The new school year starts on Tuesday, and with it comes with some new faces and new programs in the Comox Valley.
School District 71 superintendent Sherry Elwood noted two longtime Comox Valley secondary school principals retired in June; after 34 years in the district Bill Village retired as principal at Mark R. Isfeld Secondary School, and Wayne Friesen finished his last year as Highland Secondary School’s principal after 22 years with the district.
Highland vice-principal Lyneita Swanson moved into the role of principal at the school, and Jeff Taylor — whom Elwood noted was a district principal for years, but also has years of experience as a secondary school principal — will take the reins at Isfeld.
Elwood also noted two veteran vice-principals were hired from outside of the district, and they both have an interest in 21st century learning.
“That was what we were looking for and that’s part of what we require now as a skill set,” said Elwood, adding applicants for principal and vice-principal positions must show their knowledge and understanding of 21st century learning during the interview process. “We do that differently than lots of other districts who are not quite there yet, but that’s very often what folks tell us attracts them to apply here.”
Jason Cobey will be a vice-principal at G.P. Vanier Secondary School this year. He spent a number of years as a principal and vice-principal in schools in the interior of B.C., but Elwood noted he is coming home with his new position.
“He returns home to the Valley where he grew up, and he is a member of the K’ómoks First Nation,” she explained.
Shelley Robinson is the other vice-principal coming to the Valley from elsewhere and she will be at Isfeld. Elwood said the district “scooped” Robinson from a Calgary school for science and gifted students, and called her very experienced as a principal, vice-principal and educator.
Besides new faces in school administration, this year also brings two new academy programs to the Valley; one is a technology, engineering and robotics program, which will be based in Aspen Park Elementary, and the other is a fine arts program, which will be based out of Navigate’s (North Island Distance Education) Tsolum campus.
Both programs are full, and both feature three days per week of in-class hands on project-based work and two days of distributed (distance) learning. The programs are designed to help students excel by teaching them skills like math, science, and literacy through pathways they’re naturally interested in like fine arts or robotics, according to Elwood.
“They’ll work in multi-age groups, they’ll work at different levels of ability and they’ll work a their own pace in many ways, and that’s very exciting,” added Elwood. “We thought we would like to offer something different for families and we were absolutely overwhelmed by the response.”
Meanwhile, Elwood noted the new bus system implemented last fall shouldn’t cause any trouble this year.
The busing policy changes meant new bus routes, adjustments to walk limits and bell times. Students also had to register for bus passes.
But Elwood pointed out that once a student is registered for a pass they don’t need to again in following years, which means the majority of the work is complete, with the exception of the handful of students new to the district this year.
“Bus passes will be disbursed through the schools (to returning students) for this year, so they’re all ready to go, they’re already at the schools,” said Elwood.
SD71 expects to see 60 to 70 fewer students in the Valley this year — with more kindergarten students coming in, but fewer secondary students.
School District 71 (Comox Valley) 2012—2013
G. P. Vanier Secondary
Principal—Charlie Schellinck. Vice-Principals— Julie Shields, Dean Patterson, Jason Cobey.
Principal—Lyneita Swanson. Vice-Principals— Charles Schilling, Rob Grantham.
Mark R. Isfeld Secondary
Principal—Jeff Taylor. Vice-Principals— Gerald Fussell, Shelley Robinson.
Cumberland Jr. (Gr. 7-9)
Lake Trail Jr./Sec. (Gr. 7-9)
Principal—Lori Carpenter. Vice-Principal—Dave Mayert.
Elementary Schools (K-7)
Aspen Park Elementary
Principal—Corinne Wester. Vice-Principal—Jennifer Gordon.
Co-Principals—Paul Berry and Sherry Kennedy.
Principal—Dirk Den Otter. Vice-Principal—Katy Doran.
Denman Island Community School
École Puntledge Park Elementary
Principal—Kevin Reimer. Vice-Principal—Tracey Croonen.
École Robb Road Elementary
Principal—David Coats. Vice-Principal—Al Johnson.
Hornby Island Community School
Huband Park Elementary
Principal—Ian Craigon. Vice-Principal—Catherine Manson.
Miracle Beach Elementary
Principal—Dan Costain. Vice-Principal—Christine VanderRee.
Valley View Elementary
Principal—Bill Green. Vice-Principal—Lisa Scheck.
Principal—Jeff Stewart. Vice-Principal—Alissa Pratt.
Aboriginal Education Centre
District Principal—Bruce Carlos.
Glacier View Secondary Centre
District Principal—Rob Moore. Vice-Principal—Steve Knight.
District Principal—Rob Moore.
District Principal—Cheryl Rabbitt.