By Sue Tiffin
In 31 years working in education Andrea Borysiuk has missed only one September when she was on maternity leave with her daughter Natalya. Now the principal of J. Douglas Hodgson Ele mentary School is planning to retire this month ending a long career alongside the school year.
Borysiuk cottaged in Haliburton and brought groups of students to Halibur ton Forest during her 17 years as a phys- ed teacher with the Dufferin-Peel Catho lic District School Board. Her familiarity with the area is why she approached Gary Brohman at Haliburton Highlands Sec ondary School one summer to ask about job positions. And when one came up she jumped at the chance.
“I interviewed on a Saturday got hired on the Monday and was moved up here with my three-year-old and two dogs on Friday Thanksgiving weekend” said Borysiuk whose husband Dan Gimon followed the family up from the city the following year.
“It was a whirlwind” said Borysiuk. “It was the best move … I can remember my daughter she was three and she said I’m glad we moved from Brampton. They don’t have any chipmunks.”
Borysiuk taught at HHSS for three years and then began working at Hunts ville High School as a surplus teacher.
Mornings before the commute began at 4:30 a.m. while friends helped with her toddler returning home at 6 or 7 p.m. at night. At the same time she was taking p rincipal courses with friends asking her about the busy lifestyle.
“You’re doing this drive you’re tak ing courses and I said yes it just feels right” said Borysiuk. “I feel like I should do this.”
Partly through a year at Huntsville she was placed as vice-principal at Lindsay Collegiate and Vocational Institute.
“So then I did the drive in the other direction for two years” she laughed.
In 2011 she became principal at Stu art Baker Elementary School – working in Haliburton County as she had hoped with only a 20-minute commute from home. In 2014 she made the move to JDHES.
For Borysiuk there are numerous high lights in her career in part because she made those drives.
“I would go to meetings and I know people from all over the board” she said. “I’ve been in all areas of the board and that has been the greatest thing. I’ve had so many great friendships built in the board because I’ve been in the north and the south and Haliburton. I’ve got great learning partners because of that … I’m very grateful for that. I had amazing men tors in this board that certainly shaped how I view education.”
In her time at JDHES Borysiuk said it was important to her to promote a posi tive culture at the school.
“My staff dug in and worked really hard to get kids to own their school own their learning and it was always this big thing when kids came [switching schools] from Grade 3 to Grade 4 … so building the partnerships with Stuart Baker and build ing these four schools as a campus. This is a campus from K to 12. And really work ing with all of my colleagues to make it a campus feel. [Another] highlight for me is working with parents and kids and build ing these partnerships. My parents are amazing.”
Borysiuk paddle boards hikes knits and cooks and is looking forward to doing more of this during her retirement in Haliburton County.
“I’m very grateful” she said. “I’m very grateful for the opportunities I’ve had and how amazing this community has been since we came in 2005. People have stepped up and supported me and
encouraged me every step of the way. From my neighbours to my colleagues to
getting a whole new set of friends in the community. It’s been cool.”
David Waito is transferring from his role as vice-principal at Haliburton High lands Secondary School to the position of principal at JDHES a school just down the laneway.
Waito had been introduced to Halibur ton County while working as an outdoor educator at Kinark Outdoor Centre in Minden prior to starting at HHSS in Sep tember 2010. He became vice-principal at the school in February 2015 and will become principal at JDHES in September this year.
“Whenever a transition like this hap pens you have mixed feelings” he said.
“You’re excited about where you’re going but it’s sad to leave. I had a lot of mentors at Hal High that helped support the start of my career … The mentorship from that staff to kind of shape and push
my thinking and help me get to where am I at this point in my career can’t be understated. It’s certainly been a privi lege I’ve had to work with and learn from and serve that school and the students
that have all gone through it in those 10 years.”
Waito said he wanted to “express my gratitude to the HHSS community for all its support over the years – the students families staff and community have been a pleasure to work with.”
Waito said he strives to find ways to “really hear the voices of everybody” blending ideas together to help form a direction that everyone – whether they be students staff parents or community
partners – can see themselves in.
“That’s the work I strive to do” he said. “I hope that’s happened. I look for that feedback where I can. If there’s a most important group to listen to it’s always the students. They’re the ones that are our future and they’re the ones I think we need to listen to to help make what we’re trying to do meet with what they’re call ing for and what they need. “
Though changing schools Waito said he is thrilled to be able to stay in Halibur ton County where he and his wife are raising their family for this next role and excited to get started at JDHES.
“I’m certainly looking forward to join ing the Jaguar team and very much look ing forward to meeting those students and working with families and continu ing to move everything forward in a way that best serves what our kids need right now” he said. Additionally he said he is “excited to learn from and experience the elementary panel the staff at JDH and to work with students in these formative years of grades 4 to 8. I hope my experi ence in secondary will be valuable and that combining these experiences will lead to some creative ideas.”
Waito will be replaced as HHSS vice- principal by Jennifer Mills. Watch for a story on Mills in an upcoming issue of the Echo .