Three educators are recipients of this year's Canadian Teachers' Federation (CTF) Special Recognition Awards that honour the valuable contributions made by teacher leaders in promoting the teaching profession and, by extension, public education. CTF President Winston Carter presented the awards on 13 July at the CTF Annual General Meeting held in Toronto.
Burris Devanney worked as a teacher in Nigeria from 1965-67. It was an experience that deeply affected his teaching career and life. In 1981, he undertook a brief assignment in Ghana and subsequently a two-year position in The Gambia. Returning to Halifax to teach in 1985, Burris invited a group of high school students to participate in "The Gambia Project", an international development exchange project between Canadian and West African students. Successive development education projects evolved from this initiative and lead to the creation of the Nova Scotia-Gambia Association (NSGA), an organization that Burris served as Executive Secretary from its incorporation in 1989.
During the past two decades, over 800 Canadians have worked on NSGA projects. Initiatives range from the establishment of a University Extension Program that delivered undergraduate degree programs to The Gambia, which in turn laid the foundation for the creation of the University of Gambia, to a peer health education model to deal with HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other health issues in The Gambia and Sierra Leone. More than 6,000 Gambian high school students have been trained as peer health educators and as a testament to the effectiveness of the program, The Gambia today has one of the lowest HIV/AIDS infection rates in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Burris Devanney, throughout his career, has shown his students, his community and the world how to use education to empower people and facilitate change. His life's work serves as an exceptional example of how one dedicated teacher can make a significant difference in the world.
Jan Eastman received her teaching diploma from the University of Tasmania. After settling in British Columbia, she taught at the secondary level and became a strong advocate for children with learning disabilities. From 1970-1992, Jan was actively involved in BC teacher organization affairs, first as President of her local association, then as an Executive Member and later as Second Vice-President of BCTF. In 1995, she turned her attention to national affairs serving as CTF Vice President, President Designate and, from 1997-99, as President of CTF. It was during this time that Jan became involved in advocacy at the international level. As the North American/Caribbean regional representative, she served as an Executive Board member for Education International (EI). In 2006, Jan became EI's Deputy General Secretary.
Jan Eastman has been an effective and tireless advocate for quality teaching and public education at local, provincial, national and international levels. Her unwavering commitment to life-long learning and public education has helped to better the lives of countless children in Canada and abroad.
Derwyn began teaching as a self-professed radical with a keen interest in social sciences. His first teaching position was in Oxbow, Saskatchewan, where he served as teacher, principal and town council member. He later became a principal in Aberdeen as well as the town's mayor. Derwyn was always involved in the life of his community, whether as an elected official, a member of the recreation board or Chamber of Commerce, or scout leader. In 1983, he became Executive Assistant of the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation (STF), a position that he served for 10 years before becoming Assistant General Secretary, and then General Secretary of the Federation until his retirement in 2003.
Derwyn's accomplishments at STF were many. He oversaw the internal reorganization of processes and services and the expansion of STF headquarters – initiatives that marked a new stage in the growth and maturity of the Federation. He led teachers through difficult rounds of collective bargaining, including the first province-wide teacher strike in Saskatchewan. Derwyn spearheaded negotiations to establish a members' health plan administered by the Federation, worked with educational partners to further the recruitment and retention of school-based administrators, and assisted the Governance Review Committee to map positive directions for organizational change. In addition to his administrative work, Derwyn continued to engage in research and program development that reflected his career-long interest in providing better support to beginning teachers.
Derwyn Crozier-Smith has dedicated his career to the betterment of the teaching profession. His strong leadership in education and community affairs has helped to advance the interests of teachers and public advocacy issues, locally and provincially.