8 Principals, 17 years and thousands of students


Mrs. Bright at work.
Mrs. Bright at work. Photo Susan Scandiffio.

Bright. From Hebrew, “the one who is loved.” From Merriam-Webster: smart, brilliant, radiant, upbeat, cheerful, clever, shrewd, encouraging, distinguished, celebrated, wonderful, artistic.

Never has a name been so fitting.

After 17 years of committed service to the St. Anselm School as head secretary, Mrs. Bright will be retiring on January 31st, 2019.

Colette Bright – the Duchess, Mary Poppins, a second mum. A woman of many names has been the loving guardian of thousands of children, the sounding board for parents and staff, the paramedic for recess injuries, and the cherished and beloved core of the school.

Originally from England, Bright trained and worked as a legal secretary in London before settling in Toronto and taking a job with a downtown law firm. After being an at-home mum, Bright brought her skills to St. Anselm School in 2002.

This shining light has worked with eight principals and numerous staff, many of whom have moved on from the school but remained close friends. Bright notes that she has watched several of the staff on their own journeys from first-time educators, to married life, to parenthood, and beyond.

Her primary role at the school has been as a diligent head secretary, but she has shared many other talents with the community. Bright has taught recorder lessons to the students for the past five years, played guitar at school masses, displayed her dance skills on multicultural nights, and brought joy to the students with her creatively-crafted Halloween costumes over the years.

Always dressed professionally and impeccably, Bright is often seen with her Union Jack mug of tea. Seventeen years’ worth of students have had the privilege of receiving stickers when bringing attendance records to her office, boxes of Smarties on their birthdays, ice packs and Bandaids, words of encouragement, sympathy, and hugs from this petite mix of Mary Poppins and governess Maria.

And the love goes both ways.

As former student Aidan Ross comments, “When I think of Mrs. Bright, I think of her unwavering kindness and selflessness, I think of all the times she would drop everything she was doing to take care of a sick student, and I think of all the times she cheered me up after falling during recess. Every time I go back to St. Anselm to visit, Mrs. Bright is always the first and last stop I make.”

Abby Love, also a St. A’s grad, notes that, “signing up for lunch ‘office duty’ in the older grades was a popular activity because it gave us the opportunity (even just for an hour) to attempt at Mrs. Bright’s definition of secretary: paramedic of ice-bags, ruler of late-slips and attendance, master of creativity, teacher of kindness – a role that had little to do with an office hour, and everything to do with the woman who ran the office.”

Known for her vast and impressive festive displays of singing snowmen and other characters at Christmas, and her ability to distract students while removing splinters, Bright says that “every child has something to offer,” and that working with them daily is something she will definitely miss. She also notes that she has enjoyed working with school parents and that St. A’s is a “truly special place.”

What’s next for Mrs. Bright? She has plans to cycle in Europe and Australia in the next year with her husband, and to take in her beloved game of tennis at both Wimbledon and the Australian Open. She also plans to golf and meet other fitness targets.

Current principal Donato Di Paolo comments that “we will all miss her tremendously, however there will always be a place for Mrs. Bright at St. Anselm School.”

And thankfully, Bright won’t be gone for good. She intends to return as a frequent volunteer to help out in the office, in classrooms, and with the recorder club.

But perhaps after her plans to spend the first day of retirement in her pyjamas on the couch with a book.

A well-deserved day, fit for a queen.

About Susan Scandiffio 158 Articles
Susan Scandiffio was born in Scotland and raised in Toronto. While she holds a master’s degree in history, her main passion (besides her wonderful family) is sports. Susan can often be found at the A.C.C. or in a Leaside arena or playing field, scoping out stories for Leaside Life.