While the calendar shows June, you are already immersed in planning for September and the coming school year, while at the same time wanting this school year to end on a high note, with all the year-end activities including the biggest one of all – graduation! No matter how busy you are, remember that for your students and their families, the end-of-year rituals and traditions can be some of the fondest memories students have of school (alongside you, of course – their favorite Principal or Vice-Principal!)
I entertained some of my fondest memories of school last week when I attended the 50th Anniversary of Brookswood Secondary School in Langley, a school I attended when it opened in 1973 as Brookswood Junior High. As the population of Langley has exploded over the years, Brookswood has grown and expanded, but the core element of the building remains; judging by the massive turnout for the Open House and Classic Car Meet, Brookswood is still creating special memories for students in Langley. A big thank you to Brookswood’s Admin Team – Principal Lisa Ellis, and VPs Virinder Braich and Kendal Sewell – for coordinating the events that marked this milestone.
Although the year is winding down, I am still getting out on the road for Chapter visits. Last week, I attended the Richmond Association of School Administrators (RASA) AGM held at Richmond Secondary School, where I was welcomed by retiring Chapter President Mike Murray and retiring Vice-President Marcia Timmins. I had the opportunity to share with RASA members what the Association does to support their work in schools, provide the provincial perspective, and field a few questions about what is on the horizon in education. Finally, a special thank you to Chapter Representative Andrew Ferguson, who is moving to a new role in RASA.
Under beautiful sunny skies, I began my week at the northern reaches of the Sunshine Coast in SD47 (Powell River). This visit was arranged many weeks ago, but the recent election of Chapter President Shannon Behan to the role of BCPVPA President-Elect added a special highlight to my visit. The days of pulp mills are past for Powell River, and the community is experiencing a new lease on life as the destination of choice for those wishing to relocate from other parts of BC and Canada to a wonderful climate and outdoor opportunities.
Brian with Principal Jennifer Kennedy
Shannon had set me up for a great sampling of SD47 schools. I began my visit in the south at Kelly Creek Community School, where Principal Jennifer Kennedy talked about the rapid rise in enrolment. Construction was well underway for both the placement of portables for September, and a Before and After School Care Program space. The community of Kelly Creek is growing, but still maintains its beautiful pastoral roots.
Brian and Principal Matthew Hull
Next it was on to Henderson Elementary, where Principal Matthew Hull and I enjoyed the weather at recess. As we made our way around the school, I witnessed why relationships matter, as Matthew interacted with many students and staff as he conveyed to me the priorities of this busy community.
L to R: Mike, Jasmin, Tanya, and Brian
I then made my way to Brooks Secondary School (Gr. 8-12), led by the dynamic team of Principal Jasmin Marshman, and VPs Mike Hilleren, Tanya Larkin, and Michelle Doyle. Both Tanya and Michelle have district responsibilities, in addition to their VP roles at Brooks, and I was unable to meet Michelle that day. As the only secondary school, Brooks is a busy and dynamic place with multiple options and programs (including Dual-Credit, Culinary Arts, French Immersion, and Hair Dressing) for Powell River students. Like many administrators in SD47 following a reorganization in the district, Jasmin is completing her first year in the school. Having successfully made the transition from elementary to secondary Principal, Jasmin is relishing leadership opportunities, building relationships, and working with her team for the benefit of the students at Brooks Secondary.
Brian with Bill and Caroline
After enjoying lunch, courtesy of the Culinary Arts program at Brooks, I travelled north to James Thomson Elementary School, where Principal Bill Rounis and Vice-Principal Caroline Brennan were wrapping up the day’s activities for Bike-to-School Week. While many kids were riding outside, many others were stowing their bikes in the gym for overnight safe-keeping, in anticipation of the daily riding activities that week. On a tour of the school and property with Bill, I was told that James Thomson was the site of a meeting of Canada’s Premiers almost a hundred years ago. To commemorate the visit, each Premier planted and dedicated a tree, which resulted in an amazingly diverse canopy of beautiful leafy trees on the school grounds. More recently, a Welcome Pole and local Indigenous art have been installed on the grounds.
I started the next day at Shannon’s school. Westview Elementary is a modern state-of-the-art building, and Shannon had arranged for two of her students to conduct my tour – student leadership in action! Kalen (Gr. 6) and Digory (Gr. 5) were excellent tour guides who carefully and proudly conducted me through the entire school, including the spotless and well-organized Gym Equipment Room. They also confidently answered my many questions. I wrapped my visit with a chat with Shannon, and was sorry to miss meeting VP Raun Rainbow, who also has the district responsibility for Early Learning.
Brian with Kalen & Digory
Remember that Chapter visits help keep me current on the issues that face BC school leaders, and that personally meeting you and your teams in your schools is a highlight for me as President! If I haven’t yet been to your district, please contact Sharon North to set up a time in the fall. In the meantime, as the tasks on your to-do list seem to grow rather than shrink, remember to pause and schedule some ‘me time’ in your day and week, as the countdown to summer holidays is now well underway.