(From left to right) Jim McEwen, Nikola Surjanovic (top), Claire Cupples and Maria Nicolidakis (front).

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SFU student says thanks to high school math teacher

May 04, 2016
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By Justin Wong

Have you ever wanted to let one of your high school teachers know how much they shaped your educational experience?

SFU statistics student Nikola Surjanovic did.

He nominated his high school mathematics teacher, Maria Nicolidakis, for the SFU McEwen Family Teacher Recognition Award. The $5,000 award goes towards school enrichment activities, programs or development initiatives at the awardee’s school.

The award is open to B.C. public high school teachers in School Districts 35 – 45 who have changed young people’s lives through their dedication to delivering exemplary education in math and sciences.

“Inspiring me with a passionate love for mathematics and learning, Ms. Nicolidakis has motivated me to pursue studying mathematics and statistics,” says Surjanovic. “Ms. Nicolidakis’ contagious passion for mathematics, her consideration for her students, and her continuous endeavour to becoming an even better educator are what make her an exemplary teacher.”

In late April, SFU Dean of Science Claire Cupples presented Nicolidakis with the award.

“It is incredibly humbling to be awarded the McEwen Family Teacher Recognition Award from SFU,” says Nicolidakis.  “With the grant, my colleagues and I in the mathematics department at Burnaby Central have already begun to discuss ways to enrich our teaching practice to help students of all levels strive forward.”

Jim McEwen established the McEwen Family Charitable Trust with specific goals to advance education and health, relieve poverty and provide awards that recognize Canadian innovation and Canadian innovators.

“High school teachers play an important role in the formative years of young people,” says McEwen. “Nominating a teacher is a way for science students to reflect back on their life journey so far and demonstrate their appreciation for their supporters by paying it forward.”

As the recipient of this award, Ms. Nicolidakis will nominate a former student, who will enroll in Fall 2016 as a first year SFU science student, to receive the McEwen Family Entrance Award, valued at $5,000, to assist with education expenses.