Education
Yellowknife

YK1 elects new board chair as superintendent retires


YK1 superintendent Metro Huculak announced his retirement as the school district elected a female board chair for the first time in more than a decade.

At a meeting of the school board on Tuesday evening, Huculak said he would step down at the end of the academic year. He has been YK1's superintendent since 2005.

Tina Drew defeated incumbent John Stephenson to become the new board chair at a special organizational meeting.

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She is the first female chair since Reanna Erasmus, who held the position from 2003 until 2006, a spokesperson for YK1 said.

Satish Garikaparthi, a trustee since 2017, was acclaimed as vice-chair.

When I first came here, people on the streets were telling me, 'Do you know what you're getting yourself into?'

METRO HUCULAK

Huculak has flirted with retirement on at least one previous occasion. This time, he said, his departure was definite.

"Our district is doing well and the community has really treated me well," Huculak told Cabin Radio. "It has been a great place for me to work. We have excellent staff in our schools and worked for good trustees and school boards for those 15 years.

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"It is hard to leave, but my partner is retiring on January 6 – so it's time for us to do some travelling and spend time with our grandkids."

Addressing board members, Huculak said the Route 51 Learning Institute "had made a difference to many students who otherwise would have fallen through the cracks and never succeeded."

On first taking the job, Huculak said, he had seen "a lot of young children not in school, of high-school age, so I knew we had to do something about getting them into school."

Route 51 was designed to tackle that. Huculak felt the program "paid big dividends for kids who might have gotten into trouble or whatever, but we've got them going. We've got good people working with them."

He said: "We've graduated a whole number of students who probably would never have graduated, and we keep doing that, year after year. So that's something to be proud of."

Outgoing chair Stephenson has been on the board for the past decade and became YK1's chair in 2013.

Drew has served on the board for four years. According to a biography on YK1's website, she was a member of the parents' advisory committees at the district's NJ Macpherson, Range Lake North, and William McDonald schools.

"Tina wants to help grow YK1's commitment to creating a culture of excellence where teachers have every opportunity to excel," the biography read.

Asked about the challenges ahead for Drew and his successor as superintendent, Huculak said: "It's not going to be a challenge like I had when I came here."

He continued: "When I first came here, people on the streets were telling me, 'Do you know what you're getting yourself into?' And of course, for me, it was a challenge. By getting everybody to work together for that one goal, it's best for kids. It worked.

"Right now, our students are doing well. The district is looked at as achieving well in the whole of the NWT. So coming in now is a good time to keep it going, because things are in place."

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