Four SD 57 schools under new leadership
Chris Molcak is back on familiar ground and happy about it.
Last month, Molcak became principal of Prince George Secondary School – the same school in which he began his School District No. 57 career in 2001. Back then, he accepted a job as vice principal and held it for two years. Principal postings at Mackenzie Secondary, College Heights Secondary and the Centre for Learning Alternatives took Molcak up to 2017, at which time he was appointed district principal of Information Technology Skills, Trades and Careers. Molcak enjoyed his leadership role in trades and careers. At the same time, he’s finding his return to PGSS rejuvenating.
“I think part of it is being back in a school – being in the hallways, being in the classrooms, that interaction and involvement with kids,” he said.
Molcak took over from former principal Kap Manhas, who moved to the district office as a new assistant superintendent.
Molcak grew up in southern Alberta, near Waterton Park. He did all of his elementary and secondary schooling at Cardston High and then moved on to the University of Lethbridge, where he completed a Bachelor of Education degree. His first teaching position was at Selkirk Secondary School in Kimberley, located in the East Kootenay region of B.C. The opportunity to become vice principal at PGSS brought him north to SD 57.
Now that Molcak is principal at PGSS, he’s on a learning curve because the school is “quite different” than it was 18 years ago.
“As it should be,” he said. “So I will be trying to honour the traditions and the stuff that’s in progress before figuring out where I’ll take it. Coming in mid-year, there are tons of things that are in the works and ongoing so my focus will be to get a handle on what those things are and where I can support them, and then trying to identify what things aren’t in place or need to happen with the new curriculum, grad requirements, the Indigenous focus of the district – all of those things.
“I’m looking forward to learning and building the relationships with students and staff and parents, and trying to see where I can help.”
As the new principal of Duchess Park Secondary School, Sid Jawanda brings with him 25 years of experience in School District No. 57. Jawanda, a principal or vice principal for 16 of those years, is thrilled to be in position to carry on the work of his predecessor, Lee Karpenko, who is now an assistant superintendent in the district.
“I am excited about the opportunity to make a difference at Duchess Park Secondary School,” Jawanda said. “Duchess Park has a rich tradition and I look forward to making connections with the students and school community. I am hopeful that we will be able to enhance existing programs and create opportunity and options for our graduates.”
Jawanda started his job at Duchess Park in February.
Most recently, Jawanda was principal at Spruceland Traditional Elementary School. Prior to that, he served as principal at Peden Hill Elementary School and Southridge Elementary School. His other postings in SD 57 – all as a vice principal – were at D.P. Todd Secondary, Kelly Road Secondary, Heather Park Middle School, John McInnis Junior Secondary and College Heights Secondary.
As a teacher, Jawanda worked at Prince George Secondary School (Math and Science) and also at Kelly Road – his first job in the district. Jawanda’s first teaching position was in Delta.
Looking back on his career, Jawanda said he’s proud of making a positive impact in the lives of students and of the connections he has formed with students, families and colleagues.
Cindy Heitman, deputy superintendent for School District No. 57, said she’s “really excited” for Jawanda and Duchess Park.
“He brings such depth of experience,” Heitman said. “He’s super passionate about students and building positive connections.”
Jawanda holds Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Education degrees from the University of British Columbia and a Masters degree in Leadership and Administration from Gonzaga University. He graduated from Prince George Secondary School after three years of junior high at Lakewood.
Jawanda spent his elementary school years at Spruceland and the original McBride Centennial.
In her role as principal of Spruceland Traditional Elementary School, Shannon Daines won’t be making sweeping changes. They aren’t necessary.
“There are a lot of wonderful things that are happening,” said Daines, who replaced Sid Jawanda as principal in early February. “I don’t feel the need to come in and change anything, just to support the forward momentum that’s happening with staff and students. It’s beautiful and I’m happy to be a part of it.”
With Jawanda now principal at Duchess Park Secondary School, Daines is enjoying the newest chapter in her own career. She’s getting to know the staff members and students at Spruceland and has found the school community and environment very welcoming.
“Everybody is so friendly and they’re all very interested in me, which is fun – that doesn’t always happen,” she said with a smile.
Most recently, Daines was principal at Pineview Elementary School.
Daines started in School District No. 57 in 2006 as a teacher on call at Heritage Elementary and quickly landed a full-time position at the school as a Grade 6-7 teacher. She followed that with teaching jobs at Heather Park Middle School, Van Bien Elementary and the Aboriginal Choice school before it became known as Nusdeh Yoh Elementary. Daines then moved on to Westwood Elementary School as a Grade 7 teacher, a post she held for four years.
During her time as an elementary school teacher, Daines also taught Science 10 in the district’s summer school program for six years.
Daines transitioned into school administration as a vice principal at Heritage, and, after a short stint there, became a vice principal at Prince George Secondary School. She was at PGSS for two and a half years and that led to her principalship at Pineview.
Daines was born in Whitehorse, where she started elementary school. She also attended school in Squamish and Merritt and graduated from Merritt Secondary. She began her post-secondary studies at the University College of the Cariboo (the forerunner to Thompson Rivers University). There, she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree. Daines then earned a Bachelor of Education degree through the University of Alberta and, in more recent years, completed a Masters of Education degree in multidisciplinary leadership at the University of Northern British Columbia.
Tom Paterson’s goal is always the same – to make a positive difference in the lives of students and the school community. That mission is his top priority as he takes over as principal of Pineview Elementary School.
Most recently, for two years, Paterson was director of learning pathways at School District No. 57’s Centre for Learning Alternatives. He assumes the duties of Pineview principal from Shannon Daines, who is now at Spruceland Traditional Elementary. Paterson brings to Pineview 24 years of experience as an elementary school principal.
“I am excited to return to my roots as a building principal,” said Paterson, who started his new job early last month.
Paterson has been in the field of education for 38 years, the last 15 in SD 57. Among his other posts in the district, he worked as human resources director for eight years.
Along his career path, Paterson also made lengthy stops in Smithers (eight years) and Nakusp (15 years).
“Tom is doing what I think we all dream of, and that is that full circle of our career and being back in a school with students – it’s what we all love and I’m really proud of Tom for that commitment to students and learning,” said Cindy Heitman, deputy superintendent for School District No. 57.
Paterson grew up mainly in Vancouver and graduated from Lord Byng Secondary School. He went on to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in microbiology from the University of British Columbia and then earned his teaching credentials.
Paterson also holds a Masters degree in Education from UBC and is a Chartered Professional in Human Resources.