“I am really going to miss the students and staff at Seaway District High School,” said Terry Gardiner, who has left the high school after five and a half years as its principal. “I have been really touched by the student comments that have been posted on FaceBook and Twitter.”
Gardiner has moved to the Upper Canada District School Board offices in Brockville to assume the duties of Principal of Continuous School Improvement. The position became effective on Monday, November 11, 2013.
While Gardiner knew that he was being considered for the position at the Board, the final call came quite suddenly. He informed the staff of his appointment on Friday morning, November 8, and told the student body during MSIP. New principal, Derek Cole, and new vice principal Laura Oliver, were in place on Monday.
Seaway’s vice principal, Ann Blackburn, has also left, to assume VP duties at North Dundas District High School.
As Principal of Continuous School Improvement, Gardiner will be responsible for all schools in UCDSB, some 23 high schools, and over 80 elementary schools.
“I will be helping principals and teachers use data to improve student instruction. I am directly in charge of a student voice project, Tell Them From Me, a major survey/questionnaire that must be completed by all grades 7-12 students two times a year.”
(There is a separate survey which focuses on the kindergarten to grade six students in the board.)
During the survey, students speak and write candidly about an extensive range of educational issues, standards of learning and perceived long term goals, health and mental health issues, finding a functioning balance between the demands of jobs and of school. The survey amasses an enormous amount of information which must be analysed and interpreted.
“I provide information to school administrators and staff, and then assist them in deciphering it to determine what changes may have to be made, what programs are working, generally what actions are needed.”
Gardiner is also the leader for the board wide LINK project. He has already taken part in specialized training with program leaders, and in major student conferences.
As Seaway’s principal, Gardiner has left a legacy at the high school. He feels that key programs were put in place, with the help of the staff and community, which are growing in effectiveness.
“The introduction of the grades 7-8 program as part of the high school was just getting started when I arrived. I worked extensively with principal Guy Lamarche in that first year of implementation,” he said.
He is also very proud of the Pathways program established at Seaway, which supports students in three key divisions: Students to Work, Students to Apprenticeships, Students to College/University.
“Seaway was a leader in this program, and, with the work of guidance teacher, Mark Lewis, and a new software program, My Blue Print, we can help students select the future courses best suited to their interests and needs.”
The Apprenticeship Pathway, especially, led to innovative programs at Seaway, in Ag-riculture and Transportation. These in turn, linked the school more closely to interests within the community.
“The Dual Credits system instituted at Seaway has allowed students to earn both a high school and a college credit in certain of our courses as we are partnered with colleges. Students can get a real understanding of a subject and a possible career route in the Dual Credit program.”
What will Gardiner miss?
“I think the culture of care I found at Seaway. Teachers and the community stepped in to see what students needed without being asked. There are students out there who never knew who paid for skates, or sports equipment so they could take part in activities.
I will also miss the obvious care that the students have for each other. Seaway students let others be who they are, and operate in a respectful culture.
Over my five years, I’ve always maintained high expectations for the character of our students, and I’ve steadily seen those expectations met. The hard work of our parents council and the involvement of our community have been tremendous.”
“I am also going to miss Oskar Night, our wonderful Terry Fox Rally and Sports Day,” Terry Gardiner laughed, “and I definitely plan to attend prom and the spring graduation.”