As we outlined earlier in the week, the end of the school year brings farewells for the summer and in some instances a farewell to Prince Rupert, as students head off to their post secondary studies and some of the staff from SD52 explore new opportunities.
The departure list this year will find two names with some long history to the North Coast included in those packing up and moving to new adventures.
Kevin and Laila Leach will be taking over 62 years of service to the community with them as they head off to Princeton in the South Okanagan this summer.
The moving vans roll in with Mr. Leach having recently celebrated his 30th year with the District, while Laila, born and raised in Prince Rupert has just wrapped up her 32nd year with SD52.
Kevin Leach came to the North Coast following the 1988 Calgary Olympics, having graduated from University there.
His early days included positions at Booth Memorial and from there he held a range of positions with the District.
First as a teacher at Booth and CHSS, and since 2005, in administration as Vice-Principal at a number of schools from the original Kaien Island/Friendship House Alternate School, on through Prince Rupert Secondary, Port Edward Community School and Charles Hays Secondary.
In addition to his duties as an educator, he also coached track and field in his early days, spent some time spiking balls in volleyball and assisting in a range of extra curricular activities, often he was found driving the field trip bus for sports and school clubs.
He has also had a strong involvement with First Nations in the region, from his work with the Friendship House was given a name, Huk Sigootgm Xsgyiik, by Sm’ooygyit Gitxoon (Alex Campbell), and was adopted as a member of the Gispaxlo’ats Tribe, Ts’msyen Nation, adopted into his house, as well as the house of Sm’ooygyit Nes’a’waap (Russell Mather, Sr)
From those associations he has been involved with a number of projects in the community, some of which are on display around the community.
Working with students and staff, as well as community members, they created the set of panels for the entrance way of the school, the project designed by close friend and mentor, Russell Mather, Jr. (Huk Xal Dzabm Xsgyiik)
Several other projects followed: the Ts’msyen Panels and Canoe at the Friendship House, the Ts’msyen House Front at PRSS, totem pole pillar in the Earl Mah Aquatic Centre and most recently, with the North Coast Immigrant & Multicultural Services Society (NCIMSS)
As he prepares to take his leave from the community, Leach and many others have been working towards raising a memorial Totem Pole in Mariners Park to honour Aboriginal mariners since time immemorial and showcase the Aboriginal Peoples and the history of our region.
Laila Leach returned to the North Coast following her university days in Alberta, with her teaching career starting in Hinton Alberta, before the call back to the North Coast took her to Lac Clan and Lax Kw'alaams School
From there, stops at Conrad, Pineridge and Prince Rupert Secondary were added to her resume, the last seven years found her at Charles Hays as the Pre-Employment Program, Learning Services Teacher.
Much of her work has also seen a focus on advocacy for students with special needs and efforts towards inclusion and providing all students with the opportunity to access educational opportunities by recognizing and embracing their differences.
She took part in a range of extra curricular work from coordinating Breakfast Club and Recycling programs to work as a teacher sponsor for badminton, volleyball and the Grad Fashion Show.
Commencement ceremonies also a key part of her school year, as she organized the behind the scenes work of thank you cards, flowers and assistance for bursary recipients.
The couple raised two children during their time on North Coast, Karsten and Kai, sharing the importance of giving back to the community, leading by example.
As they bring their time on the North Coast to an end, they make plans for the south.
Kevin Leach is to take up duties as Principal at Princeton Secondary; while Laila Leach is exploring options at that community's alternate school.
With over sixty years in service with School District 52, the couple have clearly had a strong impact on many of the students and parents over the decade.
Their dedication to both education and community means that their departure will make for a large hole in the staffing roster for the School District to fill, not to mention the footprints that they leave behind in the community as a whole.
For more items of interest related to School District 52 see our archive page here.
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