Robyn Ross is settling into her dream digs in Ucluelet and her early impressions have her confident that she’s found the community she’ll retire in.
The longtime educator became Ucluelet Elementary School’s new vice principal in September.
“I’m absolutely loving the job,” Ross told the Westerly News. “I’m enjoying getting to know all the teachers and staff…It’s a great team. There’s a lot of learning that’s going on. People care about kids here. They care about the work that they do.”
Ross was born in Sayward and grew up in Comox before launching into a career in education, working with children from kindergarten to Grade 12 as both a teacher and an administrator in 10 different school communities over the past 21 years.
“Ucluelet Elementary school is the fifth school district that I have had the opportunity to be in and look forward to making it my forever home,” she said.
She was working in the Sea to Sky School District in Squamish when the opportunity to move to Ucluelet popped up and she pounced.
“It was a great decision,” she said. “It’s a very intense job, you have a lot of responsibility and it’s your job at the end of the day to make sure that all kids feel welcome and connected. I’m really glad that I’m in a leadership role in this school.”
She said UES is one of the smallest schools she’s been a part of and she has been impressed by the students and their parents.
“One of the things I noticed right away is how friendly the kids are in this school…The students are well-rounded, caring, kind. There’s occasional blips, but that’s to be expected when you’ve got a whole bunch of people in a building and we’re working together to be a positive school community,” she said.
“The parents are passionate about their kids and they should be. I really see my role here being to showcase the school and to showcase to parents the great work that’s going on here and that, if there is work that needs to be done, we’re going to do it. That’s hard work, but that’s really good work; being able to look critically at what you see and what people may believe and finding a balance in between those.”
She said she’s happy to be helping the school transition into “21st century learning and incorporating the core competencies from the BC Ministry of Education,” and added she’s thrilled to be back in a small town, where schools are vital community spaces.
“I grew up in a small town and schools are the hubs and we want to make sure that people in the community feel welcome,” she said.
“The feeling of community and connection and supporting all learners moving forward, that fundamentally to me is how we’re going to fix the graduation rates. We’re here as schools to support students, we’re here to help them be successful; we’re here to graduate students. That’s our job and we need to find ways to support everybody in their learning moving forward because a society is better with as many educated people as you can possibly have.”
Ross arrived in Ucluelet with her partner Jon, son Zach, cat Beanie and dog Kola over the summer, exploring their new home before the start of the school year.
“I feel closely connected to the history of Ukee. I feel welcome and at home. My husband, son and I have been venturing to Ucluelet for the past 15 years and we always dreamed of one day calling Ukee home,” she said.
“Over the summer, I quickly became enamored with hiking by the ocean, riding my cruiser bike around town and boating in the open ocean. I just feel so fortunate to be living here and look forward to contributing in a positive way to the school community.”
She added that she feels honoured to be living, learning and educating in the traditional territories of the Ucluelet First Nation and she’s excited to dive deeper into the history and natural beauty of her new surroundings.
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