By: Sabrina Bedford

Algonquin’s Early Learning Centre (ELC) gained national recognition last week, with a long-time faculty member in the spotlight for her hard work and dedication over the years.

The ELC’s manager, Lisa Lamarre-O’Gorman, was presented with the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Education for her contribution to the profession.

“I was in shock,” said Lamarre-O’Gorman, who has been in the early childhood education department since 1990. “It never occurred to me that I would actually win as there are so many excellent nominations from across the country, so it took a few minutes for the information to actually sink in.”

The Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence recognizes outstanding elementary and secondary school teachers in all disciplines who are helping prepare Canadian youth for the challenges of tomorrow. She was presented the award by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a ceremony including 10 other recipients.

Stéfanie Power of Industry Canada, the government agency that presented these awards on behalf of the prime minister, said the awards ‘focus on the innovative use of information and communications technology in the classroom and the development of digital skills and literacy among students.’

Lamarre-O’Gorman has an undergraduate degree from Carleton University, a diploma in early childhood education from Algonquin College, and is also working on her master’s degree through Royal Roads University.

Many of Lamarre-O’Gorman’s colleagues were happy to hear the news of her award, and say the recognition for both Lamarre-O’Gorman and the ELC is long overdue.

Leslie Kopf-Johnson, early childhood education coordinator and a colleague of Lamarre-O’Gorman’s, said she is a great role model for the staff and students, and works tirelessly every day to improve all aspects of the program.

“She’s looked for ways to expand early learning opportunities at the lab school and bring early learning to parents as well as children,” said Kopf-Johnson. “Lisa has been instrumental in ensuring that the early learning programs in the lab school reflect what is being taught in our program. She keeps up-to-date on what’s happening in the field and has worked with her staff to implement the principles and curriculum strategies outlined in the government’s Early Learning for Every Child Today (ELECT) document.”

Despite Lamarre-O’Gorman’s high-ranking position in the college, her influence on the program doesn’t stop at the administrative level.

Over the years, she has remained devoted to making a change with her own two hands.

Gretchen Reynolds, a professor in the early childhood education program, has worked with Lamarre-O’Gorman for over 18 years.

“I remember when Lisa was first hired as new manager of the ELC,” she said. “At a staff meeting one evening Lisa donned an apron and served ice cream to everyone.”

Lamarre-O’Gorman said that while she’s honoured to have won this award, her biggest accomplishment comes in the form of the program she’s shaping.

“I have enjoyed many moments of pride and there are many more that I look forward to as the momentum in the field of early learning and care is growing and gaining great recognition as a profession.