'I don't think I'm better than anyone else'

Kugluktuk principal wins national award


The principal of Kugluktuk High School is one of Canada's 38 outstanding principals for 2009 and the only one named from Nunavut.

Gary Kennedy, the principal of Kugluktuk High School, recently traveled to Toronto, where he collected an award for being an "outstanding principal" from a national non-profit, organization called The Learning Partnerships.

The group brings together people from business, education, government, to strengthen public education in Canada.

Kennedy, 36, who has been in Kugluktuk for four years, became principal of the 150-student school at the beginning of the 2007 academic school year.

Kennedy was invited to attend a five-day leadership seminar at the University of Toronto with other award-winning principals.

"I don't think I'm better than anyone else. I haven't been in education all that long, and I haven't been a principal all that long, so I wasn't sure whether or not I should be there. But hearing the same kinds of things from the other principals, I feel we're on the right track," Kennedy said in an interview this week.

Since he took over, Kennedy has kept the school's Grizzlies extracurricular activity program going, worked to improve attendance and morale at the school, and lobbied for repairs to the school's aging building, which had broken windows and other damages related to vandalism and use.

Kennedy also found time to volunteer as head of Kugluktuk's alcohol education committee.

"We just think we're doing our job," Kennedy said. "I'm fortunate I have a great group of people to work with."

Not that everything is perfect at his school, Kennedy said.

School absenteeism is always going to be a problem, but staff "is always willing to try things to make it better," he said.

For the moment, staff are trying to boost reading and math skills so younger students at the school will have an easier time keeping up with their work as they go through high school.

The Kitikmeot School Operations unit nominated Kennedy for the award. His nomination also received many letters of support from the community.

Kennedy has made Kugluktuk High School "a great place for learning for the students of Kugluktuk," Peter Taptuna, MLA for Kugluktuk, said March 20 in the legislature.

Past "outstanding principal" winners from Nunavut include two Iqaluit principals, Terry Young of Inuksuk High School and Darlene Nuqingaq of Aqsarniit School.

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