By Mark Squibb/July 29, 2022
A Paradise teacher has received a provincial award recognizing her compassionate heart for students and staff at Elizabeth Park Elementary.
“I’m overwhelmed,” said Donna Howse-Windsor. “I was floored by it, because I thought there are so many people who could get this award, and very much deserve it.”
Howse-Windsor is Elizabeth Park Elementary’s assistant principal, though she teaches as well. She’s been teaching over 30 years, and said her love for it has never gone away.
She is one of 10 recipients of the 2022 Minister’s Award for Compassion in Teaching.
“For me, the joy in teaching comes from connecting with people,” said Howse-Windsor. “The learning that happens is incredibly important, any kind of learning is important… but you feel joy when teaching when those strong connections are made with parents and students and experts within our community coming to our school.”
She said the nomination is the result of years of building relationships within the school community, and within the community at large.
Howse-Windsor began her career as a music teacher, and has worn many hats over the years. She admits she was at first afraid to make the jump to administration, because she feared she would lose that connection with students and their families.
“But I was wrong about not being able to continue those connections,” said Howse-Windsor. “I have been able to continue those connections, and even at a larger scale than I could when I was in the classroom.”
As a teacher, she loves watching students of all ages connect with and learn about things that interest and excite them.
“I like the challenge of taking children from where they happen to be and pushing them to become something they never thought they could be,” said Howse-Windsor. “That’s a joy for me, to see that happen. And I’ve just been fortunate that I’ve seen it happen a lot throughout my career. I’ve been a really, really lucky person.”
She is also quick to give credit to her staff and members of the school community for her provincial accolade.
‘You can’t do it alone,” said Howse-Windsor. “There has to be connections made with experts. And our teachers are experts, we are experts in our field… We can’t operate in isolation, and do teaching justice. And that’s a big strength of the people around me. We work really, really well together. We’re a strong, very, very knitted group of educators. And that’s why I feel very humbled by this award, because I feel like I’ve been successful only because of the people who have surrounded me… The group that surrounds me are so strong, and compassionate, and caring, and loving. All the things that you want to see in teachers. They lift me up and give me the energy to continue to do what I like to do, and that is to promote the best education possible for the children who are within my school.”
Howse said that even from a young age, she has had a way with children, even teaching music to a special needs child when she was a child herself.
That work with special needs individuals has continued on into her adult years. One of the students who nominated her, said Howse, was a former student, diagnosed with autism, who still keeps in touch.
Howse-Windsor has been a member of the Elizabeth Park Elementary family for about 11 years now, and is looking forward to a – hopefully COVID-free – return to school in the fall.