author: matt wincherauk | editor-in-chief
Canada’s outstanding principals are right here at home
As education continues to change in Saskatchewan and in Canada, 40 principals were selected as Canada’s Outstanding Principals of 2017 through The Learning Partnership, including one from White City. Currently in her third year as principal of Emerald Ridge Elementary School [ERES], Principal Bev Bjornson-Kowalchuk was taken aback when she learned of her nomination back in 2016, and was shocked to learn of her win back in late January.
“I was first made aware in October that PVSD had nominated me, and at that point I was in complete shock,” Kowalchuk told the Carillon.
“I’m this kind of person that just goes about doing my daily job, but to receive this is a complete honour, and I’m absolutely amazed by the outpouring of support that I have received from schools that are connected to the community, past students, past educators, so it has been amazing.”
While Kowalchuk is the one to receive the award, she was quick to give a lot of the credit to her staff, faculty, students, and the Prairie Valley School Division [PVSD] administrators that nominated her.
“I really have to thank PVSD for the nomination, but also the strong foundation they provide us. I also have to brag. I have top-notch teachers in this building that I have a lot of respect for, and we work closely together,” said Kowalchuk.
“Finally, the students, their families and this community really demonstrate that education is a top priority, and that we will work together to ensure student success.”
Although ERES is still quite new, the mark that Principal Kowalchuk has left is undeniable. The arts and special education have always been a passion for Kowalchuk, and this passion is evident when the Carillon inquired about how the ERES team approaches these two areas.
“When children will walk through our doors with a variety of skillsets, our job is to make sure that our students explore and experience different things. Students may really shine through their athletic abilities, but they also might really shine through the arts,” stated Kowalchuk. “So, as a facilitator, I see my job as making sure that students are learning, but have opportunities to shine in different areas, and shine in their strengths. The student that might not be a key academic performer, may learn a script, get up on that stage and absolutely perform like no one else. All of a sudden, that child has confidence, and becomes engaged in further learning.”
In addition to the desire to make arts and special education a focal point of the school, ERES has also been heavily implementing technology into their classrooms. From smartboards to blogs, the school has been taking advantage of every tool at their disposal to try to create a rich, and unique learning environment for students. To Kowalchuk, the technology they use supplies the school with “a form of communication, real-time learning, and inquiry based learning.”
Students even created their own advertisement that they submitted for We Day, coming up on March 15. Kowalchuk recognizes that education is always changing, and there is a need to constantly keep up and provide the kind of specifically tailored education that their students need.
“There’s so many different ways that students learn,” Kowalchuk noted.
“I would say that the design of this school reflects 21st century learning. There’s a lot more opportunities for students to take lead in their learning, whether it’s in a large group, or if it’s highly individualized.”
Finally, Kowalchuk touched on Saskatchewan education as a whole, and talked about how important it is to constantly stay updated with how things change, and with the teachers of tomorrow.
“We really feel it’s important to have next year’s teachers in the facility, and we pride ourselves on ensuring that there’s opportunity for people that will be graduating out of the department of education to have experiences in a place like this,” said Kowalchuk. “Since we opened, we’ve had an intern in here every year.”
While the job is certainly never done for our educators, Kowalchuk is certainly not going to rest on her laurels. Whatever the challenge may be, Kowalchuk and her staff will be ready to meet it head on.
“It’s an interesting time in education. Transformational change is upon us, and I think we really need to continue to focus on aiding staff and maintaining this high level of education. We hope that whatever change is upon us, we’re going to be able to strive to make a difference with our students.”