Thursday, 25 January 2018 04:59

Ralston teacher awarded prestigious Queen's British Empire medal

Written by  Jamie Rieger
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Being recognized by one's peers is an honour in itself. To be recognized for your work by the Queen is launching that recognition into the stratosphere.

For the past 11 years, Ralston Kindergarten teacher and British liaison, Sonia Stanton has been dedicated to making sure the British school children and their families have a smooth transition as they settle in to a new school system and new country.
Stanton's name was submitted to the New Year 2018 Honours List by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for the Queen's British Empire medal and the award was announced in late December. She will receive a local presentation (date to be determined) and has been invited to Buckingham Palace to attend a garden party with Her Majesty the Queen.
"What a great honour," said Stanton. Stanton said the award has a history that dates back to King George the VI.
"It dates back to the days of King George the VI who in 1920, noted that regular civilians were not being recognized for work they were doing, so this is quite the honour," she said, adding that the medal is currently being engraved and she expects to receive it sometime in April.
While working at Ralston School, Stanton is employed by the British military, an arrangement unique to Stanton, who has worked in Germany and Malaysia for the military.
"In places like Germany, they (the military) have their own schools. Ralston School is the only place where the service children attend the local public school system," said Stanton.
In order to teach here, she had to first obtain her Alberta teacher's license and go through all the normal processes for immigration.
"We still have to have an Alberta teacher's license. All of the other places used the UK teachers' licence. I had to get my Immigration medical, transfer my qualifications to Canadian, and the Superintendent monitors it. The process took about six months," she said.
Stanton has enjoyed the past 11 years living and working in southern Alberta, but admits the prairie winters do not rank among her favourites.
"It has been very good, but I'm not overly crazy about Canadian winters," she said.
British military families typically come to BATUS (British Army Training Unit Suffield) for two-year postings, something Stanton has mixed feelings about.
"The change-over every two years has its ups and downs. It means the job never gets boring, but the sad part is you make friends and then they have to leave," she said, adding that on a good note, she now has friends all over the world.
Stanton does not know who nominated her for the prestigious award and is happy to share the award with her colleagues at Ralston School.
"It is lovely that others have recognized my work and I am excited to share the award with my colleagues at Ralston School, who do a fantastic job at supporting all our students, including both British and Canadian service children."
Now, Stanton can go shopping for a new dress and hat and prepare for her trip to Buckingham Palace for the Queen's Garden Party.
"The Queen's spring garden party usually takes place sometime in May or June when there is the least chance of it raining. "The ladies will be wearing proper dresses and hats and for the men, it's a top hat and tails event," said Stanton, adding that there are usually about 1,000 attendees at the Queen's Garden Party.

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