Vice-principal recognized for going the extra mile

Published on February 23, 2017

Greenfield Elementary student Hailie Chaisson gives Gail Finniss a congratulatory hug. Finniss was recognized for her work as vice-principal and her efforts as organizer for the book and literacy fairs and “going the extra mile”.

©MILLICENT McKAY/TC MEDIA

Students of Greenfield Elementary walk quietly down the halls. They know the course as they follow behind their teachers to their spot on the gym floor.

Some have colourful signs while others are arranged at the front holding ukuleles.

But’s it not until vice-principal Gail Finniss enters the room causing the staff and students to cheer out.

For more than 22 years, Finniss has been influencing the lives of students at Greenfield Elementary School.

On Thursday, Finniss was awarded the Extra Mile Award from the P.E.I. Home and School Federation for the Western region schools.

“I walked into the gym and froze. I wasn’t expecting this,” said Finniss after the celebration.

From the first day I walked through those doors, I never imagined something like this would happen, Gail Finniss, Extra Mile Award winner

“I’m humbled and honoured. I don’t know what else to say. I guess I’m speechless,” she added with a laugh.

Her peers describe her as the kingpin and her students say she is the best teacher ever.

“She is the individual who knows what is going on with students and staff, and she can be counted on to make things happen. It would be hard for us to imagine Greenfield School without Gail Finnis. We would be lost without her,” said Sandra Jay, the school’s principal.

Three Grade 6 students got up during the presentation to thank Finniss for all the work she does for the school and students.

“Ms. Finniss is the best vice-principal you can have. She takes care of us when we are hurt and signs our books out for us. I know she deserves this award,” said Tanton Wooldridge, student.

Fellow student, Lauren Johnston added, “Ms. Finniss is an exceptional teacher, vice principal and librarian. She’s always putting the school first and this makes her a very special person. Whether she’s organizing an educational event for our school or helping out in the community she is always thinking of others.”

Another student, Bridget Philpott said, “She ensures that we have a positive learning experience.

“She makes sure the kindness and joy is in every inch of the school. When we walk past her in the halls, she greets you with her cheery smile. This makes her a great teacher, but also a great person.”

What helped bring Finniss to tears, were two short video messages from her sons who don’t live on the Island.

Finniss said, placing her hand on her chest, “That made me cry. It was really special since they aren’t around here. It was such a sweet surprise. To know that they were part of this means a lot.”

She was truly touched by the nomination from the Greenfield’s Home and School Association.

“To know that the parents think this much of me and to do this is truly incredible.

“I love working at Greenfield. Every day is a new memory and I love coming to work every morning. When the time comes, retiring will be difficult.

“From the first day I walked through those doors, I never imagined something like this would happen.”