Principals leaving SD33 not worrisome, says superintendent

Chilliwack, school district 33, Mary-Anne Smirle, Michael Audet, Scott Wallace, Collaborative Learning for Leaders

Another principal has left the Chilliwack school district.

Mary-Anne Smirle, former principal of Chilliwack middle school, has accepted a position with the Abbotsford school district as assistant superintendent. Smirle’s resignation is the second of the summer after Scott Wallace, longtime principal of Central elementary, announced his departure in June for the West Vancouver school district.

Superintendent Michael Audet said that while it’s sad to see the longtime administrators leave the school district, it’s not cause for concern.

“We’ve had a challenge in the last three years of sustaining our excellent school leaders,” said Audet. “It’s sad for us to see them go, but again it’s a reminder for us that it is a competitive market for educational leaders.”

And because of that, the school district implemented a Collaborative Learning for Leaders (CL4L) program three years ago. CL4L is a comprehensive, two-year program that helps further develop leadership skills and provides ongoing support for district leaders.

The program is designed for principals, vice principals, managers, trustees, heads of the Chilliwack Teachers’ Association, CUPE, and the District Parents’ Advisory Council. It meets every month during the school year with planned topics of discussion.

“We use to meet with our principals once or twice a year, now we’re doing it regularly with set times and set topics,” said Audet. “And it’s not just principals and vice principals, it’s all managers.”

As a result of the program, three teachers from within the district have been promoted to vice principals, and David Manuel, former vice principal at Chilliwack secondary has been promoted to principal at Fraser Valley Distance Ed, replacing Trish Williams who retired at the end of last school year.

The district has not yet filled the vacant principal slot at Chilliwack middle.

“I’m hoping that we’ll be able to continue this development program we have for our leaders, sustain it, and continue to grow our own and keep our own,” said Audet.

“One of the things I’m working on in my own growth plan is,” figuring out how “I help our school district build sustainable leadership for 2012 and beyond.”

kbartel@theprogress.com

twitter.com/schoolscribe33