It was a pleasure to have Elisa Carlson and Catherine Remedios, Directors of Instruction in Surrey Schools, visit Georges Vanier Elementary this past week. The visit was part of a tour to assist Catherine, who joins us this year from Vancouver, to gain a deeper understanding of our district. As we neared the end of our great discussion, I mentioned that one of the things I thought really made Surrey Schools special was the collaborative, supportive environment in which I feel we work. I shared that as a relatively new administrator, I’ve never been made to feel inadequate when I made a mistake or phoned someone to ask a question or to seek help. This goes for all people and departments, from trustees to senior management, to fellow principals, and from human resources, to finance, to facilities. To illustrate, I shared this story of a student…

While a vice-principal at Holly Elementary, I got to know a grade six student named Michael. Michael was good-natured, funny, and intelligent. Unfortunately, his attendance wasn’t all it could be. One day his teacher shared an assignment Michael had written. Michael shared that when he grew up, he wanted to be the Superintendent of Schools. Who better, I thought, to share this with than with our own Superintendent, Mike McKay.

One day shortly after, Mike stopped by the school to visit the young man after his job. Together, we walked up to the classroom only to find that once again, Michael was absent. Mike left his business card on the student’s desk and asked the classroom teacher to let Michael know he had visited.

I can’t begin to describe the look on Michael’s face when he found out who had visited him, nor Michael’s awe when Mike returned a second time to say hello and to invite Michael and I for lunch to discuss the road to becoming a future Superintendent.

Lunch was a once in a lifetime event for this student and needless to say, Michael was a regular at school following this experience. But for me, it showed that each time Mike McKay says, “Every child, every chance, every day,” he not only means it, but he models to everyone in Surrey Schools the commitment it takes to be the difference-makers we need to be. And the best news? There are many people who work and learn in our district that would go to the same lengths to make a difference in the life of a child.

Catherine, welcome to what I believe is the best district in all of Canada. To everyone who supports me each day in the important work I do…thank you!

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