'The actual job teachers do is over and above'
IF it was up to Alicia Socas, every teacher in the Highlands would be on the list to receive a Highland Heroes award.
"I genuinely think that teachers are under-appreciated," the director of training firm Pitman Highland said.
"It's just nice sometimes for somebody to turn round and say, 'you know what, you're doing a really fantastic job' and I want to be part of that effort."
Miss Socas took over the Highland arm of Pitman Training nine months ago and decided to get behind the awards, run by SPP Media and now in their second year, by sponsoring the secondary teacher of the year category.
She said: "The actual job that teachers do is over and above what is asked of most of us and, if they are managing to consistently support parents and students, particularly if those students are from an economically-deprived area, I don't think over and above should be the standard.
"The fact that they are doing a good job in a difficult environment should be enough to be recognised.
"I know that it's completely unreasonable to have 3000 teachers on the list – we can only pick one – but I want to be part of that movement that thanks people, like doctors and teachers and nurses, for keeping our society going."
Readers of five SPP newspapers across the region are being encouraged to nominate their local heroes across 12 categories in this year's Highland Heroes awards.
For the secondary teacher of the year we are looking for someone who has made a significant difference, beyond the normal expectations, to the learning experience of their pupils.
Miss Socas said the awards were a great way to recognise the hard-working people of the Highlands and she was delighted to be involved.
"It just feels good, it gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling," she added.
To nominate someone you feel deserves recognition in this or any other category, fill in this form and post it to Highland Heroes, Scottish Provincial Press, New Century House, Stadium Road, Inverness, IV1 1FG or email it to email@example.com. You can also nominate your Highland Heroes online at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/HighlandHeroes2018
The deadline for nominations is midnight on Saturday, September 1.
Miss Socas urged people to nominate teachers they know for the award, adding: "If you are part of the voice that is pushing for recognition for people who are working hard, especially when it's free and takes 30 seconds online, there's really no excuse not to."
A judging panel will draw up a shortlist from the nominations in each category and this will be published in a special supplement when readers will be given the opportunity to vote for their favourites.
The winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness on Thursday, November 8.