The school community in Surrey and beyond is mourning the loss of a teacher and tireless public education advocate.
Jennifer Wadge, president of the Surrey Teachers’ Association (STA), died suddenly on Dec. 29.
A memo posted online by the union on Monday said she experienced a pulmonary embolism. She was 39.
She is survived by her mom and dad, Connie and John Wadge, sisters Erin and Pamela, brother-in-law Chris, and two-year-old nephew Benjamin. John and Connie are both retired Surrey teachers and John is a past-president of the STA.
Jennifer attended high school in South Surrey, graduating from Semiahmoo Secondary before getting a bachelor degree from SFU and her teaching certificate at UBC.
She taught at Crescent Park, Bear Creek and Laronde elementary schools before joining the STA executive and eventually becoming president of the union – a position she held since 2012.
“She was a dedicated and passionate supporter of teachers and students, she championed social activism, and she believed whole-heartedly in the importance of an adequately funded public education system,” says the STA memo, which also made reference to her wit, positive outlook and push for teachers to find work-life balance.
“She loved walking her dog, Poppy,” reads the memo, “and looked forward to spending time with family, especially her beloved nephew, Benji.”
The B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) posted on Facebook about Wadge’s death on New Year’s Day, calling her a “dynamic young leader and passionate advocate for public education” and offering family, friends and colleagues love and support.
“A bright star in public education, too soon dimmed,” wrote George Popp, one of many who commented on the BCTF post.
“She did so much for so many in such a short life,” wrote Carol Johns.
Jordan Tinney, Supt. of Surrey Schools, said Wadge will be missed.
“Jennifer was a passionate, thoughtful and articulate advocate for quality public education and for the needs of students and teachers,” he said. “She was a pleasure to work with and had a wonderful sense of humour.”
A celebration of life is planned for Thursday (Jan. 7) at 4 p.m. at Victory Memorial Park, 14831 28 Ave. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked donations be made to CoDevelopment Canada or a charity of your choice.
Messages of condolence may be left here.