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Year: 2006 – Province: British Columbia
Certificate of Achievement Recipient
Setting: Early Discoveries Pre-school and Kids Club
4685 Keith Road
West Vancouver, British Columbia
Nominator: Richard Burnett
Type of setting: Preschool, after school care, children from 3 to 5 years, 5 to 12 years
Philosophy of Care:
Together Everyone Achieves More, or TEAM.
Support of Child Development:
- Mrs. Burnett is a firm believer in the "together everyone achieves more," regularly holding staff meetings in which she promotes open, honest relationships.
- An example is when a child shared that he was baking sweets for a special day, so Catherine invited his mother to come and share about St. Lucia Day. He was so proud to share candies he made, and his family's traditions.
- After a child in the afternoon class dug up a worm and wanted to make a home for him, she spent hours researching worm environments on the Internet. Together, the class built a worm home in a terrarium for the science centre. Clearly her classroom is where children's ideas lead the way!
- An example is when a shy three-year old boy was able to establish a safe and trusting relationship with Catherine that was pivotal in supporting him in being able to leave his mother's side to enter play and explore new adventures of his own. The child came to the school with severe separation anxiety with a somewhat hesitant mother, after a previous negative pre-school experience for both. Learning that trains were his passion, the child arrived at school the next day to discover there were trains everywhere! Trains to paint with, trains shaped cookie cutters in the play dough and train books to read. This sent him the message that he mattered, and his interests and participation were of great importance.
Involvement with Parents, Families and the Community:
- Working with a child whose parents are separating can bring some challenges for any pre-school teacher, however when this same family also has a son diagnosed with Autism, it makes the situation more complex. When Catherine began to teach this young three-year old boy he had no language, and his play was very aggressive.
- It was quite common for him to pull Catherine's hair or even bite her when she would try to engage him in play. When the child obtained the funding from Supported Child Care, the consultant warned that his progress would regress until his relationship with the new teacher was established. Catherine on her own accord insisted the right thing to do for this child was for her to move over to support this child. She received ABA therapy training (a system designed specific to teach autistic children) and became one of his therapists, which supported his learning at home and provided respite care for both parents. Today, his older sister chooses to volunteer at Early Discoveries as part of her community hours for high school, and to keep in contact.
- A child diagnosed with Autism/Downs Syndrome typically isolated herself and often was playing alone. Her peers had little or no experience of using sign language so played around her, and seldom engaged her in cooperative play. Catherine created a sign language game, which provided a fun way for the children to learn sign gaining the confidence to engage with her, increasing her own self-esteem.
"By helping Aiden to see the talents that lay hidden within him, Catherine Burnett has given him the opportunity to achieve through her use of guided and supported play. She also helped him control his lashing out by teaching him to express himself with words rather than using his fists. Today Aiden is the healthy 5 year old he should be and enjoying school to the fullest. She asked him "do you remember me a little?" and Aiden replied, "no I don't remember you a little… I remember you A LOT." - Natalie Sutcliffe, Parent
"When our School Board approached Ms. Burnett to offer a summer camp program last July and August, she was insistent that it should be run at Caulfeild Elementary, with the aim of creating positive exposure for both Early Discoveries and Caulfeild Elementary." - David Langmuir, Principal, Caulfeild Elementary School
"She has, on her own initiative, set up advanced level training for herself, her staff, and interested parents to assist them in working with these challenging children … she is truly one of the "unsung heroes" of our community. Even in the face of adversity, she has demonstrated strength and candor, while still showing the utmost of respect to those she is dealing with. I know that she is driven by a passion to help those in need, especially the young children who, for whatever reason, are struggling in their social, emotional, and/or behavioural development." - Lawrence Sheppard, M.A., Manager, Child and Youth Mental Health and Addictions, Vancouver Coastal Health
"For over a year, Catherine wrote a column in the "North Shore Magazine" entitled, Learn Through Play. Catherine has made an effort to reach out to the parents of young children and give them the support and information they need to get their children off to a great beginning." - Lynn Charlesworth, Caulfeild Elementary School