The best leaders have a way of helping others around them to rise up, and that’s a quality that Beacon Hill Elementary School (BHES) principal Trevor Sanche has in spades. Sanche was recently given the Distinguished Leadership Award, presented by the Council for School Leadership with the Alberta Teachers’ Association.
BHES’s vice-principal, Suzanne Thibault, nominated Sanche for the award. In doing so, she had to provide supporting evidence for each of the competencies listed under the Alberta Leadership Quality Standard, set for school administrators. There are nine competencies, such as fostering effective leadership, leading a learning community, understanding and responding to the larger societal context and more.
“When we set up this school six years ago, he wanted to make sure the teams were collaborating,” said Thibault. “All of our teachers came from five different schools in the division, and he had to bring us together to make this a thriving culture. I think all of our teachers feel supported.”
Thibault said Sanche’s leadership is based on research and he has the teachers complete book studies, to help them understand their students better.
“Using Fullan’s 2014 and Dufour and Marzano’s 2009 body of research as a driver in his role as principal, he has proven his ability to facilitate teachers’ success rather than just as an instructional leader,” Thibault wrote in her nomination submission. “He has set up the timetable to reflect teachers being able to work in teams, allowing for time to build professional capacity of teachers individually and collectively. He recognizes that teacher development is not just grown through one-time professional development, but at the school on an ongoing basis. His focus is on creating the processes and culture that enables teachers to learn continually as part of their routine professional practice.”
But it’s not just Sanche’s staff who think highly of him.
“He has an open-door policy for staff and parents, accompanied by an easy and comfortable demeanour,” Thibault wrote. “Parents are generous in their praise and satisfaction of their child’s education and wellbeing. It is through our school-developed surveys that parents have voiced their satisfaction. Parents know when they have concerns, Trevor is fair and has followed through.”
While Sanche was told last May that he would be receiving the award, the ceremony didn’t take place until mid-September. It was held at the University of Alberta and several others were receiving awards, as well.
“I was thrilled, for sure,” Sanche said of when he learned he had won. “I was honoured and surprised. Honestly, I never thought it would happen. I was honoured just to be nominated.”
Because the nomination came from within his own school, and it was backed by Chinook’s Edge School Division’s (CESD) superintendent, Kurt Sacher, Sanche said the nomination on its own was significant for him.
Sanche has been with BHES since it opened and he has spent all 30 years of his career with CESD, 22 of those years as a principal.
But teaching wasn’t always part of Sanche’s career path. In fact, he started university as a pre-med student. However, he realized the 16-hour days that come with being a doctor weren’t for him. After earning his bachelor of science, Sanche took an Education 2500 course, which allowed him to spend time in a classroom and shadow a teacher.
“It was a great experience,” he said. “I fit in there. It was a grade 5 class and I really enjoyed the kids.”
Sanche went on to apply to the faculty of education and the rest, as they say, is history.
In his years as a teacher and administrator, there has been a lot for Sanche to love about his job.
“What I most enjoy for sure is seeing and interacting with all the kids at the elementary school,” he said. “These little guys, they’ll make your day, every day. And I have hundreds of them. I get hugs and high fives.”
As a teacher, Sanche said he enjoyed teaching high school biology the most. As an administrator, he has enjoyed being part of the elementary school.
“Elementary school is so progressive,” he explained. “There’s always something new, always something we’re trying. Society is evolving and we have to evolve with it.”
“We’re so fortunate,” Thibault said of Sanche. “He’s such a leader amongst the teachers and principals in the division.”
And while Thibault agreed that he would have made an excellent doctor, she’s happy that Sanche chose to go with a career in teaching instead.