Pupil Support Assistant is council’s employee of the year

photo of prize giving
Ishbel pictured receiving her award from the Convenor

Ishbel Gordon, a Pupil Support Assistant from Nairn Academy, has been named as The Highland Council’s Employee of the Year. She received her prize from Council Convenor Isobel McCallum at the Council's annual Quality Awards held last night in Inverness.

Ishbel was nominated by her colleagues Jasmine Woodcraft and Sharon Sharkey, and endorsed by Bill Alexander, Director of Care and Learning.

She was commended for her enthusiasm, the detailed knowledge of the pupils she supports, her creative approach to learning, her professionalism and for ensuring the needs of the young people she supports are her priority both in the classroom and outside lessons.

Head teacher, Julie Macdonald said: “Ishbel brings huge energy to the school and is a great asset. Nothing is ever too much trouble and she can be relied upon to provide a high level of support to both pupils and staff at any time”

Principal Teacher of Technology Sharon Sharkey added: “Being capable is a great skill for a Pupil Support Assistant to have and Ishbel has this in bucket loads. Not only will she take on many different tasks throughout a lesson but she is aware of what constitutes an excellent learning and teaching environment, and is able to support teachers in creating this.”

Technology Teacher Jasmine Wood said: “Ishbel is very approachable and pupils find it easy to ask her for support. She brightens a lesson and her enjoyment of activities rubs off on everyone. Her extensive experience and creative approach to learning means she enters into every project with real enthusiasm.”

The pupils of the school also gave their support to Ishbel’s nomination with one pupil saying: “Mrs Gordon is generous, loyal, great and really good at helping me.”

Also short-listed for Employee of the Year for their outstanding contributions to the Council were Betty Connochie and Jimmy Flint. Betty has recently retired after 46 years’ service, the last 23 years spent working in the role of Cleaning Supervisor at Council Headquarters in Inverness.  Jimmy Flint is the Ward Manager for the Central, Millburn and Culloden and Ardersier wards and has worked with the council for many years in the management and delivery of key services.

The Awards, sponsored by Morrison Construction, Fujitsu, Viridor, Zurich Municipal and E-On, were hosted by broadcaster and weather presenter Kirsteen MacDonald  who attended Central Primary school Gaelic unit and Millburn Academy before going on to carve out a successful career in Gaelic and English language broadcasting with the BBC.

Three members of staff received awards for being commended by their Community Council for special recognition.

Community Works Operative Douglas Moore who is responsible for keeping the streets of Invergordon clean was nominated by Invergordon Community Council who praised him for performing his duties tirelessly with a cheery smile day in and day out They said: “He is extremely conscientious about the standard of his work and is a huge asset to our town.”

Sutherlands School Pipe Band instructor George Stewart was commended by  Golspie Community Council for over 31 years of work with  pupils from Golspie, Helmsdale, Brora, Rogart, Lairg, Rosehall and Invershin.  Secretary Anne Ford wrote: “George’s strength is his ability to encourage young people and give them a purpose and being part of the band gives pupils great opportunities to develop their social as well as musical skills.  It is a credit to his tutoring and ability to inspire that the Band’s reputation has grown nationally and internationally. None of this would be possible without George’s enthusiasm, hard work and dedication.”

Community Services Assistant Area Manager for the Inverness area, John Taylor, was nominated by both Kilmorack and Strathnairn Community Councils.  

John Graham from Kilmorack said: “John is always very helpful and is a pleasure to work with which makes our work more enjoyable. We’d like to commend him for going that little extra to provide us with an excellent service.”

Strathnairn Community Council echoed this praise and wanted to particularly highlight John’s role in helping them with recent road issues. They said: John’s work to resolve problems has had a positive impact on local residents and made our roads safer so we’d like to thank him for his time and patience and for his professional manner.”

The Team of the Year award was presented to a team from Children’s Services who have been working together to provide support to a 6th year pupil. In her nomination, the pupil paid tribute to the team who she says have taught her to trust and help her recognise her potential. In her words – "I'll always be grateful to these people who have all cared enough to work together and do their best for me. They are a fabulous team and the reason why I am here today."

The 2015 Trainee of the Year is Debbie Potter, a Trainee Archivist with High Life Highland based at the Highland Archive Centre. Debbie took up her four-year post last April and is currently studying for a MLitt in Archives and Records Management with the University of Dundee through their distance learning programme. She does this in addition to working a 35 hour week at the Archive centre where she is a highly valued member of the team.

Highland Archivist Alison Mason said: “Debbie has shown real commitment and dedication to both the Archive ‘Service and the collections it holds.  She is always keen to encourage new users, whether from Highland communities or throughout the UK and abroad to enrich their lives by connecting with their heritage through the records held.”

Teams of Council staff were invited to enter projects into six categories and those short-listed gave presentations to a judging panel. During the Award Ceremony, the six category winners were announced and chair of the Judging Panel, Councillor Bill Fernie also announced the winners of the Chairman’s Award.

The winning projects for the following categories were:

Supporting Economic Activity and Growth
Revitalising Lochinver Fishing Community - Development & Infrastructure Service

Improving the lives of Children and Young People
Participation of Care Experienced Young People – Care and Learning Service

Supporting Caring Communities
The Handyperson Telecare project – Development and Infrastructure & Community Services

Improving Housing and Infrastructure
River Ness Flood Alleviation Scheme – Development and Infrastructure Service

Supporting strong, safe and empowered communities
Inverness Response Team – Community Services

Delivering service improvement and efficiency
School Closure Notification – Corporate Development

Chairman’s Award
Insurance in the CommunityFinance Service

Congratulating staff for their hard work and success, the Convenor of the Council, Councillor Isobel McCallum said: “There is a lot of ground-breaking excellent work taking place across all of our services. Your energy, professionalism, skills and the great enthusiasm for the work you do is greatly appreciated by us all. The next few years will be a challenging time which is why it is more important than ever that we work to deliver services efficiently and think creatively of new ways to support communities.”

20 Nov 2015
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