Local Service Award Recipients - 2018


Neil MacIsaac
Mr. Neil MacIsaac's teaching career spanned thirty-four years of what he refers to as "constant change in Education" where his Union involvement began as a School Rep. He was encouraged to become more involved and over the course of the rest of his career, has held the following positions: Vice President of Communications, Vice-President of Economic Welfare, First Vice-President, Local President, Past President and Member-at-Large on the Strait RRC. Provincially, Neil has served on the Public Affairs/Public Relations Committee, serving as Chair in his final year. The Antigonish Local would like to express our sincere appreciation to Mr. MacIsaac for the dedication and creativity that he has shared with his students and for the time, energy and commitment that he has shown to our organization. 

Cape Breton District

Sally Capstick
Sally Capstick grew up in a very union oriented family, so it is not surprising that she has been involved in the NSTU for most of her teaching career. While Sally raised her four children, she was a union rep in her schools. As a trained art teacher, Sally taught art and various other subjects in 28 schools at all grade levels.
In later years, Sally took an even bigger role in the NSTU, serving three years as our provincial executive member and two years as our local president.
Sally was a strong leader, who always put her members well being and concerns first. Sally was never afraid to voice her opinion and fight for her members.
Most of all, Sally has been a steadfast friend to all who know her and have had the pleasure to work with her.

John Helle
John began his involvement with the NSTU in the late-1990s as a School Representative. From there he added to his involvement in the NSTU by joining committees and serving on the local executive. Some noteworthy offices that he has held over the years include Vice President of Public Affairs/Public Relations, VP of Communications, Provincial Executive (4 years), three years as NSTU Secretary-Treasurer, Chair of the NSTU Finance and Property Committee, Chair of the NSTU Appeals Committee, member of the regional Board-Teacher committee, and Chair of the local Resolutions Committee. John has stated that he was extremely proud to stand united with teachers throughout the “Kids not Cuts” campaign and to stand in front of Minister Geoff MacLellan’s office “on strike” to stand up for teachers’ rights. John has served with great pride and dedication in his various responsibilities for the NSTU and is most deserving of this local service award.

Joyce Lively
Joyce entered the teaching profession in 1987 as a music specialist with the Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board where she ha spent her entire career in the music, and elementary classroom and most recently as an elementary administrator.
Joyce began her union service as a member of the Cape Breton District Local Social committee, a position that she still holds. Additionally, Joyce has held executive positions as Vice President of Professional Development, First Vice President, and Chair of the Equity and Professional Development Fund committees to name a few. Provincially, Joyce has served on the Resolutions Committee as well as the Nova Scotia Music Educators Association, and the School Administrators Association.
Joyce remains committed to the work of the Cape Breton District Local and is engaged in recruiting new teachers to the many union committees throughout the province.

Colchester-East Hants

Cherie Abriel
Cherie Abriel has been a devoted teacher for the past twenty-six years and has given extensively to the NSTU at the local, regional and provincial levels. She continually demonstrates her commitment to her profession and her resolute loyalty to the Nova Scotia Teachers Union. Cherie is currently our Provincial Executive member and Second Vice-President of the NSTU, has chaired several standing committees, locally was the VP of Professional Development and Secretary, has attended provincially organized conferences, completed the NSTU Leadership Skills Training, and has presented resolutions at Annual Councils.
For the past four years, as a member of our Provincial Executive, Cherie has worked closely with her fellow PE members, her Local Executive and NSTU members across the province to keep lines of communication open and to promote the teaching profession. Cherie is a passionate union member and the Colchester-East Hants Local thanks her for her many years of service.


Denis LeBlanc
Denis Leblanc prendra sa retraite cette année de l'École Centre ScolaireÉtoile de l'Acadie,à Sydney. Il a enseigné pour 29 ans où il a complété 22 ans avec le CSAP. Lors de sa carrière, Denis à participé au comité curriculum pour le NSTU, trésorier du CSANE  et il détient présentement le poste de trésorier pour la region Nord-Est du CSANE. Il a enseigné à l'école North East Margaret, à NDA et à l'Étoile de l'Acadie ou il a occupé le poste de directeur adjoint pour ses deux premières années et ou il enseigne présentement.  Lors de sa carrière, il a enseigné au secondaire, premier et deuxième cycle, pour de nombreuses années, en plus il s'est impliqué au NSTU.  Il est évident qu' il sera manqué lors de la retraite, mais nous sommes certain qu'il va remplir sa vie avec d'autres projets et passes-temps.

Cécile Thériault
Cécile Thériault prend sa retraite en juin cette année, et l'École Joseph Dugas perd une resource valable, en tant qu'enseignante et représentante pour son école depuis 15 années au syndicat. Cécile est reconnue pour son souci envers ses élèves, sa bonne gestion de classe et pour pousser ses élèves à faire leur possible. Lorsque Cécile a terminé ses études en 1983 à l'Université Sainte-Anne, sa formation était pour l'élémentaire, mais en tant qu'enseignante en milieu minoritaire rural, Cécile a fini par enseigner plusieurs niveaux, à l'élémentaire, intermédiaire et au secondaire. Ces expériences de travail n'ont fait qu'enrichir son coffre à outils en tant qu'enseignante et représentante syndicale. Bien que la salle de classe et les collègues vont lui manquer, Cécile va remplir sa vie avec d'autres projets de retraite. Merci de ton dévouement au syndicat  et à ta profession! 


Sylvia Stewart-Pitts.
Sylvia has taught in a number of schools throughout her career. She has worked in Advocate, Leamington, Northport, Brookdale, West Highlands, and Spring Street Academy. Sylvia loves her students and works long hours each and every day to make sure that learning is fun for them. Sylvia has been involved in fundraising and winter carnival activities over the years. She is very caring and makes delicious cakes for the staff to enjoy.  While at West Highlands and Spring Street Academy, Sylvia has volunteered as NSTU Rep for at least 10 years.

Bev Curry
Bev has been a valued and longstanding member of the Cumberland Local of the NSTU for her 29 years in the teaching profession. She has taught most of her career in the Amherst schools, both at the Junior High and elementary level. Bev has served as a School Representative for most of her career and spent approximately 8 years as a strong member of the Professional Development Committee and even represented Cumberland at the annual Provincial Teachers’ Bowling Tournament.  Both within the classroom and at union meetings/functions, Bev’s honesty, hard work and organizational skills have been a great addition; but, it’s her ability to applaud the fun and laughter that make others feel at ease and welcome wherever Bev can be found.


Ellen Louth
Ellen Louth started teaching with the Halifax Regional School Board in 1997, but her teaching career dates back to 1977, when she began her career in Ireland.  In terms of her union involvement, she started out as a School Union Rep for Prince Andrew High School in Dartmouth and then served in multiple roles for the Dartmouth Local Executive including VP of Professional Development and VP of Public Affairs and Public Relations.  Ellen has also served at the Provincial level, being a member of the NSTU Equity Committee and the NSTU Discipline Committee.  Ellen retired from Prince Andrew High School in June of 2017.

Halifax City

Derek Carter
Derek has been a valued and longstanding member of the Halifax City Local.  He has been a teacher for 33 years, and most recently the principal of Park West School.  Derek is dedicated to the diverse community of Park West and is well known outside the walls of his school. Derek's experience has provided the Local and our members a unique perspective.  His rapport with his staff, and his unwavering support of his teachers have made him an incredible asset to his school, and to our Local.  His mantra "We're all in this together" has become a consistent message to his teachers and other support staff.  Derek is a true believer in the collegial model, and most recently spoke out very publicly against the removal of administrators from the NSTU.  His courage to speak out shows his pride and dedication to our Union.

Peter Wicha
Peter has been a valued and longstanding member of the Halifax City Local.  He has taught for many years, most recently as the Principal of Fairview Junior High School.   Peter is dedicated to his school community.  He coaches the FJHS soccer team, chaperones many school trips, and is heavily involved in athletics at his school. Peter has been a NSTU Rep, and an Annual Council delegate for many years.  Peter is always happy to lend his unique perspective as an administrator and is often able to help clarify the issues.  Peter is a staunch supporter of his teachers, and the collegial model.  Peter is a true testament to the saying “Principals are teachers first.”  He has served his school, his community, and our Union with dedication.

Halifax County

Meg Ferguson
Ms. Ferguson has had a long career of involvement in the NSTU, starting back in 1999 when she first joined as a school rep. Since that time, Meg has been involved in just about every capacity imaginable, from local secretary to local president to provincial executive.  In many ways, Meg is the epitome of engagement and commitment. Whether, it was through her efforts to have an NSTU presence at the first Halifax Pride Parade in 2008, through her creation of the Halifax County Inspire Awards to recognize the contributions of others, or her passionate defence of members rights during regional negotiations, Meg has consistently been a strong leader within our organization.

Phil Goora
Mr. Goora has been involved in many aspects of the NSTU over the years. He has been predominantly involved at the local level, serving as a Halifax County Executive member in a number of capacities, including VP of Communications and VP of PA/PR. He served regionally as the chair of the communications committee for the HRRC, as well as volunteering time on the provincial PA/PR committee and the provincial discipline committee. Phil has long had a passion for communicating ideas, as evidenced by his long tenure as a Film and Video teacher at Lockview. It was this passion that first inspired Phil to, in many ways, bring Halifax County into the social media age. Phil was a pioneer in our local in the use of such platforms as Facebook, Twitter and introduced our local to the power such technology had to promote local events and keep members in the know.

Karen Hudson
Ms. Hudson has been an educator for a number of years now, and is deeply committed to community development, social justice, education and youth advocacy. She has been tremendously involved over the course of her career in efforts to ensure the voices of African Nova Scotians are part of the conversation around education. She has long served as a member of the Black Educators Association of Nova Scotia and is currently serving as president of that organization.  During the days following the release of the Glaze report, Ms. Hudson was a vocal critic of the document, and spoke on many occasions against the lack of meaningful consultation embarked upon in its preparation, particularly with the Black Educators Association. This voice added tremendous weight to the efforts of Halifax County and, indeed, to all NSTU members as we fought to mitigate the damaging effects of that report.

Terry Ryan
Terry has long been involved in the NSTU, first as a school rep, then eventually as a member of the Halifax County Local executive. He has served in one capacity or another for 15 years now, and his service has included stints as 1st VP, Professional Development Committee, and 1st VP, Communications. He has also facilitated numerous workshops and sessions during rep training, and currently sits on the Provincial Discipline Committee.
Along with this direct involvement, Terry has always shown himself to be a strong advocate for members’ rights and is known for his persistence and passion when speaking out on issues. Never afraid to ask the tough questions or challenge the status quo, Terry has always provided an emphatic voice to the table. He has accepted leadership roles on numerous occasions and has always fulfilled his role dutifully and with commitment.

Hants West

Kim Frank
Ms. Frank has served for multiple terms on the Local Executive and Local Council of the
Hants West Local. After 22 years of involvement she has demonstrated meritorious service to advance the objectives of the NSTU. She has been a member of the Provincial Executive, President of the Annapolis Local, Chair of the Annapolis Valley Regional Representative Council, Chair of the Regional Economic Welfare Committee, and Chair of the Regional Grievance Committee. As an administrator, this is Ms. Frank’s last year as a member of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, and we are deeply grieved by this involuntary removal of an exemplary member and advocate from our union. Ms. Frank exemplifies leadership and service to our union, and the Hants West Local commends her to you without reservation to receive this award.


Denise Aucoin
It is with great honor that the Inverness Local of the NSTU present Denise Aucoin for the Local Service Award. Denise retired in June 2017 from the "One room school house in Pleasant Bay" with the Strait Regional School Board after 30 years of service. She began teaching in the North East Margaree for the Inverness District School Board and was an advocate for French Immersion for the students of the Margaree area. Denise started as a school rep for the little school in North East Margaree early in her teaching career.  She held many executive position with the Inverness Local, including VP of PD and 1st VP. She also served on many Provincial committees such as the Communications Committee throughout her career. Although Denise was not involved as much near her retirement, she was always a big supporter of the NSTU.


Corena Burbidge
Corena has been in the teaching profession for 33 years. Corena started her career as a resource teacher and moved into Administration at Glooscap Elementary School where she is loved by students, parents and staff. Every morning she greets all of the children as they come through the door with a "Good morning", or "How are you?" and is often seen giving out many hugs as the students come off the bus. Corena has been very active in the Kings Local as a school representative and is involved in passion projects like Equity and Retirement Banquet. She has a strong social justice heart and is always on the lookout to improve students’ lives.

Cathy Burgess
Cathy has been an elementary teacher for all of her professional career; she has taught at Berwick School, Cambridge Elementary and Glooscap Elementary. Cathy has been a valuable and active Union member for most of her career. Cathy began as a school rep. With the Kings Local, she has both served on and been the VP of Professional Development, VP of Communications, Equity Liaison and was the Kings Local rep for the Article 60 - AVRSB-NSTU PD working group. Cathy is also an engaged member of the special association, NSTALL and has helped plan their annual conference. Cathy is a dedicated union member. She values the opportunities of collegiality and professional growth that this work allows. Cathy has provided awareness of the supports and benefits the union offers members. She has encouraged participation and responds to union queries with good grace. Cathy has served the union with pride.

Donna Griffin
Donna graduated in 1986 from NSTC with an A.Ed Diploma in Physical Education. She has taught at Kingston & District School and West Kings District High School. Donna was a beloved Resource teacher for many years before transitioning into administration; first as Vice-Principal and now as Principal. She also has a Masters in Technology from MSVU and is currently enrolled in the NSELC Program for Admin. Donna has been wholeheartedly involved in the Kings Local since her first meeting as a school rep. She has held the position of Secretary, VP of Communications and is currently the 1st VP. She has also been involved on the AVRRC. She also participated in the John Huntley Internship. Donna believes in the value and work of the union and is quick to help others whenever she can. Donna will always be #NSTUProud!

Mike LandryMike is in his 29 th year as an educator. He has held various union roles including school union rep, SAA Rep for AVRSB, SAA Provincial president, TWAR executive member, CAP - VP and Board of Directors member and Co-chaired/chaired several SAA Leadership conferences. Mike has devoted his teaching career to helping make schools a safe learning environment for all of his students. Mike is currently the Vice-Principal at NorthEast Kings Education Centre. Kings Local appreciates his vast knowledge of the role of administrator and all he has contributed to our Local.

Lunenburg County

Sandra Himmelman

Sandra's interest in the NSTU began early on in her career, but she was also involved with the NSTU as a parent and through other organizations. While working as a Home Economist with the Dept. of Agriculture, she became heavily involved with the Home and School movement, locally, provincially and nationally.  She was the president of the NS Federation of Home and School Associations for about 6 years and during this time she sat with the NSTU Presidents on many committees, Department of Education forums, and Provincial Education Partners meetings with the Education Ministers over the years.  She worked with the NSTU leaders to help organize Education Week ceremonies, stood alongside NSTU Provincial Presidents during numerous protests, fighting for a better Education system for the children of our province. Sandra has a huge interest in Equity and Social Justice, at both the NSTU and school level.


Chris Nicholson
An early career context (Glace Bay High) shaped Chris's purpose for understanding and developing his unionism perspective. A teacher and administrator for the CBVRSB, Chris can be described as a colorful, reasonable and supportive voice for all educators. He is simple and honest in his aim and leads not by accepting things as they are but with a spirit for modernist ideas. Chris served regional positions of treasurer, Council Member, multiple terms as VP of PD and that of Communication for the Northside-Victoria Local. His hard work on the provincial scene gained respect of administrator peers serving TWAR (member), SAA President, webmaster, executive member, conference presenter, twice Conference Chairperson and served the Sheonoroil Foundation Board. What carries Chris forward are the opportunities in his day to sing and play his guitar for the special education classes at Memorial Composite High School. Chris is supported by his wife Barb and son Keigan. 


Stacy Thorburn
Stacy completed a Bachelor’s degree at MSVU in Child and Youth Studies in 1997 and started working as a Teaching Assistant with TCRSB. Stacy enjoyed her role as a TA but realized her true calling: to teach and to lead. Stacy then completed her Bed at University of Maine in 2004. Stacy became involved in the NSTU as Secretary with the Shelburne County Local. She then represented Queens-Shelburne as Provincial Executive Officer. Stacy moved to Queens to teach and married the love of her life, Jamie Thorburn. Stacy studied Administration – Instructional Leadership at St. FX and received her Master in Education in 2013. She accepted the position of Vice Principal at South Queens Middle School, still working closely with the NSTU. Stacy was elected Queens County Local Secretary and then President, a position which she currently holds. Stacy has also held many positions on Local and Regional Committees.

Dawn Uhlman
Dawn is a very respected and well-known teaching vice principal at a small community elementary school in Greenfield.  Dawn makes it a point to enhance the education of her students by providing them with opportunities that they may not otherwise experience. Dawn has been in the teaching profession for 23 years and has been involved with the Queens Local for much of that time: as a member of the Executive- being first VP for many years, as well as the Chair of the REWC.  She was also VP of Professional Development planning and executing many PD sessions, rep retreats and socials during her time.  Dawn is always eager to learn and has attended many NSTU conferences that have allowed her to bring back a wealth of knowledge to share around the Queens Local table.  The reps and executive around the current Queens Local table value Dawn’s expertise, experience and knowledge.

Shelburne County

Gary Deviller
Gary will celebrate retirement this year.  His career includes working at the Yarmouth Consolidated Memorial High School for fourteen years, teaching Math, and most of the science courses. He was Vice Principal at Drumlin Heights Consolidated School for three years. During the last nine years, Gary has been teaching Math and Science at Barrington Municipal High School. Gary's union involvement included eight years as the School Rep for BMHS. During that time, he attended many in-services and conferences.  He has taken care of all of the rep's responsibilities. This includes attendance at most meetings, the sharing of information and the implementation of the votes. Gary has enjoyed being part of the Shelburne County NSTU Local. The Shelburne County Local wishes him much success in the next milestone of his life.

Andrea Mood-Nickerson
Andrea is a graduate of Nova Scotia Teachers College and she has been involved with the NSTU since 1984, and this year, she will retire with a "happy heart." Andrea has taught physical education, Reading Recovery, Resource and grades primary-six. In 2005, Andrea became the School Rep for Forest Ridge Academy and in 2008-2013, she became the treasurer for the Shelburne County Local. Andrea faithfully attended the Leadership Institutes each summer.  She was nominated and honored as the Education Week Award recipient in 2012.  Andrea has been an asset to our union.  She is a "hands-on" teacher who has organized and/or participated in Fun Runs, Healthy Promoting Schools, Doctors Runs, and Running Club at her school.  "Well done, kind and faithful friend." Congratulations on a wonderful career!


Roland Hannem
Roland Hannem has spent over 30 years as a teacher and counselor.  He began his career on the rocky shores of Newfoundland and Labrador and moved back to his native province of Nova Scotia in 1989. Rollie has served in many capacities within the NSTU.  At the local level he has been Local President, VP of Communications and served on many committees including finance, PD/Social, and Teacher Centre Management. He also served as school rep. Regionally, Rollie served as Chair of the RRC.  Provincially he has sat on the Communications and PA/PR committees, served on committees at annual council and is presently an Insurance Trustee for the NSTU.