NNSL Photo/Graphic

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Award recipient deflects praise
Arctic Bay school principal credits community, parents and teachers for recognition

Stewart Burnett
Northern News Services
Friday, February 5, 2016

Abdus Salam sees his position as principal of Inuujaq School as a member of a large, tight-knit family that is the Arctic Bay community.

NNSL photo/graphic

Inuujaq School principal Abdus Salam is one of 40 principals recognized across Canada as outstanding. He considers his role as part of the large family that is the Arctic Bay community. - photo courtesy of Abdus Salam

When he was named one of Canada's 40 outstanding principals by The Learning Partnership, Salam thanked his own support system of teachers, parents and school board members.

"Thanks to them I was able to achieve this prestigious award," he said.

Salam has been principal in Arctic Bay for seven years after spending his first two in the community as a math and science teacher.

In a community of just more than 800 people, Inuujaq School's 240-student enrollment represents very few degrees of separation from everyone in town, not even counting teachers and support staff.

That makes Salam's role a lot more like a family member than a distant figurehead like a principal could be seen as in a much larger, more anonymous location.

"The community, parents, teachers, every student - I see them as a family," he said.

A biography page on The Learning Partnership's website lists some of Salam's accomplishments, including his diligence in establishing a culture of learning at Inuujaq in collaboration with community elders and Inuit leaders.

"Abdus's broad range of experiences and perspectives has assisted him in honing his leadership and collaboration skills," stated the biography.

Salam said he is particularly proud of the level of technology present in Inuujaq. He helped bring in laptops, cameras and Internet services to the classrooms to help students and teachers in the pursuit of learning.

"I would like to say that we are not behind in technology from any other school in Canada," he said proudly.

He said he has a very good relationship with the teaching staff.

"They help me and I help them."

Still, there are plenty of challenges ahead Salam is trying to tackle, namely attendance rates and literacy.

"Throughout Nunavut, we have a problem with attendance, especially in the high schools," said Salam.

To combat that, he has organized monthly attendance awards for students who attend every day.

He has pursued new initiatives to improve literacy, such as formalized literacy blocks from K-9 and targeted resource withdrawal for struggling readers.

"These are the kind of things we need to take care of," said Salam.

He's proud to receive the outstanding principal award, but he gives credit to the rest of his "family," too.

"Without the help of the teachers, students, the community and the local district education authority, it would not be possible to achieve this award," he said.

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