Sue Northey believes in helping students find their inner leader.

Sue Northey: Building student leaders

Susan Northey, a leadership and physical education teacher at Vedder Middle School, is what you’d call a real go-getter. She’s not a procrastinator, but an engaging, outgoing, self-motivated, focused and get ’er done kind of person. Sue is a natural leader who has the ability to inspire her students and to enable them to discover that they too have leadership skills. “I want them to discover that they have what it takes to become exceptional leaders. I want them to discover the leader within them,” she enthused.

Although Sue was born and raised in Toronto, she’s far from your stereotypical Torontonian. Her warm, friendly, bubbly and empathetic nature is quite fitting given her position and her students respond appreciatively.

Sue enjoyed school although she had to work hard for her marks. She admits, with a rather broad smile, that she was a very social student. While her father was an electrician, her mother was a phys-ed teacher and she inspired Sue to pursue a teaching career. “I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher for the longest time but eventually I decided to follow in my mother’s footsteps and become a P.E. teacher,” she smiled. Sue recognizes that she has never been a jock but she’s passionate about self confidence, healthy living and the correlation between that and physical education.

After graduation, Sue went on to McMaster University for her undergraduate degree and then to London Western for her teaching degree. It was while she was attending McMaster that she met future husband. He was a football player and was doing speed work with the track team and Sue just happened to be a member of that team. He ended up joining the Canadian Military, the coupled married and in 1989 they were posted to Chilliwack. They settled in nicely, Sue took on a job with the Abbotsford School District but made her way to Vedder Middle soon after. “It was a job that I thoroughly enjoyed but then we were posted to Petawawa. I wasn’t going to tell my husband to leave the military any more than he was going to tell me to leave teaching but he ended up deciding to leave the military. Chilliwack became home,” she said.

Sue taught science for about 10 years and enjoyed the classroom setting but with her energy and motivation she began teaching phys-ed and leadership. She enjoys having the ability to challenge her students to be the best that they can be. “Leadership is about personal growth. The students are encouraged to lead a healthy lifestyle and there is certainly a component of service. In serving others, you grow and you learn. You have power; you have the power to change. You also need to find balance,” she explained.

Creating balance in our life is difficult whether you’re the student or the teacher, the parent or the child, the employee or the employer. Prioritizing our goals can be so difficult especially when there are constant demands on our time. We need to work on fulfilling a balanced life. Sue struggles with finding balance; as a wife, mother to two teenage sons, teacher, friend and coach there’s little time for her. “I have to make the time. It’s important,” she said convincingly. Sue is heavily involved in coaching both cross county and track and field. She coached for Chilliwack Track and Field, the Valley Royals in Abbotsford and is currently coaching at Trinity Western University. “I try and run three times a week. I’ll get up at five in the morning and go for a run and I also try and support local runs like the Run for Mom and the Terry Fox Run. I’ve done the Sun Run many times but supporting the local ones is important,” she said.

Aside from struggling to find the ideal balance in her life, Sue would like to do more coaching in the future, including coaching for Olympic athletes. Her heroes include Terry Fox, Canadian activist for the rights of children, Craig Kielburger and Steve Nash. “Terry Fox is my ultimate then Craig followed by Steve. Terry is a great example of leadership. He made his decision, got to work and achieved the impossible. Craig is a Canadian who was just 12 when he began to fight for the rights of children. He founded Free the Children and co-founded Me to We and down the road I’d like to get more involved in his organization,” she said passionately.

Just Posted

Watercolours by late Chilliwack artist to be unveiled at Yarrow Library

The public is invited to a special unveiling of three of Heinz Klassen’s watercolour paintings

Yarrow Library one of the stops on Cubetto’s grand tour

FVRL’s friendly wooden robot, Cubetto, travels throughout Fraser Valley to teach programming basics

No home for Agassiz Community Garden on school district land

The garden is still homeless after SD78 said no to the society using the McCaffrey School property

Chilliwack PEO: ‘We who are sisters’

International oganization celebrating 150 years of service

Chilliwack students take the lead as mental health advocates

About 100 Chilliwack youth prepped to make a difference during Mental Health Week

Dashcam captures close call between minivan, taxi at busy Vancouver intersection

To make the footage more nerve-wracking, a pedestrian can be seen standing at the corner

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

Global Affairs warns Canadians in Sri Lanka there could be more attacks

A series of bomb blasts killed at least 207 people and injured hundreds more

VIDEO: Fan support almost deafening as Giants take Game 2 in finals

Vancouver G-Men cap comeback with thrilling third period to beat Spokane 4-2 on home ice in Langley

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. mom wages battle to get back four kids taken from her in Egypt

Sara Lessing of Mission has help from Abbotsford law firm

VIDEO: Fire guts Peachland home

Crews are still on scene pumping water onto the blaze in the Okanagan neighbourhood

Most Read