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Educator of the Year gets top marks from students and community

PECI International Business students celebrate teacher Rob Garden as Educator of the Year.

The only person who was surprised to hear Rob Garden won the Educator of the Year Award was Rob Garden, who is known by his business and math students at Prince Edward Collegiate Institute as “the best teacher ever”.

Garden, 30, is the youngest recipient ever of the prestigious 45-year-old Sir Mackenzie Bowell Award. The Queen’s University Business Commerce graduate is in his sixth year of teaching, all of which at his alma mater. But if it weren’t for perseverance in his quest to become a teacher, his story would be much different.

“Actually, when I first applied to Teacher’s College, I didn’t get in, but I knew teaching was what I wanted to do, so I went back to Queen’s and got a math degree and then re-applied,” Garden said. “And in retrospect I think it was probably best to go back to get more qualifications to help me to get a contract.”

When he got the first call about the award, he was a little nervous.

“When you get a phone call from the board office, you never know… I didn’t know if I was going to be facing a transfer, or what,” Garden laughs. “This award is a very humbling honour and the more it sinks in, the more honoured I am to be recognized this way. Even though it sounds a bit cliche, it is an individual award, but it’s also a shared award because nobody in a school can do anything without the support of everyone else and that includes the front office staff, the custodians, other teachers, EAs, support staff and the students. We’re really a community-based school.”

While Garden was in Europe with students on the Vimy Ridge trip, Grade 12 student Cassidy Allison was organizing his nomination papers, gathering letters of support from teachers, parents and students and submitting them to the Educator of the Year committee. The two worked together closely this school year when Allison approached him to help her produce the PECI Panther promotional Lip Dub video which involved every student and staff member at the school.

“Mr. Garden is always there for his students,” said Allison. “I don’t think he ever says ‘no’ something can’t be done, he instead asks ‘how’ something can be done. Mr. Garden has been a major mentor for me throughout my high school career and has made significant contributions to the school and local community,” Allison said.

His passion for PECI shines in his involvement in all aspects of school life: from organizing international trips and promoting PECI in the local media to fundraising, clubs, student council and coaching.

The avid athlete was instrumental in the development of PECI’s basketball teams and remains involved as coach. In the community, Garden started an after school basketball league called County Clippers for elementary school students.

“He recognized a need for organized athletics after school and has worked extremely hard to give elementary school students a great opportunity to develop important skills on and off the court,” said a local elementary school teacher in his letter of support for Garden’s nomination.

In the off season, he can be found on the baseball pitch coaching both the PECI team as well as some Prince Edward County teams. He also referees hockey for both the Prince Edward County Minor Hockey Association and the Wellington Dukes.

“Rob is a shining example of what a high school educator should be,” said a PECI parent in her letter supporting Garden’s nomination for this award. “Not only does Rob excel at teaching in a way that makes his students want to learn, he is an outstanding role-model for our students both at school and in the community.”

With family and friends in attendance, Garden was presented the Sir Mackenzie Bowell Award for Educator of the Year during a reception May 10th at the Bay of Quinte Country Club . The Educator of the Year Committee has been celebrating outstanding educators in Hastings and Prince Edward counties since 1967. The Education Week Committee is composed of representatives from: Albert College,  Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board, Loyalist College of Applied Arts and Technology, Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, Quinte Area Christian Schools and Sir James Whitney School.

Congratulating PECI's Rob Garden as Educator of the Year, are Jodie Jenkins, Belleville councillor; Todd Smith, MPP Prince Edward-Hastings, Jo-Anne Albert, warden County of Hastings, Tweed reeve; Peter Mertens, mayor Prince Edward County and John Williams, mayor Quinte West.

Filed Under: Featured ArticlesHastings & Prince Edward District School BoardPECI - It's a Panther Thing

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  1. Laurie Garden says:

    Congratulations on the recognition for all the work you do and the positive impact you have on your students!
    Very proud of you!

  2. Emily Todd and family says:

    Congrats Rob! We’re glad the rest of the world is starting to figure out what we’ve known forever, you ROCK!!! We are so very happy to hear that you are receiving this honour, we also suspect you will be receiving it many more times in the years to come!

  3. Rob, We can’t think of another person more deserving of this recognition for the outstanding job you do each and every day. PECI and all the students are fortunate to have you in their midst and you set the example for others to emulate.

  4. Matthew Colton says:

    Way to go Bobby!! Keep up the good work.

  5. Susan Rose says:

    Congrats Rob…great person!! your folks must be soooooo proud!!

  6. Congrats Rob,

    Certainly well deserved. Class act inside and out of the classroom.

  7. Kevin Stenhouse says:

    Congratulations, Rob! What a great honour for a wonderful teacher. You’ve made PECI and all of PE County proud!

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