Throughout my 39 years as a high school teacher, the last 30 of which were spent at Leaside High, I experienced many different leadership styles. To me, the most successful at creating a positive school environment, were those who were visible, encouraged collegial involvement, and celebrated student and staff achievements.
Two of Leaside’s public elementary schools are welcoming new principals this September: Sandra Larosa at Rolph Road Public School and Barbara Sandler at Northlea Elementary and Middle School.
While both are first-time principals, they are eminently qualified, with a wealth of experience and expertise, and a passionate enthusiasm for their work.
Sandra Larosa started her career at Windfields and Zion Heights Junior Highs teaching math and science. After only two years of teaching, she became the Chair of Mathematics for the Gifted, Academic and Applied programs at Zion Heights, and later served as Assistant Curriculum Leader for Curriculum, and the ACL for School-Wide Initiatives and the Arts. For the last eight years, she has served as Vice-Principal at Valley Park Middle School, John Wanless Junior PS and École Allenby Junior Public.
Barbara Sandler began as a teacher at Nelson Mandela Park PS; then moved to Parkdale PS. In addition to being a teacher, she was also Middle Years Literacy Coordinator and undertook ESL and Special Education teaching assignments. She was an elementary guidance counsellor at several schools. Ms. Sandler holds a Masters of Educational Administration, and served as an adjunct professor with York University where she taught a course in equity. Most recently, she was vice-principal at Humewood Community School.
Both new principals are excited to have landed at Leaside schools.
They have found everyone very welcoming and already met several parents. Both want to be as accessible to the parents as possible, and appreciate the strong level of parental involvement. As Ms. Larosa stated, “Communication is key in order to build trust and do what is best for the children.”
Ms. Sandler echoed that sentiment: “We want to ensure that people have confidence in the school. We have a responsibility to listen, to understand and to support the children.”
Both share a positive and supportive philosophy of education. For example, Ms. Sandler believes that “being in education is very rewarding and it is a privilege to be a trusted member of the community.”
Ms. Larosa feels that “school is like home” and is deeply invested in “what can be done to ensure students are happy, safe and learning.” Both also emphasize the importance of all stakeholders working as a team to create an optimal learning environment.
When school starts, the principals are looking forward to being visible, listening to all groups, building relationships and collaborating with staff to plan the year ahead. They also intend to honour and continue traditions already in place.
According to Ms. Larosa, “this is an excellent opportunity to make a difference and continue to make Rolph Road a great place to teach and learn. I look forward to fostering strong partnerships with the staff, students and parents.”
Ms. Sandler agreed: “One of the greatest gifts of being a school leader is to work in partnership with communities like Northlea that are so deeply invested in the success of the students…and carry on the school’s record of excellence.”
In a future issue, we’ll introduce you to St. Anselm Catholic School’s new principal.
• Spearheaded an enrichment program for Maths and Sciences
• Chaired a Math Olympics Committee and Inquiry Expo
• Formed Health and Wellness Teams
• Implemented inquiry-based learning and a focus on STEM activities (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
• Supported growth of French immersion and STEM-based teaching and learning at Humewood.
• Promoted the arts and eco-literacy education when initiating the Nurture through Nature initiative and partnering with staff and parents on the Artist in Residence and Grade 8 Arts Legacy projects.
• Was instrumental in developing a set of well-being initiatives related to mental health awareness, building healthy relationships and self-confidence.