Sardis Secondary principal Bob Long is retiring at the end of the calendar year.

So long Mr. Long

Bob Long, retires, Sardis secondary, Chilliwack,

When Sardis secondary’s principal Bob Long was going through school, he never imagined his life choices would keep him in school for 34 more years.

See, Long was your average, middle of the road student. While he was great at sports, he never felt academically inclined. With his grades hovering in the B range, he often felt inferior to his peers raking in the As.

Many days, he couldn’t wait to be done with school.

“All the way through school, I had a feeling I was a crow; I never felt particularly smart,” he said.

“It’s funny that after all these years I stayed in school.”

On Dec. 31, Long’s school career will complete. After 34 years of teaching kids, developing alternate education programs, working with special needs, administering schools, building relationships, Long’s office door will finally close.

The Sardis secondary principal is retiring.

When Long graduated from high school, he had no idea what he wanted to do. He enrolled at Langara College, but dropped out after just a year figuring it was a waste of time. He floated through mill work for a few years, but realized that wasn’t a future for him.

Because he loved working with kids, and had been coaching Little League for years, he enrolled at the University of British Columbia in the teaching program.

It was there that he finally felt smart in school.

“I had three amazing professors who motivated me with their teaching,” he said. “They got me turned on to learning.”

Long started his full-time career in Prince George, developing adaptive physical education programs for children with special needs.

He took them hiking, bowling, cross-country skiing, snow shoeing.

“Anything that typical kids could do, we tried to figure out a way of adapting those activities so that these kids could do them too.”

It didn’t take long for his hard work to be noticed. After just four years, Long was already in the administrative office as vice principal.

He is proof, he said, that being a leader doesn’t always start in elementary or high school.

Long’s personal experience with school has been at the forefront of nearly every decision he has made in his career. Cycling across Canada to raise awareness around the need for more recreational opportunities for students with special needs, he did for the benefit of his students. Motivating less fortunate children to raise thousands of canned goods in spite of themselves needing those goods, he did for the benefit of his students. Keeping the door to his office open every day of his career, he did for the benefit of his students.

“We acknowledge our top end kids and we do a real good job of dealing with our at-risk kids, but I really feel the bulk of our kids, the average kids, don’t always get a lot of acknowledgement in our system,” he said.

“But many of these kids are going to leave our system and they’re going to become leaders. We have to somehow create opportunities for all of our kids to get turned on to learning so that they have a chance to be successful earlier in their lives.”

Long is not your old-fashioned, stern-faced principal, where the only time his students see him is when they’re being disciplined.

Quite the opposite.

His office has always been an open door to students, staff, parents and anyone else in the community wanting to speak with him. When his students are in the hallways, he’s in the hallways talking, laughing, joking with them, and also reminding them when they need to be in their classrooms. And every morning, for the past six years, he’s religiously been out in his school’s foyer conversing with his student’s with a “Mr. Long special” in hand: coffee with a touch of hot chocolate purchased from the school canteen.

“If you take time to talk to these kids individually, they will actually act more like adults because you are giving them positive attention,” said Long. “My style has cost me a lot, because I am so relational during the day, and there’s still paperwork needing to be done. But the benefits outweigh the costs.

“The thing I’m really going to miss is wandering around, talking to these guys,” he said, a wide-mouthed smile on his face as he pointed out his office window to the crowded corridor of students.

“They like me and I like them. Even when I’m disciplining them, they still respect me. Why can’t kids leave here liking and respecting their principal?”

kbartel@theprogress.com

twitter.com/schoolscribe33

Just Posted

Young Chilliwack singer launches career with French classic

Deanne Ratzlaff performs as featured vocalist in La Vie en Rose in Chilliwack, London and Paris

The most h-i-l-a-r-i-o-u-s spelling bee you’ll ever see in Chilliwack

Secondary Characters Musical Theatre hits the stage with The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Hang gliding video gives stunning view of Harrison and Fraser river confluence

Aerial view shows striking difference between two rivers as they meet

RCMP use helicopter and police dog to search for suspect on Sts’ailes First Nation

Man known to police fled an allegedly stolen vehicle and firearm on the reserve north of Chilliwack

Stay safe on the rivers of Chilliwack and don’t become a statistic, says swift water expert

Chilliwack Search and Rescue is putting out a safety message just in time for the summer season

Feds lowered poverty line, reducing the number of seniors in need: documents

Liberals introduced a poverty line that was below the prior low-income cutoff

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs have been sold

Victoria company has purchased BCHL team, but will keep it in Port Alberni

“Does Kirby care?” B.C. First Nation’s group using geo-targeted ads in Houston, Texas for justice

The Heiltsuk Tribal Council has called out Kirby Corporation for the Nathan E. Stewart oil spill

Trudeau announces $79M investment for 118 more public transit buses across B.C.

Contributions from municipal to federal level to fund more buses in a bid to cut commutes

B.C. woman wins record $2.1 million on casino slot machine

‘That night was so surreal … I wasn’t able to sleep or eat for the first two days,’ she said

After B.C. dad’s death, Technical Safety BC wants changes to trampoline park rules

Jay Greenwood, 46, did ‘a series of acrobatic manoeuvres prior to a fall that caused serious injury and cardiac arrest’

Cars keyed on BC Ferries after alarms bother dog on board

Delta police arrested one passenger on suspicion of mischief

$900M settlement reached in class action on sexual misconduct in Canadian military

After facing criticism, the government moved to begin settlement proceedings in early 2018

Tax take stays ahead of increased B.C. government spending

Tax revenue $2.1 billion higher than budget in 2018-19

Most Read