Ecole Boreale will be getting a new principal at the start of the next school year.
The new principal, Richard LeTourneau, is currently a French immersion teacher at East Three Elementary School in Inuvik.
LeTourneau’s new role in Hay River was officially announced on May 19 by the Commission Scolaire Francophone, the French-language school board in the NWT.
Carole McLaughlin, who has been principal at Ecole Boreale for two years, is returning to her home province of New Brunswick for family reasons after the end of the school year.
“I simply loved my experience here,” said McLaughlin, who came to Ecole Boreale after serving as a vice-principal in Nova Scotia and a principal in New Brunswick.
“I loved Hay River,” she added. “I loved the school and the staff. It is a great team and great kids.”
McLaughlin said she also enjoyed the good working relationship she had with the other principals in Hay River – Lynne Beck of Diamond Jenness Secondary School and Carolyn Carroll, the principal of Harry Camsell School and Princess Alexandra School.
LeTourneau is looking forward to becoming principal at Ecole Boreale.
“It’s a great opportunity,” he said.
LeTourneau, who is originally from Quebec, has lived in Inuvik for the past 15 years, and has been a full-time teacher since 2005.
In his time in the NWT, he has visited Hay River and Ecole Boreale several times, including for community meetings when he was president of the NWT’s francophone federation – La Federation Franco-Tenoise.
In addition, he has been in Hay River to referee hockey games and to bring students to sports tournaments.
“I know Hay River a bit because of that,” he said.
LeTourneau is looking forward to learning more about Ecole Boreale and Hay River.
“Lots of things are going to be new,” he said. “So it’s pretty exciting, actually.”
LeTourneau also expects to become involved in the community, particularly the francophone association in Hay River.
“It’s always been important for me to get involved in the community and make good connections right away,” he said. “That’s going to be my first challenge to get to know people and make the right connections in the fall when I get there.”
Yvonne Careen, superintendent of the Commission scolaire francophone Territoires du Nord-Ouest, had many positive things to say about the new principal.
“Mr. LeTourneau comes to us with a master’s degree in educational leadership,” she said, adding he also has a very strong background in the area of special needs and inclusion.
Careen pointed to LeTourneau’s 12 years of teaching experience in the NWT.
“So he knows of the new ministerial directive on inclusion,” she said. “He is aware of the major changes going on with redirection of instructional hours coming up.”
Careen noted LeTourneau is very well versed on francophone culture and identity in the NWT from his five years as president of Le Federation Franco-Tenoise.
In addition, she noted he was president of the Francophone Cultural Association in Inuvik.
LeTourneau’s time as principal at Ecole Boreale will begin on Aug. 22 with the start of the next school year.
However, he will spend a couple of days at Ecole Boreale in June to discuss the transition with the current principal.
Careen praised McLaughlin’s contributions to the school.
“It’s been enormous in the sense that she came in at a time when we had student numbers dropping and we had to revitalize the francophone identity of the school,” said the superintendent. “So she was instrumental in making key changes to make that happen.”
Ecole Boreale, which has elementary and secondary sections, currently has 83 students.
Careen said it is anticipated there will be 85 students when classes resume for the next school year.