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It's a matter of principal

Norwegian has an affinity for languages and children

Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Jan 11/02) - Gladys Norwegian realizes how fast a school year can fly by.

Nearly half way through her one-year term as principal of Bompas elementary school, Norwegian still has a number of initiatives she wants to implement.

NNSL Photo

Gladys Norwegian spends the majority of her time carrying out administrative duties as the principal of Bompas elementary school, but she still enjoys teaching too. - Derek Neary/NNSL photo

Student-driven assemblies, class visits, teamwork and class monitors are some of the things she has in mind. It's just a matter of finding the time. Between her daily one-and-a-half hours of teaching language arts and social studies to Grade 4 students and the rest of her day devoted to administrative duties, there isn't much leftover.

"I do feel I'm getting experience as an administrator," Norwegian said, acknowledging that she often continues working long after the school bell rings.

Among her administrative duties are building sweeps for cleanliness and checking for locked doors, secretarial work, taking attendance and meeting with parents.

As principal, she is also responsible for administering discipline to unruly students. Her philosophy is to focus on students' strengths, even when they aren't in the midst of one of their finer moments.

"And (I) make it clear to the students that they have to take ownership of their behaviour and assess how they can improve themselves," Norwegian explained.

Of course, the students make the job gratifying as well.

"I enjoy their individual characteristics, their natural curiosity and just the way they learn and approach things," she said.

Born in Jean Marie River, Norwegian is a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan, where she obtained her bachelor of education degree. She is fluent in South Slavey and has taken additional linguistic courses at the University of New Mexico.

Although her interest lies in languages, she became a classroom teacher after moving to Fort Smith because she didn't speak Chipewyan or Cree. After nine years in Smith, she spent five years teaching at Chief Sunrise education centre on the Hay River Reserve before becoming principal on the reserve for the next four years.

Norwegian was then seconded for a year as a language and culture co-ordinator for the South Slave Educational Council.

Following two years leave of absence, she dove into her current principalship at Bompas.

"I believe I can make a difference. I feel I have leadership skills," she said.

Those skills could lead her down a different path in the months and years to come.

"The more I think about it, the more I'm leaning towards political involvement," she said. "It's a toss up between that and starting my master's."