A Special Day For Two Women

Diamond Jubilee Medal winner Katy Whitfield, holding globe, is shown with her students earlier this year. Photo by Francis Crescia.

It’s safe to say award-winning teacher Katy Whitfield had a memorable 34th birthday.

The Vaughan Road Academy teacher got the chance to meet Prime Minister Steven Harper and Governor General David Johnston when she was presented the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal at Rideau Hall on Feb. 6 — the day of her birthday.

It’s also the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty’s accession to the throne.

“It was probably one of the most memorable birthdays I’ve ever had,” said Whitfield, who teaches in the school’s International Baccalaureate program. “There’s no greater honour than being recognized by the head of state of your country.”

But it wasn’t the first time she’d met the governor general. Johnston had previously come to Vaughan Road Academy to discuss the Pocket Change Project, an initiative Whitfield led to raise money to build a school in Kenya.

Her leadership role was one of the key reasons she was selected to receive the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, which recognizes significant achievements by Canadians.

Johnston even remembered her from his visit to Vaughan Road.

“When I went to go receive the medal from him, he said ‘Katy, it’s so great to see you’,” she said.

“He remembered my face, the context and said ‘Please say hello to your students.’ ”

“I’m particularly humbled to have been chosen as someone who, in his eyes, is a worthy teacher,” she added.

Whitfield was one of 60 Canadians to be recognized in person on Feb. 6, although 60,000 Canadians will receive the medal over the course of the year.

In addition to Whitfield receiving the medal on her birthday, she noticed another coincidence.

“The other thing that’s kind of serendipitous about it is that when Queen Elizabeth became Queen, she was in Kenya,” she said. “So there are definitely some interesting pieces to this story.”

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