Everyday Heroes go above and beyond

PALMERSTON – A Norwell District Secondary School employee and a dedicated volunteer are among the Upper Grand District School Board’s Everyday Heroes for 2019.

Head caretaker Paul Metzger and Partners Program volunteer Linda Reaburn are among 11 recipients of the award honoured at a ceremony on May 29 in Guelph. The board recognizes Everyday Heroes for “performance at a high level at all times, a significant school or system-related achievement, a specific innovation or achievement of significant value or importance to the system, or a unique circumstance worthy of recognition by the board.”

Metzger has worked as a custodian for more than 40 years at the high school where he received his secondary education.

Board officials note school staff consider Metzger “an exceptional co-worker, friend and boss who continually goes above and beyond.” They also state he works behind the scenes to keep things running smoothly and never expects recognition.

“He is humble, respectful and kind. His nominators say he is an integral part of the school community,” board officials state.

“He helps the arts department with their projects, installing murals and art installations, he volunteers to go on field trips as a supervisor if the school is short on parental supervision, he works incredibly hard to make sure the school is at its very best. Nominators say that Paul is ‘the heart and soul of the building.’”

Norwell principal Paul Richard agrees.

“I’d say that Paul not only has a job here, but Paul is also 100 per cent volunteering at Norwell District Secondary School and in his volunteer efforts outside of his job meets every need ever asked of him to do anything he possibly can to help the kids in the building have a better stay here,” said Richard.

“And the building is fantastic. I don’t know how many people come here a year and go, ‘My gosh your building’s beautiful and it’s because there’s a pride that Paul has in the building that certainly exceeds his job expectations.”

Metzger, whose three daughters attended Norwell as well, said he feels compelled to help out, “just because it’s my community school and I think that’s the way things should be operated.

“I just think the staff here is awesome; I’ve got a great staff that work for me and the students are awesome. So it’s just a great neighbourhood and a great building to be in,” he added.

Reaburn is retired after teaching for 30 years and Centre Peel Public School in Mapleton was her last assignment.

The students in Norwell’s Partners Program primarily come from Centre Peel and are from Mennonite families. Since the program began in 2016, Reaburn has volunteered every Monday and Tuesday to help students learn. She has acted as a literacy tutor, scribe, mentor and more for students in Grades 9 to 12

“Linda has a keen understanding of the strengths and needs of our students associated with their families, the Mennonite faith, the Low German speaking culture and language(s),” states a press release from the UGDSB.

The release adds Reaburn is “incredibly empathetic to students who are struggling with English,” and her efforts help students who have spent years as children traveling back and forth to Mexico and others who been either home schooled or taught in parochial settings.

Nominators note, “She is professional, encouraging and understanding.  Students immediately gravitate towards her because she doesn’t judge them if they have to miss a day to look after their younger siblings or pull together as a family to make sausages in late fall. She understands the importance of ‘gatherings’, Spanish radio, spicy salsa and sibling dynamics. She meets them where they are at and helps them move forward with their school work.”

Richard said, “When the Centre Peel program came here, without any question at all, she changed her life plan and came here and continues to work with that particular group of kids weekly as a volunteer.”

He added Reaburn “has helped every kid within that program with credits to accumulate toward graduation, so she is 100 per cent part of the team.”

Reaburn’s son and daughter attended Norwell and she has strong feelings about the school.

“It was a fabulous school for them,” she said. “There’s so many activities and the teachers took a real interest in what they were doing.”

Reaburn enjoys interacting with students and the positive feedback she receives from them and is passionate about education.

“To me education is so important,” she stated. “Education is freedom. Freedom around the world. Freedom in Canada. Freedom here. And I have the skills to teach.”