SUMMERSIDE– “Ms. Haire, we need you in the cafeteria.”
Nicole Haire, principal of Three Oaks Senior High, was sitting at her desk, just after noon on Thursday, when that message burst out of her walkie-talkie.
She groaned inwardly.
It’s rare that she be called anywhere to deal with a situation – so whatever was happening couldn’t be good, thought Haire.
She bolted from her desk and ran down the hall to the school cafeteria – only to see hundreds of perfectly calm students, just going about their lunch break.
Something’s up, she thought.
Then she noticed Education Minister Alan McIsaac.
Why is the minister of Education in my school and why didn’t anyone tell me about it, she asked herself.
Then she noticed her mom and dad standing, grinning, off in a corner.
That really threw her for a loop.
Haire was completely clueless right up until the last minute.
She is one of two educators on Prince Edward Island that have been presented with this year’s P.E.I. Home and School Federation’s Extra Mile Award.
“I’m humbled. I feel overwhelmed. I was completely surprised by this – and there’s not many things that get past me in the run of a day – but this one absolutely did,” said Haire after getting her plaque.
The Extra Mile Award is handed out annually as part of National Teacher/Staff Appreciation Week.
It requires a nomination from someone in the Home and School Association, as well as endorsements from a colleague and students.
Haire is in a special class of people who go far beyond the call of duty in their work, and her nomination highlights that, said Pam Montgomery, president of the P.E.I. Home and School Federation.
“It’s an award that really recognizes the extra effort people put into their jobs, and how appreciated that effort is by the people they’re helping,” she added.
Haire spent countless hours recording English novels on cassette, so students with reading problems could still participate in class discussions. That’s only one example of how she has gone above and beyond, said Montgomery.
“Her contribution and the effort she puts in … we actually had to scale back the amount of information we had in her citation. It doesn’t encompass half of what she’s done,” added Montgomery.
The students who spoke with the Journal Pioneer would agree.
“She definitely deserves it,” said Brandon Worth, Grade 11.
“Because she always works hard. Not only does she interact with the students every day, but she’s always friendly.
“She cracks the whip when she has to, but that’s only when you’re doing something you’re not supposed to be doing. Other than that, she’s awesome,” he said.
“She knows must of the students by name; that’s really important,” said John Paul Rice, Grade 11.
“That just proves how good of a principal she is.”
Once she was finally let in on the big secret, Haire was invited up onto TOSH’s stage to accept her award.
She promptly told the packed lunchroom that they had detention for scaring her with the walkie-talkie call – and she told them she loved them.
“It’s a huge honour,” she said afterward.
“But there’s so many hard working people and you feel kind of guilty when you’re singled out. When you know everybody works together to make a great school like this happen.
“It sounds trite to say that it’s not just one person, but it isn’t. There’s a lot of support I get from the board and provincial levels and within my school team. We all work together for kids each and every day.”