Rachelle Stein-Wotten

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder

Gabriola Elementary School’s new principal has worked in urban schools in Nanaimo and on other the other side of the Pacific Ocean, but the small rural island community of Gabriola still excites him.

Marc Daneault takes over as principal this school year following Kate Russell’s departure to pursue an opportunity in Spain. Daneault’s most recent position was vice principal at Brechin Elementary School. Prior to joining Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools, he taught abroad for 10 years including as the principal of a Grade 1-12 British Columbia Offshore school in Sokcho, South Korea during which time he became fluent in Korean and even led a group of students to Nepal to help rebuild a village elementary school following the major earthquake there in 2015.

“In my experience, whether in a village school in China [or] an inner-city school in Nanaimo, schools are places where curious young learners gather every day to learn new stuff and receive guidance from caring adults,” Daneault said. “That’s what makes them great places to work at.”

Daneault expects some new experiences as a newcomer to Gabriola.

“Certainly the proximity to nature, with the forest behind the school and gardening opportunities for classes at People for Healthy Community across the road are new to me,” Daneault said. “Free, weekly hot lunches for the students every Wednesday is a new concept for me. I was very impressed to hear that and can’t wait to see it in action.”

Daneault recently completed the transitional educational leadership program at UBC. “One of the biggest takeaways from that program experience was the concept of leveraging networks to greater benefit your students,” Daneault said. “NLPS is a dynamic school district with a variety of resources to access for our students. I look forward to utilizing as many of the district’s resources for the kids of GES. I also look forward to leveraging networks in the community to benefit our students,” such as swimming lessons, field trips to Vancouver Island University “and inviting into the school knowledgeable people in the community to teach the students new things.”

While at Brechin, Daneault was involved in supporting the creation of a makers space, spearheaded by teachers and the school librarian. A room in the school houses bins of building and craft materials and supplies like Lego sets for students to get creative and have fun while integrating learning in subjects like math and reading. Daneault said he supports exploring how to set up such a space at GES in an unused room.

As a classical guitarist, Daneault is also looking forward to musical opportunities. “I can’t wait to hear the voices of students singing and the din of them learning musical instruments … and most importantly, I am looking forward to getting to know all the students, staff and families of GES.  I’m a people person and find people to be the most enjoyable part of anywhere I work.”

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