While the upcoming school year will be Heather Pedjase’s first as principal of Diamond Jenness Secondary School, the experienced educator won’t feel out of place. The Waterloo, Ont., native has spent the last decade working as a principal and vice-principal with the Upper Grand District School Board in southwestern Ontario. Her background in education spans more than two decades, as she began teaching science, math, chemistry and biology in 1989.
She has an impressive educational background, graduating from the University of Waterloo with a Bachelor of Science in biology, and from the University of Western Ontario with a Bachelor of Education, Science and Mathematics.
Pedjase’s husband came to Hay River in March to take a job with BHP Billiton, while she only arrived last weekend.
She is excited to develop, among other projects, the current professional learning community already implemented at the school. It involves collaborative learning opportunities for groups of teachers.
“Ideally, teachers work together in teams to improve the student achievement process,” she said. “They are already working on it here, so we’ll continue to see how things go.”
The South Slave Divisional Education Council (SSDEC), in conjunction with the Hay River District Education Authority, hired Pedjase.
She is praised for her ability to co-operate with colleagues and get results.
“She has experience in smaller town settings and she has a strong literacy background,” said Michael Kenny, public affairs co-ordinator for the SSDEC. “She has implemented similar initiatives in her prior positions to ones we are implementing here, such as the Leadership for Literacy program.”
That particular program was established in 2007-08, with the intention of raising the literacy levels of all students in the South Slave.
Kenny said it focuses less on testing and exams, and more on weekly or even daily teacher engagement with the students to directly address student needs.
“I’m not unfamiliar with what the school board is striving towards, as there are similar initiatives all over the country,” Pedjase said. “We will keep working throughout the year to fine tune our programs.”
— Myles Dolphin