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Students get their wish

New principal at Victor Sammurtok school

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Chesterfield Inlet (Aug 28/02) - Students and staff at Victor Sammurtok school in Chesterfield Inlet are starting fresh this year.

The school suffered through its share of adversity during the 2001-02 school year.

The problems led some students to sign a petition expressing their dissatisfaction with first-year principal Robert Genge.

The petition was given to the District Education Authority to be brought to the attention of Kivalliq School Operations and Education Minister Peter Kilabuk.

Deputy minister of education Tom Rich says there was open communication between his department and the Chesterfield DEA concerning the issue, including a July meeting with himself, DEA members and the former executive director of KSO, Chris Purse.

Rich says the matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties concerned.

"Most of this deals with staffing issues, which are personal in nature," says Rich.

"There were internal issues at the school this past year involving teachers, the principal, students and the DEA. The principal involved (Genge) worked out his one-year contract, asked for a transfer and has been moved to another position within the department."

Rich says a competition was held during the summer and an offer made to new principal Reed Smith.

"The Chesterfield Inlet DEA is happy with the way things turned out, so we can all move forward from here."

Smith grew up on a farm in the southern Alberta village of Aetna, population 80.

He has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's in educational administration. The new principal has plenty of experience teaching in smaller communities. His previous two stops were in Alberta, having spent time in the 70-person community of Hays and the small First Nations community of Drift Pile.

He has also visited Nunavut before.

"As a teenager, I had the opportunity to come up to Hall Beach to work in the summer between my Grade 11 and Grade 12 years," says Smith.

"And I've been fortunate in that my teaching career has taken me pretty much across Canada. I'm looking forward to my time in Chesterfield Inlet as being both challenging and rewarding."