A long time Red Deer Public School Board trustee has passed away after a battle with cancer.
Gail Holland, 71, was a strong advocate for literacy and students with special education needs.
She served on the Red Deer Public School Board since 2001.
“Gail was a very principled and passionate supporter of public schools and Red Deer Public in particular. She provided a strong voice for students in our district and for those with special needs in particular,” said Bill Stuebing, board chair. “She valued the importance of school trusteeship and the significant responsibilities that came with it. She also appreciated the important connections she made with students, parents and staff when attending events or visiting our schools.”
During her career, Holland was a teacher for 24 years. In 1999, she was recognized with the District’s Friends of Education Award for her work in supporting students with special needs.
As a trustee, Holland was actively involved with the Public Schools Boards’ Association of Alberta as well as the Alberta School Boards Association representing Red Deer Public Schools and serving on various committees.
“Gail’s special passion, first as a parent and then as a trustee, was the provision of substantial and appropriate educational programs for students with special needs. She was a relentless and insistent advocate who alternately pushed and inspired our district to do better,” said Stuebing. “It was for these contributions that she was recognized with the Friends of Education Award, contributions that she continued to make until her death. That Red Deer Public Schools is today recognized as a model for special education programming in Alberta is, in part, Gail’s legacy. As a colleague and a friend, and as a champion for Public School education, she will be dearly missed.”
Bev Manning, friend and vice chair of the Red Deer Public School Board said she admired Holland’s dedication and devotion to special needs students.
“Gail had a very unique way of looking at the needs of all of our students. She used her insight which she gained throughout her years of experience in all aspects of her life –as a teacher, mother, grandmother and member of our community,” said Manning. “She taught me so much about respect, compassion, understanding and integrity. She was an encouragement to all of us who were fortunate enough to serve alongside of her. Her life and her legacy were one of service and she considered herself richly blessed to be able to do so. I am so proud to call her my friend.”
To honour and remember Holland, the board of trustees has established the Gail Holland Memorial Award for Literacy, which will be a series of awards to be made to special needs students who demonstrate significant achievement in literacy. Tax-deductible contributions to this award may be made through The Foundation for Red Deer Public Schools, 4747 53 Street, Red Deer, Alberta T4N 2E6.
Holland is survived by her three sons and their families. Her funeral will be held on Friday.