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Peace Wapiti Public School Division
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Peace Wapiti Public School Division No. 76
News Item

Leadership update for the 2018-2019 school year

August 30, 2018

Grande Prairie, AB – Peace Wapiti Public School Division (PWPSD) is pleased to announce the following changes in leadership staffing for the 2018-2019 school year.

Bob Stewart has been appointed to the role of Superintendent at PWPSD, effective September 1, 2018. Since joining PWPSD Central Office in 2011, Mr. Stewart has advanced through a number of leadership positions, serving as Assistant Superintendent Inclusive Education, Assistant Superintendent Learning Services, and most recently as Deputy Superintendent. During 1996-2011, he held the principalship of Clairmont Community School, Teepee Creek School and Elmworth School, and was the Assistant Principal at Harry Balfour School. Prior to moving into school administration, Mr. Stewart taught at Teepee Creek School and with Fort Vermillion School Division. He holds a Masters of Education in Educational Leadership from the University of Prince Edward Island and a Bachelor of Secondary Education from the University of Alberta. To date, Mr. Stewart's administrative portfolio has covered the scope of school division leadership, including accountability for capital planning and projects, curriculum development, instruction, Hutterite Colony Schools, alternative education, educational achievement and analysis, inclusive education, School Improvement Plans, budget, professional staffing development and evaluation, technology, counseling, and First Nations, Inuit and Métis programming. He replaces former Superintendent Sheldon Rowe who will retire at the end of August following 38 years of service at PWPSD. Read the full media release at http://bit.ly/PWPSD-Superintendent.

Darren Young has been appointed to the role of Deputy Superintendent at PWPSD. In 2016, Mr. Young made the move to executive leadership at PWPSD as Assistant Superintendent Learning Services, following two years as Principal of Harry Balfour School. Throughout his 20-year career in education, Mr. Young has served as a school-based administrator for ECS to Grade 12 and has been actively involved in a broad range of divisional leadership activities at PWPSD, and previously at Fort Vermillion School Division. As Assistant Superintendent, his portfolio included leadership of the Jurisdictional Student Engagement Team, Teacher Professional Development and Instructional Support, Dual Credit, and the District Finance Committee. He has served as a member of the Collaborative Response Model Steering Committee, the Whispering Ridge Community School Design Team, and the Aspiring Leaders Development and Selection Team. Mr. Young's academic credentials include a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from the University of Calgary, a Bachelor of University Studies with a focus in Elementary Education from the University of Maine, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Cape Breton University.

Kevin Elias has been named Assistant Superintendent Learning Services at PWPSD. Mr. Elias joined PWPSD in 2014 as Assistant Principal of Clairmont Community School, advancing to Principal of the school in 2016. A proponent of teacher collaboration and efficacy, he was invited to present at the 2015 College of Alberta School Superintendents (CASS) and Alberta Education Annual Learning Conference and the 2017 Collaborative Response Model Conference. His career in education began in 2003 as a high school teacher with Fort Vermillion School Division. He holds a Master of Education in Administration and Supervision from the University of Phoenix and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Alberta.

Brigitte Benning has been appointed Indigenous Educator at PWPSD. Since 2016, she has been a Visiting Scholar at Grande Prairie Regional College (GPRC), focusing her Master of Arts thesis research on exploring the role of Indigenous-based support provided by the On-Campus Friendship Centre. As Guest Lecturer within the University of Victoria (UVic) Sociology Department during 2014-2018, she delivered information on Indigenous support in education, raising awareness of Indigenous history, Indigenous justice and rights, and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. As a Teaching Assistant at UVic, she assisted with Indigenizing curriculum while supporting graduate and undergraduate students. She holds a Master of Arts and Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, both obtained at the University of Victoria, and is certified in the areas of suicide prevention, the Blanket Exercise, conflict resolution, and childcare. As an Indigenous Council Member, she worked with education publisher Pearson Canada Inc. to integrate Indigenous topics into the Exploring Sociology textbook, based on the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action. In her role as a Community Representative with the National Association of Friendship Centres and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, she advocated for Indigenous peoples in relation to ethical research practices. Recently, Ms. Benning has had the honor of being a Knowledge Keeper for the Grande Prairie chapter of the Walking With Our Sisters installation for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and facilitating workshops at the annual Spirit Seekers Youth Conference. She currently serves as Assistant Coach of the GPRC Women's Soccer team. Ms. Benning replaces Darrell Willier who has accepted a position at another school division.

Ty Sander has been named the new Internal Auditor/Senior Accountant at PWPSD. This new position has varied responsibilities, including fulfilling Alberta Education's new financial reporting commitments, internal auditing, and providing additional accounting and budgeting support to schools. Prior to joining PWPSD, Mr. Sander was Senior Accountant at Winston and Company Chartered Professional Accountants (CPAs) in Edmonton, and was the Senior Accountant at SRBG CPAs in Grande Prairie during 2013-2017. He graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Alberta in 2013 and achieved his CPA designation in 2017. He is a member of the Chartered Professional Accountants of Alberta and the Association of School Business Officials of Alberta.


New Principal appointments at PWPSD schools

Kate Thon has been appointed Principal of the Peace Academy of Virtual Education (PAVE) and Alternate Education. Ms. Thon brings a breadth of school leadership experience to the role, including her current high school administration background as Assistant Principal of Peace Wapiti Academy since 2014, combined with five years of pre-Kindergarten to Grade 8 administration as Assistant Principal of Clairmont Community School. She joined PWPSD as a Grades 4-8 teacher at Harry Balfour School in 2007 after serving as a teacher and Alberta Initiative for School Improvement (AISI) Technology Coach with the Grande Prairie Public School District. A committed lifelong learner, she holds a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Alberta and continues to pursue graduate studies through Athabasca University. Her certifications as a Mindfulness Counselor and Equine-Assisted Facilitator serve as the basis for Painted Ponies, a wellness program launched in 2017 for Grade 10 students at Peace Wapiti Academy. Ms. Thon is passionate about developing and providing intentional programs that address students' ever-changing academic, social, emotional, and physical needs. An avid supporter of alternative learning environments, she looks forward to continuing to provide flexible learner-centered programs at PWPSD.

Rod Vanstone has been appointed Principal of Clairmont Community School. Mr. Vanstone was Principal of Penson School during the 2017-18 school year and previously served as Assistant Principal, Counselor, and teacher of music, band and language arts at Clairmont Community School. In 2015, he was nominated for the Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence.

Don MacAskill has been appointed Principal of Penson School, bringing a wealth of administrative experience to the role. Mr. MacAskill has served as Principal of Wembley Elementary School since 2011; Penson School during 2009-2011; at elementary and high schools in Nunavut during 2001-2009; and was a teaching Principal at schools in Kelly Lake, Spirit River and Bonanza during 1994-2000. Currently, he is pursuing a Masters of Arts in Education through the University of Phoenix, focusing on Administration and Supervision. He holds a Bachelor of University Studies from the University of Maine, majoring in Elementary Education, where he was listed in the 1993 publication of Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges® in recognition of his scholastic achievement; and a Bachelor of Arts from Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. In addition to his formal education, he has completed professional development training in behaviour regulation and restitution, cultural awareness, and leadership. He has served as the representative for the Northern Spirit ATA and the local Teacher-Board Liaison Committee. He was a member of the PWPSD Administration Finance Committee and the Inspire/Aspire Leadership Committee.

Jen Clevette has been appointed Principal of Harry Balfour School. Ms. Clevette served as Principal of Helen E. Taylor School in Wembley since 2016 and Assistant Principal at Peace Wapiti Academy during 2011-2016. As PWPSD's Educational Technologist during 2008-2011, she shared technology enhancements for teaching and learning at schools across the Division. She initially joined PWPSD in 2000 as a teacher at Hythe Regional School, after starting her career in education in Lac La Biche earlier that year. She has been active in teacher professional development in her former roles as Program Chair for the Mighty Peace Teachers Convention, Northwest Regional Learning Consortium Board Member, and Chair of Professional Development for the Northern Spirit ATA Local. She holds a Masters in Educational Studies from the University of Alberta, with a research focus on the effects of technology on teaching and learning; a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Lethbridge; and a Bachelor of Education in Secondary Education from the University of Alberta, specializing in Social Studies and Math.

Rob Robinson has been appointed Acting Principal of Helen E. Taylor School for the 2018-2019 school year. Mr. Robinson brings varied experience to the role, having served as Assistant Principal of the school since 2016, in addition to Principal Designate during 2013-2016, and teacher during 2010-2016. He contributes to school culture as the volleyball and basketball coach and tournament organizer, and manages national and international trips as facilitator of the travel club. His career in education began in 2009 when he joined PWPSD as a teacher at Sexsmith Secondary School. He is currently pursuing a Masters of Education in Instructional Leadership from Acadia University and holds a Bachelor of Education from the University of Alberta. In 2014, he received a Grande Prairie Rotary Service Above Self Award and was nominated for an Excellence in Teaching Award in 2013. In addition to his formal education, he holds Basic Archery Instructor certification, granted by the National Archery in Schools Program.

Holly Gould has been appointed Acting Principal of Wembley Elementary School for the 2018-2019 school year. Ms. Gould joined PWPSD and Hythe Regional School (HRS) in 1999. Since 2014, she has served as Assistant Principal and Elementary Counselor at HRS, and held teaching assignments in the areas of Grades 4-6 math and science and Grade 8 Knowledge and Employability math. She taught Kindergarten - Grade 2 at HRS during 2000-2014 and split her time teaching Kindergarten at both HRS and LaGlace School during 1999-2000. Prior to joining PWPSD, she taught Grade 1 in Grande Cache during 1991-1999, which included a one-year teacher exchange to Darwin, Australia in 1997. She holds a Master of Education specializing in Math Curriculum and Instruction from Simon Fraser University; a Bachelor of Education with a minor in Reading from the University of Alberta; and a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Psychology from the University of Alberta. In addition to her formal education, Ms. Gould has focused on professional development opportunities in the areas of child mental health, children at risk, math and literacy, and FNMI initiatives. At PWPSD, she is a member of the Collaborative Response Model (CRM) Steering Committee and the PowerTeacher Pro Lead Teacher Group, and is a past member of the Quality Learning Environment Committee and the Editorial Group. She is involved in the Early Learners Research Project through PWPSD and Alberta Education. Beyond her administrative, counseling and teaching roles at HRS, she has been actively involved in the Friends of Hythe and Community Playground Society; the school's breakfast, lunch and snack program; and established the school's annual Build a Village Fair.


New Assistant Principal assignments at PWPSD schools

  • Darren Robertson, Assistant Principal at Hythe Regional School for the upcoming 2018-2019 school year.
  • Cindy Parsons, Assistant Principal at Helen E. Taylor School.
  • Joe LaValley, Assistant Principal at Peace Wapiti Academy.

Photos: PWPSD announces changes to leadership for the upcoming 2018-2019 school year.  

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