cecilia Pitawanakwat, WBE board member Barbara Peltier and Wayne Osawamick, band director of operations, who thanked both the staff and the parents and guardians who have helped students to achieve their best.
Elder Frank Fisher delivered an invocation before the attendees settled into a luncheon featuring fried bread tacos and fresh fruit, as well as a delicious homemade cake, all prepared under the more than capable hand of Patsy’s Catering.
“Today is Jean’s special day,” said Junior School Principal Harold Fox in introducing Ms. Flamand. “Look around at all of these beautiful family members and colleagues, people who have come out to honour her and say farewell. You didn’t know did you, Ms. Jean, that so many people would be celebrating your departure.”
Mr. Fox noted that “Ms. Jean has been an icon at the Junior School for many years, she always seemed to be the first one in every day and she would be racing around like she had five cups of coffee. She always had something cheerful to say before 9 am—I’m just curious, how in the heck can someone be so cheerful and energetic like Ms. Jean day in and day out?”
Ms. Flamand was presented with a raft of gifts, including a stunning Thunderbird quilt and was serenaded by her colleagues with a song ‘O Jean-a.’ “But retirement, you are free, no more homework or spelling bees” went the refrain.
Ms. Flamand for her part recalled her arrival in 1999 to teach in her home community after spending years away teaching in schools in communities like Grassy Narrows. Her teaching career spanned 27 years in all. “This is a special moment for me,” she admitted, thanking her teaching assistants, the guidance of Mr. Fox and leadership of Mr. Beaudry. “I will miss every one of you.”
Ms. Flamand had a special presentation for Mr. Fox as well, her key to the front door of the school.
“When Julie Pangowish joined the board, I think the Internet has just arrived at the school and cell phones were just making a breakthrough,” said Mr. Fox. “Julie started with the board in times of great change,” he said, adding that wherever she worked, “she had an impact with all of the students she assisted with their day-to-day enrollment. She was always fair and consistent with each of her students. She showed compassion and had a certain unique personality with each of her students.” Ms. Pangowish, he said, followed the maxim ‘the best way to keep power is to share it and the best way to influence is to listen’.”
For her part, Ms. Flamand was succinct in her remarks. “I really enjoyed working with the Special Ed students,” she said. “Miigwetch.”
At the conculsion, hand drummer Zack Williams sang an honour song.