In the education world, the end of June is when we typically see employee retirements. This year we have seven long-serving employees who are retiring: Clare Folvik (library aide), Toni Gill (library aide), Faye Hugar (education assistant), Christena Henry (teacher), Joan Kootnekoff (teacher), Maxine Ruzicka (director of instruction) and Michael Strukoff (superintendent of schools).
It is the two retirements at the board office that I want to discuss.
It will be a big transition for many of us in the school district when Strukoff and Ruzicka retire next week after 36 years apiece with School District 51 (SD51). Both began as teachers, moved on to administration and then into the district office.
With their retirement come significant changes for many of us. Kevin Argue, currently principal of Perley Elementary, will take over the job of superintendent of schools.
Argue has been working closely with Strukoff over the last few months while still working as principal of Perley, to ease the transition into his new role.
Similarly, Doug Lacey, principal of Hutton Elementary, has been transitioning into his upcoming new position as director of learning by working with Ruzicka and also still maintaining his principalship.
The reality of this change will hit at the end of next week, when Strukoff and Ruzicka close their office doors for the last time, say their goodbyes and drive away.
They will be beginning a brand new adventure, one that has no time constraints, deadlines or expectations other than their own. They will be free to determine what each of their days will look like and how they want to spend them.
The very next morning, Kevin and Doug will arrive at the board office and walk into their new offices.
For SD51 secretary-treasurer Jeanette Hanlon, board office staff and trustees, we will have to make a transition of our own.
We have all settled into a comfortable working relationship with Strukoff and Ruzicka, one that comes with time and knowledge of each other’s strengths, passions and those quirks we all have.
It will be a time of exploration as we begin to establish new working relationships and renew our team.
The board is very confident in the choice we have made to put Argue and Lacey, along with Hanlon at the helm of SD51 and are sure that students and staff alike will be well served. The new team, Kevin, Jeanette, Doug and trustees Cathy Riddle, Vicki Gee, Cindy Strukoff, Rose Zitko, Ken Harshenin, David Reid and myself (Teresa Rezansoff) are looking forward to the work that is ahead of us. We will be engaging you, our staff, our public and our students this fall and early winter as we look to the future to determine priorities for the school district.
What are interesting about big transitions in life are that until you are undergoing them, it is hard to fully appreciate the range of emotions one would experience.
What is certain is those milestones, once experienced are never forgotten.
SD51 trustees extend congratulations and best wishes to our seven retirees – Claire, Toni, Faye, Christena, Joan, Maxine and Michael. You made a difference in SD51, for students, staff and our communities; your hard work has counted.
Thank you. We offer sincere and heartfelt thanks for your commitment and dedication to the school district.
– Teresa Rezansoff is board chair for SD51 and president of the BC School Trustees Association