Sun­ny­side’s new prin­ci­pal

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE -

It’s al­ways in­ter­est­ing when we notice par­al­lels in our own lives or in the lives of oth­ers. Be­fore he en­tered the field of ed­u­ca­tion, Sun­ny­side El­e­men­tary School’s new prin­ci­pal, Steve Weary, ran a trekking busi­ness in Nepal, guid­ing ad­ven­tur­ers up the al­most 18,000 feet to the Base Camp of Mount Ever­est, teach­ing them the ba­sic skills needed to climb great heights, get­ting them

part­way there. That ex­pe­ri­ence should serve him well as the head of two el­e­men­tary schools, where the students’ jour­ney to ‘base camp’ just takes a lit­tle longer.

Be­sides the fact that both his par­ents are teach­ers, Mr. Weary de­vel­oped an in­ter­est and re­spect for ex­pe­ri­en­tial ed­u­ca­tion through his work ex­pe­ri­ences, even­tu­ally opt­ing to be­come a school teacher. “I felt I could bring a va­ri­ety of ex­pe­ri­ences to ed­u­ca­tion. I had a good un­der­stand­ing of learn­ing and knew how im­por­tant it is to teach peo­ple how to be good learn­ers. There are so many op­por­tu­ni­ties for life-long learn­ing; my out­side of school ex­pe­ri­ences re­ally for­ti­fied that. Peo­ple who are good at learn­ing are suc­cess­ful,” said Mr. Weary with con­vic­tion.

Orig­i­nally from the Lau­ren­tians, it was a high school teach­ing job at Massey Vanier Re­gional that first brought Mr. Weary to the Eastern Town­ships about twenty years ago. He also taught at Rich­mond Re­gional High School and then trans­ferred to the Eastern Town­ships School Board where he was the Project Man­ager of the En­hanced Learn­ing Strat­egy (ELS) project (lap­tops). “I have al­ways been in­ter­ested in tech­nol­ogy in ed­u­ca­tion and did my Mas­ter’s The­sis on that sub­ject.”

With the ELS project, Mr. Weary had the chance to work with el­e­men­tary schools, so when the time came for a change, he opted for the el­e­men­tary school en­vi­ron­ment, be­com­ing prin­ci­pal of Ayer’s Cliff El­e­men­tary School and North Hat­ley El­e­men­tary School.

Al­though this is only his fourth year as a prin­ci­pal, he’s seen changes. “Ev­ery year we have to do more with less, with­out mak­ing it felt in the class­room. It’s fig­ur­ing out what ex­tra needs to be done and where to get the money for that.” Asked if he feels frus­trated by the lack of funds in ed­u­ca­tion, Mr. Weary an­swered: “We rec­og­nize that we are in a time when the gov­ern­ment must cut back. We still have a won­der­fully funded sys­tem com­pared to other coun­tries.”

“It’s chal­leng­ing to bal­ance my role as ped­a­gog­i­cal leader in the school, want­ing to be in­volved in stu­dent learn­ing, what tools and tech­niques are used, while I have a ton of ad­min­is­tra­tive du­ties.” An­other chal­lenge, given that he goes back and forth be­tween two schools, is get­ting to know the par­ents of the students. “It’s im­por­tant to com­mu­ni­cate with par­ents, to talk with par­ents,” said the prin­ci­pal. “But we have fab­u­lous teams at both schools, peo­ple who are very com­mit­ted and give more than the re­quired time to the job,” he added.

An out­door en­thu­si­ast who bikes, hikes and cross-coun­try skis when he’s not in school, Mr. Weary is a strong be­liever in the im­por­tance of out­door ac­tiv­i­ties. “There’s lots of area out­side in the school­yard and we’ll be mov­ing to­wards a nat­u­ral play­ground. I just or­dered a big pile of sand,” he men­tioned en­thu­si­as­ti­cally.

Mr. Weary had not vis­ited the town of Stanstead much be­fore get­ting his new po­si­tion at Sun­ny­side, how­ever, he was quick to men­tion a con­nec­tion that goes way back. “My grand­mother lived for a lit­tle while in Stanstead, around 1918. She of­ten spoke about her time there. Al­though I’m not fa­mil­iar with Stanstead, I know it has a long and rich his­tory and I’m look­ing for­ward to get­ting to know the town.”

Photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

Sun­ny­side’s new prin­ci­pal, Steve Weary, stand­ing in front of a nat­u­ral wil­low tun­nel, says the school will move to­wards a ‘nat­u­ral play­ground’.

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