It’s the start of a new ball game for educator Colette Evans, who just returned from sabbatical recently.
The former Grade 6 teacher at Outlook High School is now the school’s new principal, stepping into the role designated for her after the news of Walter Wood’s retirement from the education sector.
Evans, born in Rosetown where most of her immediate family still calls home, came to the halls of OHS over seven years ago after stepping foot down one career path before coming to the education field.
“I attended Rosetown Central High School before moving to Lethbridge, where I completed my first year of university as well as the EMT-Ambulance program,” said Colette, speaking to The Outlook. “I worked for a year as an EMT in Kyle and eventually decided to return to university to become a teacher. I graduated with a Bachelor of Education from the University of Saskatchewan in 2011 and completed my Master's in Educational Administration in 2017. I taught in both Saskatoon and Rosetown before taking a position at Outlook High School in 2013 teaching grade 6. I have taught nearly all subjects in grades 2 to 8 and have coached and led many sports and activities with students of all ages.”
After a career spent teaching a litany of subjects, Evans had a desire to grow in her position, so when the opportunity became available, she sought out the role of Principal when it looked like the title was going to become available. It fit the role she was trying to fill in becoming someone who could be a mentor to someone in need.
“At OHS, the majority of my teaching load has been Grade 6 homeroom, which includes all subjects,” said Colette. “I have taught some Grade 7 subjects as well and have co-taught with colleagues in other grades and subjects. I have led various teams, groups and committees and have been a cooperating teacher for student teachers for several years. Last year, I took on the mentor role in our school, so I had the chance to work with all of our teachers, creating new projects and ways of learning that the teachers were looking to implement in their classrooms. I have really enjoyed my leadership positions and thought taking on the role of the principal could be a professional goal for myself.”
Evans is no doubt excited for her new position, though she realizes she will have a lot to learn in the time ahead of her. In the meantime, she wants Outlook High School to continue being a safe and welcoming environment for students and staff.
“I am very excited for this new professional challenge in my career,” she said. “I have a lot to learn, but I feel I'm up to the task. I want our school to be a place where our staff and students want to come every day, and where our families and community always know they are welcome and appreciated (as soon as the COVID-19 restrictions allow). While taking on this role was a professional goal of mine, it didn't become a realization until Walter Wood announced his retirement. It was then that I thought it might be time to put my name forward.”
Evans will soon become a part of Outlook High School history as one of only two women who’ll have been Principal. Such a thing doesn’t weigh all that heavily on her shoulders, but she does acknowledge the gap that has existed between the classroom and the office.
“Education is a female-dominated profession, but the leadership roles continue to be male-dominated, especially in high schools,” said Colette. “I am so fortunate to know and work with strong female colleagues and supervisors who have always supported one another. Because of these women, I never felt like being female was a reason not to have leadership goals. They encouraged me to apply for the principal job and I know I have their support in my new position. I hope we can eventually move forward to a place where one's gender has no bearing on what we want out of our careers and our lives.”
Colette intends to channel the creativity in her staff and do what she can to help them attain their goals. She also hopes parents and families outside the school bubble can offer something to help, and she also hopes that students know the power they have within them.
“We have such a creative, passionate staff, and I hope to help them pursue their ideas in our school,” she said. “I hope to continue to encourage our families and communities to share their knowledge and expertise with our students. I also hope to continue to help our students become leaders in our school, so they know the power of their voice and their ideas.”
Evans believes Outlook High School’s greatest strength is within its people and hopes she can help blossom that strength into future greatness.
“Our greatest strength is our staff, students, families and school community, and the vast wealth of knowledge, experience, and creativity they bring,” she said. “I hope that I can help all who have great new ideas to realize those ideas within our school. I have some thoughts myself and look forward to collaborating with our stakeholders to continue to improve our great school!”
Evans has nothing but praise for the likes of those who came before her in the role of Principal. They all offered something new and different, and she looks forward to working with others to paint a prosperous future for Outlook.
“I cannot say enough good things about the principals before me, especially Walter Wood,” she said. “I wish Walter all the best in his retirement and am thankful he is just a phone call away when I need advice. I hope to continue the great work in our school community. I am also very fortunate to have the support of Kim Sobkowicz, our Vice-Principal at OHS, and his willingness to share his many years of experience with me.”
Colette has been on leave since basically the arrival of COVID-19 in the school system, so she admits her expertise in the field is limited as opposed to the list of educators at Outlook High School, who are no doubt high skilled at this point in teaching in a pandemic. That being said, she understands the difficulty that has been put in place and looks forward to when OHS can do the things it’s been able to do since before the pandemic. In the meantime, Evans remains optimistic about the future due to the resiliency of Outlook staff and students.
“As I've only had a few days working in the education system with the current COVID-19 restrictions, I'm not sure if I can fully answer this question,” she said. “It has made many parts of our overall students' learning difficult or impossible: collaboration between students, classrooms, and teachers, group work, extra-curricular activities, social activities, etc. Our staff and students have been so resilient, and their hard work does not go unnoticed, but we are missing many things we used to be able to do. When it is safe to do so, I hope we can resume these important activities in the school setting!”