“The face of Englewood School” was surprised with an Extra Mile award this week for her love and commitment to the schools’ students. Administrative assistant Cathy Cairns was “shocked, touched and emotional” when her colleagues announced her win at an assembly on Pink Shirt Day.
“I’m still shaking,” she said two hours after she was surprised with the annual award from the PEI Home and School Federation. “It was beautiful and a very well-kept secret, I kept looking around when they were talking and wondering ‘who are they talking about?’”
Principal Randy Reardon calls Cairns “everything you want a staff member to be” for her empathy for the school’s students. “She is personable and organized. She takes pride in what she does. She’s really the face of the school,” he said.
The administrative assistant has spent the last 26 years being one of the first points of contact when students, staff and parents walk into Englewood school. The large age range of students – from kindergarten to Grade 9 – means there are lots of different emotional needs.
“Kids that age are so honest. They aren’t afraid to tell the truth. Often I am the first person they come to,” Cairns said. “You don’t know what home is like for these children. Even if home is good, maybe they had a rough start to their morning, maybe they had a nightmare. You don’t know how much a hug or a Band-Aid will mean.”
Cairns credits all of the school’s staff with making it a great place to work and learn. “We all have great concern for each other, it’s like a family,” she said.
Cairns is a member of the Island Wesleyan Church in Hampton where she tries daily to practice what she is preached. “My faith is important to me, I believe we are here to love one another and be kind — I am really trying.”
The Extra Mile Award recognizes teachers and staff who exemplify going the extra mile for Island students. Two Extra Mile Awards are presented annually, one in the Eastern region schools and another in the Western region. Check back next week for a profile of this year’s second winner.