Vancouver School Board vision teacher Marilyn Rushton has been presented with B.C.'s newest honour, the Medal of Good Citizenship. She received the award for her inspirational life of service to the visually impaired community, her contributions to families with blind and visually impaired children, and her energetic support for the musical community.
Rushton, who has been blind since birth and worked with VSB since 2004, is passionate about the work she does in schools and in the community. The provincial government called her "a powerful role model, teacher, and gifted musician".
"I receive more than I ever give and I learn more than I ever teach," said Rushton. "This award feels like something that should happen to someone else. I don't see myself as doing anything extraordinary at all."
Not one to rest on her laurels, in the new school year Rushton plans to develop a literacy program for students who are non-verbal and blind or visual impaired to help them understand books, to enjoy reading and being read to by others.
Rushton is also president of the BC Vision Teacher's Association and chaired the Canadian Vision Teachers' Conference this year. She volunteers with the Maple Leaf Singers, and is the director and accompanist for The Tempos, a choir for blind and partially-sighted children, youth and adults. She serves on the board of Blind Beginnings, a non-profit supporting B.C. families with blind or partially-sighted children.
Rushton has been a co-director and accompanist for the Burnaby Children's Choir, a Douglas College board governor and a board member for the Burnaby Hospice Society. In the 1990s she was a Burnaby school trustee and used the role to advocate effectively for diversity and equity in public education. Her contributions in education are recognized through her membership in DKG International, an honorary society of women educators; and PEO, a North America-wide organization providing educational opportunities for women.
Stephanie Cadieux, the Minister of Children and Family Development, presented Rushton with the Medal of Good Citizenship.
"One person's passion can make a tremendous difference within a community, and there's no finer example than Marilyn Rushton," said Cadieux. "A natural leader, she is an inspiration who has never allowed her physical difficulties to stop her from making a difference."
"It's very nice to know that the things I do are appreciated," said Rushton. "It re-establishes my commitment to keep going. It's a very renewing thing."
- Photograph courtesy of the Province of British Columbia