Valerie May, Principal Teacher of Science at Wick High School, has been chosen as The Highland Council's Employee of the year. She received her prize from Council Leader Councillor Drew Hendry at the Council's annual Quality Awards, held at the Town House, Inverness, on Thursday night (8 November 2012).
Mrs May’s nomination was presented by her head teacher Tom MacIntyre and endorsed by Director of Education Culture and Sport, Hugh Fraser.
Mr Macintyre recalls that at the beginning of the last school year Kevin Costello, a popular principal teacher of science and physics at the school was killed in a car accident. Badly injured in the accident was chemistry teacher Liz Wheeler.
In the months that followed, Valerie was asked to act up as principal teacher of the faculty which Mr Macintyre says she did with the professionalism which has marked her work over the last decade as principal teacher of biology.
He said: Valerie’s professional practice as Principal Teacher is hallmarked by fairness, compassion and empathy accompanied by rigour and a deep knowledge of the subjects involved and the staff she has responsibility for. She is a supportive, reliable and active boss.
“This nomination would stand for her work alone. That she took on this role under the cloud of Kevin’s death only serves to underline the deep professional commitment she brings to her career.”
Also short-listed for Employee of the Year for their outstanding contributions to their respective schools were Gillian Spalding, pupil support assistant at Balloch Primary School Inverness, and Andrew Bowker, janitor at Gairloch High School.
Two teams and one member of staff received awards for being commended by their Community Council for special recognition. Heather Simpson, janitor, cleaner and bus driver at Melvich Primary School was nominated by Melvich Community Council. Caithness Countryside Rangers, Dieter Tuerlinckx and Marina Swanson, were nominated by Sinclair Bay Community Council. The Portree street cleaning team of Chris Hanley, John Mackenzie and Ian Twitchen were nominated by Portree Community Council.
Team of the Year went to the Exchequer and Revenues Team, who are based in the Finance Service. The team covers a wide range of important duties including local taxation and benefits administration, money and benefits advice, paying invoices, payrolls and pensions administration, fraud prevention and detection, and coping with the impacts of Welfare Reform.
Joint Trainees of the Year were Laurie Milne, accountant based at Council HQ in Inverness, Christine Millard, graduate planner based in the Council’s Fort William office and John Mackay, community works officer in East Sutherland.
Innovation of the Year went to Seonaid Cooke, a Primary 1-3 teacher at Marybank Primary School in Ross-shire for her inspiration in devising and co-ordinating a Friendship Games, which involved pupils from her school and St Clements Special School in Dingwall. The event captured the values of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and allowed children of very different ability levels to work together for the benefit of everyone.
Teams of staff presented their projects to a judging panel and the full list of category winners is:
- Category 1: Working together of the economy - Youth Employment Commitment – Planning and Development Service.
- Category 2: Working together for our children and young people - Getting it right for Forces and Families - Health & Social Care Service.
- Category 3: Working together for caring communities – Developing services and activities for older people in the Black Isle – Chief Executive Service.
- Category 4: Working together for better housing and infrastructure - The Highland National Housing Trust Model – Housing and Property Service.
- Category 5: Working together for strong safe and empowered communities – Internet Delivery Charges Project – TEC Services.
- Category 6: Working together for efficiency and service improvement – Tenants are our business – Housing and Property Service.
- Chairman's Award: Active Rosemarkie Kids – Chief Executives/TECS/Planning and Development services.
The sponsors of the event were Morrison Construction, Fujitsu, Viridor and Zurich Municipal.