Sylvan Lake catholic schools bid farewell to principals

After nearly three years as principal of École Mother Teresa School, Dorice Swensrude is moving on.

École Mother Teresa School principal Dorice Swensrude thanks and says goodbye to students during a surprise farewell party held at the school last week.

École Mother Teresa School principal Dorice Swensrude thanks and says goodbye to students during a surprise farewell party held at the school last week.

After nearly three years as principal of École Mother Teresa School, Dorice Swensrude is moving on to become principal of École Camille J. Lerouge School in Red Deer.

The move is just one of several in a shuffle that will see Swensrude succeeded by current École Our Lady of the Rosary School principal Jodi Smith.

And while she has mixed feelings about her departure at the end of the current school year, Swensrude assured she’s confident about leaving the school in such capable hands.

“As difficult as it will be to leave École Mother Teresa School, I take comfort in knowing the school will continue to flourish by offering a strong, vibrant academic program to your children,” she wrote in a letter to parents last week.

In an interview, Swensrude said she was excited about her next move, but expressed sadness about leaving such a positive educational environment.

“I will miss the phenomenal students, staff and the school community,” she said. “They are very caring and kind students, and a very supportive, caring community.”

Students surprised Swensrude with a farewell party last week, in a gesture she described as “heart warming and very touching.”

The show of respect was an indication of the impact she’s had on the entire school community, according to the school’s assistant principal, Ken Meraw.

“She is so dedicated to making sure things are done the right way … and every decision she makes is what’s right for the children,” he said.

Smith, who previously taught at École Mother Teresa School, said she was looking forward to working among familiar faces, and in a familiar environment. After nearly three years as principal of École Our Lady of the Rosary School, she said she feels like she’s returning home, in a sense.

“I am excited to follow the students from École Our Lady of the Rosary and many of the same families,” she said. “I also know a lot of my colleagues … it will be a lot of fun.”

Like Swensrude, however, Smith is leaving a school community of which she’s very fond. And that sentiment, according to administrative assistant Loretta Zolinski, is very much mutual.

“She’s always making everybody comfortable,” she said. “She’s just so open and friendly and always trying to make that connection with families and people that are coming in.”

Diane Kylczycki, principal of St. Martin de Porres School in Red Deer, will take over from Smith.

Zolinski feels Kylczycki’s experience as a school administration makes her the ideal replacement.

“Diane has all that background already,” Zolinski said. “We’re all looking forward to what she will bring to our school.”