Triplets William, Nate, and Carson Van Zutphen, aged four, started school September 6th in the new pre-primary program at Whycocomagh Education Centre.
-by Anne Farries
Have you met Rick Welton, the new principal at Whycocomagh?
He is not exactly brand new. After 12 years as vice-principal and teacher, the pre-primary to grade-eight school and village are well familiar to him, but this will be his first year as official head of the school.
“I just turned 50,” Welton grinned September 6th in his office, shortly before heading down the hall to the gymnasium to lead a welcome-back assembly.
Welton transferred to Whycocomagh in 2005 after teaching at Cape Breton Highlands Academy for five years.
“My wife teaches school in Baddeck, so we live halfway between here and Baddeck,” Welton said. “When I was at the Highlands, we bought a house in Nyanza, because I knew that Whycocomagh was the closest school. So, when an opportunity came up to apply for a job in Whycocomagh, I took that.”
“When I got the job here, I was quite happy,” said Welton. “For the last seven years, I’ve been 75 per cent teaching, and 25 per cent the vice-principal.”
“Now, for this year, I’m 100 per cent a principal.”
Asked for his teaching philosophy, Welton said, “I believe that hard work will make a difference, and I want all students to reach their potential.”
High on his priority list as school resumes is seeing that each student sets a goal for success in math, literacy, and wellness, which is a bit ironic, because at that point in the interview, a student stood in Welton’s open office door to interrupt him, saying that she had a sore stomach.
Welton noted that the bell would ring in an hour.
“Can you wait?” he asked.
“No,” she replied.
“Do you want to call home?”
“Okay, go call,” he said.
Student success plans are not a new task, but this year, “the pressure is on me to get it done,” he said.
Welton, who grew up in New Brunswick, has taught in Vancouver and Toronto. In 2008, he completed a master’s degree in administration at St. Francis Xavier University.
He and his wife Karen have a son who plays hockey for The West in the Midget AA league.
“I’ve coached a lot of hockey in Cape Breton,” Welton said. “I coach a lot of sports in the JARIS (Junior Athletics in Richmond/Inverness Schools) program, from soccer to volleyball to badminton to softball.”
As of last count, the Whycocomagh school had 157 students enrolled.
“It’s up by a couple,” Welton said. “We have the new pre-primary classroom, so our building is at full capacity. All the classrooms are being used, all available resources.”
“I’m pretty excited.”
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